Author Topic: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?  (Read 1383 times)

velcro

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Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« on: June 08, 2018, 12:40:03 PM »
Ranked choice voting involves ranking the candidates from first down, as far as you like.  If no candidate gets the majority of first choices, then the candidate with the least first choices is eliminated, and those votes get distributed to the second choice candidates.  That repeats until one candidate has the majority of votes.

Some people object to this process, but I can't understand why.

-It is very slightly more complicated, but not actually difficult.
-It allows third party candidates to get votes without voters worrying about wasting their vote
-It prevents splitting of votes between two popular candidates, allowing a much less popular third candidate to win
-Catering to the extremes is less successful, in that you are less likely to get any second choice votes

Any thoughts on its disadvantages?

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #1 on: June 08, 2018, 01:13:33 PM »
Why this doesn't happen?

- It allows third party candidates to get votes without voters worrying about wasting their vote

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Minneapolis was the first city to use RCV during its 2009 election, after successfully defending lawsuits against the method and prevailing in the state Supreme Court. Since Minneapolis and St. Paul voters approved RCV, voters in Duluth rejected it. It has also been considered by city councils in St. Louis Park, Rochester and Red Wing, but has not yet been adopted in other cities.

Koran doesn’t live in a city with ranked-choice voting currently, but he fears some in his district are looking at implementing it. Born and raised in St. Paul, Koran said he has family members in the city who are frustrated by the system.

“Every vote should count, and every vote should be as simple as ‘I picked my top candidate,’ ” he said. “I think it changes the dynamics of, do you win by a second or third chance? It just doesn’t seem natural, and we have an established elections process that has worked well for more than 100 years.”

In practice, however, it might be confusing for many people to use voting machines. Are they going to drag-n-drop? Write in numbers? The user interface of "click the box" is vastly simpler, and we still have people complaining that the machines didn't do what they intended currently.

Then there is the whole punditry complication. How do you publish poll numbers? How the heck are you supposed to "call" a state early and color it in? :D


Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #2 on: June 08, 2018, 01:29:11 PM »
What a surprise that people are hesitant to do a new thing.

One thing to note is that a slightly mis-designed new system would be worse than a far inferior older system because it will give the people looking for confirmation that new things are bad. It has to touch on the needs the voters feel they have while also securing the best version of a compromise suiting the wishes of the most voters. Therefore the design has to balance things that feel good with things that *are* good. This might mean that an imperfect system is the best system because it would *work* perfectly.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #3 on: June 08, 2018, 01:55:14 PM »
What would this do to voters who previously voted straight ticket?
Could there be two candidates from the same party?
Would it lead to lots more choices on the ballot?
How would it affect debate formats that tend to exclusively run 2 or at most 3 ways?

Looks like we'll see how this plays out in Maine

Remember the video of people scrutinizing hanging chads? Yeah...

Now picture people doing that with this ballot

Is that a stray mark in the 2nd choice, or did they intend to make that mark?
What if a voter fills in a first choice and a third choice but no second?
How many people will write in something stupid and list it 1st?
What if someone lists the same candidate all the way across?
Is this ticket actually real, are there 7 democrats trying to be governor?

Seriati

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #4 on: June 08, 2018, 02:08:51 PM »
It's adds a good bit of complexity, with potentially small gains.  It encourages voters, who already generally know very little about the candidates to have to make even more candidate level decisions.  The most likely result is essentially the same as the party line voting we get today, with the only potential location where it results in a "new" result compared with a traditional vote is a jungle primary, but allowing for a "party" vote rather than a candidate vote.

I'd think, if you were going to do it, you should use a system like a poll where there are more points for a first place vote, but still points on a second place vote.  Imagine 4 candidates with the following votes:

Alice gets 48% of the first place votes, Bert gets 32%, Carrie gets 15% and Dan gets 5%.

After the first round, Dan is out.  So we open the second place votes of Dan's voters, they are proportional to the first round voting for the other 3 candidates and Alice wins with the extra bump of just under 2.5%.

A researcher then looks at the remainder of the votes, and while it turns out Dan got 5% and his voters otherwise split proportionally, Dan himself would have gotten 95% of the second place votes if they had been looked at, as he was everyone's second choice except for his own voters.  Alice didn't appear as a 3rd or 4th choice for any of those voters, but those that voted 2nd for Alice gave Bert their 3rd place votes.

We dig further and we find that other than Alice's own voters and the pro rata portion of Dan's Alice wasn't anyone's 3rd or 4th choice.  In fact, Carrie's and Alice's voters went 100% for Bert as a third choice, and Bert's went 100% for Carrie as a third choice. 

Did we really get the optimal candidate?   Or should it have been Dan, the overwhelming 2nd place favorite?  Or even Bert who, unlike Annie showed as a 1st, 2nd or 3rd place on every ballot?

