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Proposal for Alternative Voting System

I am proposing a system somewhat analogous to Instant Runoff Voting (IRV), but simpler and more adaptable. Imagine no political parties or primaries, no "spoiler" effect, voting for the candidate you prefer rather than the biggest challenger to the one you most oppose, a larger pool of diverse candidates, greater opportunities for alternative candidates to gain a footing and perhaps win an election.
Our country is ruled by two crappy political parties. Independent-thinking or other party candidates have no chance in hell of being elected, because voters have a strong tendency to either: (1)- think that a vote for a candidate who won't win is a wasted vote, or (2)- vote for the candidate most likely to defeat a candidate they least want (e.g. vote for lesser evil Kerry to keep Bush out).

Personally, I admit that in the last presidential election (2) applied to me. I voted for Kerry because I felt the risk of Bush winning was awful, even thoe I didn't particularly support Kerry either.

Wouldn't it be nice if independent and alternative-party candidates had an equal standing during elections? Wouldn't it be nice if the pool of candidates represented a wider variety of views so that, perhaps, we might actually feel like supporting one of them? Wouldn't it be nice if we COULD vote for them -even if the have no real chance of winning- without thinning out the vote for similar candidates more likely to win (i.e. no "spoiler" concerns)? Wouldn't it be nice if we could vote for the candidate that we want to win, rather than the biggest challenger to the one we want most to lose?

The system I propose is actually somewhat similar to a system called Instant Runoff Voting. IRV addresses basically the same problem. I am not an expert on this by any means. The significant difference is that, with IRV, each voter must rank all of (or some of) the candidates to redirect them if their primary candidate loses; whereas with this system the candidate makes the decision (which I assume is legally more challenging). There are advantages to both of those. With IRV, the voter keeps control of the alternative choices their vote goes. With this system, it can better adapt to a larger pool of candidates. You can't use IRV, for example, with 100 different candidates and have each voter rank all 100 of them; waayyy too burdensome, but this system can deal with it. And if you compromise IRV by limiting the number of alternative candidates a voter can select, then you haven't fully solved the problem (e.g. if you have just one alternative, then you would have changed from just a two-party system to just a two-or-three-party system as only one other party would have any hope of being a contender, and personally I would like more choices that even that).

Maybe I am a minority and most people will prefer the IRV system and attack this. That is still a good thing, because IRV is a hell of a lot better than what we currently have and any such debate will only draw attention to something better, regardless of whether it is this or IRV or something similar.

Also, this eliminates the need for a primary election, saving fuss and saving money of doing that.

I propose we start a movement to make this happen in local elections. Perhaps it will catch on in other states as well, and someday, national elections can work this way.

Ok, so here is how my proposal works:

1. No formally-recognized political parties. All candidates are considered "independent". There can be a large number of candidates.

2. Hold election. Each voter votes for one candidate that is their favorite.

3. Count the votes. All of the candidates are assembled somewhere along with the people tabulating votes, and the following process is performed until a winner is determined. The intermediate lists and the vote transfers that take place are all public record.

3a. Count the votes and produce a list of candidates sorted in order of decreasing votes. That is, the candidate at the top of the list has the most votes. If two or more candidates tie somewhere in the list, then resolve the tie via sorting them into a randomize order (this is an easy computer problem, given a good entropy source for random number generation). Do not put candidates on the list that have zero votes.

3b. If the the candidate at the top has more than 50% of the total votes, then stop. The candidate at the top is the winner.

Note: If the result is an unusual exact two-way tie, continuing with the steps below will resolve it.

3c. Give the current list to the candidates and take a 15-minute (or whatever) recess. Candidates can go meet and make plans for transferring votes as they choose. Candidates will also be permitted to contact outside consultants during this process.

3d. After the recess, call for candidates to volunteer to transfer their votes. Any candidates may transfer their votes to other candidates higher up on the list (obviously the top candidate cannot do this), or just erase their votes completely if there is nobody higher up that they would choose to transfer to. A candidate who does this must do so for all votes they have from the list given at Step 3c, so they result in having zero votes, unless some other candidate transfers votes up to them.

Also note that candidates may choose to split their votes among multiple candidates higher up, if they choose.

3e. If none of the candidates volunteered to transfer or delete their votes, then the one at the very bottom is required to do so. Since nobody is below them to transfer votes up, this candidate would end up with zero votes and be eliminated from the list.

3f. After the vote transfers have taken place, go back to step 3a to re-assemble the list and continue down from there.

Some advantages of this system:

1. You can have a large number of candidates (hundreds?, thousands?, ...). Voters do not need to keep track of all of them and their platforms; only of those "in their camp" so they can pick one that reflects their position. Candidates would be assumed to be responsible for researching either other as needed to make responsible vote transfering decisions during the vote counting phase (after all, if you are going to vote for them for a political office, you can trust them to do that, can't you?).

