Talk:Instant-runoff voting/Archive 6

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Archives: ~ Jan 24, 2008 - Feb 13, 2008

Alleged error in San Francisco history text.

An anonymous editor took out the entire San Francisco text, with a cryptic edit summary, which I'm sure will make sense after it is explained. There is a lot of data in that text, the editor did not explain what, specifically was wrong. But there is only one percentage reported as such, so if that alone was wrong, it should have been corrected, not removed, or, at least, not the entire report. I've reverted, and invite this editor or any other to find and explain errors. These facts were reported here before being put in the article and are fully supported -- except for any errors, of course -- by the source. So, please, if there are errors, *fix* them! It is not my personal responsibility, that is a misunderstanding of what Wikipedia is. It is not a debate forum. --Abd (talk) 15:33, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

I don't know the problem, but I think it's quite reasonable to temporarily remove information with definite errors, even completely, until its sorted out. Yes the anonymous editor ought to have moved the section here with a clearer explanation AND removed it from the article. Tom Ruen (talk) 17:19, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

Error identified

I think I know what the error is, and it means that all my percentages will have to change by a small amount. It's actually a simple calculation, and, as far as the implications, it is *probably* moot. If I'm correct, it will *only* affect the one percentage in the report, that is, the percentage of votes received by the winner in one election was based, incorrectly, on total valid *ballots*, whereas it should have been based, according to common standards, on the total of those ballots containing a vote for the office (which could be write-in). The discrepancy would be the "dropout rate" mentioned by the editor. Nevertheless, this means that the information reported in the article was *correct* if the word "votes" was changed to "ballots," which is actually the language used elsewhere in the section. That is, the editor could have fixed it with one word. However, this editor is probably quite aware that counting the ballots -- all ballots cast in the precinct -- is the wrong measure to use for fairness, hence the suggestion that it all must be recalculated. It is *possible* -- but unlikely -- that this will change the reported facts about attaining a majority, in one election, highly unlikely to be in more than that. All this is one reason that I reported all this in Talk before putting it in the article. However, instead of checking my work, one editor active here objected to even talking about it. I make mistakes. Frequently. It is appropriate to take what I say as *intended* to be true, that is what AGF means. However, if someone is focusing on some alleged POV intention, and is coming from a POV himself or herself that might not *like* the facts, and is willing to act to create or maintain a POV in the article, fact checking isn't going to be the first thought. It's going to be, how can we keep this out of the article? In any case, I am grateful to the anonymous editor for finding the error and pointing it out, that was totally appropriate, and, in fact, taking the whole report out is legitimate if not optimal, particularly if the editor, for example, doesn't have time to review it in detail. But, again, the likely response is a revert. And now, as the smoke clears, the article and all the readers will benefit through greater accuracy. I will do what I can today to review this. Pending review, I'm going to take the incorrect percentage out, thus removing any known misleading information. The report re majorities is possibly misleading, but probably not, and, again, anyone can find out, easily. Because it is technically correct, I'm leaving it in for the moment. I expect it will be absolutely correct -- assuming I don't make any more mistakes! -- by the end of today. --Abd (talk) 18:32, 24 January 2008 (UTC)

use of election results in article

I must admit it seems like distracting clutter to mix in detailed results with where IRV is used in Instant-runoff_voting#United_States with an analysis of results of singular elections. It seems to me that the only reason you insist on this content is to emphasize your POV that IRV fails in its claim to get majority results. It seems to me, if this POV exists outside your own original research, then it should still ENTIRELY be moved into a section Does it make a difference?. Tom Ruen (talk) 21:53, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
If adding sourced facts to the article creates POV imbalance -- it certainly can! -- the remedy is almost never to remove it. It is to add sourced facts to balance it. Those whose POV favors what had been the status quo with an article will *frequently* alleged that new facts are "POV-pushing," but facts aren't POV. Imbalance is. And one does not find balance by eliminating facts that support a POV. Rather, one simply imbalances an article in the other direction. This article had, when I started this, an impressive list of "adoptions" of IRV in the U.S., starting with San Francisco in 2002. However, the great majority of these "adoptions" have not resulted in an election and, I think, most of them don't even have elections scheduled. There isn't the money to covert the election systems. That list was POV, promotional. Without the *facts* about these, the article was imbalanced. In addition, there is a real question about the notability of, say, Takoma Park adopting IRV. It's a fish bicycle there, and this is a very small town, and it's highly likely that it adopted IRV because guess-who lives there. Certainly they didn't need it to elect officials. Really, if we look for IRV elections, we've got San Francisco, Burlington, Cary. Hendersonville wasn't IRV, so I took it out. (IRV, by definition, is single-winner.) Ah, yes, there is Takoma Park. --Abd (talk) 05:15, 25 January 2008 (UTC)

Move to subarticle

I regrouped results into sublists to make it a little more readable. It looked like a chronological listing, so I also grouped by years. I suppose there's value in a more detailed summary of adoption and results, imagining its going to continue be updated for new elections, but it still seems better to put it all under a new subarticle like The history of IRV adoption and usage in the United States where all the detailed of interest can be included, rather than hand-picking details. Tom Ruen (talk) 22:07, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Oops! Already there as History and use of instant-runoff voting. Why not move ALL usage details there, just give a simple list of cities (and adoption dates) in the main article? Tom Ruen (talk) 22:09, 24 January 2008 (UTC)
Okay, some history. That article was created by a probable sock; whether or not this user was a sock, the page was initially a POV fork (pro-IRV). It has been *somewhat* improved. That being said, I think we should have this article and, yes, the detail would go there. However, if we confine adoptions to this article, that would create POV imbalance. What would be done is to put full detail there, but use summary style to report in summary form here. The elections and what has happened in them is far more notable than a list of mostly ineffective adoptions! Definitely, the list would be way cut down. This article might say, "X cities and towns in the U.S. have adopted IRV; but only Y have held elections, and in these elections.... and then summary data." It would be POV to keep sourced information out of this article where it significantly bears on practical issues. However, the bulk of the detail would only be in the History article. And there is a lot more that can go there, there is a lot more history than we presently have.
For example, if you look at the history of preferential voting in the U.S., and, in particular at Ann Arbor, where PV (we would now, thanks to FairVote, call it IRV) was adopted by referendum, used once, and removed by initiative, there is a page compiled by a Green Party member about the history, giving arguments used in the campaign against it. One of the arguments was that PV had been tried in a number of Michigan towns and had been rejected. Now, a certain editor here once expressed an opinion about Bucklin: why try something that has been rejected? Well, IRV has been tried and rejected, and, one difference: Bucklin was rejected by court action, following what I consider to be spurious arguments (at least they were spurious in Minnesota; in Oklahoma there was a different situation, and I think I might agree with the court there because they used fractional votes, a real problem). IRV was apparently -- at least in Ann Arbor and probably in the other towns -- rejected by the voters. And I do wonder what is going to happen in San Francisco when voters realize that they were snookered, that one thing was promised and they were given something else. It looks like *nobody* was paying attention at the time.... or somebody was and kept it quiet. This isn't an anti-IRV screed, the voter information explanation for the Proposition was simply dead wrong. If I were an IRV supporter -- and I am in certain ways -- I'd be worried.
Anyway, all this history would go in that article, assuming it can be properly sourced, etc. All articles must be NPOV. Remember the flak about the Controversies article? WP:FORK prohibits POV forks, i.e., an article entitled Arguments against IRV would not be permitted, unless there were a corresponding article for pro-IRV arguments *and* the arguments in both articles were presented in an NPOV manner, as we have attempted to do in the current Controversies article, and even then I doubt that it would survive AfD. There would have to be a good reason to have two separate articles, and I can't imagine one.
So: if someone is prepared to do the work to move this history to the History article, and clean that article up as we did with the history here (I think that the History article was actually an old revision of what had been here, put there in order to get rid of all the inconvenient edits that had been done here), great. *Provided* that it is not being done to conceal important information about the history of IRV, it could be an improvement. As to doing this myself, well, I've got a lot to do. Besides the usual, I just got a positive biopsy, so I'll be doing research in a different field.... I'm 63 years old, never smoked, and so it would not be difficult to guess where the biopsy was taken. I mention it here because I may be confining my activities more than otherwise. I'll still watch the article. I'll be putting more time into writing an article about what was found in these discussions, it is worthy of such. For publication elsewhere; and, then, somebody -- preferably not me! -- will be able to bring *conclusions* about what was found. I've written a bit about that here in Talk, but, you might notice, not in the article, because, indeed, that would be original research. The facts, though, are reliably sourced and are simply reported as fact without drawing conclusions. But, of course, if I've made mistakes in reporting the facts, as usual, anyone can fix it. Please!
--Abd (talk) —Preceding comment was added at 04:41, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
By the way, thanks to Tom for working on the article in that section. --Abd (talk) 05:15, 25 January 2008 (UTC)
I still didn't like the level of details in the U.S. section. The IRV article is already too long. I made a subarticle and copied text there. I wasn't sure what to leave, so I left the chronological listing with minimumal details. Ideally for me every entry would have a consistent level and order of information, so maybe a table makes more sense, looks nicer than a list. Maybe (1) Location, (2) Date passed, (3) Date used or planned (4) Offices affected, (5) Notes (like STV for multiseats, or batch elimination, or whatever) In the subarticle, perhaps each city can have its own section for unlimited details, including subsections on specific election performed. ANYWAY, hopefully this helps. Tom Ruen (talk) 05:11, 26 January 2008 (UTC)
Good idea. Try a "wikitable sortable", like this:
header 1 header 2
data a1 a2 data
data b1 xx data b2
You can click on the little triangles-in-the-box. MilesAgain (talk) 17:17, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

errors in election report, reviewed

Now that the U.S. impelmentation mess has been moved to a new article, I am not sure if this is the best page to explain some errors in Abd's analysis, but the new article doesn't seem to have a discussion page yet. So... One place where Abd has simply gotten it wrong with his "original research" is his reporting on San Francisco. He has misunderstood the way San Francisco reports the results. What the city does is treat people who skip over the race entirely as "undervotes". That means someone could win 55% of votes in the first round, but Abd would still call them someone elected with a minority of the votes. It is the standard, normal, and correct that percentages are always reported as a percentage of votes cast IN THAT RACE, rather than as a percentage of votes cast in other races (such as for president). The drop-off for lower offices is typical. The fact that most jurisdicitions use a combination ballot paper with multiple offices does not alter that correct way of reporting percentages.

Take the 2005 citywide race for city-assessor. Phil Ting won 47% of the first choice vote. He then won substantial number of second choices from another Asian candidate and won with an absolute majority of the first-round vote. But Abd has him as not winning a majority of the vote, because he counts in people who didn't vote in the race at all. See:

Similiarly, in 2006, Chris Daly won in the 5th round of counting with a majority of continuing votes. They stopped the count at that point with him something like 4 votes away from a majority of the valid first-count vote, so one could argue he technically didn't win a majority of all votes cast in the race, but they stopped the count with his three strongest opponents still in the race, because he had won a majority of continuing ballots (discounting exhausted) -- meaning he obviously would have won a majority of the first-round vote if they had reduced the field to two.

It is true that the hotly contested race in District 4 was won by a majority in the last round, but that majority was less than 50% of the valid first choice vote. That also has happened in a couple other Supervisor races, but people have accepted the results just as much as they would have if someone ran a runoff with the voter turnout a little lower in the runoff. It is never proper to describe the percentage in the runoff by using the denominator from the first round of voting.

Abd really messes up the race he profiles in the write-up - -the one with 22 candidates. He suggests the winner had only 37% of votes, but he skips over the MAJOR fact that the count ended with three candidates still in the race -- the winner had a majority of the final round vote with two other candidates still in the field so they didn't need to eliminate the third-place finisher, because no other candidate had any mathematical chance to win. So Abd is really comparing apples and oranges. True, Mirkarimi would not have won 50% of the first-choice vote if they had gone to the final two, but he almost certainly would have been a good bit over 40% -- and his point just is highly misleading and does not belong in a NPOV article. Tbouricius (talk) 21:20, 26 January 2008 (UTC)

First of all, I did, in fact, overlook the "abstentions", drop-outs from particular races However, before Mr. Bouricius wrote the above, I'd corrected it. Perhaps the edits crossed. There is one error that was in the text of the article: there was, in fact, one election which found a majority, the election of the Assessor. I'd intended to correct that in the article. What Bouricius wrote above *was* correct, initially. Note that nobody caught this for quite a while. As soon as I saw the objection, I investigated. I had misunderstood the way that the city was presenting the data. There are, in fact, an astonishing number of people who, with some of the races, "skipped" it. I have not yet compared this with the prior situation, but more than 10% abstentions.... that's a lot, though maybe Bouricius is right. After all, he's been an elected politician. After correcting for this, all the elections *still* failed to find a majority, and, now, what is being considered is the standard of "majority of all ballots containing a valid vote for any eligible candidate." Which Bouricius surely knows is the Robert's Rules standard. If there remain errors, by all means, identify them. The information will be going back in the article, see the next section in Talk.
(One of the oddities of San Francisco is that true write-ins are not allowed, unlike most elections I've seen. My guess is that some of those "dropouts" are write-in votes in some place or other. In Cary, the write-ins are all tabulated.
The candidate in the 22-candidate race won with 37% of the vote, as far as we know. We might speculate that if counting had continued, he'd have gotten more. Yes, Bouricius has a technical point. But he's totally overlooking the core issue: San Francisco voters were explicitly promised an election that would still require candidates to gain a majority. I quoted the proposition analysis that voters saw in 2002, above. They got something else. Bait and switch. So the winner might have gotten over 40%? In that case, one of the other elections could be the one with the worst results! However, I will re-examine the results in the light of this comment by Bouricius. Note that what would be involved would be vote transfers among frontrunners. There is, however, another analysis which can be done with the vote data, which might be even more interesting: Bucklin voting analysis can be done; the data is provided to do it. It's just a matter of adding up the votes.
My *point* isn't relevant. The facts are. If there is an error in the facts, it is totally legitimate to correct them. Not to exclude them because they supposedly support some POV point. That's up to the reader, and excluding this is POV.
I've fixed the data above. There is, as Bouricius noted, another majority winner. Chris Daly. He would have had to get three more votes and he had a pool of about 1300 voters to get them from, as second or third-choice votes from the last two eliminated candidates. I consider this election to have been won by a majority, though it remains quite significant that the RCV method doesn't actually determine the fact, we don't know how great the majority is. As Bouricius notes above, Mirkarimi almost certainly did not gain a majority. (He would have had to get 77% of the Feldstein votes. Of the total Feldstein votes, 42% were already second or third rank choices from other candidates.) Bouricius was incorrect about my report on the Assessor-Recorder election, that is, I had already corrected this. (The article hadn't reflected it. The article was technically correct in reporting not a majority of ballots, but this was misleading and would have been corrected. And, indeed, could have been corrected by anyone.) So, we do have two elections where the winner obtained a majority through IRV. Apparently, it is actually possible.... --Abd (talk) 05:45, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

significance of election results presented, cherry-picking of data?

Abd. You might want to redefine the academic consensus that runoffs and instant runoff voting are majority voting systems, but you know you are doing so outside that academic consensus. Runoff elections also can have significant changes in turnout -- when one of two rounds can be decisive, significant differences in turnout obviously can raise questions about whether it was a "majority result", but the academic consensus is that it is. Choosing to make your case within the Wikipedia article that it's not is a highly political decisions, reflecting your own point of view.

In San Francisco, ithin the city, there was absolutely no controversy about the result of the Mirkarimi win in 2004. People were very used to candidates winning majorities in runoffs with a drop in turnout, and that's how this was seen --- with the added fact that the turnout in a real December runoff would have been much, much larger. Mirkarimi had a maority of continuing votes, people knew those were the rules, and he was generally seen as winning a majority in the instant runoff because he was the majority choice of the top candidates. You obviously can dispute that based on your own numbers, but it's one definition of majority versus another.

Furthermore, your selective highlighting of the 37% number in a short summary of data is highly misleading when there were three candidates left. Did you not know that when you did this or chose to overlook it?

As a final point, every winner in the thousands of election in Australia's house of representatives has won with an absolute majority of the valid first-count ballot. That's a product of their rules, which invalidate ballots that don't rank everyone. So if one wants absolute majorities of first-round ballots, it can be done through such a requirement. But if voters don't want to rank everyone, allowing them to truncate their ballot is reasonable policy decision. It also has been seen as a reasonable decision to give voters three times the chance to cast an effective vote with IRV as they would have with a plurality ballot, although most IRV backers would prefer a ballot with unlimited rankings (as indeed will be what San Franciso uses when it has voting equipment that allows it). —Preceding unsigned comment added by RRichie (talkcontribs) 14:35, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