The downside here is that it essentially just encourages even more braindead party line voting, and that is just easily resolved by allowing a party line vote on the final candidates from each party.

DonaldD

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #5 on: June 08, 2018, 05:16:35 PM »
In the real world, 999,999 times out of a 1,000,000, Dan doesn't get 5% first place votes and 95% second place votes :)

For the change and complexity-challenged, they can always fill in their first choice and leave the rest blank.

That's not to say this is my favorite voting system, but the "change is bad, because it is not the same as we have" argument, as presented in the quote above, doesn't really talk to me...

Seriati

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #6 on: June 08, 2018, 05:42:21 PM »
I didn't say change is bad DonaldD, and I didn't use that example because I think it's likely.   I used it because it speaks to the question of which candidate really is the best choice.  If we all agreed about which of those 3 should win Annie, Bert or Dan it'd be easy to figure out how to get the right system.  I suspect, however, that we don't agree on which of those 3 is the "correct" winner.

I actually favor the two party, two candidate system, with a bunch of individual races.  I think it pushes both parties to put in place more middle of the road or consensus candidates and generates, in theory elected officials with a bigger attachment to the majority.  It's frustrated by the creation of so many "safe" and manipulated districts, which has directly created opportunities for extremist candidates rather than moderate ones to be the "winner."

DonaldD

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #7 on: June 08, 2018, 10:47:23 PM »
I didn't say you said change was bad.  That was the guy being quoted above.

velcro

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #8 on: June 09, 2018, 02:11:42 PM »
After careful reading, the objections are:
-it's different
-it's not perfect
-its not as good as some other incompletely specified method that actually is more complex
-if we change and it is not perfect, then people will be resistant to change
-I can think of all sorts of ways that it could be bad if it was poorly designed, and I am assuming it will be poorly designed
-it will be harder to "call" a state early (not sure if this is serious)
-the system is good with just two parties, and this would open it up to more parties

Did I miss any? Did I gloss over a more substantive argument by oversimplifying?

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I didn't say change is bad DonaldD, and I didn't use that example because I think it's likely.   I used it because it speaks to the question of which candidate really is the best choice.  If we all agreed about which of those 3 should win Annie, Bert or Dan it'd be easy to figure out how to get the right system.  I suspect, however, that we don't agree on which of those 3 is the "correct" winner.

I actually favor the two party, two candidate system, with a bunch of individual races.  I think it pushes both parties to put in place more middle of the road or consensus candidates and generates, in theory elected officials with a bigger attachment to the majority.  It's frustrated by the creation of so many "safe" and manipulated districts, which has directly created opportunities for extremist candidates rather than moderate ones to be the "winner."

It certainly speaks to the question of which candidate is the best choice, in an astoundingly unlikely scenario.  In the vast majority of scenarios, the candidate that is the best choice is quite clear.  Do you disagree?  Should a system that generally provides better correlation to what people want be abandoned because there is not consensus on very rare fringe cases?

As I mentioned above, the current system gives candidates the incentive to cater to their base, because they only need a plurality.  Get your base out and you win. With ranked choice voting, candidates want to reach everyone except the opposite extreme.  Which system puts in place elected officials with a bigger attachment to the majority?

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #9 on: June 10, 2018, 02:02:41 PM »
I would add in one more to your summary. It lowers confidence in the system. There will be people who don't really understand how this works, and those people will be suspicious of accuracy. It will also expose just how many extremists are really out there, even if their candidate doesn't win. I see a lot of value in this system, but to suggest that it doesn't present serious challenges is myopic. We'll see what happens Tuesday.

velcro

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #10 on: June 10, 2018, 04:43:52 PM »
I agree, it will present serious challenges. Eradication of polio presents serious challenges too, but it is undoubtedly the right thing to do.  My question was more are there rational objections to the actual idea, as opposed to are there objections to any change, or irrational objections by entrenched special interests.

Seriati

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #11 on: June 11, 2018, 09:28:58 AM »
After careful reading, the objections are:
Did I miss any? Did I gloss over a more substantive argument by oversimplifying?

It's not better than what we have.

Define the criteria by which you rate the candidate that should win, and how that's different than the candidate that does win, and how this system gets us closer to that point than the current one.

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It certainly speaks to the question of which candidate is the best choice, in an astoundingly unlikely scenario.  In the vast majority of scenarios, the candidate that is the best choice is quite clear.  Do you disagree?

No, I don't.  But I also don't see how the changes you propose move us to the best choice in any meaningful way.  That's the point of the hypo, to see who people think is the best choice.  How do you evaluate "success" without a clear goal and showing that the current system doesn't achieve that goal but your system would - without frustrating the goal more often than the new successes?

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Should a system that generally provides better correlation to what people want be abandoned because there is not consensus on very rare fringe cases?