2. There is no sense of a "spoiler" effect. Less popular candidates can be voted for with the general assurance that, even if the candidate you vote for does not win, your vote will almost certainly go towards getting a candidate to win that is more aligned with your views.

3. Because of the above, people will be less afraid to vote for alternative candidates. Alternative candidates who better reflect the wishes of the people are more likely to win the election.

4. Political power is shifted from the leaders of the Democratic and Republican parties to the people.

5. Since the party affiliation of politicans will be less important, less middle-school style partisan bickering. More focus on actual issues rather than party platforms.

Some weaknesses (I'm sure others will think of many more, but if you can think of something better, propose it):

1. If you have a large number of candidates, voting can be more complex and error prone, as voters would have to choose from a large number of candidates so it would be easy to mistakenly pick the wrong one. However, if we have an intent of creating a relaible voting system this seems to be very solvable.

2. If you have a large number of candidates, the vote tabulation process can be very burdensome. If candidates are generally unwilling to voluntarily transfer their votes, then we have to go through that cycle for just about every candidate (if it takes about 1/2 hour to make it through one recess-vote-transfer-recount cycle and you have 1000 candidates, that's 500 hours). However, I'm sure the system can be tweaked to deal with that. For example, steps 3b/3e can be adjusted when the list is long, as an example:

- if the list is >100, you can only transfer votes to the first 100 and Step 3e applies to everyone after the 100th position.
- then, if the list is >50, you can only transfer votes to the first 50 and Step 3e applies to everyone after the 50th position.
- perhaps do an analogous step again if the list is > 30.
- then proceed normally, one at a time, the rest is only 15 hours of work at most.

3. The losing candidates are making decisions of where the votes they receive should go among the remaining candidates, rather than the voters themselves. I think this is normally alright, because voters would vote for candidates most reflective of their positions and, thus, would tend to transfer their votes in a way that best represents what the voter who voted for them would have wanted. But there would be times this is not the case. A voter may have a different set of priorities regarding the issues, and, thus, prefer someone else as an alternative than what the candidate would prefer. This difference would tend to grow as candidates transfer votes to candidates, who transfer votes, and so on. If this is thought of as a signficant problem, then IRV is an alternative.

I'm not a political process and legal expert by any means. I am just someone out there a bit fed up with the system throwing an idea out there, on the dream that it might spark a discussion and more movement towards an effective solution.
fusion voting 19.Feb.2006 14:04


if you are interested in alternative voting systems, you will want to check out this website. There will be a lot of action around this within the next 10 months or so by unions and other progressive organizers.


Another idea (modified IRV) 19.Feb.2006 15:13

Mike Novack stepbystpefarm <a> mtdata.com

I don't think that people would be too happy regressing to "indirect elections" whioch is essentially what was just described (and more or less how US Senators were originally elected). And I do NOT see how it would be democratic to forbid free association (how ELSE could you outlaw parties).

How about modified IRV? The ballots are just like with IRV (must list candidates in order of preference. But first, before counting by IRV rules (where candidates get eliminated)do a preliminary count. In the preliminary count on each ballot each candidate is scored against each other cnadidate (above or below --- but not how many in between). Then if any candidate beats all others 1:1 on a majority of ballots (not necessarily the SAME ballots) declare that candidate the winner. If their sin't a winner on that basis (a "Condorcet candidate") revert to normal IRV eliminating the low candidates in turn until one has a majority).

No possible vote counting scheme is perfect in all situations. But the modification I just described would eliminate most of the risks of bad results from IRV. Because people are so used to seeing the benefits of IRV described in the context of the current political preference distribution where it would work well << two very large parties fighting over the middle with smaller radical parties outside >> I will breifly describe them.

a) A "Condorcet candidate", even one beating all other candidates on a 1:1 basis by a landslide, could be eliminated in the first round of straight IRV. Just picture a three party race with X having 36% support, Y having 30% support, and Z having 34% << but Y beats X 64%-36% and Y beats Z 66% to 43% >>

b) A corollary to "a" and VERY dangerous. The way I have described situation "a", with straight IRV we expect X to win the election (Y is elimiated and assming that the forced second choices of the Y voters are evenly split, that's the result). Now assume that in the NEXT election public opinion has moved Xward across the board. X now has 49%, Y 29% and Z 22% << public support for X greatly increased, public support for Y decreased slightly, support for X decreased greatly --- but the winner moves Zward! << Z is eliminated and Y will be the second choice on these ballots and so Y wins >> I think you will agree that the people of the X faction would be unlikley to accept this result ---- civil war.

c) Lesser of evils choices remain. Look back at situation "a" and assume that the X and Z factions are bitterly opposed with Y in the middle (think say England in the early years of the 20th Century). Do you not see that voters whose true preference is for Z could prevent the victory of the X candidate by casting a lesser of evils 1st preference for Y and it would take just a few percent of them to do this? << If party Z is eliminated first, Y will win >>

Random selection 19.Feb.2006 18:02


How about we simply choose our government leaders at random from amongst all citizens? Each group would be equally represented in theory.

it's like PRMA in the bioregional state 20.Feb.2006 10:33


You should check out the ideas in Toward A Bioregional State concerning these things.

such as

-- first get the districts ungerrymandered, then
-- worry about the voting frameworks.

