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ranked voting

 
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New York City is going to be voting on whether to have ranked voting. I'm in favor of it. I read a mostly well thought out article against. (Although I think the supermarket analogy is false.)

Do you have ranked voting where you live? What do you think of it?
 
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We don't.

I have to admit the system sounds complex and provides room for unforeseen and unwanted consequences. My gut reaction is against it, in the form it was presented.

I like the idea that voters can rank their favorite candidates, but it should be possible to indicate which candidates you would never vote for (likely by omitting them from your ranking altogether). It's also not immediately clear to me how the rankings should affect the final outcome. Elimination systems ALWAYS lead to problems. Better is a single round using some kind of weighted vote.

These complexities, paired with the fact that voting machine manufacturers apparently can't get their shit together and build something that's better than counting paper ballots by hand makes me believe we're not ready for this.
 
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We don't have it, but I think it's a good idea. First-past-the-post systems (like used for parliamentary seats in the UK and the US) lead to large numbers of votes being discounted, and to legitimacy deficits when there are multiple parties like in the UK - it may be possible to win a seat with less than 30% of the votes. (Multiple parties are good in general, though.) With ranked choice, voters have the feeling that their votes actually count for something, even if they didn't vote for the candidate getting the most votes in the first round. Germany has a different way to ensure that seats in parliament are apportioned according to the parties' overall vote share, and not as the sum of individual seats being won (which leads to artifacts such as the above-mentioned legitimacy issue as well as gerrymandering).

As to that article, I would discount anything with a summary that is so highly biased that it drips with sarcasm.
 
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Tim Moores wrote:. . . in the UK - it may be possible to win a seat with less than 30% of the votes. . . .

That is easily done. FPTP doesn't even work well with two parties; our 1951 general election produced a Tory Government even though Labour polled more votes across the country.
I don't know what ranked voting is but it sounds like what we call single transferable vote. It is only suitable for small fields. If you have a large field, you are supposed to stop numbering candidates when you can no longer declare a preference. I remember one election where three candidates were obviously no good and should have been Nos 114, 115, and 116 (out of 113), but one of the three was actually elected. So it should be possible to have an adverse vote, but only instead of a normal vote.
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I seem to remember learning once that you can find a situation for ANY voting system that is "unfair", but that, of course, depends on your definition of "fair".

I agree that the supermarket analogy is bogus.  It'd be better if talked about all the guests coming voted for their favorite steak sauce, rather than one person trying to buy what they want and not getting it.

I did find this article on different voting schemes, talking about some of the pros and cons...

Personally, i'd be in favor of ranked voting. It's not perfect, but I believe it is better than what we have now.
 
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frosenberger wrote:I seem to remember learning once that you can find a situation for ANY voting system that is "unfair", but that, of course, depends on your definition of "fair".



Fred, you may be thinking of the Condorcet paradox and/or Arrow's impossibility theorem.

The article is... interesting.  Its obvious partisanship and falsehoods about people's motives give us little reason to trust it.  But it does bring up some interesting potential issues, that I would be interested in learning more about from a credible source.  

I actually do agree with the article's conclusion, that explicit runoffs would be even better.  Ranked choice is essentially equivalent to a series of runoffs... but compressed together so there's no opportunity to get good debates and discussion amongst the last two (or three or four) candidates.  I'd actually be inclined to have a hybrid system using ranked voting to narrow the field down to, say, four people.  Then have some debates, then have a regular election. If there's no majority, drop the candidate with the fewest votes, have another debate, and have another runoff.  Repeat until one candidate remains.
 
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The current system is certainly a mess. Party-only primaries that over-represent the extreme factions, electoral colleges with winner-take-all, outdated representation counts that makes voters in Montana have effectively 4 votes for each voter in California. This not only isn't a Democracy, it's not even a very good excuse for a Republic. And the "official" reason for a lot of this was to prevent The Tyranny of the Majority from electing a corrupt, incompetent demagogue who would sway the ignorant masses into surrendering their essential rights and freedoms in exchange for comforting lies and bluster.

There's really been only one presidential election where both candidates made me feel like it was a choice of who was the better man (Carter-Ford, and Ford disillusioned me in his declining years). Usually it's who to vote against, and what kind of republic is that?

So ranked voting appeals a lot to me when I can make my real preferences clear even if my candidate of choice probably won't win. This deal of hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils I find revolting. Especially after having the greater of both evils come through the primaries.

But I live in the land of Hanging Chads, so I'm not optimistic that ranked choice would work well.

But I'd be happy to abolish party primaries as a first step.
 
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Tim Moores wrote:As to that article, I would discount anything with a summary that is so highly biased that it drips with sarcasm.