I'd ask that same question of you.  In what way is the current system -that you want to abandon - not providing a correlation to what people want except on the rare fringe case?

All I'm asking is that you describe the goal and how your proposal improves on its achievement.

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As I mentioned above, the current system gives candidates the incentive to cater to their base, because they only need a plurality.  Get your base out and you win. With ranked choice voting, candidates want to reach everyone except the opposite extreme.  Which system puts in place elected officials with a bigger attachment to the majority?

Except, I don't see your system as improving on the rally the base model.  Instead of rallying your base to vote for the Democratic candidate, it'll be to vote 1,2,3 for the Democratic candidates.  Still rally the base.  Picking the best Dem candidate is already achievable through the primary. 

The only value add seems to be to let fringe candidates show up in the polls the first time through before their voters get reallocated.   But the value of that has zero to do with picking the best candidate.

Honestly, no voting system works when you have an uneducated polity voting on unexamined tribal llines.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #12 on: June 11, 2018, 09:43:55 AM »
So, velcro, I'm understanding your premise is to ignore implementation and ask if there are objections to the theory of ranked voting, assuming that all voters are informed and capable, as well as systems in place?

I've presented one of those - it exposes more extreme candidates. Assume that a ticket has 5 entrants:

Middle of the road
Extreme progressive
Racist maniac
Attractive celebrity
BLM organizer

We can have some of these things today, they get weeded out in primaries and by party control due to winner take all.

You might easily find that Middle of the Road places third in the winner take all voting, and while they eventually win, it expands the platform for the divisive candidates.

LWV Vermont makes many of the implementation points already discussed, but also points out:

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The “vetting” is less clear -  In the U.S., we have very few requirements for what a person must do to run for office and be on a ballot.  With primaries, the idea is that there is so much publicity that voters in later primaries, and then in the general election, will have learned the candidates’ weaknesses and be better informed before voting.  If there are no primaries, we may need to figure out how to “vet” candidates better, or pass more requirements for candidates to qualify to run.

You could still fail to get a candidate with a majority.  If enough voters did not give any votes to

their lower choices, then you could fail to get a candidate who ends up with a majority, after all. Australia requires that voters do rank every candidate, even if they really don’t want some of the candidates.  (I have not seen that proposed in the U.S.)  This might be interpreted as reducing your choice, or forcing you to vote against your conscience. 

I have not seen this discussed yet, but if there are too many choices, without clear front-runners, I am not sure whether the result reflects the voters’ desires as well as it would if there were only, say, five choices.  So it may be complicated to determine who will be allowed on the ballot.

link

Ballot exhaustion

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No, this is ballot exhaustion, which happens when voters rank too few candidates to stay meaningful until the final runoff. Say there are five candidates running, but the voter ranks only three, and all three are eliminated prior to the last round. As a result, none of their votes will have gone to the winning candidate or the runner-up. In effect, their ballot doesn’t figure in the outcome.



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In 15 of the 18 ranked-choice contests held so far in San Francisco, the winning candidate did not receive a majority of the votes cast. Mayor Ed Lee only appeared on 43.9 percent of ballots. Sheriff-elect Ross Mirkarimi appeared on 46.9 percent. Their “majorities” were secured in relation to their nearest competitors and rested upon on tens of thousands of ballots that were eliminated early in the counting rounds because they did not include second or third choices. These elections did not simulate a majority runoff.”

spur

Low impact

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In the 2013 Australian federal election, 90 percent of constituencies elected the candidate with the most first-preference votes, which suggests that choice ranking had little effect on the outcome.

The alternative to ballot exhaustion is mandatory ranking, which brings its own problems. Most importantly, you might actually be required to pencil in Roy Moore, David Duke, or a member of the Communist party - even if it is your last choice among the worst two evils.

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For both its lower and upper houses, voters are required to sequentially number every candidate on the ballot, from first to last choice. Failure to number each of them results in a spoiled ballot.

In summation, yes there are rational arguments that suggest that this system would be expensive, error prone, minimally effective, confusing, culminating in less confidence. I'd like to see continued experimentation, like what Maine is doing.

Is it really a polio vaccine, or is it Coca-Cola being sold as medicine?
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 09:46:49 AM by TheDrake »

DonaldD

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #13 on: June 11, 2018, 09:52:09 AM »
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Most importantly, you might actually be required to pencil in Roy Moore, David Duke, or a member of the Communist party - even if it is your last choice among the worst two evils.
Technically, if there are as many ballot slots as candidates, then your last ranked pick will always be irrelevant.

If it gets down to your last 2 choices, then your ballot is still used to rate your most disliked below your second most disliked.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #14 on: June 11, 2018, 10:48:57 AM »
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Most importantly, you might actually be required to pencil in Roy Moore, David Duke, or a member of the Communist party - even if it is your last choice among the worst two evils.
Technically, if there are as many ballot slots as candidates, then your last ranked pick will always be irrelevant.