On the first point, why have an election if the demographics are already rigged in one direction by the district drawing process? That is why the U.S. is so degradative. We have basically a two party state that agrees to gerrymander legislative districts so as to be ungeographically uncompetitive and rigged on the demographic that is in the district--yielding the voter no choice and no competition. And when a third party wins, like happened in Maine in a rigged district that upset the unrepresentative Democrat there that the people didn't want to see, what happened was that the Democratid and the Republican party colluded to obliterate that district/demographic that allowed this party comeptition to happen! They divided it up and by the next election, that demographic win was split across several areas, instead of representative what was a closer geographic concern there.

Thus, only with permanent mechamisms in all districts for competitive parties can voters get a choice--and can parties stop being gatekeeping organizations and start being comeptitive vote getting organizations. My suggestion would be toward watershed districting to provide a form of ecological feedback into the state.

Next, as for your vote ideas, it is similar to "proportional representation with a majoritarian allotment", PRMA. PRMA is similar to what you are suggesting--of 50% or above being 'it' in one sense; thus, 1 person is the candidate. However, to be fair, there's nothing special about that because that is what we have now in the United States. However, the way that this works in practice is that it is 50% of a partial electorate that is appealed to instead of a mechanism to force parties to compete for 100% of the electorate. PRMA aims to solve the party collusion dynamic issue, and to solve it in such a way that it makes informal party dynamics ratchet to compete both for the candidate for the seat, as well as compete for how the election itself structurally turns out.

1. 50%, a clear winner. Majoritarian stands. That is what we have now. However, as I said above, typically this is a perverse outcome because it's a majority of only a partial electorate, where parties are actually rewarded for bringing out less and less people to the polls, instead of more and more. To change the dynamic:

2. in the situation where there is less than 50% (or a plurality as it is called), then the election goes into a proportional representation framework outcome. This is what the voters have clearly decided on: they as a group wanted a plurality win, instead of a majoritarian win. So, don't get hung up on "it's gotta be one canidate" in this sitaution. Be flexible. Plus, the informal party dynamics in PRMA are solved as well as it allows the voter demographics to decide directly how much power a particular candidate gets--directly.

In current majoritarianism, even if only 4 people vote for some person, and there were only 7 people voting, then this person gets a full seat. In other words, there is little incentive for calling out the thousands upon thousands that the parties don't appeal to. PRMA would change that. If the election does go plurliaty, this is equally the will of the voter as much as a majoritarian outcome. So, then you divide up the vote power for the representative(s) based on the ACTUAL vote totals instead of the mind-bogglingly pedantry of Condordet versions of IRV or other versions, etc. PRMA shows the voter a label for each candidate: Mr. 15% or Ms. 35%. and thus it keep them on a tight string instead of loose with more power than the public gave them.

Thus the whole voter public decides on two things: the candidate(s) as well as the vote structural outcome in each situation. Regardless of this division, in each there is a direct power that is given. In majoritarian wins under PRMA, you have to really be a good candidate, so you get the full 1 vote power of the seat. In plurality wins under PRMA, EACH plurality win candidate gets a portion of the vote power--just as the voters expressed and nothing more. This is it suggested could be based on vote percentage up to three candidates. The point would be to make sure that people who are of different views get into power simultaneously when the public is of different views, and 1 person gets into power when the public is more of one mind.

Thus the voting public decides on both the candidates as well as the electoral outcome for each election and the public only gives power begrudgingly and in the discrete amounts that it has authorized in the actual vote totals--no more and no less. The 50% tipping point between a majoritarian outcome and a proportioanl representation outcome for each election would addtiionally be a guard against vote fraud, since the stakes are heightened to really prove that one party has 50% or more, and in the other sitution to assure. Only in PRMA I am arguing can the voter be sure that there is a situtaion where the parties themselves have incentives to count all the votes. Right now, there is no such incentive under majority voting.

So if the public is of a split mind in an election, that is good and fine. This information is what the public wants. It should be transferred directly into democratic election outcomes. Why not? If A B and C get 15% 45% 40% of the elelectorate, then A B and C get .15 vote power, .45 vote power, and .40 vote power. And these three are elected and the public gets to see them in action expressing these percentages of their collective will.

This would encourage a wide array of views in power, particularly if the public shows that it has a support for multiple parties at a particular juncture.

And later, if another candidate can appeal and win 50%, then that is fine as well and equally legitimate.

