4/24/2006

Range Voting vs. Instant-Runoff

I have been a fan of instant-runoff voting, an electoral process in which voters rank candidates by preference, instead of casting a single vote. If nobody has a clear majority of first-place votes, the bottom candidate is dropped and his supporters apply their second-place votes. This continues until one candidate has a clear majority. Of course, IRV does not produce outcomes that match precisely with voter preference (whatever you want to define THAT as), tending instead to favor consensus candidates.

Some who pay attention to such things are now beginning to favor a system called range voting, or "rated vote." In it, each voter gives each candidate a rating between 0 and 99 (or 0 and 9, or whatever). The voter is advised to score his top preference as 99, and his bottom preference as 0. These ratings are averaged, and the highest-rated candidate wins.

Partisans for this system note that it has several perceived advantages over IRV, among them: there is no penalty for highly rating multiple candidates; you can more expressively represent your preferences than with simple rankings; there is no structural incentive to vote in a way that doesn't accurately represent your opinion.

Furthermore, IRV is seen to have most of the flaws of the present system, since there is still some degree of strategy in choosing who gets the vital first or second votes. After all, if all voters were to vote first for the most extreme candidates, the consensus candidate may well be eliminated. The reverse is also true, and more likely; those countries with IRV tend to have two strong parties and a host of minor ones.

The concept sounds interesting, and the proponents note that similar systems are presently used to rate content on the internet such as movies or books. But this points out my largest criticism with the plan as proposed by the linked website. In the version it proposes, voters have the option of expressing no opinion on a given candidate. Unfortunately, what often happens in places like Amazon.com is that the overall rating in disproportionally determined by strong partisans for and against a candidate. If a voting system were to allow voters to remove their views from consideration, outcomes would be determined largely by the fringes.

If a candidate has done such a poor job of outreach that many voters have no opinion one way or the other, he should not be rewarded by making his few supporters relatively more influential. There should be no "express no opinion" option.

Aside from that, however, range voting looks interesting.

2 comments:

DEANBERRY said...

The Second Amendment means nothing outside of hunting.

Our forefathers gave us that right to fend off a military takeover in the U.S. - by either the left or the right.

Apparently, since most gun owners are far right they didn't see fit to fight the far right takeover so here we are. On the verge of martial law.

You'll imitate your German counterparts of 70 years ago. You'll allow them to take away any weapon that gives you parity with the military. You know you barely made a peep when the Brady Bill took away your assault rifles, which is what you'll need to effectively combat troops.

What a bunch of cowards, and what a sore disgrace you are to our forefathers who gave their blood for the likes of you.

In Jesus' Glorious and Holy name,
Dean Berry -- Real American

http://www.deanberryministries.org

dinoberry@frontiernet.net

Mastiff said...

Wow. That was amazing.

"On the verge of martial law"? When people can openly march in support of our enemies, like what happened outside the Israeli Embassy a few days back, we ain't nowhere close to martial law.

It's a funny "military takeover" that has the Executive Branch exerting control over the military. I do not think that word means what you think it means…

I don't know about you, but I wouldn't think it an effective proselytizing technique to insult your target audience. Of course, Christians have been making that mistake for hundreds of years, so it's not without precedent.

And calling me/the government Nazis? Classy. Very classy.