If it gets down to your last 2 choices, then your ballot is still used to rate your most disliked below your second most disliked.

Um, that's already what I said. Your last choice is used to "rate your most disliked below your second most disliked." - which is fine if you like the second to last candidate. But you might actually hate more and not want your vote counted in their supposed support.

In the Presidential, I would have picked Johnson first, and then had to pick between Clinton and Trump for my number two when I despised both of them, and whoever won would have claimed my support. That might make me angry enough about the system to opt out by not voting at all. Which Australia solves by making voting compulsory, but I imagine such a law might be found unconstitutional here.

Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #15 on: June 11, 2018, 11:04:23 AM »
I wouldn't agree that a ranked voting system would entail "giving support" to your #4 choice out of 5. It's a question of whether, if it came down to two candidates you don't like, you'd still prefer one over the other. Or would you be happier if the worse out of the two of them won? That'll show 'em.

However, I still think it would be beneficial to have a "vote against" option where you actually remove a vote from your least favorite candidate because it would appease the voting intent that may well be the reason voters are drawn out in the first place. A chance to stick it to the person they hate may well be a good motivation to vote even if you don't particularly care about any of the other candidates. This would be a very relevant mechanic to satisfy Seriati's objection to the choice ranking system, which is that he believes it won't materially affect who will win even though it gives info on the runners up. With this mechanic in place, if half the nation loves candidate A and hates B, and the other half vice versa, in principle those two should cancel out and each end with zero votes. Therefore any other candidate that receives 2nd choice votes will win, and the idea would be that at least it's a candidate that neither side hates even though it isn't anyone's first choice. That would entail a very different outcome and also do away with the notion that only the most famous candidates win. On the contrary, someone famous who also inspires ire in half the country (basically like Hillary or Trump) would be a bad candidate to run under this system and there would be motivation to run someone who the other side doesn't blatantly hate and could actually be a reasonable person to represent both sides. It could have some flavor of the SCOTUS choices if seen in this light, where you know it's a waste of time to propose someone the other side will reject.

The danger of even this system, of course, is that a partisan mentality could mean that no matter which candidate is front and center representing a party the other side will vote against them, and their particular objectionable-ness won't even enter into it. Which would be a good reason for the parties to cease narrowing down to 1 candidate in the primaries. Just sift down to 2-4 people on 'your side' that would be acceptable to the people and let the people decide between them. There's no issue here of a split vote because it's not a 1-person-1-vote system, so there's basically no downside to fielding a few good candidates. Too many and it's hard to know much about each other them, so the ideal strategy would be to perhaps field 2-3 of them, making it impossible for the other side to know which to 'veto' out of the gate. So I assume that in this scenario the veto would truly go to the person they actually don't like rather than to 'the other party's candidate'.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2018, 11:06:59 AM by Fenring »

NobleHunter

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #16 on: June 11, 2018, 11:45:06 AM »
The Hugo Awards have ranked voting but include a "No Award" option. So you rank the finalists you'd be willing to see win a Hugo and end the ballot with No Award (I think the best course is to leave undeserving works off the ballot in case No Award get eliminated but I'm not sure).

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #17 on: June 11, 2018, 01:24:57 PM »
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I wouldn't agree that a ranked voting system would entail "giving support" to your #4 choice out of 5. It's a question of whether, if it came down to two candidates you don't like, you'd still prefer one over the other. Or would you be happier if the worse out of the two of them won? That'll show 'em.

My concern here is the degree to which someone could tout a final tally at 53% when really only 25% of people voted for the candidate who won as "majority support".

And for me, I wouldn't want either Hillary or Donald to be able to claim that my one vote was in any way shape or form a degree of support for them. Now, in some systems this means I would mark Johnson in the first round and NOTA for the rest of the rounds. In the Australian system, I'd be forced to pick a #2.

Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #18 on: June 11, 2018, 02:07:14 PM »
And for me, I wouldn't want either Hillary or Donald to be able to claim that my one vote was in any way shape or form a degree of support for them. Now, in some systems this means I would mark Johnson in the first round and NOTA for the rest of the rounds. In the Australian system, I'd be forced to pick a #2.

I fully agree with the sentiment you're expressing, but there's an issue of pragmatics versus pride here. It's one thing in the current U.S. system to say you don't want to vote Trump/Hillary because you don't like them, even though voting Johnson is "throwing away" your vote. So the general argument made is to vote for the less of evils among the top candidates as a strategic vote. In this scenario I fully subscribe to the "they will not get my support" argument, most especially since 100% of your vote is being given to them and there's actually no way to distinguish that vote as being either real support or else a strategic vote. If you vote Hillary she can well claim you support her, believe in her, whatever. And on paper she'd be right. Further, there would be no official capacity in which you'd shown support for anyone else, such as Johnson, because doing so would have 'wasted' your vote.