The point is providing the voters with a competitive context that rewards competitive parties and punishes collusive ones. Only by flexing the outcome instead of forcing the election outcome into a one-size fits all will the parties be encourages to actually appeal to people, instead of learn how to strategically manipulate voters within a static vote outcome which is an encouragement to vote fraud as well.

For instance, both of Clinton's terms--as well as Bush's first 2000 term (despite the Florida vote fraud that makes it wholly illegitiamate and not what the country voted for, though bear with me here...)...all of these presidential elections for the past three times were only plurliaty wins. Thus, majority of the public DIDN'T WANT THESE PEOPLE, and the majority didn't trust them. That I think has shown that the public or group mind was a much better and more accurate judge of the character of Clinton and Bush, as history has shown. However, the public watched while these untrusted people got just as much power as people the public did want as a majority in previous elections. That is patently wrong. In the presidential context, such things could be adjusted in the PRMA for the Presidency election (with proportional representation PRMA outcomes could be done through Electoral college proportional representation by state, for instance, which would be a national popular vote as well as a more discrete manner of still keeping the voter geographic information as important from each state (which makes your individual vote count more, since it is per state totals that are mattering).

So the suggestion would be: give plurality 'losers' (i.e., the 'winner' in the current framework) notice that they are only a partial winner. That's all. It makes sense. And it would force parties to gain more votes if they wanted more power. That makes sense as well. Right now, with a static outcome regardless of the number of people you appeal to, someone who appeals to 35% and wins in a plurlaity and 65% and wins have exactly the same power. This is wrong.

PRMA frameworks would be a check and balance on many things: from unrepresentative parties that collude to avoid the full electorate (which is endemic in the U.S. ---Bush only appealed to about 25% in 2000; Gore, 25% as well. The public hates these people. That should be represented. In PRMA it would show it; other checks and balances would be on vote fraud (since the smaller parties would be definitely have a direct incentive to be involved in making sure that the votes are counted instead of running just to appear and not win, since in PRMA all parties are guaranteed some power if it is a plurlaity win, instead of a (vote frauded, hypothetically) 51% for instance. It additionally sounds like a recipe to avoid giving full power to totalitarian one-party state parties that are better at scaring people away from the polls as a strategy to win.

So in short, if there is a clear 50%, then 1 candidate with the full value of 1 vote. That's what the public wants.

If there are plurliaty wins and splits among candidates, the public has spoken that is what it wants in these situtions, then proportionally allocate their percentages of vote power. That is what the public wants as well.

And it can be flexible per election as well as force all parties to be competitive for 100% of the voting populace, since it detracts against the party strategy crimes of colluding to lower the vote or not address issues, because they can be punished and the parties that call their corruptions to task are rewarded.

Plus, only in this context will smaller parties have the incentive to really pressure (because they are GUARANTEED TO GET ELECTED IN SOME SENSE), and only in this context will larger parties have the incentives to really be majority parties (instead of what the U.S. has, very thin parties that only scoot by into power and getting the full vote power, without having to really appeal to 50% of the public). Thus if a party really wants to be dominant, then this is a check and balance that they will be attempting to appeal to the full 100% of the electorate (while the other little parties are nipping at their 50%).

This dynamic keeps parties from colluding together like they do in the U.S., because it innately rewards representative parties and punishes those that attempt to get elected without appealing to 50%.

It additionally solves some of the bad institutionalized party dynamics of both proportional representation "raw" as well as majoritarianism "raw" (the latter is what the U.S. has). There has been plenty written on these dynamics academically for instance.

Still, this is all academic until all vote fraud machines are tossed in the river tied to the Democratic and Republican parties that support vote fraud.

You can read some of it here:

Toward a Bioregional State : A Series of Letters About Political Theory and Formal Institutional Design in the Era of Sustainability
 link to www.amazon.com

Fusion voting is a tool of the duopoly 20.Feb.2006 13:01


Fusion voting and open primaries are all part of a concerted effort to minimize the rise of third parties and are nothing more than transparent attempts by the ruling duopoly to try and confuse people who are fed up with a broken system.

IRV is by far the best solution to the so-called spoiler issue.
(But guess who kept it from becoming a reality in Oregon?)
That's right! The Dems and Repugs.

Fusion voting is basically a joke.
Jesus H. Christ People! Wake the fuck up!
A vote for Ted Kulongowski is a vote for Ted Kulongowski regardless of whether it has a tag on it that says it came from someone other than a Democrat. I don't care what lable you add to my vote!
If my vote counts toward keeping the power in the hands of the corporate oligarchy, then I say it is a wasted vote that only enables imperialism and endless wars and environmental destruction.

Does anyone really think that a Repug or Dem gives a flying fuck what lable is attached to the votes that put them in office????

The Open Primaries initiative is just more of the same bullshit.
A blatant attempt to confuse people!

