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Portland, Maine Press Herald Compares Instant Runoff Voting with Top-Two Primaries

Published on June 24, 2014, by in Uncategorized.

The Press Herald of Portland, Maine, has this editorial comparing Instant Runoff Voting and Top-Two Primaries. The editorial prefers Instant Runoff Voting. It says, about top-two systems, “Five months before the election, most voters haven’t tuned in yet and won’t have had the benefit of hearing candidates’ messages honed over long campaigns.” This is an apt criticism, and supporters of top-two generally don’t have a response to this point.

Unfortunately, the editorial writers are not aware that the term “open primary” does not mean a top-two primary. “Open primary” was the name given to the primary system Wisconsin invented in 1907, in which there is no registration by party. Every party has its own primary ballot, but any voter is free to choose any party’s primary ballot. The U.S. Supreme Court has issued several opinions which define the various types of primary, and the U.S. Supreme Court uses the traditional definition; so do political science textbooks. Notwithstanding that, journalists all across the country use “open primary” in wildly different ways. Pennsylvania journalists use “open primary” to mean a closed partisan primary in which the party organization hasn’t made any endorsements. Illinois journalists use “open primary” to mean a secret open primary (in which the primary voter chooses a party primary ballot in the secrecy of the voting booth). British journalists use “open primary” to mean a primary administered and paid for by a party, in which any voter may participate.

7 Responses

  1. Demo Rep

    Gee – what do LEGAL dictionaries say ???

    i.e. just more of the New Age of MORON so-called journalism.

    IRV is dangerous EVIL – since it ignores 2nd and later choice votes.

    NO primaries.
    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V.

    • IRV gives more wins to the biggest political civic group (i.e. party) and perpetuates a two-party system since the next biggest choice will also likely be the second biggest civic group.

      At least plurality elections allow for a random win by a smaller group when there is multiple candidates which cause a split vote. IRV avoids the split vote phenomena and awards only to the biggest political party.

      As Demo Rep writes, IRV does ignore the second biggest civic group. If you’re for better representation IRV isn’t a good system to promote.

      I recommend the most mathematically exact system, pure proportional representation (PR), to be used in multi-winner districts of two or more only, it’s the Sainte-Lague parliament seat distribution system, ranked choice voting (RCV), Hagenbach-Bischoff method.

      By having multiple winners we’re able to elect a team and the need for control over which names vie in a party are diminished because no one person wins but instead a large number of people win simultaneously.

      Squabbling over individual names is counter-productive to having an elected assembly which is a true portrait of the people. We want the image of the people, we want everyone to be free to vote, free to vie as an equal and all voters to have an equal say on who wins.

      Focus on across-the-board equality of at-large elections under pure proportional representation (PR). All other avenues are side-tracks and distractions to perfect elections.

      Elections and the votes to be counted are very finite and sometimes random, it’s not difficult to count them correctly under proportional representation, so why beat around the bush with top two or IRV in single-winner elections? If you want perfection than demand perfection.

      Anything less is … imperfect.

  2. Jim Riley

    The Portland newspaper editorial was keying off an interview in the Bangor Daily News about Olympia Snowe and the Bipartisan Policy Center Commission on Political Reform. At the time the recommendations were press embargoed. They were released today (Tuesday June 24).

    The actual recommendations are:

    RECOMMENDATION 1.6: States should adopt open or semi-open primaries to allow independents and/or members of the opposite party to cast ballots in a political primary.

    RECOMMENDATION 1.7: States should move away from very low-turnout methods of candidate selection, such as caucuses and conventions.

    RECOMMENDATION 1.8: States should create a single, national congressional primary date in June.

    While the report spends quite a bit of time on the last item, it glosses over the first. Their use of “semi-open” and “and/or members of the opposite party” suggests that they are using “open” and “semi-open” in the same sense that you are: a system where voters participate in segregated partisan primaries, but that there is an opportunity for (some) voters to choose their ballot on election day.

    • We don’t need primaries when we’re electing multiple candidates simultaneously under proportional representation.

      At least the Maine newspaper is calling attention to elections, but unfortunately the chair of the Maine Green Party has been advocating IRV, which is simply a bad idea.

      The way that the FairVote and Green Party have promoted IRV has been very damaging over several decades, to any progress for third parties and independents.

      IRV raises the threshold to 50% plus one, plurality elections have an unpredictable and random threshold and only proportional representation guarantees the lowering of thresholds.

      Under PR, the more seats, the lower the threshold, and always proportionately to the numbers of seats being elected.

      That’s better for independents, outsiders like ethnic minorities and women, low-income candidates and third parties, and that’s better to have people like them elected so that there is a better connection to everyday people.

  3. Demo Rep

    An extreme IRV example -

    The muddled Middle has almost been wiped out by the Left/Right extremists — Gee — as in the 2014 USA.

    49 LMR
    48 RML
    1 MLR
    1 MRL
    99

    With IRV, M loses.
    50 L beats 49 R.

    Head to Head -
    51 M beats 48 R
    50 M beats 49 L

    M has a mere 97 of 99 votes in 2nd place.

    Means NOTHING to the IRV math moron FANATICS — as EVIL crazy as any moron group in world history.

    P.R. and nonpartisan App.V. – pending head to head math.

  4. The amount that the arrogant, unelected and unaccountable “leadership” has been promoting and implementing IRV without either considering the ramifications or considering the simple math, is ludicrous!

    We need to focus on the solution and forget about everything else because that’s a waste of precious time and resources.

    These failed self-proclaimed policy makers have left the movement for pure proportional representation dead at the gate for twenty years. YOU know who you are, thanks for NOTHING!

  5. Demo Rep

    THE extreme IRV example –
    The Middle is almost wiped out.

    49 LMR
    1 MLR
    49 RML
    99

    With IRV, M loses.
    50 L beats 49 R.

    Head to Head math -
    50 M beats 49 L
    50 M beats 49 R

    M has a mere 98 of 99 votes in 2nd place.

    How many Stalin and Hitler extremist clones have been and will be elected using IRV ???

    Means NOTHING to the IRV math moron FANATICS.

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