In a ranked system although it's true that Hillary as #4 could claim "he voted for me over Trump" (who you marked as #5), and would be correct in saying so. However what she couldn't claim is that "He believes I'm the best choice," or "He voted FOR ME." I mean, she could claim those things, but they would be a false representation of even the literal fact of what your voting card shows. It would be very easy to keep a record of how many of the final votes used to secure a candidate's win were rankings other than #1. All you'd have to do is show that Hillary won with, let's say, 10% of voters ranking her as #1, 20% as #2, etc etc. So at best she'd be able to say "they liked me better than Trump" but not "all of these people believed I was the best person for the job." From the standpoint of pride versus strategy, I don't think there would be a danger that your #4 ranking of Hillary would be mistaken for you "totally supporting her" unless dishonest reporting about the result was going on.

Seriati

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #19 on: June 11, 2018, 02:20:49 PM »
However, I still think it would be beneficial to have a "vote against" option where you actually remove a vote from your least favorite candidate because it would appease the voting intent that may well be the reason voters are drawn out in the first place.

I've thought of a vote against from time to time, but I think the odds are that it ends up putting in place a 3rd candidate that no one really wanted from time to time.  Maybe a modified points system, where you can give one of each vote rank (first place votes are the highest), but also have the option of giving zero votes to a candidate.

On the other hand I had a buddy, who was convinced we needed an achievement based system that might result in your average phD getting 120 votes.  Basically, reward intelligence and service.

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This would be a very relevant mechanic to satisfy Seriati's objection to the choice ranking system, which is that he believes it won't materially affect who will win even though it gives info on the runners up.

Sorry, if I created this confusion.  I do think there will be - at time's - material impact on who will win from such a system.  What I don't see is the measure for how such impacts are being determined to be good.

Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #20 on: June 11, 2018, 02:33:30 PM »
Sorry, if I created this confusion.  I do think there will be - at time's - material impact on who will win from such a system.  What I don't see is the measure for how such impacts are being determined to be good.

I think the thing to weight is what's most likely to create a good outcome for the nation. And so then we'd need to ask "what does the nation need?" which is entire conversation of its own. But just on the face of it I'm willing to make an assumption that I suspect fans of small government would agree with, which is that a middling or even ineffective President is better than one who effectively does things that people hate. I think it would be better for the nation to have that 3rd choice person win on occasion rather than guarantee - as we do at present - that roughly half the nation will be irate at the result and will not accept anything done by that person. Even a result of "meh, who is this lame duck that won" would be better than "hell no!" with subsequent attempts to impeach whoever it is that half the nation thinks is the devil.

And it goes further than just asking whether it's better to be lukewarm rather than love/hate the President, because such a system would also change the 'gaming' of the system anyhow. The sorts of viable candidates would be of a different ilk. It would possibly become strategic, to whatever extent they can, to field a variety of candidates so that everyone in their base has someone they can get behind. The biggest problem right now is that even among the roughly half of the nation that voted for Hillary, for instance, I don't think that even that many of them liked her. There were no doubt some proportion of people who legitimately liked her, but I think there were at least equally as many of not more who didn't but still vastly preferred her to Trump. That's a horrible situation - I would argue the worse situation. When people even of the same party dislike who they have to vote for in order to defeat the other side it feels bad. So bad, in fact, that I think it undermines democracy and the spirit of voting for your belief. Instead it becomes an exercise in self-slavery, where the dispirited reality feels like "Ugh, I guess I have to vote for her. This is not fun." I would argue that is the worse result, and is what we currently seem to have achieved with this system. Any system that is otherwise reasonable and that minimizes the chance that this scenario will occur is better than the current system. Raising morale for voting and democracy is a goal that the system itself should reinforce. Right now what's being reinforced is "your opinions and votes don't matter very much." Of course, some of that also has to do with the primary systems.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #21 on: June 11, 2018, 03:09:18 PM »
Just make it $1 = 1 vote. All the oligarchs would determine the outcome, but that's not much different than today. The improvement is that it would save us the agony of months of campaigning, and all the money collected can balance the budget.

Seriati

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #22 on: June 11, 2018, 04:11:48 PM »
Fen, the point of my examples was to find out what "the good of the nation" objectively means.  Is that one of those candidates I made up?

I mean Alice "won" even though she's on just over half the ballots, while Dan was on them all and the overwhelming second place choice, and Bert was on them all with a potentially "better" mix of votes cause of his larger success as a primary choice.  If we can't pick the "best" candidate from the results of the votes, without bringing in a partisan tribe identification, then I question whether we're really after a "best" result.

