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Mark Schmitt Suggests Instant-Runoff Voting Would Help if it Existed in Presidential Elections

Published on May 1, 2012, by in General.

Mark Schmitt, writing for The New Republic, comments here on Americans Elect, and then goes on to recommend Instant-Runoff Voting in presidential general elections. He also recommends that states permit fusion (i.e., letting two parties jointly nominate the same candidate).

Schmitt says only five states permit fusion, although he does not name them. Actually more states than that permit fusion. They are Connecticut, Idaho, Massachusetts, Mississippi, New Hampshire, New York, Oregon, South Carolina, and Vermont; and Pennsylvania permits it for certain partisan offices. In Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont, fusion only can be accomplished via write-in votes in primaries.

But Schmitt also understates the number of states that permit fusion for President. Approximately half the states permit fusion for president. This is because so many state anti-fusion laws are worded to only apply to candidates nominated in direct primaries. But presidential elector candidates are not nominated by primary in any state; generally presidential elector candidates are nominated in state conventions.

15 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    IRV for single offices = THE method to elect Stalin/Hitler killer/tyrant clones when the muddled Middle is divided —

    34 S–M–H
    33 H–M–S
    16 M–S–H
    16 M–H–S
    99

    Gee – who has a mere 99 of 99 votes in 1st PLUS 2nd place but LOSES with IRV ???
    —-
    P.R. for legislative body elections.
    Nonpartisan App.V. for executive/judicial elections.

    Pending Condorcet head to head math.

  2. Rob Richie

    Thomas- you’re obviously a broken record on this, but your point also applies to traditional runoff elections. And of course Stalin wins with plurality voting. Yet you always make it seem like IRV is uniquely bad in this respect.

  3. Demo Rep

    The really broken record folks are the math morons who keep hyping IRV for single offices – i.e. Fairvote folks.

    Who would win using Approval Voting or Head to Head Condorcet math in the #1 example.

    Means noting to IRV F-A-N-A-T-I-C-S — who would LOVE to elect Stalin and Hitler clones via IRV.

  4. Chris Telesca

    IRV would allow Romney and Obama to compete for the second choices of Americans Elect-candidate backers, altering their pitch and platform as necessary. Instant-runoff voting is tailor-made for centrist parties and candidates, much moreso than for parties of the left or right.

    Boy – if Obama wasn’t enough of a wimp, moving to the right all along – having to alter his pitch anymore would remove whatever spine he still has.

    IRV wouldn’t be practical for an national election in our country. You have to have the same counting rules in every precinct, every county, and every state. I’ve already seen how statewide IRV fell apart in my own state (NC) during the statewide judicial IRV contest. And all that happened when all the ballots were exhausted was that the “winner” or a 13-way race barely cracked 28%! And that was supposed to be a better way of electing judges than an 8-way race in 2004 where the winner got 24%.

    No – IRV doesn’t elect majority winners – just winners with a slightly larger plurality. It’s confusing for voters, complex to count, doesn’t save money when all cost are honestly and accurately accounted for, etc. And the wild thing about AE – and Rob Richie’s involvement in it – was that he was using AE as a tool to push for a series of regional IRV “primaries” to winnow-down the field, then hold a national IRV “primary” to get the Party winners – who would then advance onto a national IRV general election in November. What’s the point of doing IRV if you have to have two primary elections before deciding the Party nominees?

    Why not just hold a one-day national primary, with a national runoff? Then once you have the Party nominees, you hold a one-day general election, with a one-day national runoff to get a majority winner? Throw fusion into that mix, and you can have some real meaningful inclusion of third-parties who would endorse one of the two runoff candidates! Sort of like what they are doing in France right now?

  5. icr

    And the wild thing about AE – and Rob Richie’s involvement in it – was that he was using AE as a tool to push for a series of regional IRV “primaries” to winnow-down the field, then hold a national IRV “primary” to get the Party winners – who would then advance onto a national IRV general election in November. What’s the point of doing IRV if you have to have two primary elections before deciding the Party nominees?

