I then would love it if CfER and RangeVoting.org could find a way to somehow merge with us
and/or pool our talents
and resources, and/or to convince, say, the CVD also of thought-reform.
We now give more detailed arguments, and hyperlinks you can follow to reach data
backing up our points.
1. Range and Approval voting (RV & AV) are superior to IRV:
AV & RV are simpler to define (e.g. shorter computer programs).
Simpler for voters in the sense that, experimentally,
voters have the most ballot-invalidating errors with IRV
(in San Francisco 7 times as many with IRV than plurality; also supported
by cross-country comparisons), followed by plurality, followed by Range,
followed by Approval (i.e. Approval is the best in this respect).
Less painful and cheaper to adopt. Range and Approval both work
with every voting machine in the USA,
right now, no modification or reprogramming required. (Admittedly, with more or less hassle
depending on the voting machine type, but it always does work.) IRV does not. Also, IRV
"counted in precincts" – only centralized counting is possible – necessitating
a big change
to procedures and a security hit because a small central conspiracy then can throw elections.
(As IRV advocate Rob Richie admitted in print in 2008,
no voting machine in the USA comes, out of the box, ready to handle IRV elections.
Many computerized voting machines have been decertified by their states, in, e.g. California,
IRV is most likely to lead to tie and near-tie chad-counting
lawsuit nightmare scenarios; range voting is least likely.
Range is less likely to lead to massive self-reinforcing 2-party domination
when adopted countrywide.
Every IRV country has quickly fallen into 2PD status in all IRV seats
(examples: Australia, Fiji).
Plurality also almost always has led to 2-party domination (the USA
being a primo example).
But, in contrast, ordinary (not instant) runoff historically has
led to 2-party
domination (example=France), perhaps for these reasons.
With 2-party domination, voters effectively have only 2 choices,
in which case "improved" voting systems largely aren't. (IRV is superior to
plurality in the sense that it works better in
"two and a half candidate" elections, but
when you extend your thinking to genuine
3-candidate races – or more –
IRV behaves poorly.)
Also, e.g. 70% of US voters right now (July 2007) are antiwar.
But it appears probable that once
again they will have a 2-way choice between a pro-war and pro-war
candidate. (Same thing as in 2004 and 1968.)
That is a very bad and very undemocratic phenomenon and
it is the fault of 2-party domination and the plurality voting system.
IRV still leads
to 2-party domination,
still leads to "spoiler"
effects, and "favorite betrayal" and the "lesser evil" phenomenon
still are important under IRV (contrary to pro-IRV propaganda).
A voting system fails "favorite betrayal" if a voter finds it strategically unwise to vote
her true favorite top. IRV fails FB frequently.
In one probabilistic model of 3-candidate
elections it fails it 19.6% of the time, in
another 20.2% of the time. This is serious
and we believe it has a lot to do with why IRV countries become 2-party dominated
(the 3rd party candidates get betrayed, because that is the strategic move for voters to make).
Another reason (we conjecture) for IRV 2-party domination is that "dumb" voters
unaware of the above strategy-facts, still often will automatically
vote one of the two major-party contenders top and the other bottom just because,
intuitively, that maximizes their vote's "impact" on the "real battle."
(I claim based on my polling experience that they'd commonly
do this in any rank-order voting system – Condorcet, IRV, Borda, whatever –
whether it makes logical sense or not.) If enough of them do that, then it is a theorem that
– with either Condorcet or IRV voting –
a third-party candidate can never win. So: strategically-wise IRV voters cause 2-party
domination, and "dumb" ones also cause 2-party domination.
Computer simulation studies show range voting is superior to all common alternative proposals
very robustly to changes of simulation parameters –
measured by "Bayesian Regret."
This is true for both honest and strategic voters (and hon-strat mixtures) and many different
utility generators, numbers of voters, numbers of candidates, and "ignorance levels."
of the superiority over plurality is comparable to the amount plurality is superior
to "random winner" i.e. "is comparable in importance to the invention of democracy."
and at least one ant species are known to use range voting to make important collective decisions.
Honeybees have carried out far more elections than either humans, or computers doing
They are thus the greatest authority on elections on the planet.
Ants are claimed to be the most successful
land animal ever (in terms of total biomass). They both evolved range voting independently.
No nonhuman animal I know of uses any voting method besides range voting.
Range voting is used very commonly to elect school valedictorians.
As such it has had a tremendous amount of actual use,
comparable to the amount of use of all other voting systems
and probably considerably
exceeding the amount of use of IRV.
Range voting was also
central to the governments of Ancient Sparta and Renaissance Venice,
which were the two longest-lasting governments with a substantial democratic component,
in world history.
Range voting obeys "participation" (casting an honest vote cannot hurt you vs not voting at all)
(raising X in your vote cannot reduce X's winning chances) and
(if an extra "clone of X" candidate runs, that neither hurts nor helps X's or anybody else's
winning chances aside from replacement of the winner by a clone).