I agree that a bunch of people liked neither primary Presidential candidate and still managed to pick one to vote for (or against).  I think a bigger problem comes from the idea that Obama had a "mandate" winning a few more percent of an evenly divided country and Trump is illegitimate winning a few less percent of an evenly divided country.  There is no mandate in our system, there's just a President responsible for a country that pretty evenly hates and likes his policies.  It's not clear to me if the "best" result is a compromise on positions, or if it's no action at all until it resolves, but it is clear to me that the "worst" result is either side making sweeping changes that the other side hates because they develop a temporary angle.  No voting system fixes a largely evenly divided polity with contrary goals.

NobleHunter

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #23 on: June 11, 2018, 04:32:08 PM »
The argument is that a different voting system would help the government reflect the electorate by enabling a more diverse array of political parties. If there were three or four or five parties, the country may not appear evenly divided into two political poles. Especially given that turnout in the last election wasn't noticeably more than 50%. The non-votes ran pretty close to both the Republicans and Democrats.

velcro

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #24 on: June 11, 2018, 10:15:49 PM »
TheDrake,

Briefly,

As you say, you can have the 5 candidate problem now, but they are not weeded out by primaries or party control.  They are weeded out by needing signatures, or by being the choice of parties that reached certain vote thresholds.  RCV would have exactly the same constraints.  The only difference is how the votes are counted, so that is not a disadvantage. 

Parties could have primaries if they think it will help.  To prevent vote dilution, they probably would.

Failing to get a candidate with a majority happens all the time with the current system, so that is not a disadvantage.

The worst case extreme of ballot exhaustion is voting for one candidate, which is what we have now, so that is not a disadvantage.

Again, if it has no effect on the outcome, it is not a disadvantage.

As far as why RCV is quantitatively better than the current system:

The more information a voter can input into the system, the better the result will reflect the will of the voters.  That seems like basic information theory, although I am not an expert.

The current system allows one piece of information - a single choice of one candidate. With 10 candidates, you can input a single digit.
RCV allows as many pieces of information as there are candidates. With 10 candidates you can input a 10 digit number.  That seems like it ought to better reflect the will of all the voters. (I guess technically only the first 9 digits count, but you get the point)

Here is my goal for the ideal voting system:

Maximize the total satisfaction of the voting population.
Satisfaction is calculated by having each voter rank the candidates from N to 1 (N is the number of candidates, and is what you pick for your favorite), then summing the ranks for each candidate.
Candidates that do not have a number get a zero.
Whichever candidate has the highest number wins.

Does this have any unintended consequences?  Is it substantially different from RCV?  I am too tired to do the math right now.

Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #25 on: June 11, 2018, 10:30:24 PM »
Satisfaction is calculated by having each voter rank the candidates from N to 1 (N is the number of candidates, and is what you pick for your favorite), then summing the ranks for each candidate.
Candidates that do not have a number get a zero.
Whichever candidate has the highest number wins.

My concern about this is it doesn't give weight to how much you like one candidate more than another. For instance let's say these are my votes:

Hillary - 5
Bernie - 4
Johnson - 3
Trump - 0
Stein - 0

Your first three favorite options are Hillary, then Bernie, then Johnson, while not liking Trump or Stein at all. Fine, so Hillary gets 5 points, Bernie 4, and Johnson 3. But this means that you're assigning 80% of the points you gave Hillary to Bernie (4/5) also, which is pretty close in terms of how much you're awarding to each. But what if you like Hillary WAY more than Bernie but he's still your second choice in theory? Maybe you don't want to put across that you like Bernie 80% as much as her. So now you're tempted to not vote for Bernie at all just so that he doesn't actually beat her. So you'll give Hillary a 5 and everyone else a zero, using zeroes as a strategic vote even though you do sort of like Bernie - an important piece of data we don't want the system to lose.

If you do intend to go on a 'point system' then I would recommend the following mechanic: rate each candidate from 0-5 and award them however many points you want. Now you could do this:

Hillary - 5
Bernie - 2
Johnson - 2
Trump - 0
Stein - 0

This way you could not only give a bit of help to candidates you sort of like but would also reflect the level of how much you like a candidate without feeling like you're helping your #2 beat your #1.

Offhand, though, I'm not sure the points system is ideal because it does create ground to strategically game the system by withholding points from people you do like in order to hurt the competition of the person you like best. I would suggest a ranking system where only your top vote counts unless they are knocked out is better, since your vote only counts for one person at a time. However the danger of this system is too closely approximating the 1-vote system, so my suggestion again would be to repair this hole by including the negative vote, which then alters the result to disfavor candidates that are too hated.

TheDeamon

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #26 on: June 12, 2018, 12:57:42 PM »
It should also be noted that I was introduced to this particular methodology as "Instant Runoff" rather than "Ranked Choice" but that's potato vs potatoe stuff. 

Why this doesn't happen?

- It allows third party candidates to get votes without voters worrying about wasting their vote

Which is a good reason for the major parties to avoid the thing like the plague.

