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1 comments | Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Democrats are giving me little faith that they are a progressive/liberal party. In my opinion we need proportional representation and/or instant runoff voting in this country. These things would go a long way towards empowering third parties. They would also make the Democrats stand more for progressive values, and the Republicans stand more for the values of their base (dread the thought). There's a lot of talk about how polarized the country is, but there's also a lot of folks who say the two parties actually agree on too much. While I see some of what the polarization people are talking about, I think I actually agree with the second argument more...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

This post repeats the common myth that Instant Runoff Voting is helpful to third parties. The reality is that IRV has resulted in two-party duopoly in all four countries where it has seen long-term widespread use (e.g. Australia and Ireland). By contrast, most of the 27 countries that use a genuine runoff system have escaped duopoly. Yet still the myth persists that two-party duopoly is a result of single-winner elections, and can only be remedied with proportional representation. P.R. may or may not be an improvement over good single-winner voting methods. The evidence is inconclusive, since there have been few "good" single-winner voting methods ever used throughout history. Instant Runoff Voting is actually one of the worst, according to the world's most extensive Bayesian regret calculations, by Princeton math Ph.D. Warren D. Smith.

IRV also increases the rate of spoiled ballots by about a factor of 7, and incentivizes the adoption of fraud-prone electronic voting machines, which is why election integrity experts like Rebecca Mercuri disapprove of it.

A simpler and vastly better system is Approval Voting, in which voters use traditional ballots, but may vote for as many candidates as they like. It picks better (more utilitarian) winners, reduces spoiled ballots, and makes it safe for voters to always cast a sincere vote for their favorite candidate, unlike IRV.

Approval Voting also will plausibly lead to the dismantling of two-party domination (unlike IRV), and is a natural intermediate step toward Reweighted Range Voting, and Asset Voting - two proportional representation systems which are simpler and better than Single Transferable Vote (STV).

For third parties, the choice is obvious. You'd better make the promotion of Approval Voting your number one issue, because until you do, you'll never win a significant number of elections. The history of third parties is failing to look at history, and realize this.

Clay Shentrup
San Francisco, CA

4:32 PM


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