The summary was such a steaming pile of rubbish that I didn't feel it necessary to read the article.

The problem with voting systems is that there are so many options other than first-past-the-post that trying to get rid of FPTP descends into a series of arguments between all of the other possibilities. And then if you have a vote which pits FPTP against several other possibilities... it's always easier to say No in a referendum.

So I think the idea of "Here's our new voting system, what do you think of it?" is a great idea. Personally I would be in favour, because all of those things in the article summary are pretty much the opposite of the truth.
 
Mike Simmons
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Tim Holloway wrote:And the "official" reason for a lot of this was to prevent The Tyranny of the Majority from electing a corrupt, incompetent demagogue who would sway the ignorant masses into surrendering their essential rights and freedoms in exchange for comforting lies and bluster.


Well, good thing we escaped that outcome.  Whew!  Well done, founders.

Tim Holloway wrote:So ranked voting appeals a lot to me when I can make my real preferences clear even if my candidate of choice probably won't win. This deal of hold your nose and vote for the lesser of two evils I find revolting. Especially after having the greater of both evils come through the primaries.



I think I'd still want to rank the evil ones, as long as I could determine that one was indeed less evil than another.  We want to vote for the candidate that we really like best... but often, we instead must try to limit the damage from others.  It sucks, but we still should take the opportunity to influence things even when our preferred choices have been eliminated.

Tim Holloway wrote:But I'd be happy to abolish party primaries as a first step.



++!!

I'd like to think that ranked voting would at least diminish the perceived need for parties, and diminish their power.  A 3rd party candidate could more safely engage in the election without concern for whether they were drawing too many votes from an acceptable-alternative candidate from the big two.  If the 3rd party gets enough support (possibly drawing from voters on both parties, or drawing on the various people who previously couldn't find a decent candidate in the big two) then they can supplant the big two candidates.  If not, well the result should devolve to the result from a runoff of just the big two then.
 
Tim Holloway
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Full Ranked choice carries its own perils. If you have to rate everyone and you rate Slimeball McGuffin dead last, but he wins a majority, he can falsely claim a mandate. Because you had to vote for him, when in fact, the only reason you didn't vote for well-aged roadkill is that roadkill wasn't on the ballot and he was.
 
Jeanne Boyarsky
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I'd actually prefer an instant runoff. Pick the top two and then use people's ranked vote to determine which of the two to vote for. But that's not a choice.

Fred: Good link.

Tim: They are proposing vote for up to 5 where I live. Not full ranked voting. It's still not great when you have a ton of candidates as you can't rate them all. But you don't have to rate even five. You can just vote for one or two.

I live in Queens where we had a primary that was national news. The wikipedia article includes the stats.. Let's pretend there were three candidates. If you wanted to vote for Cabán, it was easy. If you were torn between Katz and Lasak, you had a problem. You had to guess who would get more votes. Ranked voting or instant runoff voting would have solved that. And I believe it would have resulted in an election that wasn't close. I also believe it would have resulted in someone getting well over 50% of the votes if you counted both first and second place choice.

This example also shows why instant runoff would have been better. The people who voted for the candidates who hardly got any votes would have decided the election and Lasak's voters would have their second place candidate ignored.
 
Mike Simmons
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Tim Holloway wrote:Full Ranked choice carries its own perils.


Agreed, but I think these are also issues for any election, even with only two candidates.  That is, if neither of the two candidates are appealing to a large chunk of the voters, then those voters may stay away from the election entirely.  And then one candidate gets a majority of votes cast, which can be claimed as a mandate... which may nonetheless be a minority of the populace.

I like the idea of "None of the above" to address this - and in fact, it's perfectly possible to have "None of the above" as an option, as part of a ranked choice system.  The Hugo Awards have done this for years.  If None rises to the top, then the whole election is invalidated, no winner.  Otherwise, you can still rank your undesirables, below the None level, and you still get a say to vote against the worts candidates, while expressing that it would be better to invalidate the election.  If enough others agree, you can force a new election; if not, you still have some influence.  Some people may still find it unacceptable to write down a bad candidate's name under any circumstances, but to me, this approach offers the most morally defensible way to justify it.

Ultimately, whether or not to have a None option is largely orthogonal to whether or not to use ranked choice.  You can include one or both in a voting system.

 
Tim Holloway
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And then there's also the write-in option. Done that one myself. Although since write-ins almost invariably are a tiny fraction of receiver votes, it's mostly a weak gesture.

Unless people really hate the official candidates and someone popular got locked out. Here, also ranked choice is good because you could say I really wanted Bernie, but failing that, OK, Hilary. Or if you lean Libertarian, you could write in Ron Paul over Trump.
 
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