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Tuesday, January 4, 2011
Instant Runoff Voting debunked
By Selected News Articles @ 7:44 PM :: 11627 Views :: Office of Elections

Because voters in the Dec 29 special election for Honolulu County Council Dist 1 elected a Republican, Tom Berg; the billion dollar Progressives at Civil Beat have concluded that the system of elections must be changed, “to prevent such an election in the future.”

Their solution to prevent anybody from displacing the “conscious, enlightened, and progressive” elite from its God-given position of power?  Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), an election scheme recycled from (where else) Berkeley, CA and Burlington, VT…. 

 

Instant runoff voting protects Progressive dynasty, ensures one-party system

by Mike Smith Burlington Examiner April 13, 2009

A system that constantly favors one party is never good.

Mark Twain wrote in his autobiography, “to lodge all power in one party and keep it there is to insure bad government and the sure and gradual deterioration of the public morals.”

Leaving aside the most obvious examples of such corrupting hegemony – e.g., the Soviets, the Nazis, the Yankees – it's time to focus on the smaller one-party dynamos currently in ascendance in the United States, in which the Vermont Progressive Party is poised to include itself, at least in Burlington.

Thank Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

FairVote's Terrill Bouricius, an outspoken IRV advocate, explained the process in 1999: “under instant runoff voting, if there is no majority winner, you're not done yet. You have a runoff. But instead of calling voters back to the polls, you just declare the bottom candidates defeated, look at those ballots, and transfer those ballots to those voters' second choice. So you determine which candidate is actually preferred by a majority of voters.”

Sounds a bit tempting, especially considering the fact that IRV purports to thwart “spoiler candidates throwing an election to a candidate that is not the most preferred by the majority” (again, Bouricius' words).

Everyone hates a spoiler. On a national level, whatever support Ross Perot and Ralph Nader were able to gin up over the years has been far overshadowed by the venemous loathing of disgruntled Republicans and Democrats, for handing the presidency to Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, respectively. IRV's appeal as a viable alternative is no surprise.

But there are several dangers to this voting method – “pathologies,” as RangeVoting.org put it. From their analysis of Burlington's recent mayoral election:

“Democrat Andy Montroll was favored over Republican Kurt Wright 56% to 44% (930-vote margin) and over Progressive Bob Kiss 54% to 46% (590-vote margin), majorities in both cases. In other words, in voting terminology, Montroll was a “beats-all winner”

IRV, however, placed Montroll in third, behind Wright and Kiss – who sailed on to an easy reelection as Burlington's Progressive mayor.

The analysis continues: “according to the preferences stated by the voters on their ballots, if Montroll had gone head-to-head with either Kiss or Wright (or anybody else) in a two-man race, he would be mayor. This refutes Bouricius's claim that IRV 'determines which candidate is actually preferred by a majority of voters.'”

Oh, and Wright won a plurality of 33% in the first round. So following the standards of traditional elections, he would be mayor.

Perhaps what Bouricius and other IRV advocates really mean is that they'll be damned if they'll let some Republican interloper seize the reins of the uniformly left-wing City of Burlington on a plurality vote. This isn't about selecting which candidate is actually preferred.

In truth, it's about securing and galvanizing the political power of the Left, whether through the Progressives or the Democrats. The actual candidate is of secondary importance.

As previously explained, IRV avoids the expensive hassle of a follow-up election by simply taking voters' second choices from losing first-choice ballots and adding them to the vote tallies for those candidates. And in Burlington, you can always count on Progressives being the second choice for Democrat voters – and for Independents, and for Greens, and for Commun- oh, wait. We don't have that party here.

Yet.

The net result of all this maneuvering is a bona fide one-party city, with Progressives planted firmly in power.

But what's the big deal, people may ask? After all, if a follow-up election were to be held, it would likely yield similar results, right? All IRV does, advocates claim, is save us the extra time and money, as well as deliver a higher and more accurate turnout.

Perhaps, but I doubt it. What it really does is allow voters, essentially, to cast ballots for two or more candidates simultaneously, like tossing a handful of darts at a dart board, in the hopes that one of them hits the bullseye. In the event of a follow-up election, candidates still in the race would have more time to assess their situations and reach out to voters, and voters would have more time to reevaulate their feelings about those candidates.

What makes IRV so undemocratic is that it does not allow for this evaluation period, and thus doesn't give cooler heads a chance to prevail, which is necessary for a responsible and accountable government.

RangeVoting's analysis adds, “another problem with IRV is the fact that it cannot be counted in precincts because there is no such thing as a 'precinct subtotal.' That's bad because it forces centralized (or at least centrally-directed) counting, thus making the election more vulnerable to fraud and communication outages.”

That's not a problem, I guess – if you want to emulate the mob-controlled Democratic Party of Chicago, or New York's Tammany Hall of 100 years ago. As long as I'm living in Burlington, though, I'd prefer some open and honest competition.

Last month, political scientist Tony Gierzynski made a compelling case against IRV: “it allows the [different political factions] to ignore the political problem by using a technological fix as opposed to resolving their political differences through the necessary negotiations that characterize politics...when such factions fail to work together, they ultimately fail to accomplish the reason such organizations exist, which is not just to continue existing: it is to win control of government in order to make people's lives better in a manner consistent with their political values.”

Color me skeptical of the bit about government making people's lives better, but you get the idea. A voting system that consistently protects the Progressive Party in Vermont – or any single party, anywhere – is very unhealthy.

For some foreign perspective, here's Charles de Gaulle: “how can one conceive of a one-party system in a country that has over two hundred varieties of cheese?”

---30---

CB: Civic Leaders Eye Instant Runoff Elections

HFP: Vote By Mail: “Tool of choice for voter fraud”

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