All open primaries will do is eliminate the ballot access that third parties have fought so hard for over the decades here in Oregon. The "Top two" idea will benefit those with the most money and it is really that simple.

If you are fed up with this broken perverted out of control unfettered version of American capitalism and unrepresentative form of democracy, then stay far away from supporting fusion voting and open primaries.
They are a lie designed to confuse and then take advantage of the ever growing number of people who are completely fed up with a corrupt system.

Support the existing third party that best represents your views and support IRV.

Another solution 20.Feb.2006 16:03

Converse Murdoch umlaut@idir.net

The basic problem you're trying to solve is having to pick between two equally bad choices. In Russia they have the option of voting for none of the above. Unless some guy gets at least fifty percent of the vote the parties have to come up with some different guys. Imagine having a system where you could tell both Kerry and Bush to go fuck themselves at the same time. This could work.

None of this matters unless you solve the problem of vote rigging first.

Working Families Party 20.Feb.2006 17:12

Jim Lockhart

The comment about Fusion Voting above is just one opinion on this subject. There are others. Check out the Working Families Party website. These folks are working to build a party that will fight for Oregon's working families.
Some of the people who are on board with this have my respect and admiration as being politically astute. Worth the effort..............

Hey Jim! 21.Feb.2006 08:21


My comments about fusion voting were not directed toward great people like Barbara Dudley and others who are attempting to bring about progressive change.
But make no mistake about it, fusion voting is still a vote for the status quo and the only thing that separates it from what we have today is a lable attached to your vote.
A label that is essentially meaningless.

Asd I said, do you really think Ron Wyden cares what lable is attached to a vote for him?
Think about it.

But I welcome debate beyond what has occured on this thread.

On a recent trip to Portland last year, David Cobb devestated Barbara Dudley in an impromptu debate on this issue and I wish Jim would have been there to tape it and let people judge for themselves rather than get worked up about the latest attempt to reinvent the wheel.

I respect and admire many of the people who are working toward the reform of our broken political system who are trying to create new inroads to change, but the reality is that the Green party platform on labor almost mirrors exactly the "Working families" party platform.
Why do all that work to create a new party when a party that already has ballot access and whose platform incorporates all of the platform of the working families party already exists?????
If people were to put their energy into the growth of existing third parties instead of jumping on board with the latest fad, maybe we could begin to build a stronger alternative.

Hey Steve. 21.Feb.2006 11:24

Jim eagleye@PhilosopherSeed.org

I don't think myself qualified to debate on the many nuances of voting styles. I wish that I had heard and taped that debate between Dudley and Cobb, which could have filled in some of the many gaps in my knowledge of this issue. Did anyone get this on tape? I have a fair grasp of the problems inherent in the present system, and the overall threat to Democracy arising from corportate control of the vote count, but solutions seem fragmented and diffuse.

What you say concerning the fact that there are so many factions attempting, mainly, to achieve the same goal is true, and I was even discussing this with a friend last night. Perhaps the best solution is Instant Run Off voting, but this seems to be impossible to implement for some reason. Barbara spoke a little about this at a presentation given at People's Co Op late last year, along with Madelyn Elders, president of the Communication Workers of America. This talk is up on my server, but not as yet posted to my site, as I'm waiting to get the playback schedules for the cable program, and post them together. But here are the URL's if you, or anyone else, is interested in their perspective:

www.PhilosopherSeed.org/mp3/melders.mp3 MP3

www.PhilosopherSeed.org/realaudio/melders.ram RealPlayer


www.PhilosopherSeed.org/realaudio/barbdud.ram RealPlayer

www.PhilosopherSeed.org/mp3/barbdud.mp3 Mp3

It is unfortunate that there is no one solution that everyone has gotten behind. Why this is I don't really know. But there must come a time when one thing must be admitted to be not working, and another strategy implemented. Maybe this is the case with Fusion Voting, which, according to my grasp of Madelyn and Barbara, is an attempt to take smaller steps towards the same goal sought by those who support IRV.

Why these folks aren't content to "jump on board" with the Green Party, is a question I can't answer. Yet, I'm certain they have, what to them, is a very good reason for their reluctance. And, it's certainly not fair to call Fusion Voting a "fad," as it has yet to prove or disprove itself.

Anyway, still learning!

Thanks Jim! 21.Feb.2006 16:35


Sorry if I came on a little to strong and opinionated on this issue, but it is extremely frustrating to be a Green party member today.

Imagine if every Democrat who had some issues with the party or the party platform just abandoned them.
That's what is happening with the Green party in Oregon.

Despite the fact that we are neck and neck with the liberatarian party as Oregon's third largest party (14,000 registered voters), progressives seem reluctant to support the only political party that truly represents their views. (I.E. Social justice, anti-war, electoral reforms, and protecting what is left of our environment)

Rather than get involved with the party to change the things they might not like about it, people simply criticize Greens for relatively minor differences on small issues.