A number of issues were raised by Mr. Richie. By the way, welcome!
I'm not sure what User:RRichie means by a consensus that IRV is a "majority voting system." IRV satisfies every variation on the Majority criterion, which has nothing to do with what I've found and reported with the elections. These were elections where, apparently, there was no majority choice among the candidates. Had there been a real runoff, the majority would have made a choice, at least among the top two. What I've found is that in similar elections prior to the series reported here, with top-two runoff, the election shifted from the plurality winner in the first election, to the original runner-up in the runoff, about one-third of the time. It's a complex issue and I can't put this into the article at this point, because it is a conclusion, but it appears that IRV is frustrating the purpose of having top-two runoff. I have not done enough analysis to know why, but it is pretty clear. It will be clearer when I look at the runoff series in certain North Carolina towns that, like Cary, had primary elections in October and then the runoff in November. I noticed that this same schedule was proposed for San Francisco, by the way, as allegedly superior to switching to IRV. Might have been.
Richie appears to be making a common assumption, that differences between results in primaries and actual runoffs are due to differential turnout. Cary and the other towns in North Carolina are particularly interesting because of their schedule: they have similar turnout for both elections. (In Cary, sometimes the runoff had higher turnout, sometimes the primary, but they were close to each other.) When we look at San Francisco in 2000, we see runoff results switching from the plurality winner to the runner-up. With IRV, it isn't happening: in every election, the plurality winner went on to become the IRV winner after vote transfers. Just as interesting interesting, the runner-up in each election remained the runner-up. In this substantial series of elections, it seems we are seeing sincere plurality producing the same result as IRV. Top-two runoff, like IRV, tends to encourage sincere voting, that is a benefit of both of these methods, to be sure. (That strategic voting can exist with IRV and top-two does not negate that sincere voting becomes more likely than with plurality.) (And, of course, if these elections were not IRV, or top-two runoff, voters would probably do what voters usually do: choose the favorite of the frontrunners. *Usually* the result will be the same. This is, indeed, why Plurality, as defective as it is, has lasted so long. It *usually* works.
The implication was, when IRV was passed in San Francisco, that (1) the results would be similar to top-two runoff, but at lower cost, but (2) results might change if the effect of differential turnout were eliminated. So is what is happening in San Francisco due to voters not having to come to the polls again? I.e., are the IRV results, which are confirming the plurality winner, more fair than the reversals that were reasonably common before? This is why I want to study the other North Carolina elections, because from a larger sample, I may be able to get a better understanding of how often top-two runoff reversed the result in the absence of differential turnout.
Now, the legitimacy of the Mirkarimi win isn't the point. I did not dispute it, none of the study above is judgemental in that way. (I do make a few comments about the implications as I see them, but these are dicta. However, we don't know if some other candidate might have beaten Mirkarimi in a direct face-off. There were *many* exhausted ballots. The point is that the electorate in San Francisco was actually promised, in 2002, that candidates would "still be required to attain a majority." Now, since IRV essentially *guarantees* a majority result (in the final round), there is no attainment, there is actually no requirement at all. If I were of a cynical mind, I'd ask how much was paid for that ballot summary. Sure, any voter could have read the proposition itself, but, as you know, most don't. In any case, the San Francisco results will be of great interest, I'm sure, to other cities considering Instant runoff voting or alternate reforms.
Mr. Richie asked a question. "Furthermore, your selective highlighting of the 37% number in a short summary of data is highly misleading when there were three candidates left. Did you not know that when you did this or chose to overlook it?"
No, I did not know that. I overlooked that there were three candidates left. I just looked at the victory count for Mirkarimi and divided it by the total votes. As was noted above, I initially used the wrong total for "total votes," quite simply forgetting that there would be dropouts, i.e., complete abstentions from the race. I'm astonished by the number of these: people who live in the districts and who either did not vote on the race at all, or who *voted for a write-in candidate who was not eligible," which requires prior process, you cannot just write someone in who would be eligible in general, they must have filed a candidacy. I wonder how many SF voters don't know that? Or whose ballots were otherwise voided for this election, perhaps they overvoted. Over 10%. At some point, I'll compare that with other elections.
As to highlighting this number, the question I had in mind was "how far was IRV coming from finding a majority winner?" So I reported the race with the lowest percentage, and I think the comment reflected that. It's obvious that, then, the results ranged from that minimum, up to races with a majority in the first round (and one got 80%). Going over the results, I found, in fact, two elections where IRV *did* find a majority winner. Thus the original report, that there were none, wasn't POV, it was simply wrong.
What the article had, didn't have for a while, and now has again, until it's changed, was a list of "adoptions," which serve the purpose of promoting IRV by making it appear that there is this huge momentum. However in fact, there have been very few jurisdictions that have actually held IRV elections, so far. And, only now, are the results starting to show how IRV actually performs. I'm sure we are all eagerly awaiting this knowledge.
I can't report any analysis of the results and put it into the article, that would be Original Research. But I can report numbers from reliable sources and put them into the article, and as to the charge that this introduces bias, the typical remedy is not to eliminate such reports, but to balance them. (If they aren't notable, as with fringe science, sometimes sourced fact can simply be excluded, particularly if the "fact" is that so-and-so, a fringe theorist, holds such and such an opinion.) An example from the debates that have raged here: does Robert's Rules "recommend" IRV? Well, one *could* very briefly summarize it in that way, though it's inaccurate, it doesn't actually make a recommendation, it describes some options. In any case, IRV advocates here have attempted to insist on having notice *in the introduction*, which is a prominent position in the article, that Robert's Rules mentions IRV, and says something that could be read as a compliment of IRV or recommendation *if* read incautiously and divorced from the context. But the same section in Robert's Rules goes on to note a major defect of IRV: its capacity to pass over a compromise candidate, and instead elect the most popular of two candidates with fanatic support. (my language, of course). Robert's Rules *actually* suggests "preferential voting," notes that there are many forms, and only describes one, which it then specifically criticizes. There are other forms of Preferential Voting which don't have that particular problem. Bucklin, for example. The point is that mentioning the "recommendation" in the introduction, *or* mentioning the criticism, either of them alone, would be POV imbalance, taking a source and distorting it by selective quotation.
Now, if my reporting from the elections is imbalanced, I can assure you that it was not from cherry-picking. I did choose what to study (performance with regard to attaining a majority) based on what seemed interesting to me, and, of course, that choice may be related to my POV. But I did not conceal any results, I reported everything I found, here, and, of course, gave the sources, inviting review. The "cherry-picking" charge has been made ever since I started working on this part of the article, yet, mysteriously, no balancing facts have appeared, which is what would be the proper response if, indeed, I had cherry-picked. Editors with a POV always complain that an editor perceived as being on the other side has "cherry-picked" facts, and that putting in detail would make the article "confusing." That might be correct. Don't confuse me with facts. If the presented facts can be pared down to just those necessary to arrive at a clear conclusion, why, miracle of miracles, we have a very clear article.
And a very misleading one, designed through that process to manipulate opinion. Some people are quite good at that.
As to points of agreement, certainly having increased ranking would be an improvement; three ranks with 22 candidates is awfully limited. In elections with only a few candidates, five or six or so, it should be plenty. However, I'd suggest Bucklin, and, given that the SF data lends itself to Bucklin analysis, it's going to make some interesting spreadsheets. With Bucklin, as in Duluth, three ranks is *plenty*. Bucklin was working there, you know, and would have continued to do so if not for court intervention on spurious grounds, not supported elsewhere. None of this nonsense about "people not using the lower ranks"! They used them. Again, this is not for this article, this is just background. At least I don't see how to put it in, or how that would be appropriate. It might be appropriate in the Instant-runoff voting controversies article. --Abd (talk) 23:15, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Removal of sourced facts, creation of POV fork.

User:Tomruen moved the detailed election information to a new page he created. There are now *three* pages on the history of IRV, and none of them really address much of the history! In the process, without comment, he removed the election analysis that summarized results from IRV elections so far.

I think there is a basis to have subarticles. One, a history of preferential voting (using the STV model). This is general, not confined to the United States. It would have a section on the U.S., a brief summary. Second, a history for the U.S., so the two pages that now exist should be merged. The other one on the U.S. was created as another POV fork; the creator, a probable sock, simply put back in what had been taken out of this article based on improper sourcing or for other reasons.

The preferential voting/STV article currently is called History and use of instant-runoff voting. This should use a name by which the method has been known for almost its entire history, all but the last decade, rather than the newly-coined instant runoff.

The other U.S. history article is History and use of instant-runoff voting in the United States. And now, of course, Ruen's IRV implementations in United States.

However, each article should stand alone. If there is a history in the U.S. article, it should be summarized here, using WP:SS, and the summary should be NPOV. Among other things, that means that there should be balance. A list of adoptions, which is what Ruen left here, is effectively POV. It's promotion. Most of those adoptions are moot, some may never see an actual ballot.

The forks or subarticles should have names that have Instant-runoff voting at the beginning, to follow the convention that puts the articles together in alphabetical indexes. That's what we did with Instant-runoff voting controversies.

We started out with a list of adoptions in the U.S. I added detail, such as describing which ones had actually been implemented or which were actually scheduled for elections, plus a brief summary, when the information was available, of how IRV was performing in terms of its goals. IRV is being implemented in jurisdictions where, previously, there were top-two runoffs. So how it performs in comparison to top-two runoff is highly significant. But, I can imagine, it was not liked that this information was being noticed, so ... with Ruen's move, it was taken out. Nice work, Tom. --Abd (talk) 05:01, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Abd - you added selective detail. If you're going to write about the specifics of IRV elections, it makes sense to be much more comprehensive than these articles have been. Putting it in a separate article that is flagged as incomplete makes sense, doesn't it, rather than cherrypick examples? —Preceding unsigned comment added by RRichie (talkcontribs) 14:37, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree with this. MilesAgain (talk) 17:20, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Still learning Wikipedia here - I'll start signing these.

Also, Abd, I had a concern about what you're doing with these edits on San Francisco, etc. Aren't you doing "original research"? Wikipedia says that A"aticle policies" include "no original research", but that's exactly what you're doing. Your mistakes are exactly why I assume original research is frowned on. I think you should put this kind of information on your own website (Center for Range Voting, which I know you post things too). RRichie (talk) 16:57, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Quoting sources, even if they are obscure, is not what the policy is talking about. Library research is allowed, but WP:SYNTHESIS is not. I don't see that line has been crossed. MilesAgain (talk) 17:20, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Good to know -- thanks for the clarification. I guess it's incumbent on other editors to make sure that Abd's analysis of information is done accurately and is not misleading. He is sourcing the original source of data, but not how he's crunching the numbers. RRichie (talk) 18:39, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
Yeah, the pertinent policy is probably WP:UNDUE: "An article should not give undue weight to any aspects of the subject, but should strive to treat each aspect with a weight appropriate to its significance to the subject. Note that undue weight can be given in several ways, including, but not limited to, depth of detail, quantity of text, prominence of placement, and juxtaposition of statements." MilesAgain (talk) 18:52, 27 January 2008 (UTC)
That might require some explanation! The guideline is primarily talking about "viewpoints"; however, it does point out that "giving undue weight to other verifiable and sourced statements" can be "not neutral." The guideline certainly could be better written! Consider a biography of Martha Stewart. This actually came up recently. If the article leads with her federal conviction, calling her a "convicted felon" in the first line, and there are lots of details about that, this could be "undue weight." After all, she had a long life before that conviction, and was famous before it, and remains famous after it, for things other than being convicted of a federal offense. The question is balance. Obviously the article should mention the conviction, it was highly notable. But it is not her whole life, nor is it what she will primarily be remembered for. Here, we have a collection of details about the recent political history of IRV, and one contingent of editors, it seems, are quite happy for the article to simply give the dates of adoption of legislation enabling IRV. And, indeed, the percentages by which ballot questions were approved. To those promoting the method, indeed, that's the whole story! Their job is done, they can move on to something else. But the rest of us might be just a tad interested, don't you think, in how these elections are going! IRV promoters have promised a series of benefits. Are they manifesting? The report isn't balanced if only the "positive" aspect is shown, i.e, the adoption. (It's positive from a promotional point of view. Political activists love success like practically nothing else, and "success" doesn't mean the final results, success means getting what you wanted, the candidate elected you wanted or the legislation passed that you wanted. Practical results? Let someone else worry about that! We had, in this article, results from exit polls about voter satisfaction. But not results from the elections, generally!
In any case, undue weight, as it applies here, would refer to giving detail supporting a POV, and not detail that might tend to refute that POV, assuming that both kinds of detail are available. It does refer to cherry-picking of evidence on a topic. Generally, the POV imbalance of this article was a result of that, *most* of the facts in the article were "true," but not balanced. (Some really weren't true; while Hendersonville, NC, did hold an election enabled by the North Carolina legislature under a program to test IRV, the election was *not* an IRV election, as this article defines it, for IRV is, here, *intrinsically* single-winner. So the reference to Hendersonville was taken out; it *could* come back in, but as an example of the naming problem, it would be in a different section.
--Abd (talk) 03:23, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

I moved two talk sections to Talk:IRV implementations in United States HOPING this will solve the unnecessary expansion of details in the main article. I also expanded the bullet-list format there to sections so each city can have extended information as details and results progress. Please move all discussion there. Tom Ruen (talk) 07:10, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

POV tag?

I just removed the {{POV}} tag from Approval voting, because all of the concerns in the section discussing it have apparently been addressed.

For here, I'm not so sure. I know that we have had some serious disagreements, but things look to have settled over the past week pretty well, at least as far as the neutrality concerns that I recall are involved. It's hard to tell because all of the POV tag discussions seem to be archived.

Are there remaining neutrality issues, and if so, what are they all? MilesAgain (talk) 02:16, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

Well, the list of "adoptions" is essentially promotion of IRV. It's an example of balance, or imbalance, as the case may be. These adoptions have come by various means, including initiative amendments and decisions by legislative bodies. There have been initiatives of various kinds that have failed. None of the failures are noted. What we would now call IRV was used at various times in the U.S., and it was rescinded. Where is that in the "history"?
Pushing part of the history off to a subarticle, leaving only a positive impression here, is POV. It had seemed there was an agreement to leave the material in, it was sourced, etc. There was no obstacle to putting in material that might support different views. If what I had put in was imbalanced, undue emphasis, the proper remedy would have been to balance it. Does IRV improve voter turnout, for example? *I don't know, I have not studied this yet.* Suppose it does. Surely this would be relevant for the article. I'm not suggesting "original research," which would involve examining the data and drawing conclusions from it. If that is going to be done, it will have to be done elsewhere, and properly published, before those conclusions could be brought here (with a possible exception having to do with attributed opinion, but let's leave that aside for the moment). However, the raw facts are quite enough, and those facts can be summarized without original research, provided the summaries aren't synthetic, i.e., cannot be verified by any reader by reference to the provided sources.
I *have* come to the conclusion that shifting much detail to a subarticle is appropriate, though the exact way the subarticles were done wasn't right. It was done awfully quickly! Look away for just a moment and a big chunk of article disappears! -- some of it not to appear elsewhere. (I was a tad distracted last week. Positive prostate biopsy. Plus the usual kids need this and that.)
In any case, I was about to conclude, myself, that the POV tag might go, though I wanted to review the article again carefully before saying that. Now ... the introduction is getting increasingly cluttered. Do we *really* need to know about the Canada Wheat Board in the introduction? Sure, in a History article, or *maybe* in this one, fine. It's sufficiently notable, I'm sure. But introduction-level notable? I don't think so. I think this is just Richie coming in without being very familiar with the discussion of the introduction that we've been through. Introductions should be *brief* and should not mention anything that isn't established in the body of the article. Generally, then, we don't have to footnote introductions. And, of course, the Canada Wheat Board mention isn't sourced. Naughty, naughty! But small potatoes, comparatively.
By the way, citations were added for the Mayor of London election that aren't properly done. The citation should be to the exact page needed, not to a general page that doesn't clearly link to what is needed to verify the fact. Small detail. I'll fix it if I have time, or anyone can. This election is "supplementary vote." IRV? well, sort of. Batch elimination, all but the top two. Calling everything and the kitchen sink "IRV" allows those promoting it to claim more "successes" and examples of use. I've stated before that the whole *name* of this article is POV. "Instant runoff voting" was created as a promotional name by the predecessor of FairVote and promoted, beginning only a decade ago, 1996. I'm sure Mr. Richie could tell us more about that, it's an odd oversight in all the FairVote material, i.e., where did this name come from? The *rationale* is given, "it's called this because of the resemblance," but, hey, this is an encyclopedia. We like to know who coined the term, how it came to be introduced, etc. And, indeed, what, exactly, does it mean. The article used to have a specific definition for IRV, and then a list of "adoptions" that didn't match that definition, but you'd never know it....
The biggie right now is that list of adoptions. It is imbalanced if the salient facts are omitted (such as most of these are adoptions in theory only). The whole list can come out, with a brief summary placed instead, such as "In recent years, IRV has been adopted for governmental use, in the United States, in X places, beginning with San Francisco, California, in 2002. Most of these adoptions are awaiting implementation due to .... Actual elections have been held in San Francisco, California, Takoma Park, Maryland, Burlington, Vermont, and Cary, North Carolina." And then it would go on with a paragraph summarizing notable features of how the elections went. And, of course, we may need to negotiate the text of this; however, the principles are fairly clear. The full detail would be in the subpage, but what is summarized here should be balanced. The subpage can't be used to conceal what is needed for balance. In my opinion, the text here, if facts stated are sourced on the subpage, doesn't need sourcing, but I'm not certain about that.
It's easy to read the Talk archives, by the way. They are linked from the top of this page.
--Abd (talk) 02:59, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Correction - IRV has not been adopted in Cary, North Carolina. It was "tested" as part of a pilot program, and cannot be repeated unless there is new legislation. --Ask10questions (talk) 00:22, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
I agree, those improvements would be a great idea. I would like to know the early 20th century history, too: where it was adopted, and if we can find out, why it was rescinded. MilesAgain (talk) 03:01, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Yes, very, very interesting stuff, if you can find it. Bucklin voting is actually one great untold story, but in the early part of the twentieth century, there was a lot of enthusiasm for preferential voting, using various systems, and there were numerous proportional representation implementations, with only Cambridge surviving. It's a story of racism, among other things, the Red scare, and just plain old preservation of entrenched power. You know, if we let people elect whom they want, we'll end up with XXXXXXs -- a word we don't use any more in polite company or hardly anywhere (one change I've seen in my lifetime)-- and Commies on the City Council, can't have that!
I have put detail back in the article. I did put in the descriptions for the four jurisdictions using IRV in actual elections, but I'm not attached to all that detail being in the article -- though it is pretty brief -- what is important is the brief summary at the top of it. I'll repeat it here; if the detail is taken out, of course, it would change slightly:
Most of these adoptions are pending implementation; however, as of November, 2007, 33 elections have been held in four cities or towns: San Francisco, Burlington, Takoma Park, and Cary.
In every election, the winner was the candidate with a plurality in the first round, and the ultimate runner-up was the runner-up in the first round. As shown below, instant runoff provisions were used in nine elections, and in all but two of these, no majority of qualified votes was found for the winner.
Of course, if this is incorrect, please correct it! I make lots of mistakes.
I see that Mr. Ruen is a tad perturbed. He was quick to respond.... edit conflict. Ii explained what I was doing above, but I'll answer him below as well.
--Abd (talk) 04:53, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
Just to be clear, do you consider the lack of sources to be an NPOV issue? Because it seems to me that other than that, only the history issues of early 20th century adoption and repeal are in your comment above, and those seem to have been shunted by WP:SUMMARY style. MilesAgain (talk) 21:53, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

United States results details

Section talk moved to: Talk:IRV implementations in United States Tom Ruen (talk) 07:03, 28 January 2008 (UTC)


I removed this paragraph from implications section:

Under IRV, unlike some other voting methods, the record of votes cast in a particular area cannot be conveniently summarized for transfer to a central location in which they can be counted. Instead, it is often necessary to transport either the actual ballot papers or data files with a record of each individual ballot to a central location to allow for the IRV tabulation. This unwieldiness could prolong the counting procedure, provide more opportunities for undetected tampering than in more easily summable methods, and make recounts more costly. [citation needed]

I didn't like the soft some other voting methods (What methods!? Bucklin or Borda?). I didn't like the soft could prolong the counting procedure (compared to what?) The entire paragraph looks to me like whining. I'm content if something is restored that is more objective, perhaps:

The elimination process of IRV's counting procedure doesn't allow local precinct counting beyond the first round of votes. If a majority winner isn't identified in the first round, recounting require either physical transportation or complete digital copies of all ballot information to a centralized location. Alternately each counting round, local counts can be made and tallied, and recounted between remaining candidates as a centralized count requests.

BUT basically the two examples in the final paragraph already said it better!

I know IRV-opponents want to use this summability limitation as a reason to discount IRV, and happily claim whatever alternative rank method Borda count or Bucklin voting or Condorcet method or whatever doesn't have this limitation. BUT you can't just say A is bad because there's a small cost, while the cost to alternatives is neglected (i.e. Voters don't WANT lower choices measured AT ALL unless their choice is eliminated, SO it's the nature of runoffs themselves.)

I can't really support ANY comparisons to other methods under implications, since implications ought to refer to changes from what IS, not alternatives which do something completely different.

Anyway, I figured this was as good of a fight as I'm willing to offer for now. Tom Ruen (talk) 02:36, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

P.S. The Summability criterion was one of the articles deleted from Wikipedia, and reconstructed on Abd's user subpage: User:Abd/Summability criterion.