It also leads to the corollary of that:
It potentially allows for "outsiders" to upset the proverbial apple cart that the various (local) political machines have set up in regards to who runs for which office.

But that is simply reasons why the existing system would fight against it, not why voters should oppose it.

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Minneapolis was the first city to use RCV during its 2009 election, after successfully defending lawsuits against the method and prevailing in the state Supreme Court. Since Minneapolis and St. Paul voters approved RCV, voters in Duluth rejected it. It has also been considered by city councils in St. Louis Park, Rochester and Red Wing, but has not yet been adopted in other cities.

Koran doesn’t live in a city with ranked-choice voting currently, but he fears some in his district are looking at implementing it. Born and raised in St. Paul, Koran said he has family members in the city who are frustrated by the system.

“Every vote should count, and every vote should be as simple as ‘I picked my top candidate,’ ” he said. “I think it changes the dynamics of, do you win by a second or third chance? It just doesn’t seem natural, and we have an established elections process that has worked well for more than 100 years.”

In practice, however, it might be confusing for many people to use voting machines. Are they going to drag-n-drop? Write in numbers? The user interface of "click the box" is vastly simpler, and we still have people complaining that the machines didn't do what they intended currently.

This is the big thing: It is different from what people are currently familiar with. And the "User Experience" with the voting process becomes a much bigger deal, as it means new approaches would need to be employed in order to both simply count the votes and not confuse the living daylights out of voters. If I'm to rank my top 5 picks, does my most favored candidate get the 5 or does my least favored one get the 5?

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Then there is the whole punditry complication. How do you publish poll numbers? How the heck are you supposed to "call" a state early and color it in? :D

The pundits would hate it because their existing tools wouldn't work so well. But that cycles back to reasons why the existing political system would hate it, but not why voters should.

Offhand, though, I'm not sure the points system is ideal because it does create ground to strategically game the system by withholding points from people you do like in order to hurt the competition of the person you like best. I would suggest a ranking system where only your top vote counts unless they are knocked out is better, since your vote only counts for one person at a time. However the danger of this system is too closely approximating the 1-vote system, so my suggestion again would be to repair this hole by including the negative vote, which then alters the result to disfavor candidates that are too hated.

I actually think Instant Runoff/Ranked Choice paired with a potential "Anti-vote" option is an interesting option, if only to help set the bar a bit higher in regards to getting 50%+1 of the vote, except at that point you're going to have to contend with the potential outcome of either allowing someone to win with less than 50% of the vote once you hit "the final 2" or making provisions for yet another runoff election to be held.

Crunch

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #27 on: June 13, 2018, 08:04:05 AM »
They did the math, ranked voting sucks.

velcro

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #28 on: June 14, 2018, 12:59:11 PM »
Don't know if "sucks" is the quantifiable conclusion.

How about Condorcet?  Basically simulates head to head runoffs, and usually one candidate wins them all.  Not perfect, but tends to eliminate most problems with plurality.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #29 on: June 14, 2018, 01:24:17 PM »
Here's how it is working out in Maine so far.

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As Maine voters head to the polls to cast ballots in the nation’s first statewide election using ranked-choice voting (also known as instant-runoff voting), LePage sat down for an interview with the local TV station WCSH-TV, during which he called the new voting system “the most horrific thing in the world.”

“I will probably not certify the election,” LePage said. “I will leave it up to the courts to decide.”

article

Mind you, he did this while the polls were open. That strikes me as highly shady.

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Maine’s adoption of ranked-choice voting is largely seen as a rebuttal to LePage, who was elected in 2010 with less than 40 percent of the vote and reelected four years later with less than 50 percent.

Now the republican winner for Governor got a clean majority, so no drama there. On the other side, there were seven contenders vying for about 120,000 votes. The top candidate got 33%, and second place went to 28%. So there's easily enough room for the outcome to be affected. The house district 2 is also a curious one. 49/41/10 - I'd be willing to believe the Olson people wouldn't have all voted for him given the disparity, so ranked choice probably allowed a more accurate reflection of people's top choices, but I don't see it changing the outcome any.

article

Of course just because it didn't change the outcome doesn't necessarily mean it didn't have value in more accurately showcasing voter will.

As for implementation:

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Turnout was strong at a polling station in Portland’s Deering High School, but some people were having trouble filling out their ranked-choice ballots correctly, said Barbara Harvey, a Republican election warden.

By 10:30 a.m., there were already seven spoiled ballots and two disqualified ballots – far more than normal, Harvey said. Voters who make a mistake on their ballot can come back and get a new one, she said.

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Tom Murley said it requires a little strategizing before casting a ballot. For instance, he said, he voted for his preferred candidate in the Democratic primary for governor, but then made sure to rank a less-favored politician well down the list when he ranked his choices.

Eric Bridger said he brought a cheat sheet to help him remember how to rank the candidates, pulling a blue slip of paper from his pocket with the candidates ranked from one to seven.