Anyway, I admire your work here in Portland Jim and thank you for all the work you have done to keep people informed on the issues that really matter.


Trojan Horses, what to build? fusion, IRV, or other first to get in the walls? 22.Feb.2006 10:19


"Maybe this is the case with Fusion Voting, which, according to my grasp of Madelyn and Barbara, is an attempt to take smaller steps towards the same goal sought by those who support IRV. "

Fusion still allows the parties you don't want to see in power capable of keeping power with even lower voter supports. IRV is sort of like a cheap version of the fusion law, though slightly better.

I see IRV as a better 'baby step' towoard more competitive party system--which should be the goal. Fusion can fail to lead to comeptitive parties, or voter choice.

Besides the corrupt Supreme Court has already "ruled" on fusion as something taht no party can force on other parties (the first time that the Supreme Court, in the late 1990s, actually used the phrase "two party system", as a basis for law, which there really are no laws for supporting the two party system--only corrruptions! (The case concerned the New Party, which wanted to have fusion capacities to support and have a group left vote block. The Supremes said in so many words, "the U.S. two party system works so much better if people remain unorganized, so forget it."

IRV has more of a better chance because it comes out of the corrupt parties self interests to institute it. Both Republicans and Democrats have supported it in different states, by the way, because they want to "coup the votes" of their split left or split right party dynamics in the states. Alaska has a secessionist hard right party that when it wins more, it splits the right and throws it the state to the Democrats. Republicans hate that so they want IRV there in some cases. Other states, like New Mexico (I'm only going from memory) want IRV because the Greens are splitting the left and making it hard on the poor ol Dems (who don't want to represent anyone, since the easier change would be to change their policies to get more support, though somehow that is out of the question for the Dems). Instad the Dem party wants IRV there to "coupt the votes" of the Greens to win in endemic second round voting. Either way regardless, fusion or IRV are both second round plurality wins--i.e., they do nothing toward making parties more competitive, when the pre-existing parties can win EVEN MORE under fusion or IRV with less and less support, since they aer simply waiting around like a sponge to soak up real voters concerns in the second round, instead of going out there and winning in the first round.

That being said, I think IRV has more of a chance along with proportional Representation in the Electoral Congress (which has been attempted already in Colorado (it passed easily, though it went down in electronic vote fraud [evidence in the book) than fusion--because IRV plays on party self-interest, though in a way that builds parties competition and plays on party competition instead of party collusion. IRV additionally works out of Dems and Repubs self interests, though it is sort of like a Trojan Horse that they only let in the walls because it suits them. Later, it has different effects.

HOWEVER, IRV would only be a first stage strategy in other words. I fail to see how IRV can be the end of the road. There is so much more that is the matter with United States whole electoral system that is rigged from top to bottom on many different levels to support a gatekeeping arrangement, to demote voter choice, and to destroy local citizen feedback into both policy as well as candidate selection.

I do see IRV as something like a useful starter yeast, that, when it has done its job should be jettisoned as the dregs. Afterward, as other frameworks like PRMA (mentioned above), bioregional districts, can be instituted more readily. IRV is the only Trojan Horse that the Dems and Repubs have shown even the slightest bit of willingness to accept.

Ideally, from the point of view of the voter or the parties that wish to bring about more competition and more choice for the voter, the point is the make existing electoral contests in the United States less predictable and manageable for the Democrats and Republicans so they are more willing to institute and support small changes like IRV to let more parties into the door--ostensibly at first in their own interest because they would be winning in second rounds with lower pluralities instead of because they love democracy.

IRV is the only framework (so far...) that both parties have on their own attempted to support--though of course not for the purposes of competitive election or more voter choice, though for the purposes of removing voter choice and keeping themselves in power more security in lower plurlaity second round wins since they don't want to support more copetitive first rounds.

more in Toward a Bioregional State, link above or here...
 link to www.amazon.com

IRV and Fusion voting have little or no similarities 22.Feb.2006 16:45


"IRV is sort of like a cheap version of the fusion law, though slightly better."

This comment indicates a lack of understanding of IRV.

IRV is nothing like or even remotely similar to fusion voting.
Not even a little bit. Two totally different things.

Perhaps this will help.

Frequently Asked Questions About Instant Runoff Voting

What is instant runoff voting? Instant runoff voting is a method of electing a single winner. It provides an alternative to plurality and runoff elections. In a plurality election, the highest vote getter wins even if s/he receives less than 50% of the vote. In a runoff election, two candidates advance to a runoff if no candidate receives more than 50% in the first round.

How does it work? Voters rank candidates in order of choice: 1, 2, 3 and so on. It takes a majority to win. If anyone receives a majority of the first choice votes, that candidate is elected. If not, the last place candidate is defeated, just as in a runoff election, and all ballots are counted again, but this time each ballot cast for the defeated candidate counts for the next choice candidate listed on the ballot. The process of eliminating the last place candidate and recounting the ballots continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote. With modern voting equipment, all of the counting and recounting takes place rapidly and automatically.