P.S. If Electoral fraud is an issue with sources, perhaps it ought to be included. I accept compared to plurality, it's a legitimate issue to consider. I mean it seems much bigger - like all votes should have a paper trail, and ballots should be designed in a way that allows fraud to be detected. For example, a checksum could to be performed at each precinct, counting how many marks there are at each ranking (like Bucklin sort of), so if marks are added (or removed?) after the voter is finished, it can be detected. I don't know ANY sources for such concerns, but it seems obvious to me that people in-the-know must think about these issues. Tom Ruen (talk) 03:00, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Third party in Australia

User:Peter Ballard added the following text (in my italics) to the article:

In Australia, the only nation with a long record of using IRV for the election of legislative bodies, IRV produces representation very similar to those produced by the plurality system, with a two party system in parliament similar to those found in many countries that use plurality. A significant difference is that a smaller third party, the National Party of Australia, can co-exist with its coalition partner the Liberal Party of Australia, and can compete against it without fear of losing seats to other parties due to vote splitting. In the November 2007 elections, at least four candidates ran in every constituency, with an average of seven, but every constituency was won with an absolute majority of votes. [1]

Now, the problem is that this text draws a conclusion. First of all, the facts are going to need a source. However, the "facts" don't make the conclusion. Somebody must. Who? It's fairly clear that the National Party exists, and has for a long time. However, if I'm correct, it's dying out. It used to be a more or less equal partner with the Liberal Party. If it is dying, this is *confirming* similarity with plurality, rather than being a "significant difference." IRV, pretty clearly, allows far more flexibility in voting, *theoretically* allowing third parties to function without spoiling elections due to vote splitting, but it should be noted, if third parties run on a par with the two major parties, a nastier effect can appear than the simple spoiler effect, there is "center squeeze," a phenomenon which is rare when there are only two dominant parties, and I think this is behind Duverger's law. (When Center Squeeze is taking place, IRV is discarding the candidate actually favored by a majority over either of the other two major candidates, but with fewer first preferences, which is essentially behaving like plurality.) There are other methods of Preferential voting that might not have this problem. The *real* problem is, of course single-winner, which is, in my view, very inappropriate for representation, even if the method works and the majority votes for the winner, it leaves a minority, sometimes almost half the electorate, unrepresented. That's seriously defective. "No taxation without representation" was a founding slogan for the United States. Okay, who represents me? Am I represented because someone else appoints my representative? If so, what were the American colonists complaining about? They had representatives appointed by the King!

(To be sure, "representation" was thought of in those days as being representation of communities, not of people. But, again, it was the people who were taxed, not, generally, communities.)

If the survival of the National Party is to be mentioned, *how* it is surviving, in what numbers, with trend over time, would need to be mentioned as well. People, in the U.S., are interested in these things, sometimes, because they are supporters of third parties, and would like to know what the ultimate effect is. If the ultimate effect is that the party dies a slow death, that's quite different than "thriving," and isn't even fully "surviving." Dying takes time. Is there any example of a third party *arising* under IRV, and growing to become a major party? *That* would be interesting, absolutely. --Abd (talk) 17:25, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Abd, you really like to be selective in your objections. What conclusions are drawn? The fact is that voters can vote for minor parties fearlessly, knowing their vote will transfer. Thus third parties can get more true estimates of their support than plurality where voters must compromise whenever there's a close race among the big-two. For me the more interesting questions isn't whether a third party can survive, but which system third parties have more influence. Are they stronger for their spoiler effect in plurality while they can be safely ignored under a runoff? Anyway, it doesn't MATTER if the party is dying or not - doesn't say anything about anything at all except the major parties have adjusted themselves to take more voters. Co-existence doesn't say anything about size, or trends. I don't know why you have to continually try to play God's lawyer in everything here. Tom Ruen (talk) 18:33, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
Tom, I see an edit that introduces *conclusions* to a section, and which has no source, and which I *also* don't agree is fully accurate, so I removed it and justified this here. Yes, I'm being a bit picky. So? If what was in there can be put back in legitimately, do it! Source it! The section is talking about IRV being associated with two-party systems; this is widely known among those who study such things. Just because you don't doesn't make much difference. Then comes this edit from Australia which, understandably, claims "A significant difference is that a smaller third party, the National Party of Australia, can co-exist with its coalition partner the Liberal Party of Australia, and can compete against it without fear of losing seats to other parties due to vote splitting."
Now, is this a "significant difference"? That's a conclusion, not a fact. Yes, the National Party "co-exists" with the Liberal Party, but what, exactly, is the significance of this *in this context.* If I'm sitting in a place, and an elephant comes and sits on me, so that I can't breathe, I don't immediately die. But am I "surviving"? No, I'd be dying, even though, technically, I'd have survived *so far*. It doesn't matter if the party is dying or not? Tom, this is part of the problem here, which is that you don't look at facts in context. NPOV does not depend solely on accurate facts, context and presentation are also important. Misleading impressions can be conveyed by selective presentation of true facts, and any political consultant would know that. So you aren't a political consultant! But some people who are active here are. (Peter Ballard, I assume, is simply putting in what he thinks he knows: he is correct that the National Party is still around, but has he looked at their share of the vote over the years? I have. Maybe he -- and you, Tom -- should as well. The statement as it was would leave a reader with the impression that there is an example of a third party doing just fine, so when they encounter the argument that it essentially is a third-party killer, they will think, "But it isn't, because of that Australian party!" (The major culprit here is single-winner, as I wrote above. But IRV, of course, is purely a single-winner system. There are other election systems which would, with less fuss, almost always elect the same winners, but which provide better measurement of third party support. The point expressed previously is that IRV is associated with strong two-party systems, and even if the National Party were an exception, that would remain true. But it isn't really an exception, for it is shrinking, not really "surviving" long-term.
I'm selective? Of course I am! If I think something is true, but it isn't sourced adequately, if I have time I source it, if I don't I leave it alone. I don't take out material that I think is true, generally, unless there is an active edit war going on and it is necessary for someone from one side to essentially support the other side (i.e., I'll sometimes revert something that ostensibly favors my POV if it isn't sourced and will simply throw gasoline on the fire, when I'm trying to find consensus on what we can properly put in the article. But I don't go through articles removing what I consider true, but which is not properly sourced, because I'd be doing this all day, with a net result that the encyclopedia would be *less* informative, not more. I'll leave that job to someone who actually disagrees; often there is no such person.) But if I think something is false *or misleading*, and it isn't properly sourced, draws conclusions not supported by sources, etc., I *may* try to rework it so it is usable, but, as in this case, I will sometimes just take it out, letting another editor who thinks something is worth saving there put it back in. I have no objection to the mention of the National Party in the article, *but* if it is going to be mentioned, it should also be mentioned that its share of the vote is declining, and *that* is easily sourced.
There are *lots* of facts and analysis I'd love to put in this article, Tom, that I'm sure are true, but ... they are original research, or only supported by communities of the knowledgeable through mailing lists (without any way of specifically validating the consensus of that community, the major problem with mailing lists as such). Most people who know election methods (i.e, have studied a broad range of them and understand how they perform, and have extensively discussed this with peers) think IRV *stinks*. But can I put that in the article? Certainly not! Not until there is some kind of review of the literature, published under peer-review. --Abd (talk) 20:49, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
My reading of the paragraph is that the original paragraph had an unsourced POV opinion comparing it to Plurality, and the added statement was intended to balance the first part.
  • ORIGINAL fact: Australia uses IRV
  • ORIGINAL Unsourced opinion: Winners similar to plurality (i.e. There's no improvement or change from plurality.)
  • ADDED fact: A third party coexists with a similar larger party.
  • ADDED unsourced opinion: This third party's existence is aided by IRV because like-minded voters don't need to split their vote. (i.e. IRV offers an improvement over plurality)

Is it really controversial to suggest existence is aided by a lack of need for vote-splitting from a third party supporters and a similar major party competitor? Tom Ruen (talk) 21:42, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

That last question is entirely too convoluted. Tell you what, Tom. You do your edits and I'll do mine. Your comment is tantamount to WP:OTHERSTUFFEXISTS. It's possible to source the mention about "winners similar to plurality." In fact, you just took out of this article sourced information on that. IRV *does* appear to do that, if 33 elections out of 33 means anything. As you might realize, if you take out the current unsourced statement, it will probably come back with sourcing, and quite possibly in a stronger form. This is part of how Wikipedia grows and improves, it's a variation on "what doesn't kill me makes me stronger." I have other things to do, I'm not going around scouring the web and other sources for negative information about IRV to put in this article. But give me the occasion.... and I might. That is *not* a threat of any kind, simply a description of what has happened again and again. Geez, how much I learned from following that whole Robert's Rules question which you and Bouricius thought was ridiculous! It turns out to have implications all over the place. Such as the current IRV proposed legislation in Vermont. Come to think of it, some of that could come into this article, or Controversies, or History.... --Abd (talk) 21:53, 30 January 2008 (UTC)
(BTW, certainly IRV can have different results from Plurality, and IRV results will generally, when they differ, in my opinion, be better. But there are simpler fixes for the problem than IRV. And, turns out, when you consider the whole system, Plurality is much better than it seems in theory. Third parties, of course, can throw a monkey wrench in the works; and, in any case, the method involved in comparison *in the U.S.* is not generally Plurality, it is top-two runoff. Which is strategically almost the same as IRV. That is, we can generally assume that top-two runoff votes will be about as sincere as IRV votes, voters will vote for their favorites if they have any chance at all of winning. You know, I don't write for nothing. I did all that digging to put the data on the Talk page because there is a lot there, improving our understanding of how IRV actually works. At least it's improved mine! Too many of us have been content to sit on theory. Here we have actual elections to study, sometimes with some fairly good data, and are we interested? No, "Why is this here?" "Is this aimed at improvement of the article?" "Let's get this excessive detail out of here!" and "You're cherry-picking!" -- which, by the way, is a violation of AGF. Ho hum. Business as usual around here.

--Abd (talk) 22:02, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

I added comparison to two-round system in addition to plurality which makes 1000% more sense to me. It's saying IRV is similar to existing systems, producing the same winners. Tom Ruen (talk) 22:39, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Effect on parties and candidates


Unlike some other preferential voting systems, IRV puts particular value on a voter's first choice; a candidate with weak first choice support is unlikely to win even if ranked relatively well on many voters' ballots.

This statement is without proper context since the only comparisons that will effect parties and candidates are plurality or two round system which have the same behavior! Tom Ruen (talk) 22:36, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

Exhauted Ballots in or out of basis for Majority

IRV elects candidates who have a majority of votes among those voters who express an opinion between the two finalists. Abd repeatedly seeks to insert the point that IRV winners may have less than 50% of ballots that had a vote for a candidate in the first round. Whether such candidates are "majority winners" is important to his POV. This distinction appears at various points in the article, and probably should be reduced to one statement early in the article so as to avoid having to repeat the concept over and over. For example, Abd has inserted the unique example of a Vermont bill in which exhausted ballots can result in "no election" by the voters. I know about this in detail, because I wrote the bill. This language was crafted to fit with the language in the Vermont constitution, which says there is "no election" if no candidate has "the major part of the votes." If there is "no election" then the constitution charges the legislature with selecting a governor. While that language is not crystal clear, so that exhuasted ballots might still be discounted, there is a principle of constitutional law that legislation that makes a constitutonal provision meaningless is unconstitutional. Therefore, to avoid making the supplementary role of the legislature in selecting a governor a theoretical impossibility, the bill was crafted in this unusual way.

I cleaned up Abd's sentence to give it a citation and explain just a bit...However, I think the sentence Abd seeks to include citing the rare case where exhausted ballots can result in "no election" is so unique, and only exists as a bill and has never been implemented anywhere in the world, that we know of, means it should not appear in the Wikipedia article since it distorts the general understanding. Government elections are assumed to be decisive, with the option of None Of The Above (or exhausted ballots) leaving an office vacant, or resulting in a new election, existing only in theory. I have not deleted Abd's insertion about this unique proposal in Vermont yet, to give others a chance to look it over first. Tbouricius (talk) 15:41, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

About the "rare exception" per Bouricius.

User:Tbouricius edited (properly) my mention of the Vermont situation with IRV, with the summary, "(Changed Implementation" to "proposal". and added cite. However, I think this whole sentence should properly be deleted as a rare exception.)"

Here is why it is actually very important. IRV is (almost?) exclusively being implemented in jurisdictions which have majority election requirements, and therefore, sometimes, runoff elections, which are allegedly expensive, providing an economic incentive for implementing preferential voting, such as IRV -- (and only recently has there been much agitation for any other form or runoff-avoiding reform). The most notable, of course, being San Francisco. Jurisdictions have those requirements because, apparently, it's believed that a majority of those voting should consent to an election. This is, as Bouricius knows, a common belief, supported by Robert's Rules. In San Francisco, IRV was sold with an assurance that "a majority would still be required." Yet, in fact, a majority of those voting is *not* required. The ballot summary was misleading. Voters show up, vote for an eligible candidate, and yet their vote is disregarded when it comes time to determine a "majority." That is a blatant violation of the underlying principle.

It is often argued that, well, if voters don't show up and vote in a real runoff, their votes don't count also! And it's implied, as this article has implied from time to time, that exhausted ballots are the voter's fault or choice. Perhaps, sometimes, but perhaps there were a lot of candidates (more than three) and the voters used all the available ranks by voting sincerely. Or some didn't understand the method, or really detested all the remaining candidates. The fact is that, in the large majority of "instant runoffs" we have seen since San Francisco took the plunge, a majority of voters showed up and voted for candidates other than the winner, not for the winner. If a runoff were actually held, we may suspect, roughly one-third of the time the election would reverse from the plurality winner in the first round. (examination of real runoffs, which will show similar voting patterns in the primary, shows this or something similar, plus we have some analysis on this point from Australia). Some of that may be due to differential turnout, but ... quite likely not all of it (and differential turnout doesn't apply to the Australian data, of course).)

(And if that last-round definition was the meaning intended by "majority," it was thoroughly deceptive, for there is no "requirement," IRV defines the winner as having a majority simply by discarding all votes not for the top two. As I've pointed out, we might as well take it one more round and call it "unanimity." It's not a *requirement*, it is a tautology.)

IRV, as implemented in San Francisco, has defeated the purpose of requiring a majority. By passing the proposition, voters, quite likely without realizing it, discarded the requirement, substituting something else that was sold, through the use of the politically designed name, "instant runoff voting," as being equivalent.

Now, I'm sure that Vermont legislators and IRV activists would do the same thing if they could. What is unusual about Vermont is that the majority requirement is in the state constitution. They can't simply legislate it away, sweeping the issue under the carpet, as was done in San Francisco. So, yes, it is rare, but only because a constitutional requirement for a majority is rare. Many jurisdictions have that requirement, so the idea of requiring a majority isn't rare.

Apparently, this argument has mostly escaped the opponents of IRV. Nothing like this was brought up in all the ballot arguments provided in the San Francisco proposition, and, to my knowledge, it hasn't been raised elsewhere in real campaigns yet. I'm sure that is about to change. This argument, and the data behind it, is now becoming known to activists working on the issue, I don't think it will continue to be possible to sweep this under the carpet. An ounce of experience is worth a pound of theory.

In any case, I'm not suggesting that this argument be put into the article. However, the underlying facts exist and can be properly sourced. They were put into the article, and removed by User:Tomruen as part of his creation of the U.S. history fork. I'll be bringing them back when I have time. The summary of how IRV is performing belongs in *this* article, and, if anyone claims it is cherry-picked, then they are welcome to add the allegedly excluded facts. Such as, for example, if anyone wants to do the searching, how IRV has affected turnout. Certainly that would be relevant and interesting. As well, how has IRV affected election costs, overall. Problem is, it's hard to get that data. Still, if someone can find facts relevant to it, they should be in the history article in some detail, and in this article in summary form. --Abd (talk) 20:36, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

I agree with User:Tbouricius - that EVERYTHING related to a ballot majority requirement ought to deserve its own section, and whatever is relavent to that issue can go there, rather than peppering the main article with needless distracting conplications that don't affect 99% of IRV implementations. Tom Ruen (talk) 22:41, 31 January 2008 (UTC)
On why IRV opponents don't grab on to the loss of a ballot-majority issue, my interpretation is that where IRV is replacing a top-two runoff process, there WAS NO REQUIREMENT that AS MANY VOTES are needed in the runoff round for the winner compared to the general election. A plurality candidate might get 1000 votes (say 40%) in the general election, and then win a runoff rounds with 900 votes (now 55% of a smaller number of ballots), that's a good reason to abandon runoff elections entirely, whether to conclude majority support is illusionary and saying plurality (one election, one vote) is good enough OR going to a more advanced ballot like ranking. Tom Ruen (talk) 22:41, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

San Fran results

I added a test table on the largest IRV election from SF, 2004, could use some comments - Is it useful to include in the IRV_implementations_in_United_States article? Tom Ruen (talk) 02:21, 1 February 2008 (UTC) Talk:IRV_implementations_in_United_States#San_Fran_results

I think so. I'll comment there. Nice work. Tom, you will learn more if you look at the Excel spreadsheets they provide. These give the full ballot data, summed, i.e., we know how many voters voted for each candidate in each rank. If this had been a Bucklin election, more of the candidates would have reached an absolute majority, and, of course, we'd have all the relevant data. As it happens, Bucklin would have given the same results as IRV in all these elections. (Which isn't surprising. The differences arise in unusual cases.) --Abd (talk) 04:10, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Restoration of sourced and relevant text deleted.

User:RRichie removed the following italicized text from the section on practical implications:diff

Voters have the option to rank candidates in order of choice rather than mark a single candidate. By choosing not to rank all candidates, a voter's ballot may not be counted in the decisive round of counting. Only ballots ranking one of the finalists will be counted. (But in at least one proposed version, that being in Vermont, where the state constitution mandates a winner have "the major part of the vote," exhausted ballots containing a vote for any eligible candidate may still count in the basis; if there are too many of them, the election will fail, and be thrown to the legislature.)[2]

The statement preceding it is not true under the conditions that a majority is required. Every jurisdiction actually implementing IRV (except I have not checked out Takoma Park, I assume Mr. Richie could tell us about that one, I presume he sold them the fish bicycle) did so to replace majority-required elections, and IRV was promoted as a way to get majorities without holding a presumably expensive or inconvenient by-election. Indeed, it can do this, but it can also fail, and, it turns out, it is *usually* failing. The reason why a majority is not required in the current IRV elections is that IRV *replaced* the majority requirement, it did not satisfy it, but this appears to have escaped the notice of those who might have been opposed. The voter information pamphlet for the San Francisco proposition did not even mention the argument (among all those who paid for opposition arguments); and to the contrary, the summary language, supposedly neutral, explicitly claimed that candidates would "still be required to gain a majority of votes." (I think that's an exact quote, but it's from memory, might have been a little different. I quoted the exact language in Talk; in a section that was moved to the Implementations article). "Majority of votes" has a common understanding and meaning: take all ballots containing a vote for an eligible candidate and count them. Divide that number by two. The winner must gain more votes than that. The "majority" in IRV is a majority of a reduced subset.

