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Why IRV effectively prevents close polarized elections

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  • states_4irv
    ( a repost from the WA IRV list) ... (by recounting minor party 1st-choice ballots) In fact, IRV does solve the larger problem much more effectively: Close
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 1, 2005
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      ( a repost from the WA IRV list)

      > So the immediate advantage of IRV is that it will likely
      > increase the spread by ....
      (by recounting minor party 1st-choice ballots)

      In fact, IRV does solve the larger problem much more effectively:
      Close polarized elections like this are essentially "caused" by the one-choice plurality system. IRV supporters should promote IRV as a long-term solution for elections so close that the direction of the state/nation must be determined by a few questionable ballots. **

      IRV solves the two main aspects of the problem:

      A- IRV elections do not become polarized. Candidates also need 2nd and 3rd choice votes to win. That means serious candidates MUST reach out across party lines and earn broad-based support to have any hope of winning. Moderates will win more.

      From another perspective, the 1st and 2nd choice of voters will be similar to each other, not opposites. Without polarized candidates, there is little incentive for election fraud. If the 1st place was to be knocked out by disqualified votes, all those voters' 2nd choices will be counted instead, most likely electing the next candidate with the most similar policies. (The winner will presumably be more moderate too)

      B- IRV election support is not limited to 100% because each voter gets two backup choices. Candidates can actually get up to 300%, collectively. (Or 200% in London, which only allows two choices) This means it would essentially be statistically impossible for two candidates to tie with only 50% each. The 50% ties are a side-effect of the plurality/ two-party system.**

      IRV counts do not actually have to stop counting at 50%, it's optional. The San Francisco winners were probably actually ranked on many more ballots than were needed to reach 50%. For example, with IRV we could easily change the law to require 60, 70, or 80% support to win an election. Even if 50% is still the technical requirement, it should become obvious that IRV will raise the bar, and candidates will actually be needing much wider support to beat their opponents. Once it becomes possible for four candidates to tie with 75% each, 50% support will be a thing of the past. (If we could count all the rankings in total)

      **The old problem: Plurality elections tend to end in close contested elections because it leads two opposing candidates to converge their effiorts to be the only choice of at least 50% of voters. (or 34% support in a rare 3-way tie, such as contests in San Diego and Lake County, Montana) Also,when candidates are anywhere near tied, contributors, insiders, and even the media have overwhelming incentive to close the gap -so we have been more likely to get tied election results as polling technology has improved.

      PS: The Berkeley IRV campaign was only controversial for a few publicity seeking pols. Even with lots of free publicity for their lies, Berkeley's Measure I passed overwhelmingly with over 72% support, and IRV supporters have done very well in re-election campaigns. (except one who did not even run a campaign this fall-he was still very close)
      -Also the Berkeley measure to allow winners with only 40% of the vote is moot if IRV is implemented before the next election in 2006.

      So, what we'd like to see now is IRV supporters getting the word out to WA that:
      -IRV WILL solve all the obvious problems of the '04 race.
      -plus cutting mudslinging and other campaign costs,
      -Voters have approved IRV in landslide elections across the country in 04' where the city councils already knew enough to support IRV modernization. (previous statewide campaigns were premature and without support from city councils)
      -The SF election was a complete success for everyone involved. (The same people were elected, but with much less cost and heartache)
      -Promoting IRV has been helpful to politicians-they can pick up support from a huge set of potential voters, with no persuasive opposition.

      Next, to get support in Olympia, I would suggest focusing on LOCAL politicians statewide like city councilmembers. Most state politicians are too tied in to risk bucking the system. City councils can take the lead now by helping get media and endorsing resolutions requesting state/national IRV reform action immediately. They will get lots of publicity for themselves, and state legislators will be compelled to take IRV action or risk these challenges from these local IRV champions in '06. (Local pols seem to be more inclined to endorse IRV)

      Also, the awesome Boston Globe Jesse Jackson op-ed is printer formatted at

      (As of this minute, there is only a 2-page version, but there should be a few formats there by Mon.)

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