These are important properties. IRV fails the first two
example). It has been
that no voting
system based on rank-order ballots can both obey cloneproofness and avoid favorite betrayal, so in
that sense range voting is superior to every voting system based on rank-order ballots.
IRV and ordinary runoff both sometimes fail to elect "beats-all"
Condorcet winners in 3-way races.
Chile 1970, and France 2007 presidential races as well as the famous
"Lizard versus Wizard" Louisiana 1991 governor race.
In all these
cases the "centrist" candidate was eliminated in the first round and then an "extremist" won,
indicated the centrist would have been preferred over every opponent in a head-to-head race.
Indeed, IRV tends to have a strong extremist-favoring effect
as you can see from these
pictures (and note observation 2 there).
Also it can be proved, under a simple and fairly realistic model of
strategic voter behavior,
that range voting always
elects Condorcet winners whenever they exist; and Range Voting under a
of the Condorcet property is a Condorcet method; and range voting under a similar pictorial
study shows no particular bias in favor of either centrists or extremists.
(Range voting with honest voters seems to exhibit little or no bias
favoring or disfavoring extremists in such pictures, whereas under the strategic voter model
Condorcet winners always win when they exist, range is totally unbiased
and coincides with optimal voting in the 2D-picture scenarios.)
2. Range Voting is a better "stepping stone" than IRV is, to PR.
Suppose your goal is to have the USA eventually adopt "Proportional Representation" (PR)
I personally am not sure
whether this is a good idea
and it is difficult to do in the
USA for real
without a massive rewriting of the constitution and risks being stopped cold by
the (2-party dominated) supreme court.
However, ignore those concerns for our present purposes – just suppose we agree PR
is a wonderful idea and ask "then what?"
My claim is that Range Voting is a better "stepping stone" than IRV is, to PR:
There are PR methods that are both better and simpler than STV for large elections, and
that resemble range voting
instead of IRV. They are called "asset voting"
and "reweighted range voting."
See papers #77, 78, and 91 here.
(Admittedly they are less familiar right now, but considering PR in the USA isn't
going to happen for 20 years at least, that is hardly a concern.)
There is plenty of evidence that the Democratic and Republican parties are opposed to PR. They
have fought it actively and highly successfully in the past, e.g. organizing
campaigns that got rid of
it in New York City and Cincinnati.
(And in Ireland, the dominant Fianna Fail party tried twice to abolish PR, both
In these three cases they had to get rid of PR via referendum and could not do it via
direct action. But only one of the USA's top two parties, acting alone and directly, is enough to
block a PR constitutional amendment in the USA forever.
They are motivated to stop PR. Therefore PR on a nationwide
scale is simply
not going to happen as long as the D & R parties reign supreme.
Are there any then-2-party-dominated countries
that have ever successfully been made to switch to PR?
As far as I currently
know – although my knowledge is incomplete on this question –
almost all PR countries got that way by starting with a PR system (or
something very similar to one) at their
initial founding as a democracy and/or in their constitution (or after the collapse or
overthrow of a previous government).
The best exception I know
is New Zealand, which
switched from Plurality in single-member districts to
German-style "Mixed Member Proportional" (MMP). New Zealand's top party opposed the
switch but apparently did not fully realize the danger until it was too late.
The population gave the third party 21% of the vote (and the fourth party 12% in the 1984
election) so evidently was highly
favoring of third parties, far more so than in the USA (but this did not help those
parties of course – they won two and zero seats respectively).
There then was a nonbinding referendum
in which 70% of the population wanted MMP and 85% wanted to get rid of the present system,
a huge landslide!! The top party then saw the danger, but couldn't tell a
massively publicized 85% supermajority
to go to hell without presumably suffering for it big time. So they instead just
made heavy propaganda efforts to kill MMP, and they nearly succeeded
since then it passed by only 54% in the binding referendum. If they had realized the danger
earlier, they plausibly quite likely could have and would have averted MMP.
In view of this I believe
the only way PR will ever happen nationwide in the USA is if
2-party domination first is
made to gradually
vanish. IRV cannot and will not do that because IRV reinforces and yields 2-party domination
(every IRV country so far has developed heavy 2-party domination in all IRV seats).
Range Voting probably will do that
because there is
heavy experimental evidence
that it leads to greatly enhanced relative vote
counts for third-party candidates.
The interesting unexpected nursery effect
3. My fear is
that IRV will lead to a permanent fossilization of 2-party rule and permanent prevention
of any further election-method reform because of the following excuse:
"we gave you reformers what you asked for, and now you are not
satisfied with your own reform?? Morons. Oh and by the way, you third-parties are still out
of power, da hahahahaha."
Typical timescales for election reform are 200+ years and we cannot afford to
have an inferior system for that long.
So it is foolish to go with an inferior method (IRV) due to shortsighted thinking.