I consider it highly likely that, in the future, new IRV initiatives in such jurisdictions, in order to pass, will retain the majority requirement, for the cat is out of the bag. In my view, IRV with a majority requirement is substantially better than IRV without one. Without the requirement, IRV creates a "majority" by discarding all votes from consideration that don't rank the top two; this results, necessarily, in a majority *of votes remaining*. Take any election, with any method I can think of, and discard all votes not for the top two. Presto! A majority for the winner. Indeed, if IRV can be claimed to guarantee a majority winner, we might as well claim that it always finds a consensus winner, elected by unanimous vote. Just continue the elimination process one more step, until there is only one candidate instead of two! No, IRV does help find majority winners, that is true under some conditions. But it can also miss them, because of the quirks of sequential elimination, as I'm sure Mr. Richie knows quite well. Indeed, he sometimes argues that this is a feature, not a bug. IRV requires candidates to have a certain minimum "core support." Bottom line, this means that the winner, generally, must be one of the top two in first preferences. (With batch elimination, used with some elections that Richie cheerfully calls "IRV," that is exactly it). Apparently, this is more important than having winners actually approved by a true majority of those who bothered to show up and cast a valid vote. I.e., standard majority rule.

Since we are on it, there is one standard response to this line of thinking: but runoff elections are often decided by fewer voters, with the winner getting fewer votes than loser got in the primary election. First of all, this probably assumes relative inconvenience for voting, thus lower turnout, in the runoff. In Cary, the reverse was sometimes true, and generally runoff elections enjoyed about the same turnout. But, it is argued, by compressing all voting into one session, it is more convenient for voters, and therefore IRV is more democratic. This is actually a far more complex debate than one might think. Runoff elections probably choose more satisfactory winners, overall, due to differential turnout. Essentially, runoffs test preference strength, the voters who don't turn out for the runoff *don't care as much about the results* as do those who turn out -- generally. Obviously, there are plenty of individual exceptions, such as parents who can't find child care, etc. But these considerations can apply to both elections, and runoffs allow voters who *do* care an additional opportunity to vote. As anyone familiar with Range voting would recognize, this is a true test of sincere preference strength, on average, thus votes are, as with Range, deweighted according to such strength, and it's easy to show, mathematically, that this should result in higher average satisfaction with the result. If the top two are equally acceptable to me, as an example, I may not bother to vote, and, in fact, if that's the only issue, probably won't. So turnout can be lower, and possibly a lot lower, even if there is no differential barrier to voting.

Point: many elections do require a majority for victory. Some of these have election/runoff schedules that may actually favor the runoffs. (Think about the current overall Presidential primary process as the "primary," with the top two facing each other in the general election. This is *roughly* what we have. When IRV replaces a majority-required runoff, depending on how the replacement bylaw is worded, majority might be continued to be required (the Vermont legislation proposed), or not (the San Francisco proposition as actually worded, not as advertised).

Now, as to balance. Richie's edit summary was: "under "practial implications", doesn't seem useful to describe in laborious detail a proposal that no governmental election uses."

This article, first of all, is about voting systems, and not only about those used for governmental purposes. Secondly, the detail given is very brief. Such legislation is pending and, indeed, should be covered by the article (or at least the implementation article).

We have seen this "laborious detail" argument many times. I will refrain from bringing in all the political implications, what I know about Richie's arguments elsewhere and how this dovetails with them, but it is important to note here that, obviously, User:RRichie is Rob Richie, Executive Director of FairVote, the main advocate of IRV. He was here before as a tendentious IP editor, actively removing contributions from "critics," -- yes, that was the edit summary, "editor is a critic" -- and was blocked as such. He is quite welcome to participate here, as far as I am concerned, for he has great and even unique knowledge of the subject. For example, we have a report as to how the term "instant runoff voting" came to be used, but it would certainly be of interest for the article what Richie recalls of that. (Never mind for the moment how we would find reliable source, suffice it to say that there would be a way.) However, he is a COI editor, even more so than User:Tbouricius and, as such, should refrain from any sort of editing that could reasonably be seen as promoting a point of view where he has a conflict.

The judgment of what is "useful" depends highly upon POV. Useful for what? Richie is a political activist, making his living at influencing opinion. Any skillful activist knows that what is not said can be as important as what is said. If one can place before decision-makers a subset of information, chosen to further only one point of view, one can influence them toward that point of view. Other information certainly won't be seen as useful! What is important for readers to know? The fact that IRV disregards, as commonly implemented, inconvenient votes looks bad. But if we can blame it on the voters, by how we state the fact, i.e., with language like "voters who did not bother to rank enough candidates" or the equivalent, i.e., "failed to rank" has been used in the article (and might still be there), one can divert attention from the fact that an election was held, a majority of voters voted for someone other than the IRV winner and did not vote for the IRV winner, but the IRV winner still wins. One may certainly then argue that for various reasons the IRV winner was still legitimate, but these same arguments start to resemble the arguments for plurality. Why do jurisdictions bother to require a majority? Are they aware that they are waiving the requirement if they implement IRV as generally proposed? In Vermont, quite simply, the requirement could not be waived, it is constitutional. *That is the only difference.* This is actually a *crucial* fact. Now, does this have POV implications? Certainly! That is, there is a clear POV motive that one might have for inserting this into the article.

  • But that a fact supports a POV is *never* a reason for removing it from the article. Rather, the standard remedy is to, first of all, make sure that the fact is stated in an NPOV manner, and, then, if it creates POV imbalance, balance it with other sourced facts. And POV editors *always* complain that this is "too much detail." Non-notable facts can, indeed, be removed ... but this is where removal by an editor with a COI gets dicey.

"It will confuse the readers." Sure it will. Without it, they will be quite clear, look at this, all the evidence supports it, etc. Add some more facts, they become "confused." I.e., realize, more, the complexities of the situation and no longer find it so obvious. And out of this confusion can come true clarity. Wikipedia policy trusts the readers to sift through the evidence, but if the evidence is differentially presented, the results can be warped. Wikipedia actually depends on editors with POVs, they do, in fact, most of the work. Someone without a POV on IRV probably hasn't been paying attention! If one has a POV, one can become very sensitive to opposing POV, that might otherwise pass unnoticed. For easily more than a year, I assumed that FairVote was right: "Roberts Rules recommends IRV." It was only my POV that caused me to look more closely, why would this very respected source for parliamentary procedure make such a mistake? Turns out, they didn't make a mistake. RR doesn't "recommend" IRV -- and, of course, this has filled the Wikipedia drives with many kilo-characters of discussion which do not need to be repeated. And, again and again, pro-IRV editors would take out the necessary detail, put in to make the mention of IRV in Robert's Rules accurate and neutrally presented, not excluding contrary detail.

Because of the COI, Mr. Richie should refrain from making edits which could reasonably be expected to be controversial. If he wants to make a controversial edit, he should instead, discuss it here to seek consensus, and not be the one to actually make the edit (unless no controversy actually appears). For details and confirmation of this, see WP:COI. And, in spite of all this, once again, welcome, Mr. Richie. I assume we can cooperate toward the improvement of what has become a family of articles, and my goal has been to help raise this article to Featured Article status. That will require, however, thoroughly cleaning up any remaining POV imbalance (in any direction). As Mr. Richie knows, I generally oppose IRV as an inferior method, but it is quite reasonable for some jurisdictions to try it, and my opposition was originally based almost exclusively on "it is a good reform, but we can do better at lower cost." As I found with some of those who came before me (i.e., people who have been studying elections methods since before IRV was named), I've actually come to oppose it for various reasons, mostly that it doesn't bring sufficient improvement, in practice, to be worth the cost, or, at least, my support has become much, much weaker, more easily influenced by cost. It does not escape my notice, though, that the 2000 election would have had a more democratic outcome if, say, IRV had been in place in Florida for presidential elections. But the same is true for the much, much simpler reform of Approval voting, cost-free, or the alternate "instant runoff" of Bucklin voting, which has the advantage of clearly satisfying the majority criterion, but which is also more efficient at finding majority winners -- it does not miss any votes from the counted rounds. (I need to put the info back in, it looks like I failed to save an edit, but, as I recall, Bucklin analysis applied to the San Francisco election data did find a majority winner in almost all the elections where IRV failed to do so. Bucklin, which requires no changes to equipment or significant change to procedures (Just Count the Votes), really deserves more attention.) --Abd (talk) 18:35, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Why do you think anyone has time to read your novels. I encouraged Rob Richie to participate here. Why do you insist on making every technical possibly detail in every possible place? Why can't you add a single section WHEN A BALLOT MAJORITY IS REQUIRED and leave the rest of it alone?!?!?!?!?!!? —Preceding unsigned comment added by Tomruen (talkcontribs) 18:44, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Thanks for encouraging him, Tom. You have a somewhat better understanding of the guidelines and policies. Be sure to explain them to him. He may discount my explanations, possibly thinking them biased. As to my "novels," nobody has an obligation to read them, and anyone may ask for a brief summary or clarification. That they are so long is *my* problem. However, making them shorter takes more time, not less. As to why I insist upon certail details, what may be a small technical detail to you, as someone associated with FairVote, as you have acknowledged, or to Mr. Richie or to other editors with an established POV, may be an important fact to someone else. If information is compartmentalized, and especially if shunted to some section that readers are less likely to notice or even realize is relevant to their concerns, a subtle POV imbalance can be created. The move of the election data to a subarticle is problematic at this point, we'll have to address that. The suggestion about a subsection, though, properly done and with proper placement, would be just fine. Essentially, the effect should not be to conceal what may be important to a reader's obtaining a balance view of the topic. And when statements are simply incorrect under some conditions.... something must be done, incorrect text cannot remain. You want prominent placement of "adoptions," you must accept prominent placement of the realities behind those adoptions. Not every detail, but accurate *summary* of relevant details. IRV performance in real elections is relevant, very relevant. --Abd (talk) 20:29, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Abd -- My edits will be scrupulously fair. I have no more of a point of view in this than you do, my friend.
I think it is objectively true that your edit based on one proposed statutory change belongs in some section like "potential variations of IRV." There are hundreds of IRV elections every year, in NGO and governmental elections, and I don't know of a single one that has this provision. So perhaps you can put it in as a variation of IRV, although define it as a theoretical one. But surely it doesn't belong in a section on "practical consequences of IRV" when at this point is theoretical.
This of course relates to your Robert's Rules fixation. One reason so many NGOs around the world use IRV is that they are interpreting Robert's Rules in a way that nearly any objective reader of Robert's Rules would do. RRichie (talk) 19:34, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
With all due respect, Mr. Richie, I don't think you are capable of understanding what is actually "fair." You have a strong POV, reinforced with a long-term conflict of interest, and few people can fully resist the corrupting influence of that. Please understand that I'm not using "corruption" as a perjorative, only indicating that when we are very involved with a topic, it may become more difficult to see it from other perspectives. Which is why Wikipedia looks for a consensus of editors, not a consensus of "experts" alone, and certainly not a consensus of people with a direct conflict of interest, as you have. I cited the policy, but if you haven't read it, here it is again: WP:COI. I hope Mr. Ruen will properly explain it to you, I'm not sure how well he has grasped it. As I've explained to Mr. Bouricius -- and as it has been explained to him by others -- editors with a conflict of interest (being employed or paid by an advocacy organization connected with the topic of the article clearly establishes this) should refrain from controversial edits, except under careful and narrow circumstances.
It appears that you confuse this with POV, Point of View. Most editors have their own POVs (and those who don't may not be the best editors). As I explained, these actually help the editorial process, provided that the editors also understand NPOV and work toward it. NPOV *includes* all notable fact and opinion. In order to find NPOV< it is very helpful to have people participating in the process who have various points of view. As I mentioned today in another conversation, if we can integrate two points of view, we gain stereoscopic vision, becoming capable of perceiving depth. What may be in a blind spot for one may be clearly seen by another. Again, if you haven't read it, it might be worthwhile to take a look at WP:NPOV.
There are two issues here: one is about guidelines and policy, and the other is about content. Turning from procedure to content, I've been thanked many times by people for noticing and documenting what had often escaped notice. This isn't original research, at least not when it is directly verifiable by any reader. There have been RFCs submitted here over the Robert's Rules issue. Let's say that when neutral editors have looked at the evidence, together with competing arguments, they have concluded that there is an issue -- at least so far that is what has happened. If someone really contests this, there is procedure here which will attract even more comment, all the way up to ArbComm, which is serious consideration (and a huge time-consuming process, irritating administrators and others, and often resulting in sanctions against COI editors and POV-pushers who don't respect the process).
On the particular point, IRV is being sold as a replacement for runoff elections. As I noted, every implementation (except Takoma Park?) has been as a replacement for top-two runoff. This means that a majority requirement was in place. IRV replaces that requirement, generally, but the political process preceding this has never, to my knowledge, explicitly noticed this and considered it. In Vermont, that wasn't possible because, inconveniently, the election rule is in the constitution. I'm not sure that this is unique, is it? But even if it is, there is *current* legislation, on the table in Vermont, and such legislation has been introduced for many years, which clearly respects that requirement. But there is more. IRV propaganda has generally, for obvious reasons, glossed over the problem or ignored it. And, as a result, the Vermont legislation, in particular, while it clearly respects the majority requirement, also gives a ballot instruction which is incompatible with that requirement. I'm sure you know what it is. IRV, with a majority requirement, does not satisfy the criterion that a lower rank vote cannot "harm" a higher rank vote. But it says so on that ballot. The propaganda that IRV guarantees majority winners is ubiquitous. It's false. (No method can do that, so editors here, even though the strong statement is found as an actual argument, have watered it down to make it true, *but still misleading.") From the election examples we have, IRV does a poor job of finding majority winners; much more often than not, it fails to do this, so implementing IRV is *substantially* abandoning the majority requirement. Unless it's written as in Vermont. All this comes clearly into view when we consider the Vermont legislation. Once we know this, we can see the statement in the article, "Only ballots ranking one of the finalists will be counted." as only conditionally true. Now, it isn't necessary to have a detailed explanation there of *why* it is not true, what could be there might be only "Unless there is a majority requirement for election, only ballots ranking one of the finalists will be counted." *But*, then, the basis for this exception must be explained elsewhere in the article, and at this point, it's only a summary. So if you have time to put it somewhere else in the article, you could do that and leave behind the qualification necessary to make the statement true. There *is* a notable exception, I don't think you could succeed in maintaining a claim otherwise.
Given the controversy, though, I don't recommend that you be the one to make the change. Suggest it here. If I agree to it, I'd happily make it for you. If I don't, another editor might (and that editor thereby takes responsibility for it, and for any consequences of edit warring that might arise. Not that this will happen. Right?--Abd (talk) 20:29, 1 February 2008 (UTC)
Abd -- any edits I made can be very fairly evaluated. (I put in enough hours doing the full range of things that need to be done that this can be easily said to be volunteer hours!) The bottom-line is that I know a lot about this issue -- indeed more than you do, which is why I knew you had the San Francisco statistics wrong but put them right into the public article without ensuring you had them right. You also are wrong in your comment above that Takoma Park is the only U.S. implementation replacing plurality voting with IRV -- that is also true of Pierce County, Washington this year, and applies to IRV's adoption in other places like Basalt, Colorado and Ferndale, Michigan.
I think the great majority of objective analysts of the particular edit at issue here would agree with me. You are bent on a particular point about IRV as a non-majority system that is certainly not accepted as the consensus view and reaching into a proposed statute in Vermont to make your point under "practical consequences" when, as far as I know, you can't identify a real IRV election out of the thousands of uses of it around the world in governmental and NGO elections.
I also hope you wil understand taht you are outside the academic consensus on this general debate about IRV as a majority voting system. IRV andindeed even the supplementary vote are put in the same category as runoffs (even though runoffs can have such divergent voter turnout between rounds of voting -- far greater changes in turnout are typical in runoffs then in changes between the first and final round of IRV counts).
Here, for example, is what the Encyclopedia Brittanica On-line has to say on this subject -- it's below, in italics, with key section in bold.
PLURALITY AND MAJORITY SYSTEMS from current on-line Encyclopedia Brittanica)
The plurality system is the simplest means of determining the outcome of an election. To win, a candidate need only poll more votes than any other single opponent; he need not, as required by the majority formula, poll more votes than the combined opposition. The more candidates contesting a constituency seat, the greater the probability that the winning candidate will receive only a minority of the votes cast. Countries using the plurality formula for national legislative elections include Canada, Great Britain, India, and the United States. Countries with plurality systems usually have had two main parties.
Under the majority system, the party or candidate winning more than 50 percent of the vote in a constituency is awarded the contested seat. A difficulty in systems with the absolute-majority criterion is that it may not be satisfied in contests in which there are more than two candidates. Several variants of the majority formula have been developed to address this problem. In Australia the alternative, or preferential, vote is used in lower-house elections. Voters rank the candidates on an alternative-preference ballot. If a majority is not achieved by first-preference votes, the weakest candidate is eliminated, and that candidate's votes are redistributed to the other candidates according to the second preference on the ballot. This redistributive process is repeated until one candidate has collected a majority of the votes. In France a double-ballot system is employed for National Assembly elections. If no candidate secures a majority in the first round of elections, another round is required. In the second round, only those candidates securing the votes of at least one-eighth of the registered electorate in the first round may compete, and the candidate securing a plurality of the popular vote in the second round is declared the winner. Some candidates eligible for the second round withdraw their candidacy and endorse one of the leading candidates. In contrast to the two-party norm of the plurality system, France has what some analysts have called a “two-bloc” system, in which the main parties of the left and the main parties of the right compete against each other in the first round of an election to be the representative of their respective ideological group and then ally with one another to maximize their bloc's representation in the second round. An infrequently used variant is the supplementary-vote system, which was instituted for London mayoral elections. Under this system, voters rank their top two preferences; in the event that no candidate wins a majority of first-preference votes, all ballots not indicating the top two vote getters as either a first or a second choice are discarded, and the combination of first and second preferences is used to determine the winner. Majority formulas usually are applied only within single-member electoral constituencies.
Take this up with the editors of the Encyclopedia Brittanica, Abd, not me. But note: There is not any qualifier about IRV not really being a majority system. Certainly this can be an issue of debate, but you have to realize you are not being objective when seeking to highlight your perspective on it throughout the article, including in the opening definition of IRV and throughout.
RRichie (talk) 14:07, 2 February 2008 (UTC))

(unindent)First of all, my thanks to Mr. Richie for taking the time to copy the material from the Encyclopedia Brittanica. It will be interesting to examine it from the perspective of this problem. As to his having more knowledge than I about instant runoff voting, of course he does. He's been promoting it for more than a decade and has created many of the arguments advanced for it. He is not, however, an expert on Voting systems in general, that is very clear from much of what he has written. His vision is narrow. Nevertheless, it is very welcome here. Contrary to what it sometimes seems, expertise is not a disqualification from editing Wikipedia. But experts often don't have the patience necessary. It's a problem, actually.

However, as to Wikipedia process, I could properly be his guide, even though it can be truly arcane and unpredictable. If we can find consensus here, we'll quite likely end up with a better article than if we try to take issues to mediation or arbitration. Now, Wikipedia does *not* expect editors not to make mistakes. We can go out and find statistics and report them. If we find a mass of statistics, we may very well make mistakes. In fact, I expect it for myself. Wikipedia is a collaborative effort, far more than traditional publishing. If I had submitted those San Francisco statistics for formal publication, you can be sure they would have been checked and double-checked before the manuscript went off. Here, I wrote the Talk page edit as I collected the data from the source given, so anyone could check it. In this case, there was an interpretation error, but I'm sure it would have been caught in any normal editing review. None of this should change that was reported was still *substantially* correct. IRV is not performing as I would have expected, nor as it was promoted. It is avoiding runoffs, but the same results would have obtained, in all 33 elections, if a majority requirement had simply and directly been discarded, as it was discarded by implementing IRV, but instead going to ordinary Plurality voting(or, better, Approval voting, or, even better from some points of view, Bucklin voting. The same result would have been obtained if all the elections had been Bucklin, except that all but one election would actually have found a majority -- if we assume that voters had voted the same ballots, and there really is little reason to expect that voters would have added fewer second and third rank votes, Richie's argument -- that I'd expect him to make -- on that is weak. Voters aren't going to consider, most of them, later-no-harm, which is of rare consequence in real elections.

