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Maine Bill to Use Instant-Runoff Voting to Elect Governors

Published on January 11, 2013, by in General.

Maine State Senator Dick Woodbury (I-Yarmouth) and Representative Janice Cooper (D-Yarmouth) have introduced a bill to use Instant-Runoff Voting for gubernatorial elections. See this detailed story. The bill proposes a change in the State Constitution.

27 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    IRV = THE method to elect tyrant clones when the muddled middle is divided.

    34 SMH
    33 HMS
    16 MSH
    16 MHS

    99

    M loses. S beats H 50-49.
    M = Moderate, S = Stalin clone, H = Hitler clone.

    Hmmm. Who has a mere 99 of 99 votes in 1st+2nd place votes ?
    —–
    Nonpartisan Approval Voting for all executive/judicial offices pending some MAJOR public education about Condorcet head to head math.

  2. :-)

    They’re just whining that LePage, a Republican, was elected governor. Come on people, you can do better than this petty political play

  3. Carl Pease

    In the last 40 years the winner of the Gubernatorial race in Maine has won with a majority only twice.

    In that period of time we have had Democratic, Republican and Independent Governors.

    Trying to come up with system that produces majority winners is hardly a partisan issue

  4. Jed Siple

    This is great! Big fan of Instant-Runoff (Ranked Choice) Voting!

  5. Be Rational

    Maine has done well with plurality elections. There is no evidence to show that a system to produce some kind of phoney majority winner would result in better outcomes.

    This is a partisan issue. Big Party hacks trying to give themselves better odds against independents and third parties.

  6. Carl Pease

    First, you will note that one of the bills sponsors is an Independent, he won his race without the help of any party big or small.

    Second, any electoral system that produces winners who have less then majority support is less representative and makes it harder for the winner to govern effectively.

    LePage is not the best Governor we have ever had, but it cannot make it easier for him to have won with only 39% of the vote.

    In an IRV system the winner might have been Cutler, a non-party candidate, thats assuming everyones 1st choice had been the same, and that most Ds would have made Cutler their second choice

  7. Arthur C. Barker

    Personally, I think it’s a step in the right direction. No electoral system is perfect and, frankly, I think we should focus less on politics (or less on making decisions through politics) and more on constitutional safeguards.

  8. Carly Pease,

    You said: “Second, any electoral system that produces winners who have less then majority support is less representative and makes it harder for the winner to govern effectively.”

    But you support IRV?! Consider these voter preferences:

    % of voters – their ranking
    35% W > Y > Z > X
    17% X > Y > Z > W
    32% Y > Z > X > W
    16% Z > X > Y > W

    Instant Runoff Voting selects candidate X as the winner, beating W in the final round, 65% to 35%.

    But a huge 67% majority of voters would rather have candidate Y than X. And Y received nearly twice as many first-place votes as X, 32% vs. 17%.

    And an even larger 83% super-majority of voters would rather have candidate Z than X (*and* Z got just a little fewer first-place votes than X).

    In the 2009 Burlington, VT mayoral race (using IRV), the Progressive won, despite the fact that a large majority of voters preferred the Democrat to the Progressive (and to all other candidates).

    So the claim that IRV “elects majority winners” is seriously misleading.

    Also…

    The first row of voters have an incentive to “betray” W by pretending Y is their actual favorite – then they get their second choice instead of their last. W is thus a SPOILER. If he would drop out of the race, then Y would win instead, even with no change in voter preferences.

    The third row of voters have an incentive to betray candidate Y by pretending candidate Z is their favorite – then they get their second choice instead of their third.

    The first row of voters made a big mistake by voting honestly. Suppose 20% of the voters, all from that bloc, had simply refused to vote. That would actually have been better for them than voting honestly, because it would have caused Y to win (whom they prefer over X). Their honest “X is worst” votes actually caused X to win!

    Also, Y is the Condorcet “beats-all” winner, but doesn’t make it to the final round: 65% majority says Y>W; 67% majority says Y>X; 84% majority says Y>Z.

    And W is the Condorcet “lose-to-all” loser, but makes it to the final round (65% majorities say others>W).

    So you can say IRV is better than Plurality Voting. But these claims that IRV “elects majority winners” or “allows you to safely support your favorite” or “prevents spoilers” are all false. Why do IRV proponents keep making them?

    Clay Shentrup
    The Center for Election Science

  9. Be Rational

    There is no evidence to show that a plurality winner is not the best choice.

  10. Jim Riley

    Top 2 would be simpler and just as effective.

    Maine already conducts partisan primaries, so there is no cost for an additional election. The votes are easy to count.

    And Top 2 produces a meaningful final race where voters have an opportunity to compare the two finalists.

    This also has the advantage in Maine of not requiring a change in the constitution, since the same system can be used for both the legislature and the governorship.

  11. Richard Winger

    If Maine were to implement a top-two system, voter choice in the election itself (November, by federal law, at least for federal offices) would be sharply limited. Furthermore, under a top-two system, no candidate could enter a race in Maine after mid-March, which is an absurdly early. Under current law a candidate can get into the race, and appear on the November ballot, by carrying out a petition that is due in mid-June.

