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rojo's avatar

What is your opinion on Ranked Choice (also called Instant Runoff) voting?

Asked by rojo (24176points) November 19th, 2018
11 responses
“Great Question” (2points)

And would you care to share it?

Do you think it would help or hinder third-party candidates?

What do you consider the pros and cons?
Would you like to see your state or municipality utilize it?
What are the odds it would happen where you live?

Ranked Choice Voting(RCV)
Instant Runoff Voting

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Answers

zenvelo's avatar

We witnessed the effect in Oakland a few years ago when the “second place” winner of the first ballot count became mayor. She was a disaster, and never had any support from the population. People’s opinion of her for her whole term was, at best, “well, at least the other guy isn’t Mayor.”

I would rather have a run off. As it is now, the second choice votes of the people who supported the least likely candidate end up deciding the winner.

rojo's avatar

@zenvelo surely you cannot blame the incompetence of a person in office on the way they are put there. Is it not up to the voters to either put forth competent candidates or at least do the research to know about them regardless of the election system used?

But the number of voters participating in Run Off elections is usually dramatically smaller than those in a regular election so again, you get a candidate chosen by an even smaller number of voters.

The odds are that in a standard run off election the ”...at least the other guy isn’t Mayor” guy would have won and whether he would have been any better would still be a crap shoot.

And, in addition, you still have to finance the run off election.

Jeruba's avatar

I’ve seen it used effectively in an organization that I’ve belonged to for decades. They call it “preferential voting.” It’s very simple: you mark your choices by number, in order of preference, rather than a single “yes.”

The results show the outcome of each round so you can see who was eliminated and how their voters’ second-choice votes were redistributed.

I think it’s very fair and reasonable. Where there isn’t a clear first-round winner, it tends to support compromise. I would be happy to see it put into practice in real-world political contests.

Of course it can turn out poorly. Any election can. Getting a lousy choice as a result of preferential voting isn’t the fault of the system. You can get a lousy choice by the present system and, in the top office, without even winning a majority.

LostInParadise's avatar

@zenvelo , What would be the difference would it make if there had been a run-off? Wouldn’t the same people determine the winner?

The advantage of instant run-off and the preferential voting method that @Jeruba mentioned is that it gives a chance for a third party candidate to establish a foothold. People would not feel as if they are throwing away their vote by selecting a third party candidate.

In instant run-off, if an opposing candidate gets the majority of the vote then it makes no difference how you voted, and if no candidate gets a majority then your second choice may help to determine the winner.

In preferential voting, a third party candidate could win by accumulating a lot of second place votes.

The arguments I have seen against these systems is that they supposedly encourage people to game the system by casting a vote for someone other than their favored candidate. This can happen with the regular system if there is more than one candidate.

rojo's avatar

@LostInParadise not sure about what is meant by gaming the system by voting for someone other than their favored candidate. I mean, is that not the intent of the system; that is you vote for your favorite, then your less than favorite, then the next and so on until you get to your least favorite (or hated) candidate. Although I assume you could just not vote at all for your least favorite and just vote for as many as you feel comfortable with.
If it means voting for your, let’s say, second most favorite first and your favorite in the second or third place I am not sure how this would benefit you in getting who you want. Any ideas?

LostInParadise's avatar

It is a little tricky.. See this article. I don’t know if there are similar problems with preferential voting (also called ranked choice).

rojo's avatar

@LostInParadise thank you, I appreciate the article and the leads from it. I think its example has been simplified by not accounting for all possibilities and this makes it look worse than it actually would be but that is why I asked the question in the first place; to learn and think.

In their example they posit three candidates and three possible ways of voting in order of preference: BC-GW-RP, GW-BC-RP and RP-GW-BC. What they fail to account for is the voters who decide BC-RP-GW, GW-RP-BC or RP-BC-GW. I think that if you take these voting patterns in to account you would not get the extremes they talk about. When you only consider 50% of the possibilities you are going to skew your data. Whether this was done on purpose or by mistake, I do not know. But, given that the article comes from the CATO institute, I question whether it was an error and have to assume they are purposefully manipulating the data.

Incidentally, I would have fallen into the fourth category (BC-RP-GW).so I think this is a valid point to make.

LostInParadise's avatar

The example is not supposed to be realistic. It is just supposed to show that, at least in theory, there may be cases where you would strategically vote for someone other than your preferred candidate.

It has been shown mathematically that whenever there are three or more candidates, there is the possibility of irreguarities.

gorillapaws's avatar

It’s absolutely essential. While it may be true that no system is perfect, Ranked Choice Voting is orders of magnitude more perfect than what we have now.

augustlan's avatar

Honestly, I’d like to take it a step further to what I think of as ‘blind voting’ (ranked voting on issues rather than candidates). In my ideal world, there’d be no political advertising. People wouldn’t know the parties, and maybe not even the names, of the people running. The candidates would obviously have to meet certain criteria in order to run, just as they do now.

The primary could consist of the candidates ranking and voting on the same issues we’d later rank and vote on during the general election. Some mathematical magic would figure out which candidate most closely fits the majority’s votes on a number of voter-ranked issues and that candidate wins. Clearly, I haven’t thought this out thoroughly. ~

Voting on individual issues might stop low-information people from voting against their own interests (for example, many conservatives liked the Affordable Care Act if it was presented as a republican plan, but hated ‘Obamacare’ which is the same exact thing). Blind voting would give third-party candidates a fair shot. Without campaigning/advertising/party affiliation, we’d get rid of ‘party before everything else’ voters and if we went with total anonymity, we’d do away with ‘cult of personality’ voters.

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