IRV failed to find a "majority of the votes" in seven out of nine elections going to instant runoff, as I recall the statistic. One of the interesting aspects of Brown v. Smallwood is that the court explicitly -- and correctly, based on precedent -- associated votes with "men," not with marks on paper. (Times have changed!). Thus votes really means a majority of voters participating in an election.

Mr. Richie has misrepresented my arguments about IRV and majority. IRV with a majority requirement is a different than IRV without it. I would argue, in fact, that it's a better system with a majority requirement, more democratic. IRV does *not*, in one round, reliably find a majority winner, under all legal definitions of majority, including those of Robert's Rules. Implementing single-ballot preferential voting with IRV or any other preferential method does *not* guarantee a majority, unless you force voters to rank all candidates, which would go over in the U.S. like a lead balloon. So implementing IRV by legislation superseding majority-required legislation is *removing* the majority requirement, not merely finding a cheaper way to satisfy it.

(But I would have thought it would be more successful at satisfying it, I *do* consider that if a majority of votes, after transfers but still counting all the votes as the basis for majority, are for a candidate, this is satisfying the majority requirement. I don't like some aspects of it, the candidate eliminations, which is why I'd favor other ways of analyzing a preferential ballot, but the fact remains that, by voluntarily ranking candidates, the voter has voted for them, and thus may count as having voted for the winner. Coercing the voters into ranking all candidates is not obtaining the free consent of the voters to a result. Bad idea.)

There is nothing in the Brittanica quotation that contradicts this; on the contrary, the Brittanica article confirms the point. One might notice this: "This redistributive process is repeated until one candidate has collected a majority of the votes." This is in reference to Australia, where compulsory full ranking causes the process to succeed in this. There is a difference between "majority of the votes," which language is present in the Vermont constitution, I think, and in any case which refers to all valid votes. Votes which have been substituted are valid votes, and remain such. Exhausted ballots do not thereby become non-votes. They are still votes, simply for none of the remaining candidates. With the Mayor of London, if you didn't vote for the top two, in your main vote and your supplementary vote, you are simply out of luck. Your vote is disregarded, and a "majority" is cobbed together only by discarding your vote quite the same as if you had cast a blank ballot. But you did not cast a blank ballot, and perhaps you even voted for a candidate on the ballot. "Majority of the vote" is a concept which has been used for centuries in deliberative process, and if we are going to discard it, it should be deliberately done, not covered up by pretending that we get a "majority of the vote" by discarding some of the legitimate votes.

Note, however, that in partisan elections, it is quite likely that most voters under suppementary vote would, indeed, vote for one of the major candidates in first or second preference, so this system would almost always find a majority, only in very close elections would it not, sometimes.

It's simple, here. If the fact can be verified, and it is notable, it belongs in the encyclopedia, somewhere, and something directly contradicting it can't be maintained, anywhere. (But if there is controversy, then the sides may be reported as such, and then relative notability can become an issue.) It may even be non-notable, but if it can be verified, a clear contradiction cannot stand. If some source adds 2 objects and objects 2 and reports a total of 5, and it happens there is no other reliable source on the sum of the objects being counted, we don't put "2 of these and 2 more makes 5." We fix the error (and we might note it as such). When sources write "majority," in regard to IRV, they are often simply talking about "majority of the votes remaining after exhausted ballots are set aside." Note that it has been a struggle to even get this into the article, what with the barrage of sock puppets and POV edits.

This article, I must remind Mr. Richie, is not just about IRV in public governmental elections. It is about the *method*, which is proposed for use, sometimes, in organizational elections, the sum of which probably exceed public elections by some measure. (But not necessarily in terms of numbers participating each year.) Further, various organizations, including governments and political activists, are considering reforms, and thus need to understand the *possibilities*, not merely what already is in common use. Wikipedia rules restrict us from putting much here about what is well-known about election methods, because much of it is known from peer discussion, outside of the formal literature. Further, even the formal literature is only accessible to a few.

To bring this back to the point, IRV, when used to replace top-two runoff, not only may fail to find a majority winner, it seems that, in the U.S., it usually does, from the examples before us. (That is, if the election fails to find a majority in the first round, in almost every case, it still fails after vote transfers are completed.) I'm sure this would be of interest to those considering IRV for such replacement. Is it important that a majority of those voting have approved the winner? If so, IRV isn't a full solution. Indeed, no single-ballot election method is a full solution, covering all possibilities, unless we coerce voters into ranking all candidates. Further, it is troubling that a majority of voters -- actually as many as two-thirds of the voters in a totally extreme case -- can vote *against* a candidate in favor of another, and yet that supermajority-rejected candidate can win with IRV. Unlikely to be that extreme, yes, very. But the possibility of a majority winner existing who is passed over by the IRV process is much higher. How high is hard to predict, because of the lack of actual ballot data, but center squeeze is quite reasonable under some conditions, where there is a polarized electorate balanced between two candidates and a good compromise candidate, second choice of most people, first choice of less than both of the other two. As Richie knows, there are other preferential voting methods which don't have this problem, including one which is much, much simpler to count, Bucklin.

From the San Francisco data, if the goal is to replace runoffs, Bucklin did find a majority winner -- the same as the IRV winner -- in every contest in 2004 except the very hard case of having 22 candidates (it was just a tad shy). And Bucklin is very, very easy to count. It is also, it can be claimed, a form of "instant runoff voting," but using a different means of estimating who would win the runoff. In most cases the result will be the same, but not in a center squeeze situation, where the compromise winner will likely prevail. In the U.S., we had STV for proportional representation (good method for that), and Bucklin for single-winner, in a number of places, before the backlash took out all but Cambridge. Definitely, Bucklin should be on the table. But much of this is dicta, here. It is mentioned to show the importance of the issue of "majority of the votes." Which is distinct from "majority of the remaining votes. --Abd (talk) 22:10, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

I added a few more San-Fran elections to the branch-page, and summarized the results as winner-percent, runner(s)-up-percent, and exhausted-percent, excluding ballots with no marks. Hopefully informative to see the results in practice. That's the fun of a branch-article on implementation.
As to above comments, I find the statement Bucklin did find a majority winner as categorically false and unacceptable judgement as I've said before. You can't compare IRV ballots to Bucklin ballots. Strategy is very different under Bucklin and I'm confident there'd be much wider bullet-voting under Bucklin, and I don't understand why you want to pretend otherwise.
I still support a special section on majority requirement, and AGREE it is a different problem that rank ballots can't guarantee winner any more than any single ballot method can. I'd be tempted to try starting such a section, but luckily enough on my plate this week, its best I don't start anything I can't finish. BUT when such a section is written I HIGHLY support the position that the rest of the article is cleaned up of this detail that just distracts.
I suppose the difficult remains that IRV-supporters talk about majority to mean majority-of-nonexhausted-ballots and this interpretation is debatable. One solution is to qualify EVERY REFERENECE to majority in this way BUT it becomes apparent to me the focus on this weaker definition of majority becomes wasted effort. I'm not against removing the majority claims through out the article. Ultimately IRV process logically ends when one candidate has more votes than all other remaining candidates combined. Call it a majority or not, that's the logic end. I don't see the point of defending either side.
Okay, one last effort, I'll try a summary of where majority is claimed in this article, add the the following section I started. Tom Ruen (talk) 22:49, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Add "Majority requirement variation" section?

Can we add a section under this name and include differences causes by this requirement and stop with the detailed exceptions all over that make the article hard to read and understand? Tom Ruen (talk) 21:30, 1 February 2008 (UTC)

Editors are, of course, free to propose any changes to the article, and, if the editor believes that the change may be acceptable to other editors, it's fine to make it directly to the article. However, if controversy is reasonably expected, it may be better to discuss it here first. Deliberately making changes in expectation that they will be reverted, and without having found consensus, is disruptive, and can waste a lot of time. Whether or not the change Tom proposes would be acceptable to me and other editors I cannot predict. Certainly a section could be written, and other mentions of the majority requirement reduced. Eliminating them, though, would introduce a POV slant to the article (or maintain it, if what is happening is that the qualifying phrases necessary to make statements in the article true are not allowed to be inserted). What it would do is make it unnecessary to explain and source the qualifiers every time. So the mention might be greatly reduced to (unless an absolute majority is required).
--Abd (talk) 19:22, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

MilesAgain blocked as sock puppet of Nrcprm2026

Well, folks, for a few months I've been noting that MilesAgain was a sock puppet. It's important because even legitimate sock puppets should refrain from contentious editing. I had suspected he was a sock in the same series as User:BenB4 and User:Acct4 who had been part of the cabal of editors "owning" this article; however, he had been more conciliatory, more willing to compromise, and his disruptiveness stopped just short of motivating me to file a WP:Request for checkuser. Well, now we know why he stopped short. I'd have filed it as a suspected User:Nrcprm2026 (James Salsman) sock, as were the others, it would have taken him out, almost certainly, quite a while ago. He's been tagged and blocked entirely without any action on my part. Thought you should know.

Just on a hunch, I googled "James Salsman" "instant runoff voting." Came up with this:"Though we don't even have a Chapter in Santa Clara County, some of our active members there have got IRV on the ballot, as you know. Kudos to Steve Chessin, James Stauffer, James Salsman, and Russ Paielli! (Hope I didn't leave anyone out!)[1]. Distinguished company. This was from 1998, and I recognize three out of four of those names, and I'm sure some of our other editors will as well.

Here is a URL for an open Salsman post on this topic: [2]

Unless it turns out that two checkusers erred in the identification of MilesAgain as another Salsman sock, he lied to us, explicitly.

--Abd (talk) 18:47, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Well folks, now is the time we can all breath a collective sigh of relief that the crimimal has been caught and properly executed, and the rest of us honest folk can get on with the work of civilization... I'd better be good so I don't also become an outcast! Tom Ruen (talk) 20:55, 3 February 2008 (UTC)
I don't take any particular joy in this. Tom, you'd have to go pretty far to match Salsman. He basically decided to (and announced he would) take ignore all rules to mean he could legitimately do what ever he wanted, and if he could get away with it, fine. He wasted a huge amount of time, for many editors. He lied and wikilawyered his way across many articles. All in a good cause, I suppose. Take a look at Wikipedia_sockpuppets_of_Nrcprm2026 plus Category:Suspected_Wikipedia_sockpuppets_of_Nrcprm2026. Busy little bee. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Abd (talkcontribs) 05:33, 7 February 2008 (UTC)


What happens if the two candidates with the smallest number of votes have the same number? Who gets eliminated? Timeshift (talk) 23:06, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

There's a section on tie-breaking: Instant_Runoff_Voting#Handling_ties. Every implementation can use their own rules how to deal with ties.
The Independence Party of Minnesota 2004 poll eliminated all candidate in the tie together. IRV_implementations_in_United_States#Independence_Party_of_Minnesota_.282004_Presidential_poll.29. This is reasonable when the tied candidates have a tiny number of votes and LOGICALLY no problem if their votes combined are less than the next smallest candidate. This choice is less defendable in a larger election like tied for second: A=40 votes, B=30 votes, C=30 votes. Like a two round system the only fair solution is to break the tie by some random determination.
Tom Ruen (talk) 23:34, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

Archive 5

I moved content before January 23 to a new archive 5, so my scrollbar will function reasonably again, maybe for another 7 days with luck? Tom Ruen (talk) 23:58, 3 February 2008 (UTC) Talk:Instant-runoff_voting/archive5

Tom's survey of majority references in IRV article

Surveying sentences refering majority in the article (by section in bold), here's what I found:


  • "In an IRV election, if no candidate receives a majority of first choices, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is eliminated... This process is repeated until one candidate has a majority, or until two candidates remain with the winner determined from the final count."

Tom: Majority definition okay on "first round". I'd support a change the second part to a logical description:

MAYBE CHANGE TO: "This process is repeated until one candidate has more votes than all remaining candidates combined."

Abd:need to have the qualification, if it is not already plain from context. Given the context, I fixed the small error in Tom's language (normally that's not a good thing to do in Talk, but I expect he won't mind in this case.)

  • (Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised) "... However, it notes that runoff procedures which drop last-place candidates may eliminate a compromise candidate who could be supported by a majority over the runoff winner."

Tom: I don't think this belongs in the intro, even if its interesting. I'd merge statement into Non-governmental organizations section with RNRO.

Abd: It's been taken out. Note that this is one of the options I proposed long ago (and implemented). However, certain IRV advocates, one of whom we now know to have been James Salsman, insisted it belonged in the introduction, but attempted to get necessary qualification or context removed. It was very clear POV pushing. My "political agenda" would actually favor the complete explanation to be in the introduction ... but I am *not* editing this article to pursue a political agenda beyond one served by a fair and neutral article on the subject.

Counting the votes:

  • "If a candidate holds a majority (more than half) of the active ballots, a winner is found. (No further elimination can change the top candidate.)"

Tom: Seems qualified and clear

Abd: Maybe. I think we should use uniform terminology. "Active" is a synonym, and undefined, though a reader might reasonably infer the meaning. We should also use the language used in legislation and reliable sources, if possible, and not invent synonyms unless there is utterly no doubt about them. I certainly considered "active" close enough not to edit war over! But i don't think it optimal.


  • No candidate has a majority of votes (51 votes), so last place Brian is eliminated. ... Andrew has 49/96 (51%) of the votes in round 2, but only 49% of the original 100 votes. This demonstrates that IRV can't guarantee a winner being supported by majority of total ballots if some voters offered no preferences among the final two candidates.

Tom: Properly qualified, but I think its over-kill to focus so much on this fact with a single example.

Abd: From what has become plain, "majority of total ballots" isn't the language to use. It's "majority of the votes," and we can make clear what that means early in the article so that we don't have to keep explaining "majority of the number of ballots containing at least one vote for an eligible candidate," or some other definition probably taken from a legal source (or Robert's Rules), whence it may be sourced.

Effect on parties and candidates:

  • "In the November 2007 elections, at least four candidates ran in every constituency, with an average of seven, but every constituency was won with an absolute majority of votes."

Tom: This statement is unclear meaning to me - what does absolute majority mean? I can guess, but I'm not even sure this fact is important enough to give here under a Effect on parties and candidates section. Abd: It's an error, I think. But Australian usage may be different. So this may take some thought. I think it means "absolute majority of the voters participating in the election, having cast a valid ballot." That defines a group membership without specifying, beyond the fact of valid participation, how they voted. Because this is Australia, though, "absolute majority" is guaranteed, it's a tautology, there are no exhausted ballots because if a voter truncates, it's not a valid vote. Am I right about this? So this was a POV edit, though it may not have been intended that way. It was an Australian not understanding the context of the debate that was going on in Talk, I'd guess.

Effect on parties and candidates:

  • "While IRV is designed to ensure that each individual candidate elected is supported by a majority of those in his or her constituency, if used to elect an assembly it does not ensure this result on a national level. As in other non-PR systems the party or coalition that wins a majority of seats will often not have the support of an overall majority of voters across the nation."

Tom: I think I understand this even if ambiguous. It's related to the power of gerrymandering. Your party can get a minority of the votes and a majority of the seats if you can pack the opposite party supporters more densely into a few districts that win by landslides so other districts can lean towards closer elections in favor of your party.

Abd:I'm not sure this should even be in the article. The intention is perhaps what we might call an "IRV majority." If it meant "majority of the voters participating, casting uncoerced votes," then IRV doesn't guarantee that even locally, not to mention nationally. Nor does any other method. (Methods cannot create support! Methods can only discover it if it exists.) This is really a "single-winner" problem, not an IRV problem. If we could get this IRV nonsense out of the way, we could really cooperate on proportional representation, though we might still debate about which method to use. Frankly, though, STV is right up there among the top choices, and is one with a lot of experience.

Majoritarianism and consensus:

  • "The intention of IRV is that the winning candidate will have the support of a majority of voters. It is often intended as an improvement on the 'First Past the Post' (plurality) voting system. Under 'First Past the Post' the candidate with most votes (a plurality) wins, even if they do not have a majority (more than half) of votes (unless election rules require a runoff under that condition). IRV attempts to address this problem by eliminating candidates one at a time, until one has a majority."
  • "As with any winner-take-all election method, IRV can result in a shut-out of minority representation. Gerrymandering of single seat districts can also result in minorities gaining majority control of a legislative body, with IRV or any other winner-take-all election method."
  • "The majority obtained by the winner of an IRV election is not always a majority of valid ballots cast, but rather a majority of ballots that indicated a preference between the runoff finalists. There are two possible reasons for this "majority failure": First, as in a common plurality or two-election runoff system, there may be a compromise candidate who is preferred by most voters to the actual winner, but whose lack of first choice support meant the candidate did not make it into the final runoff. Secondly, exhausted ballots, those with no votes on them for any remaining candidate, can result in the IRV winner not having received a vote from a majority of voters, but only a majority of votes from remaining ballots."
  • "In an election with many candidates and limited ranking, as with San Francisco Supervisor elections, exhausted ballots may be common.[citation needed]"
  • "Critics of IRV argue that a candidate can only claim to have majority support by being the 'Condorcet winner'—that is, the candidate voters prefer to every other candidate when compared to them one at a time. Defenders argue that first and other higher preferences are more important than lower preferences, and point out that the Condorcet winner may be a candidate with no first choices."
  • "Because of the value it puts in first choice support, IRV may be less likely to elect centrist candidates than some other preferential systems, such as a Condorcet method. For this reason it can be considered a less consensual system than these alternatives. Some IRV supporters consider this a strength, because a candidate with the enthusiastic support of many voters may be preferable to an allegedly mediocre compromise candidate, while still being acceptable to a majority of voters."

Tom: This whole section seems an unrelated mixture of ideas - talking about majority vs PR on one side, theoretical Condorcet comparisons on the other, and explains the definitions of majority.

Tom: I have to think whatever is worth saving here, it needs to be split into each issue:

  1. Elections by plurality vs majority vs mult-winner districts vs PR
  2. Definition of majority in runoffs and how exhausted ballots (or reduced participation) is interpreted.
  3. Definition of majority in Condorcet (true majority?) AND IS EVEN CONDORCET a true majority if there's exhausted ballots in some pairs?!?!!?!

Abd: if Condorcet ballots may be truncated, or if they otherwise indicate some distinction between Approval and non-Approval, then it is possible to determine if there is a majority or not. Otherwise, what we would have to say is that a majority of those indicating a preference between this candidate and all other candidates preferred the Condorcet winner. There are no "exhausted ballots" in Condorcet. However, there may be ballots that do not participate in a particular pairwise election. Question is, did a majority indicate a preference for that candidate over all others? That can be determined. Condorcet does not require a majority, but Condorcet methods may be used in elections that do require a majority.