  12. Be Rational

    The people in Maine are not dumb enough to fall for the “Top-two” lies.

    “Top-two” is clearly designed to end voter choice and create a one-party state as in the old Soviet Union. That is the clear intent and purpose of “top-two” and its supporters.

    In Maine, the people routinely vote for unaffiliated candidates and 3rd party candidates. The people are quite independent in spirit – even most D and R voters will split tickets to vote for other parties and unaffiliated candidates. There is no way they’d accept your BS scheme, Riley. They’d sooner vote to secede from the United States.

    Maine is also a good example of why the US doesn’t need proportional voting, IRV or anything else. These are just schemes that muddle up a working electoral system. They will vote outside the two parties if a decent candidate appears, without hesitation. None of the wasted vote nonsense.

  13. Demo Rep

    # 8 The EVIL IRV fanatics (for single offices) make their EVIL claims in order to DECEIVE.

    i.e. especially to get Lenin/Stalin type clones into the office of Prez of the U.S.A. — with a *mandate* from Hell to do whatever.

  14. Jim Riley

    #11 A June primary is absurdly early.

    When Angus King was elected governor, he was running commercials during the Republican primary. He announced his candidacy for the Senate on March 5, 2012.

    If Maine had Top 2 in 2012, he would have filed then and been campaigning in June rather than been petitioning to get on the November ballot.

    The SCOTUS in ‘Smith v Allwright’ ruled that a primary was part of a federal election. This was affirmed in ‘Tashjian’.

    If a primary is not part of a federal election, on what basis does Congress regulate contributions?

    And finally, surely you don’t disagree that Congress could require the use of Top 2 for federal elections.

  15. Be Rational,

    You are simply wrong about Plurality Voting. Here’s a simple example:

    35% Hot > Medium > Cold
    33% Medium > Cold > Hot
    32% Cold > Medium > Hot

    Hot would win with 35% of the vote with Plurality Voting. But a massive 65% majority of the voters would prefer EITHER OTHER CANDIDATE.

    And indeed, your favored system of Plurality Voting would elect Medium, if Cold weren’t in the race. This is an objective case of irrational behavior by the voting system. The group clearly prefers Medium to Hot, but when Cold joins the race, it “breaks” the Plurality Voting algorithm, which cannot see beyond first-place support.

    This is not subjective. This is not “opinion”. This is math. Plurality Voting often does the wrong thing. We can say this confidently because it even contradicts *itself* (Hot better than Medium, or Medium better than Hot—with the same voters and preferences—depending merely on whether the irrelevant option, Cold, is in the race).

    This is not just about people voting dishonestly. Plurality Voting breaks even when people vote honestly. This causes massively worse results in the real world. It means we get policy that does not reflect the will of the voters.

    Ignorance of election theory is not an excuse to promote bad democracy-destroying election systems.

  16. Richard Winger

    #14, I disagree that congress could mandate top-two for congressional elections, as long as congress continues in force the 19th century law that says the election itself is in November and any congressional run-off must be afterwards. The US Supreme Court held in Munro v Socialist Workers Party that a prior vote test is, constitutionally, the same as petition for ballot access. And since prior rulings of the US Supreme Court had ruled that 5% is as high as petitions can go, ergo prior vote tests can’t be any higher than 5% either. Top-two sometimes forces candidates to poll as much as 33% to qualify for the election itself, so it top-two, as to congressional elections, violates the US Constitution.

  17. Richard Winger

    #14, I disagree that congress could mandate top-two for congressional elections, as long as congress continues in force the 19th century law that says the election itself is in November and any congressional run-off must be afterwards. The US Supreme Court held in Munro v Socialist Workers Party that a prior vote test is, constitutionally, the same as petition for ballot access. And since prior rulings of the US Supreme Court had ruled that 5% is as high as petitions can go, ergo prior vote tests can’t be any higher than 5% either. Top-two sometimes forces candidates to poll as much as 33% to qualify for the election itself, so top-two, as to congressional elections, violates the US Constitution.

  18. Jim Riley

    #14 Congress mandates single-member districts for the election of representatives. Congress mandates the use of ballots for the election of representatives (this was in the same 1872 law that purported to set a uniform election date). Congress mandates campaign finance reporting for contributions and contribution limits for congressional elections. When legislatures elected senators, Congress mandated the manner in which they did so, including forcing joint elections for bicameral legislatures.

    Top 2 is a manner regulation. Congress could mandate Top 2.

    Munro v Socialist Workers Party was not specific to federal elections. The particular senate election in Washington was not even subject to the 1872 time regulation. It is totally erroneous on your part to suggest that it has particular or specific applicability to federal elections.

    Munro says that when there are different paths to a general election, then a vote test such as that in Washington was akin to a petition test. It does not apply to Top 2 where all candidates run in the primary and all voters may vote for any candidate.