...

Because of the logistics of tabulating votes under ranked-choice voting, results aren’t likely to be known for a week.

article

Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #30 on: June 14, 2018, 01:31:50 PM »
The issue of whether people are physically capable of filling out a ballot has always struck me as being ridiculous. There are a few issues here, one of which is - if you aren't capable of doing that, maybe you should check up on it or ask for help. Not everyone can do everything by themselves. Maybe someone in a wheelchair needs help getting into a facility with bad access; fine, so make sure there's someone to help them. The other issue is that if people aren't used to a thing then they'll go totally bonkers and flail all over the place with confusion. I can actually see a case for this, but the proper response isn't to refuse to change anything on account of that. The solution is you do controlled testing of whether the method is actually good, and if it is you take steps to educate the public about it. Have a civics class in high school where understanding how to vote is a priority. And for the rest of the population, offer a free workshop in a community to explain how to do this. It's not really something with a high price tag or some kind of oppressive restriction making it impossible. If people can't learn how to vote then democracy is a failure and there should be a king.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #31 on: June 14, 2018, 02:05:18 PM »
Fenring, sounds like how people used to justify bad UI.

Well duh, of course you have to CTRL-right mouse button to open an audio file, it says so right there on page 79 of the PDF manual under /doc on the installation CD. Weren't you at the training class?

A good UI makes it IMPOSSIBLE to spoil a ballot because it rejects illegal input and gives intuitive prompting. All these systems by definition should be interactive. When you select your candidate as a first choice, it should grey out that choice and mark it with a #1. The ranked list should appear to the side top to bottom.

Our system is set up to avoid disfranchising 18 year olds who dropped out of school in the 6th grade. So that's your bar. In my preferred system, you would only get a blank to write in your candidate. If you can't bring notes or remember their name and spell it correctly then you don't get to participate. But I don't get to make the rules or set the value of each person's franchise.

And if you say "hey you're going to have to go to a workshop" we're back to disproportional impact on those with poor education working a couple of jobs with limited transportation - let alone seniors who never get out of their nursing homes. Not that there isn't some merit in making people devote several hours to the process before voting (especially if there are a dozen highly technical ballot questions involved). It just isn't how we've chosen to implement our system. And probably the reason why campaign funding has such a large impact on voters choices, but that's a digression.

Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #32 on: June 14, 2018, 02:16:23 PM »
Fenring, sounds like how people used to justify bad UI.

Well duh, of course you have to CTRL-right mouse button to open an audio file, it says so right there on page 79 of the PDF manual under /doc on the installation CD. Weren't you at the training class?

We're talking about writing in numbers from 1 to 5, right? The worst case scenario I can imagine is someone doesn't know how to count or read, or write, in which case what do they do now anyhow?

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A good UI makes it IMPOSSIBLE to spoil a ballot because it rejects illegal input and gives intuitive prompting. All these systems by definition should be interactive. When you select your candidate as a first choice, it should grey out that choice and mark it with a #1. The ranked list should appear to the side top to bottom.

I wasn't even assuming an electronic system. If you have a properly designed user interface then I really don't have any sympathy with the idea that it's too complicated to complete the ballot.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #33 on: June 14, 2018, 02:25:39 PM »
The maine ballot has a grid of ovals. you are supposed to fill in your first choice from the first column, second choice in the second column, etc. Fill in a second oval in any column, you get a spoiled ballot.

Writing in numbers? You really want a poll worker to decide what constitutes a 1 vs a 2 like some kind of captcha puzzle? Plus, you can still easily skip a number, and if you decide to change your rank when you review, you again have a spoiled ballot.


Fenring

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2018, 03:22:36 PM »
The maine ballot has a grid of ovals. you are supposed to fill in your first choice from the first column, second choice in the second column, etc. Fill in a second oval in any column, you get a spoiled ballot.

Writing in numbers? You really want a poll worker to decide what constitutes a 1 vs a 2 like some kind of captcha puzzle? Plus, you can still easily skip a number, and if you decide to change your rank when you review, you again have a spoiled ballot.

What are we discussing, ways not to program it properly? Like I said, once the system is assumed to be electronic then I don't really see what the discussion is. Just design it to make it a no-brainer that can't be spoiled.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2018, 04:19:19 PM »
You can certainly do that with electronic. But then you're still going to have significant numbers of absentee ballots (though they tend to shift toward more capable ballot fillers). In any event, a well designed UI for voting machines should be a prerequisite. It doesn't look like Maine pulled that off.

TheDrake

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Re: Ranked Choice Voting - Why Is It Bad?
« Reply #36 on: December 28, 2018, 05:10:50 PM »
Maine finally finished their election. Ranked choice voting did flip a traditional result.... maybe. Or it encouraged people to express their first choice rather than choosing the "lesser of".