(I might possibly have a preference between Genghis Khan and Adolf Hitler, but my vote for one of them is purely formal. If full ranking is to be required, there should be an Approval cutoff dummy candidate, all candidates ranked above this is approved -- and these votes for the basis for a majority --, all those below are coerced choices in some way or other.) But I don't really like Condorcet methods because of the failure to express preference strength. It's very crude compared to what is possible.)
And yes, it's a rather confused section, a hodge-podge (as it was).

Is IRV better than other systems?:

  • "allows one ballot to find a majority winner,"
  • "does not guarantee election of a true majority winner due to exhausted ballots;"
  • "can eliminate a compromise candidate who could be preferred by a majority over the IRV winner;"

Tom: The first two go together as and come down to differing definitions of majority. The THIRD is something completely different that I'm sure will confuse people, referencing the Condorcet winner without saying this.

Abd: This section is an arguments section, and arguments are presented as they actually are presented in the real world. These should really be quoted and, no, we don't get to change them to make them truer or more false. The "majority" in the last mention is "majority of the votes cast," or, more accurately, of the voters voting and casting valid votes (i.e., votes that would have been counted if for a winner).

Similar systems:

  • "Bucklin Voting also involves ranking candidates, and proceeds in rounds, but uses a different method of treating alternative votes in which a lower choice candidate can count against your higher choice candidate. If there is no majority winner in a Bucklin count, ..."

Tom: NOW apparently we have a NEW definition of majority (approval majority?!) which allows multiple votes, multiple majority candidates, but only one winner. This is NOT good as is in my view!

Abd: Its the same definition. A majority of those voting have, in that round, voted for the winner. Yes, with Bucklin, we have to realize that is is possible (though actually quite unlikely, I haven't seen a real Bucklin election which did it) for more than one candidate to gain a majority. The "lower choice candidate can count against your higher candidate" is a POV summary of Bucklin, highly imbalanced. Show an election where this actually happened and the voter would have been upset about it! The definition should be rewritten, it does not actually explain Bucklin counting (but it might continue to). Again, since it is in the negative, the double majority problem *does not exist*. The winner is, as with Approval, is the candidate with the most votes when counting stops, and it stops when a majority is found. That there might be two or twenty is irrelevant. One stops the counting, the winner is the one with the most votes.

Runoff voting:

  • "Under the two round system voters vote for only one candidate but, if no candidate receives an overall majority of votes, another round of voting is held from which all but the two candidates with most votes are excluded."

Tom: Overall majority?!

Abd: Synonym for "majority of votes cast. Totally unnecessary, since there are no eliminations in the first round. If there is no majority in the first round, there is a new election with reduced access to the ballot. Often, in theory, that new election is still open and majority failure could occur, but I think that this is very, very rare.

  • "In some jurisdictions where top two runoff is required if no candidate gets a majority, a provision has been implemented that allows absentee voters to cast a ranked ballot."

IRV in a larger runoff process:

  • "Elections requiring a majority winner defined by the total number of ballots may not be achieved with a single IRV balloting due to exhausted ballots. In such cases a post-balloting process may be needed to determine a final winner."
  • "Roberts Rules of Order, Newly Revised recommends preferential voting for elections by mail, giving IRV as their example. A winner is only determined if one candidate is supported by a majority of the total ballots, which may not always occur, if some ballots rank at least one candidate neither of the final two."

Tom: I don't know where to start, but maybe this summary is helpful. Tom Ruen (talk) 23:36, 3 February 2008 (UTC)

WELL, given an impossible task, I jumped over my head and reorganized as best I could, with the primary purpose of reducing and clarifying sectional organization. Too much mixed together from too many disjointed points of view.
A section COULD be added that addresses different ideals of what majority means (In plurality, in runoffs, in IRV, in Condorcet, in Approval/Bucklin... all different in subtles ways that will confuse anyone who don't really care that much). In other words I think the topic exceeds IRV even if sources could be found that defend the entire subject of differing means and definitions. Tom Ruen (talk) 01:17, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Okay, a poor best effort at Instant-runoff voting#What is a majority? to express the possible interpretations, not that I'm at all content with it, or anything like it in this article. Tom Ruen (talk) 01:38, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Well, Tom, you should know not to insert an entire section of original research with no citations and no consensus yet on the project you are attempting. It's not a bad idea to address the problem with a section, but, as I wrote before, this does not mean that nonstandard language can be used. When majority is used, the basis for the majority must always be specified if it is not clear. "Majority of votes cast" is very clear. Take all the votes cast, and it is more than half of them. We may, for the article, establish a standard usage, and for simplicity, I'd suggest "round majority," i.e., a majority of votes being counted in a round of vote counting, excluding eliminated ballots. Or something like that. Or just a "majority of votes remaining active, as is used in one place.
I took the section out, pending work here on it. It's below as a subsection of this Talk section; I'd propose we create a subpage for it and work on it there. But I'll put it here for now:

What is a majority?

A difficulty in terminology in this article is the use of the word majority can be defined differently:

  • In plurality, a majority winner is a candidate preferred over all others combined. The fact that not all plurality elections have such a winner inspired the creation of runoff processes.
  • In two round system, a majority winner is a candidate who has more votes than all others combined in the first round, or more votes than a runner up in the second round. If fewer voters participate in the runoff round, the winner might have less votes in this round than the first round.
  • In Instant runoff voting a majority winner is a candidate who has more votes in the final round than all other candidates combined. This winner may have a majority of the active votes, but less than a majority of the total ballots because some ballots offered no preferences among the candidates in the final round.
  • In a Condorcet method, a winner assumed to be the candidate who can defeat all others head-to-head. Some call this a true majority. This candidate may NOT win an Instant runoff if he is eliminated before the final round. Even this true majority exists, the majority status can be in doubt since a candidate might win all head-to-head comparisons to competitors but fail to win a majority of ballots in all comparisons due to exhausted ballots, just like IRV.
  • In an approval election, voters are allowed to mark more than one choice and have multiple votes. This means that it is possible for more than one candidate to have votes from a majority of voters, while in single-vote systems, a majority support can only be held by one candidate.

No election system can guarantee a majority of voters will support a single winner and the only way to make a promise on majority is to redefine it in a way that exclude voters from the count who refuse to offer a vote among the final set of choices.

If an election implementation requires a majority winner, then it must be defined in a way that limits a winner from being declared and leaves the election result open to a further election process.

Some elections, including variations in IRV implementations, may allow voters a chance to offer a protest choice like None of the above that rejects all choices offered which may binding or nonbinding. If nonbinding it has no effect on the election. If it is binding this vote can block a winner from being chosen.

Comments on proposed section

First of all, majority has a clear definition: "more than one-half." What gets unclear is when the word is used without specifying "half of what"? absolute majority, according to the article, means "half of all eligible voters," not merely those who voted, but including those who did not vote. Absolute majorities are required for certain actions (for example, an absolute majority generally may be able to amend bylaws without notice; because absolute majorities can be hard to obtain due to low participation in many organizations, supermajority rules were developed to make it practical to amend bylaws without jumping through such a high hoop: after proper notice, a 2/3 vote may amend bylaws.) However, the term may be used, and I think I've seen it used that way, in an election as "absolute majority of the votes cast;" the "votes cast" being the number of ballots containing a vote for an eligible candidate for the office. IRV may proceed to ignore some ballots with such votes, but, then, it is finding, not a majority of votes, but of a subset of votes, being those remaining after eliminations. It is still using a "majority" measure, but of votes now qualified as remaining after eliminations.

As I've pointed out, if we think that IRV finds a "majority" in all cases, we could just take the election one more round (i.e., eliminate the remaining candidate and transfer votes, if any, for the winner. Indeed, this would be a useful analysis, and it might find a majority, if anyone cared. I'd expect, in San Francisco, that this would have shown a few more votes for the winner. In one election, it might have tipped the balance. So if one actually wants to find a majority with IRV, elimination should be continued until only one candidate remains, not two. However, the point of bringing this up is that, as this point, the candidate remaining has 100% of the last round votes. That's unanimity, if we only talk about uneliminated candidates.

Now, language being what it is, once some special usage is established, ordinarily a word might then be used without qualification. However, here, because of all the issues, it is dangerous (i.e., risks misunderstanding) if the word "majority" is not used precisely, which requires either some special terminology, or that the basis for the majority always be stated. This problem does not disappear by including a special section on it; I suspect that Tom thought it would, and then "majority" could cheerfully be used even where statements would become incorrect if "majority of the votes" is glossed. The reason is that "majority of the votes" is common usage. In a place using runoff elections, that is the language used; no action is complete without a majority of the votes. This is, indeed, very common practice in NGOs, and it's a basic protection against the vagaries of elections with 3 or more candidates. Robert's Rules discourages eliminating *any* candidates, so if no majority *of the votes* is obtained, an entirely new election is held, no candidates are eliminated (but some may and often do drop out, which is one reason why one-vote methods work).

Preferential ballots make it easier to find a majority approving of the result without requiring tactical voting, even with a fair number of candidates, but even with as few as three candidates, as we've seen, it does not necessarily happen. From my perusal of the Cary election, it appears entirely unclear who would have won a runoff election, Maxwell or Franz. It might be predicted from Bucklin analysis, though I'm not sure the data is available. (It was possible in San Francisco because, in 2004, the number of votes in each rank, total, was reported -- this is from optical scan, I think.) But it was complicated by the advice the losing candidate (eliminated before the final round) gave his supporters: write me in at each rank.)

Now, as to what is said about each method, it's POV. With reference to Tom's first draft, above.

Plurality. doesn't require a majority. (But think of it as being rounds. Eliminate the candidate with the lowest vote at each "round," and keep this up until there are two left. The winner is the one with a majority of the votes *remaining.* Of course, we don't think of plurality that way; instead we do batch elimination of all but those at the top, which is only one if there are no ties.)

In two round system, a majority winner is a candidate who has more votes than all others combined in the first round, or more votes than a runner up in the second round. If fewer voters participate in the runoff round, the winner might have less votes in this round than the first round. This is POV, it's an argument comparing two different elections. Two round system requires a majority of votes cast in the first round *or the first round fails*. Then a runoff is held; this is a new election with two candidates eligible to be on the ballot. In fact, write-ins are typically allowed. Because, however, it is considered that at this point enough is enough, I think that a majority is not required. The argument about number of votes in the last round is POV. Sure it's possibly true, but the reverse also can be true. The sock MilesAgain tried to rake me over the coals on that claim, but I'd been looking at Cary, and the runoffs that had been held there. Turnout was typically about the same for the primary and the runoff, and in one runoff the turnout was higher. Consider this: an election where, unexpectedly, a dark horse candidate finishes second, and there is majority failure, so it goes to runoff. What will happen. Suddenly, a whole chunk of the population might see hope where they previously had none, so they are highly motivated to turn out. The dark horse could win. In the San Francisco elections prior to IRV, in the year studied (2000, which was remarkable for a high number of runoffs required -- one of the little hidden pieces of POV imbalance in the article, a very unusual year was reported as if it were typical, though this certainly may have influenced San Francisco voters in 2002), one-third of the runoffs *reversed* the plurality win in the first round. With IRV, no reversals have been seen. In Australia, reversals occur a reasonable percentage of the time. But Australia requires full ranking, plus those are partisan elections. Nonpartisan elections are, I suspect, more likely to see reversals with runoffs, and less likely with IRV, and the effect of voter motivation may be behind it. Eliminating runoffs by using IRV may "improve voter participation," but not the making of decisions by voters sufficiently motivated to vote. In any case, a comment about the justice or injustice of two round systems is inappropriate here in the article. What's a majority is the question this section addresses, and it is not any different than with "plurality." It's a majority of valid votes cast.

In Instant runoff voting a majority winner is a candidate who has more votes in the final round than all other candidates combined. This winner may have a majority of the active votes, but less than a majority of the total ballots because some ballots offered no preferences among the candidates in the final round. Of course, treat this similarly to the treatment just given to two-round system, and we would add, "In IRV systems with limited ranks, which is every one in use in the United States [is this true?], there may be insufficient ranks for voters to be able to vote sincerely and also vote for those candidates." None of this makes the last round plurality a "majority of votes cast." That is, calling this candidate a "majority winner" is misleading.

In a Condorcet method, a winner assumed to be the candidate who can defeat all others head-to-head. Some call this a true majority. This candidate may NOT win an Instant runoff if he is eliminated before the final round. Even this true majority exists, the majority status can be in doubt since a candidate might win all head-to-head comparisons to competitors but fail to win a majority of ballots in all comparisons due to exhausted ballots, just like IRV. Nobody calls the Condorcet winner a "true majority." Besides the bad syntax. That winner is called "the Condorcet winner," if one exists. Condorcet methods satisfy the Majority Criterion (all versions), but truncation ("exhausted ballot" is not relevant to Condorcet methods) does mean that the Condorcet winner might not gain a majority. But it's unlikely. Condorcet methods consider all the votes simultaneously, so it is more capable of finding a majority winner.

In an Approval election, voters are allowed to mark more than one choice and have multiple votes. This means that it is possible for more than one candidate to have votes from a majority of voters, while in single-vote systems, a majority support can only be held by one candidate. That is correct, but, again, not relevant. If Approval is implemented in a jurisdiction with a majority requirement, there may be more than one candidate qualified to be elected by gaining a majority, but the one elected is the one with the most votes. And this candidate, in this event, has gained a majority. That another candidate, or even more than one other, may have gained a majority is moot. It simply means that more than one candidate could have been elected by a majority. I have proposed, actually, that if this double majority occurs, a runoff be held, because it is not clear that a majority of voters preferred one to the other. However, majority requirements exist for Ballot Questions, and if there are multiple conflicting Ballot Questions gaining a majority, the one with the most Yes votes prevails. Approval Voting, actually, with a majority of votes cast required. In this case, the majority of votes cast is the votes cast for each question, not a majority of votes cast for *any* question. (This would apply to Approval elections if they were Yes/No elections, with a majority Yes vs No required for each candidate to be eligible to win.)

No election system can guarantee a majority of voters will support a single winner and the only way to make a promise on majority is to redefine it in a way that exclude voters from the count who refuse to offer a vote among the final set of choices. Well, they do it in Australia. However, other than coercing voters to fully rank all candidates, which is what they do (by considering ballots spoiled if not fully ranked), it's true: there is no way to guarantee a majority in any election where more than two candidates are allowed. Top-two runoff *almost* guarantees a majority, but typically top-two runoff does allow write-in votes, so, theoretically, it is possible for a candidate to have a plurality and not gain a majority, due to write-in votes. My guess is -- I have not checked -- that majority is not required in the second round of top-two.

If an election implementation requires a majority winner, then it must be defined in a way that limits a winner from being declared and leaves the election result open to a further election process. This is a bit confused. It'd put it: "Generally, if law requires a majority winner for an election, the election may fail to find such a winner, requiring further process. The only know ways to avoid this are to limit the candidate set to two, or, with preferential voting and more candidates than two, to require all voters to fully rank all of them."

Some elections, including variations in IRV implementations, may allow voters a chance to offer a protest choice like None of the above that rejects all choices offered which may binding or nonbinding. If nonbinding it has no effect on the election. If it is binding this vote can block a winner from being chosen. While this is certainly interesting to consider, I've never seen such an IRV variation. Has anyone? NOTA, if nonbinding, means nothing, what's the difference between this and a blank vote? If the vote is counted, is it part of the basis for a majority? If so, then it is binding if a majority is required. Now, in most elections here in the U.S., a write-in vote is allowed. One could write in any name, and, as long as this is the name of an eligible candidate (which usually means a resident of the jurisdiction, of the age of majority -- a different meaning entirely! -- and not disqualified for some reason such as citizenship or felony conviction), it serves the NOTA function; if enough voters do this, it would deny a majority to the winner. But this is all theory. Majority NOTA *should* cause election failure in a democracy. But the meaning for an officer election is unclear.

And ... a huge pile of original research, unsourced. Some of it could be sourced, to be sure. Some, quite possibly not.

By the way, I appreciate the tremendous effort Tom has put into trying to clean up this article. Regardless of whether or not I agree with all the changes he has made -- and it will take some time to catch up to his racing ahead -- his work is appreciated. --Abd (talk) 06:30, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

I don't think a "section" is appropriate for this article (with definitions of "majority" under different methods, etc.). What is appropriate is a one or two sentence explanation of how the word "majority" will be used in THIS article.
Abd is fixated on the denominator being as large as possible to try and minimize the frequency of IRV electing a majority winner. However, that is not the standrard useage. Within political science literature, IRV is universally lumped together with two-round runoffs as an example of a "majoritarian" voting method. Abd wants to expand the denominator by glossing over the concept of "votes cast" in a race. He now seems to be willing to accept that voters who cast a ballot that has no marks for a particular race can be excluded from the denominator. He also seems to accept the Australian rule that discounts any ballot that fails to rank every candidate. IRV uses as its denominator "those voters who express a preference between the two finalists." Which is the same definition used for traditional two election runoffs. I know of no organization that defines a majority such that it requires the winner of the second round runoff election to receive more than 50% of the valid votes cast in the FIRST round of the election. Just as ballots that have been cast for the office that are for ineligible individuals, or for cartoon characters are discounted, likewise ballots that express no preference among finalists are properly disregarded in defining the majority in such an election method.
By the way, to answer Abd's inquiry, Burlington, Vermont and Takoma Park, MD both allow voters to rank every candidate, regarless of the number of candidates on the ballot (indeed they allow for at least one additional ranking for a write-in.)
Tbouricius (talk) 17:34, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) Thanks, Mr. Bouricius. It's a little offensive, I'll note, to project upon me POV "fixation." But, hey, I've seen worse said around here. I do not have any intention for majority to mean a number as large as possible; rather, I'm focused on it meaning exactly what it has always meant when we say what is in legislation and constitutions as majority of the votes. I used the wrong number in my original presentation of the data from San Francisco. At one point I also incorrectly asserted that blank ballots might be part of a majority basis, but both these were simply errors. I make mistakes. They do not proceed from any intention to deceive or exaggerate. (As to the ballot issue, "majority of the ballots returned" would be the term, and "majority of votes cast" would be something different, quite clearly, since blank ballots don't contain a vote. Further, there is a legal presumption that an invalid vote, not for an eligible candidate, isn't a "vote." It is the same as a blank.

Thanks for the information about Burlington and Takoma Park. Full ranking is, of course, a fish bicycle in Takoma Park, but I think there were more than three candidates in Burlington. IRV may indeed be lumped together by some as a "majoritarian" method, but this may merely reflect two things: first of all, it satisfies all the definitions and proposed definitions of the Majority criterion, and it does seek a majority. However, it does not maximize majority, for the sequential elimination, for reasons Mr. Bouricius surely knows. That is, it is possible that one may derive, from the votes on an IRV ballot, a winner who would be preferred by an actual majority over the IRV winner, and over every other candidate, and who would, indeed, have a majority of ballots containing votes. For example, suppose there is a set of voters and preferences:

35: A>B (>C)
16: B>A (>C)
16: B>C (>A)
33: C>B (>A)

Far from being a weird contrived example (though the extremity of it, the almost perfect balance, is indeed chosen for purpose of illustration), this example represents a polarized electorate, with society divided almost exactly in two (51:49) over some issue or constellation of issues. A represents, perhaps, the middle of the left, C represents the middle of the right (perhaps they were chosen by the Left and Right parties, and B is a compromise candidate, as Robert's Rules surely considers important. B is in the center. So half of B's supporters come from the Left and half come from the Right. If B is eliminated, A wins, narrowly. But 65% of the voters preferred B to A. This is the classic Center Squeeze. B is the Condorcet winner, but because the B "party" -- if there is a party -- is slightly less popular than the two extreme parties, B loses. It is entirely due to the elimination process. Top-two runoff, of course, has the same problem. This is why Robert's Rules dislikes candidate elimination.