    Foster v Love says that when the final choice is made prior to the date set by Congress it violates the time regulation set by Congress. Louisiana was actually issuing certificates to elected candidates before November.

    In particular, see footnote 5 in Foster v Love.

  19. Carl Pease

    Dear Clay Shentrup:

    I think what i said, or implied, is that IRV tends to elect candidates who have the support of a majority of the electorate not that they are the electorates first choice.

    For example Cutler for Governor would not have been the first choice for many Democrats but he probably would have been preferred over LePage.

    The assumption is that people prefer their second choice over their third choice even if they would have obviously rather had their first choice win.

    Condorcet tries to deal with the matter your talking about, but even that method has theoretical problems, as a matter of fact EVERY voting system has theoretical problems.

    The problem with Plurality voting is you can have a unrepresentative minority in charge.

    Personally. when talking about legislative elections, I prefer party list systems where each political party gets represented in proportion to their electoral strength. And yes i believe in political parties, if they are democratically structured they can serve as a vital conduit from voter to policy maker.

  20. Richard Winger

    #18, Congress is not permitted to pass unconstitutional legislation. Munro v SWP said, “We are unpersuaded, however, that the differences between the two mechanisms are of constitutional dimension.”

    The two “mechanisms” the Court was talking about were petitions and prior vote tests. Under Williams v Rhodes, and Storer v Brown, petitions greater than 5% are unconstitutional. Since the Court said in Munro that there is no difference between a petition and a prior vote test, ergo prior vote tests requiring more than 5% support are also unconstitutional.

  21. Demo Rep

    SOME of the U.S. Code about Fed Elections —

    Title 2 —

    Sec.
    1. Time for election of Senators.
    1a. Election to be certified by governor.
    1b. Countersignature of certificate of election.
    2. Omitted.
    2a. Reapportionment of Representatives; time and manner;
    existing decennial census figures as basis; statement
    by President; duty of clerk.
    2b. Number of Representatives from each State in 78th and
    subsequent Congresses.
    2c. Number of Congressional Districts; number of
    Representatives from each District.
    3, 4. Omitted.
    5. Nominations for Representatives at large.
    6. Reduction of representation.
    7. Time of election.
    8. Vacancies.
    9. Voting for Representatives.
    ——–
    Obviously the gerrymander Congress could write a TOTAL election law for Congress elections.

    Note – The Art. I, Sec. 4 Congress possible control language happened due to the failure of many States to keep up their delegations in the Congress in 1781-1787 after the U.S.A.-France Victory at Yorktown, VA on 19 Oct 1781.

    i.e. lots of days with NO Congress quorum in 1781-1787 — result more and more chaos.

  22. Demo Rep

    # 19 for advanced math students —

    Problems with ANY election with 3 or more choices.

    A beats B.

    C comes along

    C may beat both A and B.

    C may lose to both A and B.

    BUT — C may beat A — BUT lose to B.

    C > A > B > C — so called circular tie — needing a tie breaker.

    Obvious tie breaker — Approval Voting.

  23. Derek

    Electing an executive office like President or Governor should reflect the will of the majority. If IRV were to be used, there should be the following requirements:

    a) If a candidate gets the most first round votes and also the most last round votes, whether the number of votes in either round is a plurality or majority, that candidate is eliminated from the race

    b) Voters would have to rank at least a partial number of candidates (let’s say 2 or 3)

    Approval Voting is a good system too. Voters would get to choose which candidates they like.

  24. Derek

    Another idea would be to implement a 2-Round System. First round, voters would get to choose the top n candidates that would qualify for the runoff (n is equal to the square root of the total number of candidates running in the race). Final round, voters would get to choose the candidate they like and the candidate with the most votes wins.

  25. Be Rational

    15 Your overly simplistic model does not reflect all the possibilities nor does it take into account enthusiasm of support. It is possible that some voters prefer only one candidate for example and hate one or more of the other choices. They cannot be ranked.

    More importantly, how is it fair to only count some of the second choices. This amounts to allowing some voters the chance to vote twice in a single election while denying others the same opportunity.

  26. Jim Riley

    #20 Are you claiming that the manner by which Nebraska elects its legislature is unconstitutional?

  27. Jim Riley

    #24 Or something simpler. Candidates whose cumulative support equals 75% or more advance to the next round. A minimum of 2 candidates must advance from the first round. In the second and subsequent rounds, a candidate with a majority is elected.

    If N is 3 or more, at most N-1 candidates may advance.

    Once the support level for the final qualifying candidate for the next round is determined, trailing candidates may combine their votes to qualify additional candidates (they can’t displace anyone).

    Any candidate not in the Top 2 may withdraw.

    For example, in the 2012 California US Senate Primary, there were 25 candidates. The top 5 received just over 75% of the vote. The 5th place candidate received 154,781 or 3.2% of the vote. Additional candidates among the trailing 20 candidates could qualify for the next round by combining their votes. And then, any candidates not in the original Top 2 could withdraw.

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