    It’s kind of a truism that most people will promote anything (excluding positions that will make them social pariahs) that they’re being paid to promote. A glance at the view numbers for the relevant youtube videos shows that at least 99% of the population thinks that voting method reform is ABSOLUTELY the most boring topic in the world. In this kind of environment one knucklehead with a little bit of money to throw around can cause a lot of damage.

  6. Richard Winger

    #4, the U.S. can’t imitate France. France manages to hold a presidential election, and then if no one gets 50%, also manages to hold a run-off only two weeks later. The parts of France that are in the Americas and the Pacific Ocean have no problem with the time it takes mail to travel around the world. France has its own voting places in its own overseas territories. French citizens who live outside French territory don’t have any right to a mail ballot mailed from France. They must go to French embassies or consulates to cast a vote.

    By contrast, U.S. citizens living outside U.S. territory have a right to receive a mail ballot sent from the U.S. U.S. law assumes it takes 45 days for the overseas mail to go back and forth, especially to remote military bases and to navy personnel on ships and in submarines.

  7. Chris Telesca

    Never said we should do a run-off in 10 days. Just said that they have a run-off for a national election in France.

    For that matter, I’d like to have the same sort of limits on campaign finance and expenditures they have in France.

    France has placed ceilings on campaign expenditures. The ceiling on expenditures for the 2007 presidential campaign for each presidential candidate was €16,166,000.00 for the first ballot, and €21,594,000.00 for each of the two candidates present at the second ballot.[28] The 2007 campaign account of President Nicolas Sarkozy shows that his expenditures were €21,038,893.00,[29] while the total expenditures of his opponent, Segolène Royal, were €20,712, 043.00.

    This year Obama is talking about spending a BILLION dollars on his re-election.

  8. Demo Rep

    How many times in the U.S.A. has an actual public IRV election system been repealed by the voters after a Stalin clone / Hitler clone / moron / fool was actually elected to a single office using IRV ??? — esp. local govt mayors.
    ———-
    #7 GDP in U.S.A. is now about $$$ 15 TRILLION

    Will be about 340 MILLION voters in Nov. 2012.

    Do the ratio math.

    Do TV attack ads help stimulate the economy ??? — esp. in the poor suffering *battleground* gerrymander Electoral College States ??? — likely carpet bombing TV attack ads 24/7 from Labor Day to Election Day.

  9. Demo Rep

    Correction – about 140 Million voters in 2012.

  10. Jim Riley

    #6 Current federal law permits States to hold a runoff. If such a system had been in place in 2000, a runoff would have been held in FL, IA, ME (statewide + 1 CD), MN, NV, NH, OH, OR, WI, NM.

  11. Richard Winger

    #11, I don’t agree that the states can hold a runoff for presidential electors. Article II, section one, says, “The Congress may determine the time of chusing the Electors, and the Day on which they shall give their votes; which Day shall be the same throughout the United States.”

    The states could use Instant Runoff Voting for presidential elector elections, because that would be “on the same Day.” But the constitution doesn’t permit one state to hold an old-fashioned run-off for presidential electors because then that state would be choosing the electors on a different day than the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November.

  12. Demo Rep

    The same day stuff was to reduce more bribes, ballot box stuffing, etc. — See Max Farrand, Records of the Federal Convention of 1787 and the Federalist.

    Should have been a fixed election day in the Constitution — with temporary language for a reduced first Congress term and first Prez term — did not happen due to uncertain date if and when the Const. would have been ratified and starting date of the revised U.S.A. regime — 4 Mar 1789 (one of the last acts of the nearly dead 1777 A.C. Congress).

    Thus the EVIL statutory machinations even about election dates.

  13. Jim Riley

    #12

    The US Constitution makes a distinction between the time of appointing electors and the date when the electors meet in their respective States and cast their ballots.

    The Constitutional Convention was extra-constitutional under terms of the Articles of Confederation. So to get the Continental Congress to go along, George Washington, as president of the convention, wrote a letter requesting that the Congress forward the proposed constitution to the States, as well as to oversee its ratification and instantiation if necessary.