Now, facing this, if some of the C voters realize their predicament, they *might* vote, instead, B>C>A, thus turning the election to B, whom they *greatly* prefer to A. However, Favorite betrayal criterion is not the topic here. Consider how Bucklin handles this election: in my opinion, in Bucklin, the vast majority of voters will vote sincerely; and whether or not truncation will be practiced quite depends, I expect, on preference strength. However, if we assume that some of the A voters and more of the C voters realize the risk of truncating, plus the middle third of the B voters truncate (they don't really care that much who wins, A or C, if B doesn't), We might get


(Much of the information and analysis we have comes from FairVote and, in my opinion, it has not been objectively reported, original sources aren't available for checking, etc. The claim that Bucklin voters did not add additional ranks because they didn't want to hurt their favorite is unsupported, even though that phenomenon can be shown to be, in pure theory, strategically advantageous. In fact, the dilemma only arises in partisan elections where a voter is puzzling over whether to vote for Bush and Gore, or just one of them. For third party supporters, where their favorite has little or no chance of winning, it is entirely moot; these are the voters who will add ranks, almost certainly, and some major party supporters will also, where they want to send a message to their own party as to which way to lean, and would not be seriously displeased if it *did* turn out that their vote caused the third party candidate to win. But, by definition, *most* voters do not have a strong motive to add ranks, and that is harmless. But, of course, it *could* cause majority failure. But very unlikely to do so. In nonpartisan elections with many candidates, majority failure becomes very possible, even likely, unless there is a runoff reducing the candidate set (or even not: voters change their minds, decide to compromise, and candidates drop out). But it's worth noting that Bucklin analysis showed a far higher expression of a majority result -- though certainly the argument that voters may vote differently with Bucklin should be noted, though I suspect that, in fact, they won't. Not in large numbers, in nonpartisan elections, except for the minority of voters who are truly dedicated to one candidate. Lots of voters, in the Smallwood elections, did add additional votes, and they turned the result, hence the suit by a supporter of a loser, who had enjoyed a plurality in the first round.)

Now, the situation above produces the same results in IRV as the original fully-ranked results, but, because of the truncations, without a majority, showing something important. The truncations that matter are the B voter truncations, and quite a few of these, actually, can be expected. If we assume a linear issue space, with B in the middle of A and C, voters near B have little predicted preference between A and C, and so may very well not vote for either one; this, indeed, would result from, in Bucklin, a fear that their vote for A or C might cause B to lose, and that is valid, and if they act on it, it may improve the overall result' (from a voter satisfaction standpoint, assuming that relative satisfaction for each voter is as important as that for every voter).

But in Bucklin, because no votes are discarded (unless they are not reached because a winner has been found before that rank is added in), we have no majority in the first round, but A has a plurality. In the second, we end up with A:46, B:53, C:44. B wins with a majority even stronger than the A majority in the original IRV election: The vote counts add up to more than 100, *but* B has a vote from 53% of the ballots, which is entirely accurate. B is a majority winner, and Bucklin has been more efficient at finding that, even in the presence of truncation. What if there is no truncation (which is highly unlikely)?

That's easy. The results are, from the original IRV election, using Bucklin analysis: A:51, B:100, C:49. Truncation does conceal the true support for B, which is actually spectacular. Bucklin can fail to elect the Condorcet winner, to be sure, but it looks like it does so more often than IRV. (There is data on this from Warren Smith and, I think, others, based on simulations). Bucklin finds *every* vote, it does not discard any of them. If voters don't truncate, every voter would vote for B as being in the top two; there might be more candidates in the race, but they were left out for simplicity, these were the rankings of the top three.

So, sure, IRV is considered a "majoritarian" system, but what, exactly, does that mean? What is the definition, what criterion is applied to determine membership in the category? I did not notice either Richie or Bouricius telling us; rather, all I've seen is argument deflecting the point using the fact that "majorit" is found in both words.... and, of course, both are related to "majority" in some unspecified way. IRV does find a *kind* of majority, and some forms of IRV always find that kind of majority: full ranking does it. But IRV does *not* find -- and does not do a good job of seeking, because of vote dropping -- a "majority" as a "majority of votes cast" as it has always been defined, and as it is defined in Vermont. In future campaigns to implement IRV, I predict, this fact will not escape notice if the jurisdiction is using top-two runoff, because those jurisdictions would probably not be using top-two runoff if they did not value verifying a majority of votes cast, and I don't think arguments based on it will be entirely missing from the voter information generally sent to voters, nor will the proposition summary be misleading as it was in San Francisco. So San Francisco might not be repeated, and we may be seeing the peak of IRV adoptions. It is also going to be, I predict, more difficult to find the funding for implementation, if inconvenient questions start to be asked about these issues. So there is my political punditry, such as it is. I've often been wrong. All I know is that the facts uncovered here have not escaped the notice of people working in the field, there are very active opponents of IRV out there (opposed to it for a host of reasons, sometimes they are strange bedfellows), and I don't think they will be caught sleeping again.

Meanwhile, sourced facts, relevant, are not to be removed from the article by editors with a COI, or even mere POV editors, based on vague claims that it is "too much detail," or spurious or off-the-point claims that it doesn't affect "real elections." IRV is not only about actual elections, it is a method and it is being considered for application in many places, political and nonpolitical. An article about the method should consider relevant aspects of the method, and, last time I noticed, Vermont was a notable state. I suspect that the conflict between IRV and a "majority of votes" is also going to affect many other jurisdictions considering the issue, even if they could constitutionally discard the "majority of votes" standard. The only difference with Vermont is that the IRV promoters -- Mr. Bouricius introduced a version of the legislation (the first?) -- had to respect the difference, they could not pretend that the last round was a "majority of the votes," they knew, presumably, that this did not have a snowball's chance of making it past the courts.

When I originally raised this issue here, Mr. Bouricius ridiculed the distinction I was making based on my understanding of Robert's Rules and thus my interpretation of the passage there describing a form of "preferential voting" that is very similar to IRV -- or even identical. Yet, in fact, he knew very well that there was a basis for my objection. I do, by the way, trust his good faith, I don't think he was deliberatively concealing what he knew. I think that, rather, he is as he was, a politician, who thinks in certain ways, and that kind of thinking is why we restrict what Conflict of Interest editors can do, because that kind of thinking is extremely common with them. It's also the norm, in fact, among POV editors of any kind, and my pots are black just like almost everyone else's. I do, however, understand the difference, at least in theory, between my opinions and the truth and what is NPOV. (Those are three different things, but NPOV is as close as humans, absent direct mystical experience -- debatably --, that humans get to expressing the truth.) To find NPOV, I usually need collaboration with others of differing points of view. And to terminate this fugue, some seriously contentious people have learned to work together by understanding that "For our group purpose, there is but one authority, [the truth as it may express itself] through our group conscience." That's a 1940s term for "consensus."

My goal for this article is that all reasonable people with whatever point of view will say, "Yes, that's accurate" and that they will consider it interesting and informative as well. --Abd (talk) 20:57, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

Abd, can you please go into this in more detail? I find your commentary to be excessively terse, and, quite frankly, rather timid when it comes to confronting editors of this article about their egregious behavior. (talk) 22:29, 4 February 2008 (UTC)
Did I just see a pig fly past my window? --Abd (talk) 03:06, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
As to the length of Abd's discussion contributions...I hope Abd is aware that it is unlikely that anyone has the patience to read through his numerous and lengthy entries. If any editor feels the need to thoroughly present their views on matters, including somewhat related tangential thoughts, and are unable to self-edit and be briefer, I would ask that they help the rest of us and use bold to indicate key points they believe it is crucial for others to read. If these bolded points spark my curiosity, I can read more. But at present, I am giving up on reading Abd's entries as an unreasonable burden on fellow editors.
Tbouricius (talk) 00:40, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
I'm a bit puzzled. If Bouricius were to read my entries, it would be an unreasonable burden on his fellow editors? Is anyone forced to read them? Believe me, if push comes to shove, I can get positively terse. Tell you what. The bold suggestion is a good idea. I would not object to any editor bolding any text of mine, if done with the intention of making it more clear. As to doing it myself, there is a reason why I write so much. I have a disability, and to write less takes me much longer, and I already spend way too much time at this. But see below.--Abd (talk) 03:13, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Hi Abd. I appreciate your admission of a disability, but it would seem to me that makes it extra important for you to make extra effort to (1) Draft write your thoughts to yourself offline (2) Figure out what you said and what you really want to communicate specifically. (3) Try to rewrite your thoughts from that enlightened state. I know, easier said than done, and I know about spending too much time AND being overwhelmed by the scale of need on wikipedia. I don't have an answer to impatience, and it is a vice we ALL have. Tom Ruen (talk) 03:25, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
It's not about impatience. It's about time and how my attention moves. I'm not joking when I mention the disability (or below I use the term "disorder," which is technically accurate. I appreciate the intention behind the advice, but.... I've been writing on-line for more than twenty years, and I can, as I mentioned, write much more concisely, but the process is phenomenally time-consuming. I have a friend (he's actually well-known in this field) who is far more concise than I; but he writes very little, in fact, for it takes him far longer. In other words, if I express an idea in a thousand words, to express it in three hundred words, while still keeping what is important, will take me easily three times as long. So you are mostly seeing the raw content, it's edited, to be sure, but not greatly edited. It still takes quite a bit of time, because I do think as well, step away, mull it over, search for sources, etc. I write concisely for newspaper letter submissions, which have all been published. Want concise? The slogan for Approval Voting -- or it could be Bucklin -- Count All the Votes. Glad to think you agree, at least about the counting part. Add them or transfer them ... at least count them! As to patience, a friend once used to say, frequently, "And the reward of patience is ... patience."
While some of what I write is dicta and personal commentary, like the above, the piece above that blew Bouricius' fuses actually was substantive. It doesn't matter if he reads it or not. Some will read it. And some might help us with the article. Anything important from it will come around again, as edits are presented. This is all background, no editor *must* read it, but an editor who does is likely to become more familiar with the issues. Nobody should accept what I write just because I say so. I'm not that kind of expert, and, as noted, I make lots of mistakes. Not that anybody around here is likely to accept my edits just because I say so .... --Abd (talk) 03:50, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Hmmmm... I have wondered what would happen if Abd's novels could be reduced to an executive summary?
On definition of majority, I am willing to support Abd's position, and in fact have always supported, the position that exhausted ballots ought to be tallied (those who support at least once candidate but none of those active in the final round.) AND I support that any "percent support" for a winner be tallied to include these ballots, even at the cost of showing a number less than 50%. To do otherwise seems entirely undemocratic, even if it has no effect on the winner. It's little better than dictator holding an election and after winning, saying all votes in support of anyone else don't count and the election was 100% in favor of him. For me it is more honest to report the results from all ballots.
As a voter, If I bullet vote for my favorite, it means I don't want my vote transfered. It means I want to support this candidate in the first round, and the last round, as a write-in if necessary. I'm not looking to block the winner - I'm looking to express my honest vote and expect it to be counted honestly.
Anyway, along with my dislike of Abd making the article confusing with the majority language and exceptions. I hoped there was some common ground to clean it all up. Tom Ruen (talk) 01:21, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

(unindent) Thanks, Tom. I do think there is a way to make the article more clear. A section on the issue of majority and IRV may well be a solution; there are some problems with sourcing and original research, but it's possible those could be overcome. But simply settling on some standard terms, defining those (with source), and then using them uniformly where possible, could be sufficient. The point about all this is that the issue of majority is, in fact, an important issue where IRV is being considered. The major elections in the U.S. have been ones where IRV has been implemented as a replacement for top-two runoff, and there has been a great deal of misunderstanding -- and misrepresentation -- about this. So we should simply be clear: what does IRV do and what does it not do? How is it performing? What can be reported from reliable source? There is also the question of where to put some of this. The San Francisco voter instruction pamphlet language from 2002 is important, probably it should be in the Controversy article. The results in terms of whether or not a majority of the votes was found for the winner are relevant, and those facts are available in official reports. We could more efficiently report a summary of all this, but we will, at this point, have trouble finding one. I intend to fix that, actually, but that will take some time. (It involves peer-reviewed publication.) (And, of course, if I'm the author of a paper, ... up creeps Mr. Conflict-of-Interest, perhaps.)

As to executive summary, well, some good writing has been done when someone asked me for such. I tend to respond to requests, it's part of the disorder I mentioned above. I think that if my hangman forgot how to tie the knot, I'd show him

--Abd (talk) 03:30, 5 February 2008 (UTC)

Scotland Did NOT switch to IRV

Someone inserted information about a survey of disabled voters as it relates to the change in Scotland to STV. This is not appropriate for this article, fundamentally because Scotland did NOT switch to IRV. The editor stated falsely that STV is the Scottish name for IRV. There were numerous changes enacted...such as from single-member constituencies to multi-member (electing three or four seats per district). The fact that STV uses a ranked ballot is only one of numerous changes, and it is wrong to claim the survey was about about IRV. Tbouricius (talk) 22:50, 4 February 2008 (UTC)

The section was originally added on January 4, by User:Ask10questions (aka Joyce McCloy(?)) Edit: [3], talk section. I had no information about its accuracy. [this comment was added by User:Tomruen, unsigned]
The one who inserted the claim referred to by Bouricius was me. Joyce had inserted, when she restored her edit after it was reverted out by Bouricius,[4] "STV is a version of Instant runoff voting,"[5] and, looking at this, just now, I thought "That's wrong!"
(However, I should note here, since I noticed it, that this is essentially edit warring by Bouricius. While it does not violate 3RR, it is contentious editing by a COI editor. He shouldn't do it. -- and being "right" isn't justification for it. I've seen editors blocked for being right and using edit warring to establish what was "right" in an article. And repetitious edits, as few as one, with no changes, no serious effort to find consensus, but only insistence on the editor's view, can be edit warring. But I'd rather focus for now on the content of this.)
So I inserted the language involved, with [6]: According to a 2007 poll collected by Disability Scotland an organization advocating for the rights of the disabled, 36% stated that STV (Scottish name for IRV), newly introduced, made it more difficult to vote, in comparison to 16% who stated that it made it easier to vote; 46% indicated no difference, and 3% did not respond to the question. [7]
I must have found that in the source or somewhere. Is it true? I wouldn't swear to it, but I also doubt that I would write that if I hadn't seen it. On the other hand, I *do* make mistakes, and I depend on my fellow editors to notice them if I don't. So, time to look at the sources again!
I'm a bit shocked. The source specifically attributes problems to the ballot form (which would be relevant to IRV even if this is a multiwinner election.) From page 2 of Polls Apart, the document cited at the end of the passage:
One quarter of respondents reported that they had found voting to be more difficult than in previous elections. This is a significantly larger percentage than has been recorded in our previous polls. The likely explanation is that a new voting system, coupled with well publicised problems with the Scottish election ballot paper, have contributed to this figure. We specifically asked survey participants about their experiences of the single transferable voting system, with 36% reporting that this made it more difficult to vote, compared with 16% who felt it made it easier to vote.
Comments from survey participants indicate some of the areas of concern:
‘Separate sheets for each vote would’ve allowed bigger print and made instructions easier to follow.’
‘Number system for council elections was very complicated for disabled people unable to use their hands properly.’
‘Don’t think all three should’ve been done on the same day.’
‘Had to read the instructions twice, more difficult than putting cross in a box.’
This *does* apply to IRV , some of it.
So what is the voting system? Bouricius is right about that. It's multiwinner. "Three or four councilors will be elected from each ward." There is a ballot image and description of the voting process, beautifully done, actually, for learning disabled persons, at [8]. Voters write in numbers, it's a classic preferential ballot, which may be fully ranked or truncated. Definitely, it's more complicated and could be a problem for some people with disabilities. Whether or not that is enough to mean that it should not be used is another question; this would simply be a factor.
So where do we stand with this? It is not "IRV," but it uses a preferential ballot, and thus it might be reported in this article as a report of difficulty with using a preferential ballot. That it was multiwinner has *nothing* to do with the voting process. I think I've seen some similar reports from San Francisco and Cary, I should look over those documents again. (This article at one point said that a certain percentage of voters had no trouble with the ballot -- but the same facts could be used to state that a certain percentage of voters did have a problem.) I'll work on an edit to put it back, corrected, or maybe Joyce will get to it before I do.
I wrote the following before I found that I had joined in the error. I do apologize for the error, I still don't know where I got the idea that STV was Scottish for IRV....
I would point out that "The editor stated falsely" isn't nice. The text was not correct. Editors err, misidentify one thing as another, or *sources* err sometimes. We don't make statements, as such, in articles, at least we aren't supposed to. Rather we collect facts and report them. As it happens, we may notice a fact because it supports our POV, or we might even go looking for those, but this is all part of what motivates us as editors to participate in the project, few get seriously involved in an article who don't have some POV about it, and frequently editors who start neutrally often are neutral because they don't understand the subject yet! (Administrators sometimes get involved in pages and lose their bit over it.) Once we put something into the article, it isn't ours any more. It belongs to Wikipedia, and it is Wikipedia making the statement, not the editor. But, sure, editors are responsible for what they put in. But we assume good faith, and, indeed, it might be good to assume it, sometimes, beyond all reason. Being frustrated with an editor's work or even "disruption" doesn't mean that I have to believe he or she is out to destroy all that is good and pure in the world... --Abd (talk)
Checking in today, I see the big disruption. So STV is not a form of IRV?
I wonder how many of the IRV "adoptions" and "victories" (where adopted) are voting methods that are strictly IRV?
Ironic, isn't it given that Fair Vote (and the Electoral Reform Society) paid for one of North Carolina's top election officials, Johnnie McLean to travel to Scotland, to witness the first STV election there in May 2007. Quoting Johnnie McLean in a "thank you" letter to the Electoral Reform Society says: "The State of North Carolina has recently adopted legislation allowing their jurisdictions to participate in a pilot program using STV. The opportunity to witness your successes and the problems you encountered will help us to create our own programs." So, if STV isn't IRV, and since North Carolina election officials believe STV and IRV to be the same, then perhaps all references to North Carolina should be removed from this wikipedia article. Otherwise, the article needs to be pruned to remove any "adoptions" of election methods that are not IRV. Perhaps NC's batch elimination style of runoff should be excluded from this web page as well. It isnt' really IRV is it - its Sri Lanken Contingency Voting. Either IRV should be strictly defined or it should continue to be used as a "one size fits all" label. Take North Carolina and our Sri Lanken Contingency Voting out of this article then. --Ask10questions (talk) 08:08, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
In the Final Report of the "Instant Run-Off Voting Task Force" of Minneapolis, STV is a form of IRV. Especially, see page 3.
And on the 7 Nov 2006 ballot in Minneapolis, the terms "Single Transferable Vote", "Instant Runoff Voting", and "Ranked Choice Voting" were used in a synonymous manner [9]. Markus Schulze 13:06, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
I don't much care about whether STV and IRV are the same or not, but I accept the argument that both use preferential ballots, and such ballots whether through ballot design or the overall higher demand on voters to rank their choices, it is an issue to consider. Still I don't think it standing as its own section makes sense. Interestingly there's no con point expressing IRV is harder to vote at Instant-runoff_voting_controversies#Arguments_against_IRV_and_the_debate_over_them. If such a point was made and this survey result was mentioned there it would at least make some sense to me. Tom Ruen (talk) 18:43, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
I guess it would fit within part of the counter argument to Instant-runoff_voting_controversies#Pro:_IRV_is_easy_to_understand UGH!!! - except the contents of that pro-item make no sense to me at all! Is there a template somewhere that says Template:THIS_SECTION_SUCKS_BRAIN_CELLS_DO_NOT_READ Tom Ruen (talk) 18:50, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Now we see evidence that STV IS considered a form of IRV! Don't blame me, it is Fair Vote who helps cities like Minneapolis and elsewhere define what IRV is. And it was Fair Vote/formerly Center for Voting and Democracy who coined the term Instant Runoff Voting.
Can this item about affect of STV on disabled voters be restored to the "Practical Considerations" please?
The section was originally added on January 4, by User:Ask10questions (aka Joyce McCloy(?)) Edit: [10], talk section
--Ask10questions (talk) 20:05, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Chapter 2 section 5B of the Minneapolis City Charter only says: "The elected officers shall be elected by the method of Single Transferable Vote, sometimes known as Ranked Choice Voting or Instant Runoff Voting. The City Council shall, by ordinance, establish the ballot format and rules for counting the votes." The City Charter doesn't contain any legal definitions of these terms. So it is quite unclear what kind of election methods the citizens of Minneapolis have adopted actually. Markus Schulze 21:00, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
Minneapolis adopted full STV in general, with IRV as the single-winner implementation of STV, and the general version with surplus transfers for multiwinner at-large elections, forgot which specifically, but like the park board at least. Tom Ruen (talk) 21:52, 5 February 2008 (UTC)
To help "Ask10questions"...A cat is an animal. I have an animal. Does that mean I have a cat? Not necessarily. IRV is a form of STV but all STV is not IRV. IRV is a single-seat election method. STV includes both IRV and multi seat proportional representation. As used in Scotland, STV was for multiple seats, meaning it was a significantly more complicated method. It was NOT IRV. Also the survey asked whether the introduction of this multi-seat proportional representation voting method with new larger coinstituencies and many more candidates at the same time as elections for other offices using different voting methods made voting easier or harder for disabled voters. In other words there were numerous variables being considered, not just the ranked ballot. Even so, the large majority (nearly two thirds) said the introduction of STV and multi-member elections in new larger districts did NOT make it more complicated.
In any event...the simple fact is that the survey was NOT about IRV, and does not belong in this article.
Tbouricius (talk) 21:33, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
The only argument for the survey inclusion might be that both systems use rank ballots, BUT I accept that multiseat elections demand longer candidate lists that can make it more work for voters than if it was a single-winner election.
My own main issue against inclusion might still be that it doesn't fit well as a stand alone section. There's unlimited potential for polls to clutter up articles without reasonably bringing more clarity. So that's why I figured a harder to vote than plurality con item at [[Instant-runoff_voting_controversies would make more sense, and it could then link to a survey (one specific towards IRV) on voter opinions of the difficulties. Tom Ruen (talk) 23:23, 6 February 2008 (UTC)