IRV acts like a series of runoff elections in which one candidate is eliminated each election. Each time a candidate is eliminated, all voters get to choose among the remaining candidates. This continues until one candidate receives a majority of the vote.

Isn't this too complex for the voter? No. All the voter has to do is rank one or more candidates. It's like renting a video or picking an ice cream: What video (or flavor) do you want? That's your first choice. If they don't have that video (or flavor), what would you like? That's your second choice. If they don't have that, what's your third pick? That's all there is to it. It's as easy as 1-2-3.

Doesn't this give extra votes to supporters of defeated candidates? No. In each round, every voter's ballot counts for exactly one candidate. In this respect, it's just like a two-round runoff election. You vote for your favorite candidate in the first round. If your candidate advances to the second round, you keep supporting that candidate. If not, you get to pick among the remaining candidates. In IRV candidates gets eliminated one at a time, and each time, all voters get to select among the remaining candidates. At each step of the ballot counting, every voter has exactly one vote for a continuing candidate. That's why the Courts have upheld the constitutionality of IRV.

Does IRV eliminate "spoilers" and vote-splitting? Yes. In multiple-candidate races, like-minded constituencies such as Latinos, liberals, conservatives, etc. can split their vote among their own competing candidates, allowing a candidate with less overall support to prevail. IRV allows those voters to rank all of their candidates and watch as votes transfer to their candidate with the most support. In partisan races, IRV prevents the possibility of a third party candidate "spoiling" the race by taking enough votes from one major candidate to elect the other.

Does IRV save money? Yes. Traditional two-round, "delayed" runoffs are common around the country. IRV halves the cost of those elections because it determines a majority winner in a single election. Before adopting IRV, for example, San Francisco spent as much as $2 million on each election in its delayed runoff, and statewide runoffs in places such as Texas cost far more. In addition, many states and cities use two rounds of special elections to fill vacated seats and instead could elect a popular winner with IRV in one round of voting. In such situations IRV also reduces the reliance of candidates on special interest donors because they only have to campaign and raise money for one election rather than two.

Does IRV affect voter turnout? Yes. Turnout generally increases. IRV gives every voter incentive to participate because your vote still counts even if your first choice candidate is defeated. Also, since IRV only requires one election, the decisive election takes place when turnout is highest, typically November.

Does IRV affect campaign debate? Yes. Because IRV may require second and third choice votes to win, candidates have incentive to focus on the issues, to attract voters to their positions and to form coalitions. Negative campaigning and personal attacks are much less effective in an IRV election.

Where is IRV used? Many places. Ireland uses IRV to elects its president, Australia to elect its House of Representatives, London to elect its mayor, San Francisco to elect its major city offices such as mayor, Utah Republicans to nominate congressional nominees at its state convention, many major universities for their student government elections and the American Political Science Association to elect its president. Literally hundreds of jurisdictions, organizations and corporations use IRV to elect leaders.

Whom does IRV advantage? IRV advantages the majority, since it ensures that a minority of voters can never defeat a candidate supported by a majority. It also gives the voter more power, since s/he can express a range of choices.

Can the voting equipment handle IRV? Modern voting equipment, such as optical scanners and computer touch screens, can handle IRV at no additional cost. Older technologies such as punch cards and lever machines cannot handle IRV, so it doesn't make sense to adopt IRV until new equipment is purchased. In these cases, we recommend legislation authorizing the use of IRV when the equipment is available. For reasons unrelated to IRV, the trend in voting equipment is away from the older technologies, so more and more jurisdictions are acquiring equipment that can handle IRV.

Why don't more places use IRV? Prior to the advent of modern vote counting equipment, IRV required a time-consuming and costly hand count. Some jurisdictions that used IRV in statewide primaries found that they rarely had plurality (less than majority) winners, so IRV seemed unnecessary. With today's diversity and proliferation of parties and candidates, low plurality winners are more common, and hand counts are unnecessary.

Who opposes IRV? Little organized opposition to IRV exists. Election officials are understandably cautious about a system that may increase their workload, and some incumbents fear any change to the system that elected them. If you can win an election under a plurality or runoff system, however, the odds are that you would also win under IRV. The exceptions are rare but can be important. Examples include several recent House races in New Mexico, where Green Party candidates threw races to Republicans, and state legislative races in Alaska in which Libertarians and Alaskan Independent Party candidates knocked off Republicans.

Fusion voting

Fusion - also called "cross-endorsement" - allows two or more parties to nominate the same candidate on separate ballot lines. Candidates' votes on each ballot line are added together to determine the winner.

As you can see, fusion voting and IRV are not the same, nor do they have any real similarities.

