Thursday, August 30, 2007

Conversations on Instant Runoff Voting

There's a great post on The Existentialist Cowboy (from Texas, where else?? and now linked on The Hankster) called Restoring American Democracy: A Proposal which I came by way of Steve Rankin at Free Citizen... supporting different variations of instant runoff voting:

Existentialist Cowboy says:
"A recent Gallup poll indicates more Americans now identify themselves as Democrats than Republicans —a shift that may give Democrats a long term edge...."

Well not so fast! Current polls are showing that 40-43% of the American electorate identify as independent, regardless of party registration, meaning that they choose the candidate they vote for based on issues over party label. The numbers are sometimes surprising: 32% Dem, 31% Repub, 37% independent for local registration...

Lest we forget, it was independent voters who put the issue of the war in Iraq on the national agenda (and I would say that was because of independents' willingness to approach the problem with "fresh eyes" -- not reactive to a long-term partisan strategy to keep the politicians employed...) and it was independents who "swung" Dem to create the change-over in the 2006 elections. This is also indicative of a move to the left by independents.

Existentialist Cowboy continues:
"In the US various methods of "approval voting" are termed an "instant runoff". The term "ranked choice" is also used to denote a Borda count specifically. In the UK, the term AV, or "Alternative Vote" is used. In Canada, the term is "preferential ballot". The time has come for a fundamental change. The question is: will the American people seize perhaps the last opportunity they will have as a nation to bring about a "rebirth of freedom".

We couldn't agree more!!! Thanks for this post, Existentialist Cowboy! We're looking for more on independent voters and the challenges faced by voters who can't abide the partisan divide....



Approval Voting is hugely better, and much simpler than Instant Runoff Voting. You just change the current "vote for one (per race)" rule to "vote for one or more (per race)".

Here are some typical social utility efficiency figures showing the robust superiority of Approval Voting over IRV.

N. Hanks said...

broken ladder - that's deep! I'll have to look more closely at the social utility efficiency calculations, but I'd agree that Approval Voting is appealing! Thanks for this!

Jackson Boyd said...

Approval voting is simple to implement, but not used anywhere. That's because it's prone to tactical voting -- e.g, the strategy is to vote just for your favorite candidate and hope that supporters of the other side cast a vote for your candidate.

Instant runoff voting is the way go go -- it's got momentum, it makes sense, groups that study it keep recommending it, etc. See for more.

And thanks for your post!