Yes, I'd agree with Tom's suggestion. At the same time, I must point out that User:Tbouricius has, here, made a contentious edit. He should know that, as a conflict of interest editor, that's not allowed. It's absolutely fine for him to argue his points here, but not to revert other editors. His argument has some merit, but it is by no means conclusive. The actual document referenced specifically mentions the ballot form as being a problem, thus the objection could indeed apply to IRV. I edited the reference to make it clear that this was an STV election, and I thought I put in that it "used the same ballot." And the procedure is the same. These were ballots requiring voters write in numbers. That could be difficult for some disabled voters, more difficult than marking a box, and it creates quite a few opportunities for error, such as writing the same number twice. I'll also note that Bouricius totally ignored Ask10questions' quite on-point evidence that IRV and STV are being considered the same; indeed, didn't we just go through a whole controversy over the introduction, with the sock puppet MilesAgain and Bouricius insisting that IRV uses a "single transferable vote," and, indeed, we all know that IRV is simply single-winner STV. Same ballot, same considerations for the voter, same counting method for finding the first winner. STV only deviates in how it proceeds when then looking for the additional winners. All a voter needs to do, with both methods, normally, is to vote for the favorite candidates, in order of preference. However, the voter now faces some consideration of how many candidates to rank, and what to do with all those candidates. With FPTP, the voter simply ignores unknown candidates. I'll agree, that's fine to do with STV as well, but ... does the voter know this? The example in the voter information image I cited shows full ranking. I can easily see some people getting confused. Is this a reason not to do IRV? Probably not the strongest, but it does point out the need for education, which is an additional expense involved (San Francisco spent quite a bit, it's part of the conversion cost.) --Abd (talk) 04:28, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

There's a whole lot one can find out about ranked voting elections in general from use around the world. This is a cherry-picked example inserted into the article as a contentious edit by Joyce McCloy, an editor who has no less of a COI than Terry Bouricius -- she runs a group that currently features opposition to instant runoff voting as seemingly their most important priority. I haven't read this whole exchange here, but would suggest that if something like this is used, it be part of a more comprehensive review of voter attitudes and reactions to ranked ballot systems. RRichie (talk) 15:04, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Several issues. First the editor issues. It is possible that User:Ask10questions may be considered a WP:COI editor; however, this has not been shown; in my opinion, the information we have is not adequate. I do urge reading the guideline, instead of assuming what it is from the name. Both Bouricius and Richie, to my understanding, have been paid by FairVote, which is ordinarily sufficient to establish a COI. That an editor has a POV, even one strong enough to become involved in advocacy is not adequate. She is, however, a single-purpose account which is why she was blocked with Bouricius (and Richie, as an IP editor) when the socks hit the fan last year. The standards for SPAs are looser and vaguer than for COI editors, there really isn't any prohibition at all, but an SPA may be a bit more easily blocked for contentious editing than a user who edits widely. Maybe.
(She has a COI with respect to her own web site, however, so she should not insert references or links to her site, but should ask, here, for another editor to do it. But she may otherwise edit as anyone else -- unless a general COI is shown. It would be incorrect for her to ask off-wiki or even on a user Talk page for that support, this is "meat puppetry" in the colorful and blunt language of Wikipedia, just as it is improper for a user to solicit participation here from specific editors off-wiki. I did, at one time, announce on the Election Methods list that there was activity here, but was careful to solicit, as well, supporters of Instant Runoff Voting.
Now, as to the content. The proper response to properly-sourced but cherry-picked material is commonly to balance it, not to remove it. If there is other poll material on the point of access for those with disabilities, then put it in! I think there is, and I certainly would not consider it contentious to add properly sourced material on the topic. If I think it imbalanced or improperly presented (such as drawing a conclusion from a source and then presenting the conclusion as if it is what the source says, a common error), then I or other editors will presumably fix it.
As a COI editor, Mr. Richie, you are constrained not to edit contentiously, which means that you should never edit with the reasonable expectation that you will be reverted. Even if you think you are right as rain. All editors, in fact, should observe that in general, and seek consensus instead of edit warring or trolling for edit warring. There are lots of exceptions, though, which is why, unless there is a COI or the editor is a legitimate sock puppet, one or two reverts a day to an article will not bring down the immediate banhammer. (Really, first offense, it would be a 24 hour block, probably. Depends on how much the blocking administrator thinks the user should have known better, and sometimes it will be just a warning even for blatant policy violations. Depends. Quirky. However, if I were to jump into an edit war, and make an edit that I, as an experienced user -- I think I'd be considered that -- make one expect to be reverted, I could be blocked. It's up to administrator discretion, and such a block, if it is as I said, might be reversed, but it wouldn't be considered an improper block, it would be correct on its face.)
On the other hand, if I, for example, take your removal of the material and put it back, attempting to address the issues you raised by modifying the text accordingly, then it would probably be considered a consensus-seeking edit, not a contentious edit. As a COI editor, you should *always* discuss any potentially controversial edit in Talk and, in fact, shouldn't even make it yourself, let someone else do it, such as User:Tomruen (ask him here!)-- or me, or any editor here who responds to a request or suggestion from you. You may freely inform us here in Talk, and advise us, COI does not, unless you become uncivil, have any bearing on that.
Tom Ruen does have an affiliation with FairVote, he has acknowledged, which would put him into a similar category with User:Ask10questions. But not a COI editor, in my opinion, and he is definitely not an single purpose account. By far.
And one more point. If anything I write here about policy is suspicious, ask other users. My knowledge of policy is generally deeper than that of some administrators, but there are many others who will know and understand what I don't. I'd never deliberately mislead you or anyone, but there are grey areas of policy, and some of what I write is impacted by my sense of the justice of this or that. At one point, I had come to the conclusion that Mr. Bouricius had been acting outside the boundaries of what a COI editor could do, and so I asked for comment or advice. And comment or advice to me was what I asked for, not intervention. However, the editor I asked -- who had been chosen from an advice page and not for any perceived bias -- took it upon himself or herself to warn Mr. Bouricius. There is no harm at all in asking. (But trolling for a favorable opinion would be frowned upon.) --Abd (talk) 19:40, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I would ask Abd to stop inserting the section about Scotland's use of proportional representation in this article on IRV. The survey in question was NOT ABOUT IRV, and does not belong in THIS article. There are many issues related to proportional representation that are not relevant to single-seat IRV elections. It is not appropriate to simply add a "disclaimer" parantehtical sentence at the end saying the foregoing information about Scotland may be miss-leading, when in fact the foregoing information was not even about IRV at all.
Until a consensus is reached, this material should not be repeatedly stuck back into the article.
Tbouricius (talk) 15:00, 8 February 2008 (UTC)

The Bucklin strategy edits

On the other hand, I thank Mr. Bouricius for inserting the reference for the claim regarding Bucklin strategy. I did not find text for that reference, not yet, and it's getting late, but I did find another historical article on the system being used there.

[11]. And there is quite a bit of talk in this about voter strategy. It's a complex topic, and one that I don't think belongs here, unless it is going to be explored neutrally, which would require explaining *other* ways that Bucklin and IRV differ. The argument about Bucklin encouraging voters to bullet vote is, in my view, like many FairVote arguments, not wrong, but misleading. Voters who have a clear favorite simply vote for their favorite, unless they think that favorite isn't likely to win, in which case they add additional votes. The so-called Burr Dilemma is a dilemma allegedly faced by candidates, in how they would recommend voters vote. It doesn't afflict voters nearly so much and, I suspect, most voters will cheerfully ignore it. And the Burr Dilemma is named after a situation that has been called "Approval voting," but that was simply the invention of the author of that paper. It was not Approval voting.

Alabama, it appears, allowed two votes, a first rank and a second rank, and it's legitimate to call it Bucklin because the second rank votes are added in. And apparently, voters did add them in. From the source I've given:

Because a second-choice vote counted as much as a first, the true strength of a candidate was often obscured. In clay County, for instance, where Hugo Black was born and reared, he won 80 percent of first-choice votes, leaving little doubt that people there wanted Black to represent them in the U.S. Senate. But because voters could not cast both their first- and second-choice votes for Black, some cast their second-choice votes for one of his opponents. Thus Black, the choice of eight out of ten voters, ended up with only 68 percent of clay's total vote, a misleading indication of his actual support there.

That's fairly silly, actually. The Bucklin results would separately show the first and second rank votes. The sum of all votes is not a meaningful measure in Bucklin, rather the vote percentage, showing true support, would be in excess of 80 percent, almost certainly. That is, this author misreported the results. (But because they did not demand a majority, the Alabamans may have routinely done the same thing: if no majority in the first round, the second round votes are added in and the winner is the one with the most total votes. "Most total votes" will be the same a "highest percentage," no matter what the basis for calculating it is. But if we want to understand what percentage of voters voted for Black, we won't consider the total vote as the basis, rather we may assume that the sum of all first rank votes shows the number of ballots (I'll neglect the possibility of blank or invalid first rank and then valid second rank.)

Since Black got 80% of first rank votes, he must have received at least that much support from the voters. The *minimum* would be 80%; he would get that if none of the voters who voted the other 20% of ballots voted for him in second rank. Let's suppose that the opponents' supporters all bullet voted. In order to reduce his percentage to 68%, the basis must have increased to 80/68 or 117.6%, so 17/80, or 21%, if Black voters, with Black being a very popular candidate, obviously, nevertheless voted second rank for another. The article elsewhere goes on to note: "Second-choice voting also made it possible for a candidate to win with fewer first-choice votes than an opponent." It considers this a defect, but why it's a defect is unclear. IRV can do the same. But it apparently doesn't do it very often; on the other hand, Brown v. Smallwood was a case where it happened, and Brown was a supporter of the opponent of Smallwood who had been the plurality winner in the first rank votes. Apparently the Minnesota Supreme Court also considered this a defect, and it is the basis, essentially, on which they tossed out Bucklin. I.e., exactly the same thing that IRV does. The argument about second rank votes hurting first rank choices is possibly mentioned in Bucklin, but the bulk of the argument from the court is over this impairment from other voters, that they might turn a first rank plurality into a loss. Which, of course, was the whole point of having a reformed voting system. If it never did, why bother?

Now, if we are going to have what is presented here as an argument against Bucklin, in this article, then we will need to have balance. Is that what these editors want? Because it can certainly be done -- but when I've put such in the article in the past, it was vigorously resisted. Until we have some consensus on this, I'm taking the reference to strategy out, it is a complex and controversial issue; but I'm certainly very interested in seeing that source, and in the history of Bucklin in general. It's the closest system we've had to Approval in public elections in the U.S., as far as I know, at least in the Duluth implementation (which really did allow voting for as many candidates as you wish -- in third rank). It's really a ranked Approval, giving first shot to first rank choices, then expanding until a majority is found -- or it terminates with only a plurality. From what I've seen, it would probably be more efficient than IRV at finding a majority unless voters massively bullet vote, more than they are currently truncating in IRV. And this is a huge and distracting can of worms here, I'm trying to stuff them back in at the moment! --Abd (talk) 05:13, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Hmmmm. I tried to edit as neutrally as possible, linking to Bucklin article itself. If there's discussion on Bucklin, it deserves to be in THAT article, not here. I don't see what else ought to be put in the IRV article except (1) Bucklin was used (2) Bucklin is different than IRV in this way. End of story here. Tom Ruen (talk) 05:38, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Abd has removed this section (following subitem). I see no reason against it as-is: Tom Ruen (talk) 05:40, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
The Bucklin system encourages a strategy of bullet voting for voters who didn't want a lower preferred choice to help defeat their first choice[3]. In contrast Instant runoff voting only counts one vote per ballot and lower ranked choices can never help or hurt higher ones.
In an article about IRV, I don't think we even need a section about Bucklin. However, if we retain the heading of "similar" methods, Bucklin clearly needs to be included. The explanation of Bucklin should be limited to how it is similar and how it is different than IRV and a statement of what is SIGNIFICANT about that difference. It is similar in that it uses a ranked ballot. It is different in that votes are added rather than transferred. The fact that Bucklin has historically tended to have a lot of bullet voting is logically tied to its violation of the "later no harm" criterion, and there are scholarly articles that present the case that can be cited. If Abd insists on finding a "positive" difference in favor of Bucklin, I'd suggest possibly the fact that it is easier to administer, in that it is simply a matter of summing columns, rather than transferring from only eliminated candidates' stacks. Tbouricius (talk) 16:52, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I generally agree, and I'm confident, given what Tbouricius has expressed, that we should be able to find consensus on this. There are two kinds of differences. First of all, there is the difference in the method itself, and, in a nutshell, it is in how the second and subsequent (if any) votes are used. With Bucklin, they are treated as Approval voting votes, of voters asked a new question: instead of, effectively, "Who is your favorite," the question is now "If your favorite isn't going to reach a majority, is there someone else who would satisfy you sufficiently that you would risk helping this new candidate to win over your favorite by adding the second rank vote." As might be easily seen, whether or not this is a good question to ask depends on the whole philosophical and practical differences between Approval voting and Preferential voting systems. If I'm correct, it has been shown that Later-no-harm criterion is incompatible with a number of other desirable criteria, and the Approval camp is quite willing to accept Later no harm as contrary to the discovery of broadly satisfactory winners, in favor of finding winners based on the size of simple partisan factions. That this is significant is precisely why Robert's Rules specifically mentions the possible failure of sequential elimination to find compromise winners. Note, as well, how all our familiar issues come up. If there is a requirement for a true majority, as traditionally defined, and preferential voting is merely a means of more efficiently finding a majority, the majority requirement is contrary to later-no-harm. Bucklin, *possibly* -- it depends on voter behavior -- is more efficient at finding a true majority, because it counts all votes (as far as necessary to find such, so all votes are treated equally, that is, if third rank votes are counted, *all of them* are counted. Bucklin elections should always be reported as the sum of each rank counted. Jurisdictions, to save money, don't have to count unused ranks.
So ... right now, there is only the method difference. If we want to go into other practical differences, fine, but, please, not just a one-sided report, based, in fact, on some weak sources. (They are usuable, but are the expert re voting systems. I haven't found the source used, and, my guess is that it is primarily an historical report, not an analysis of the method. I find it normal that many voters under Bucklin bullet voted, that's our habit and I see no reason it would rapidly change, if at all. That 25 or 30% may have added second rank votes in Alabama is actually quite high. If we had Bucklin for U.S. presidential elections today, I'd expect second choices to be as low as 10% or so. But that is ordinarily quite enough to find a majority in a presidential election, when there is majority failure. Later-no-harm, as a criterion of consequence, really depends on the favorite being a frontrunner and the second favorite *also* being a frontrunner, which is actually pretty unlikely. It may happen ... but in that event the voter is voting perfectly rationally and appropriately in bullet voting. There is no practical harm in doing so, and there could be harm in adding the second choice (in effect, it would be, if there is majority failure, abstaining from the actual election.) This aspect of "bullet voting," even though it is quite obvious, has apparently been neglected in the literature, as far as I know, though it's available, I think, on at least one notable advocacy site, I think, and might possibly be cited as such, as we allow, for some purposes and with attribution, citation from FairVote.
--Abd (talk) 17:31, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
I don't understand why Abd is writing so much here about Bucklin - if we need further research on Bucklin, put discussion in that talk page. I still see no reason to add or edit from what was removed yesterday. Tom Ruen (talk) 19:30, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Seeing no discussion here for 5+ days, I restored a paragraph on Bucklin strategy, linking to the Bucklin article. Tom Ruen (talk) 07:51, 13 February 2008 (UTC)
    • ^ [12]
    • ^ [13]
    • ^ Albert P. Brewer, First- and Second-Choice Votes in Alabama, The Alabama Review, A Quarterly Review of Alabama History, April 1993