Fusion voting amounts to a "protest vote", but in the end is still a vote for the duopoly.

where the rubber meets the road: how to get the Trojan Horse in? 22.Feb.2006 18:35


"IRV is sort of like a cheap version of the fusion law, though slightly better."

This comment indicates a lack of understanding of IRV.

IRV is nothing like or even remotely similar to fusion voting.
Not even a little bit. Two totally different things.

Perhaps this will help.


No. You are wrong. I am talking on the level of effects above as well as on the level of political realities based on the attitudes of both (1) Supreme Court, and (2) the parties attitudes toward both fusion and IRV (which are different). They have the same effect from the point of view of the voter and from the point of view of informal party demographics durabilities: both are simply different frameworks for doing the same thing from the point of view of making a more durable, more competive, and more voter-choice based informal party framework outside of a two party system under majoritarian voting rules. Given that, from the point of view of effects, IRV is a cheap version of the (effects) of the fusion law. They are two different strategies that approximate the same effect or outcome of how many durable parties can 'last' from election to election. The "so slightly better" is because the Dems and Repubs support it, at least presently in some cases, making it more viable a Trojan horse. However, as I said above, it should be seen as only a stepping stone, if ever instituted. It's one I would support as such a stepping stone toward sustainability.

On the pendantic cut/paste above: Of course you are right that they are different though in terms of different attempts at the same purpose of making more competitive elections they are different strategies. Of course we all know that IRV ranks votes. Of course we know that fusion allows mass block parties to vote for other parties.

However, I repeat myself, we're talking strategy here, you know where the rubber meets the road: the rub is that fusion has been cited as taboo by the Supreme Court decisiosn in the late 1990s; plus, the Dems and Repubs hate it. This is a long term hatred since mostly Republican dominant legislatures made fusion illegal in the late 1800s because they were losing to left-fusion tickets, more and more; so they outlawed the strategy of the competitors that was successfully defeating them. Simple really. Nothing to do with democracy: just outlaw your competitors's fusion strategy and rule by reactionary divide and conquer with a small vote base that is against the majority. The Republican party's unofficial motto.

It was after this series of anti-fusion laws that the durable percentage of voters going to the polls dropped drastially to the 50% that the U.S. has come to accept unforunately as 'normal.' It wasn't normal before fusion was outlawed. The percentages were absolutely huge--70% to 80% or more on average participating in elections. If you want more citations or discussion of the history of this, or other political scientists view on the political strategies of it whether fusion or anti-fusion effects on the informal party system, check the book.

The other rub is that IRV is sort of liked by some in the Dems and Repubs, though only because it really leads to the Dems and Reps couping more second round elections, instead of because they care about democracy. They expect IRV to be useful to them instead of competitive elections. That was the origin of my "sort of better" comment--there is slight willingness to accept IRV more than fusion politically as a Trojan Horse.

Other strategies toward the same goal of a more competive informal party system that avoids collusion might be to concentrate on removing gerrymandered districts first, which would have the same effect of making a more competitive voter demographic base. Then, the one-party state map drawing contest that is ever more perfected each year could no longer rig particular like-minded people artificially throgh irregular polygons of districts. Districts would come to reflect the very real geographic self-interest of peoples instead of currently the artificial demographics of one party state rigging strategies. The Dems and the Repubs are both in power because they agree to avoid all competition in the drawing of districts. Both Dems and Repubs have an interest in a one party state. The voter's interest in a competiitve voter framework or competitive parties or even a choice is totally neglected. There are no laws even in the U.S. that say a district has to be competitive! If you ever look into the history of line drawing and elections in the U.S., you will really understand the very mean and very elitist politics of the U.S. from the start who really hate to be representatives through the elections process, so they attempt to minimize the reality of the elections process instead of appealing to voters. Gerrmandering is one route to minimize this reality of the election process. There are some interesting long historical pieces (of some persons dissertation I think) on this at the www.fairvote.org website. You want to see dirty politics: look into gerrymandering. The scale of gerrmandering in the U.S. is absolutely phenomenal. It's getting so good that in the 2000 election almost 20% of the Congress didn't have another party candidate running in their districts! The gerrymandered district precludes giving voters on the ground a choice in the matter of their representatives, and gerrymandering is built from the collusion of the Dems and Repbs to agree to not compete. So Dems and Repubs simply reinherit their posts more and more, as computer systems perfect the map drawing down to the house level, based on everything from past voting behavior of the area, to even consumer databases to attempt to corral a demographic that would lead to the most uncompetitive district as possible...

Some third party candicacies--like for instance that wrestler-Governor in Minnesota, have attempted to remove the gerrymandering through a state independent commission on districting. This has been totally blocked by the Dems and Repubs beccause they don't want to run elections where they are forced to compete, because to win elections in that situation, means that they would have to REPRESENT someone, and they don't want to do that.

Www.fairvote.org has more examples for each state. Check it out there if you are curious about your particular state's data on incumbency, districts, and whatnot.