More on IRV

I have noticed an increasing amount of signs popping up in Midtown urging people to vote no on the three referenda on the Nov. 6 ballot.

I also got a second card in the mail advising this. Someone on Nextdoor is pushing the “no” stuff too. Steve Mulroy has an article in the Flyer arguing the “no” position, as well. I have already mentioned that the proponents of “no” are not conservative heroes: John McCain, NYT columnist David Brooks and Myron Lowery to name a few (more details in an earlier article below).

Ever wonder when politicians who haven’t been particularly good get on a bandwagon? Former County Commissioner Steve Mulroy argues, “…Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), which lets voters rank their 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices; if no one gets a majority, you use the rankings to determine a majority winner, without the hassle, expense, ridiculously low turnout, and minority vote suppression involved with holding a separate runoff election later. IRV has a proven track record of success over decades in a dozen other U.S. cities.”

Is it a hassle? Does it matter if the turnout is low? That usually means the best informed people and the ones who care the most get out and vote. Funny, that seems to be OK for a blue wave.

Minority vote suppression? I’d have to have someone explain that to me. How does that work? Does the media hide that an election is coming? Do the Dem leaders forget to notify their people? Ridiculous!

Cost? Mulroy says it would be $250,000 a year to repeal it. That’s nothing to a city where we pay enormous amounts per pupil for an “education” that can’t get them figuring out change at Wendy’s. What will they try next? We just all click on our computer and vote that way? Don’t laugh, they’ll try it.

In an article entitled “Instant Runoff Voting: Looks Good–But Look Again” by Stephen H. Unger at Columbia, he writes:

So how could any decent, intelligent person not support IRV? One answer is that situations can arise in which IRV results are clearly unreasonable. For starters, what would you think of a system that chose C as the winner in a 3-candidate race where majorities of the voters expressed a preference for A over B and for A over C? In the IRV election of Example 3 below, this is precisely what happens!

Example 3.

4 CAB 4 CB
3 BAC ———-> 3 BC —-> C wins
2 ACB drop A 2 CB

In the first round, A is eliminated. C, second choice of A supporters, gets 2 more votes in round-2 and therefore beats B 6-3. But notice that 6 of the 9 voters placed A ahead of B and 5 voters placed A ahead of C. So, altho A would have beaten both rivals in 2-candidate elections, C comes out on top in this 3-candidate race. Putting it another way, if there had been a 2-candidate election between A and C, A would have won, but the entry of B into the race mysteriously makes C the winner. Not good!

But IRV has serious drawbacks. Particularly when there are three or more serious contenders, some very strange things can happen, such as the defeat of a candidate who would have won over each of the other candidates in a 2-person race, or a situation where A is deprived of a victory because several voters changed their first-place votes from B to A.

The complexity of IRV also mandates central counting of votes and this, in turn, provides increased opportunities for wholesale fraud or malfunction. Hand counting and recounting becomes slower and more expensive.

A lesser problem is that the reporting of election results to the general public is likely in many cases to omit significant information, such as local data and support for minor party candidates.

I wonder when politicians want to change the rules. Usually that means Democrats think they’re losing. Just check the current argument about dropping the Electoral College. We saw that after 2000, too, when the Dems lost the presidential election. Otherwise, they’re fine with it.

I’m afraid this is one of those things that makes people feel a righteous indignation. It is misplaced. Plurality voting and primaries have worked for centuries.

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