    In the summer of 1788, when the Constitutional Congress received notice of the 9th ratification (9/13 >= 2/3), they (eventually) set in place the initial presidential election and meeting of Congress. The initial meeting of Congress was set for the first Wednesday in March of 1789 (March 4) in New York City. The date for casting of electoral votes was the first Wednesday in February, and the date for appointment was the first Wednesday in January. They did not set the date for electing representatives or senators, since they had no authority to do so.

    When Congress met on March 4, they did not have a quorum, and thus could not count the electoral votes (and if necessary, choose a President). Once they did, they determined that Washington and Adams had been elected, and sent notification. Washington was not inaugurated until June.

    The 1st Congress determined that congressional and presidential terms shall run from March 4. The constitution only specifies the length of terms, but they decided since their terms began on March 4, 1789; subsequent terms would begin on March 4 as well. It was only the 20th Amendment in 1933 that formally set congressional and presidential terms to begin on January 3 and January 20, respectively.

    But they also realized it was problematic not to have a president-elect at the start of his term, and it was a reasonable expectation that the House would be choosing the president from among the Top 5 candidates. So they established that Congress would count the votes early in the odd-year, that the date for casting electors was in early December, and the time for appointing electors would be in November.

    This would give time for Congress to choose a President before the start of his term (the counting date varied some between January and February), time for the electoral votes to be transmitted to the Congress (by horseback), and allowance for the legislatures to set their own schedule for meeting to make appointments, or in for states that made appointment by popular vote, time to canvass the votes on a state or district basis, notify the presidential electors, and give them time to reach the meeting place (by horseback).

    Over time, States that made their appointment by popular election gravitated toward the first part of November. In 1845, Congress first established that the time for appointment be a single date. They were concerned about the practice of “pipelining”, where voters would cross state lines to vote in multiple elections (there was no voter registration at the time, so there was in effect election day registration).

    The date chosen, the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November was set so that it would be a consistent number of weeks from the meeting date in December. At the time, only one State, South Carolina, had legislative appointment of electors. They traditionally did so at the opening of their legislative session in late November.

    There was concern that South Carolina would be forced to have a special session to appoint electors; or coerced into using popular elections. There was no reason to force a legislature to appoint on a particular date, since pipelining would not be an issue. But, eventually Congress chose not to make separate provision for South Carolina. But during the debate, some speakers pointed out that Congress had made special provisions for those States that required majority election of presidential electors, by including the following language:

    “When any State shall have held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and shall fail to make a choice on the day aforesaid [first Tuesday after first Monday in November], then the electors may be appointed in such manner as the State shall by law provide.”

    Massachusetts in 1848, and Georgia in 1860 used this provision to appoint their presidential electors, when no electors received a majority of the popular vote.

    The provision that Congress passed in 1845, remains in federal law:

    “3 U.S.C. § 2 Whenever any State has held an election for the purpose of choosing electors, and has failed to make a choice on the day prescribed by law, the electors may be appointed on a subsequent day in such a manner as the legislature of such State may direct.”

    So a State could provide that presidential electors be chosen by majority popular vote. By federal law, that election must be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November. But if they fail to make a chose due to no candidate receiving a majority vote, the state could make an appointment on a subsequent day, in the manner that the legislature may direct. Since all States currently prescribe that the manner of appointment is by popular election, it is clearly within the authority of a legislature to prescribe popular election as the manner of making appointment on a subsequent date.

  14. Demo Rep

    #14 Major effort — BUT – a REALITY CHECK —

    About 30-32 percent of the REAL voters in ALL States have been de facto electing a Prez/VP since 1832

    About half the votes in the States having a bare majority of the total E.C. votes in each Prez year.

    — a TOTAL timebomb system.

    Went off in 1860 — killed about 750,000 Americans (latest estimate) on both sides in 1861-1865.

    The EVIL new Elephants in Dumb City kept the EVIL system since it got them in P-O-W-E-R in 1860 and 1864.
    ———-
    ABOLISH the EVIL INSANE TIMEBOMB E.C.

    Uniform definition of Elector in ALL of the U.S.A.
    Nonpartisan App.V. — pending head to head math.

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