Instant runoff voting is the system we need

The number of people voting for third party candidates is increasing, which is a good thing.  There are more than two ways to approach governance.  However, when voting for a third party candidate that lacks the campaign machinery and funding of a major party, it can feel like you are wasting your vote.  In many cases, third party voters have a prefered major party candidate, and in close elections, there is pressure to vote for them.  Some publications even blame third party voters for Hillary Clinton's loss in 2016.

There is a voting system that solves many of the problems with traditional voting, including third parties effecting the balance of major party candidates, its called an instant runoff.

In the instant run off system, voters get to rank all of the canidates running for an office.  In the first round of tabulation, all voter's first choices are considered, the candidate with the lowest number of votes is eliminated.  All of the votes that were assigned to the candidate with the least number of votes are reassigned to the next highest ranked candidate on the voters ballot who is still in the race.  The process is repeated until there are only two candidates left, and a winner is declared.

Some regions in the United States use this method of voting, surveys conducted in those areas show more cooperation between candidates.  Voters also reported seeing less negative campagining.

Opponents to ranked voting seem to fall into two different sides, those who fear it will harm the control the two dominant parties hold and those that think instant runoff voting doesn't go far enough.  One interesting proposal from those who don't think instant runoff voting doesn't go far enough is that multiple representitves should be elected to a seat, with their votes being weighted based on their percentage of the electorate.

Clearly there are better alternatives to our current system, wether they are a step twoards a more direct democracy or just allowing folks to vote inline with their concious rather than strategically.

7 responses
STAR voting is far superior to IRV. IRV has a major flaw: it counts only *some* voter's preferences and ignores others. Thanks at least for not doing the too-common dishonest thing that many IRV proponents do when they claim that "if you don't get your 1st choice, your 2nd choice gets counted". The 2nd choice of many voters is thrown out when that candidate is eliminated for lack of early 1st choices. Consider all the voters whose 1st choice is the candidate who *loses* in the final round of IRV. They get *completely* screwed. They just sit with their 1st choice all the way until they lose, and they have no influence at all on who wins, and none of their preferences ever matter. STAR voting counts everyone's preferences and balances all the criteria well. And it (alongside maybe 3-2-1 voting) deserves to be called "the system we need".
Please see this analysis for why IRV will yield unfair results in many cases: In many cases, with IRV a candidate will lose if they get more popular, or win if they get less popular. These are clearly unfair results. The typical popular vote (called "approval" in technical circles) or ranked-choice voting (a form of "Condorcet" method) both create most straightforward results, where a candidate will never lose if they get more popular. Condorcet/ranked-choice also has the benefit that centrist candidates are have a better chance to win compared to popular vote/Approval method.
Chuck, you were probably introduced to the concept of alternative voting methods via IRV. Once you have delved a bit deeper you will see that IRV is deeply flawed (in some ways worse even than the current method), and that other methods exist that are simpler and produce better results. You conflated IRV with ranked voting; there are other, better ranked voting methods like Condorcet. However, the better, simpler class of voting methods is those based on *rating* each candidate independently on a scale (numeric or graded Likert-style).
I also much prefer STAR voting. Hoping Lane County, OR will adopt it today.
Instant runoff has been increasing in use around the US because it works well in practice, and the supposed flaws are largely non-issues in real elections. Every voting method has downsides, but the downsides of IRV are rare anomalies. The other alternatives have not been tested in real, competitive elections, and the claims about these alternatives are unproven with real voters. These alternatives also suffer from a critical flaw that makes them unworkable for political elections: a vote for your second choice hurts the chance your first choice is elected. This places the voter in a permanent, strategic dilemma in every election. The election of the US president use to have this same problem, until it was fixed by the 12th amendment. It's why systems with this property are virtually nonexistent for single winner elections anywhere in the world.
Your use of the odd, distinctive term “unworkable” marks your comments as coming straight from FairVote’s propaganda. Practically any voting method, including the incumbent Plurality Voting, is “workable”, but they are more or less optimal. “Workability” actually suggests logistical practicality (simplicity, cost, ballot spoilage, security, tallying effort), and ironically IRV is the most complicated of any commonly discussed voting method. It is not precinct summable. This is not a “supposed” flaw. In Australia’s recent elections, the counting process lasted an entire week. The Aussies gave us the term “donkey voting”. In two separate conversations about alternative voting methods, the New Hampshire secretary of state objected that it had been tried in Washington state and had been repealed, because the voters didn’t like it. He was actually referring to IRV, which had been tried in one county. IRV is not exactly spreading like wildfire. Absolutely true about the dearth of real-world testing of alternative voting methods, except that Approval Voting and Score Voting are just voting uses of the standard “Like” and Likert-scale evaluation methods used in countless surveys. As you probably know, all voting methods are subject to some form of strategy, some more perverse than others. IRV advocates’ harping on the later-no-harm criterion, to the exclusion of all others, makes one question their objectivity. IRV’s satisfying the strategic LNH criterion has a flip side: IRV fails to incorporate all ballot data. The classic example: if a candidate were every voter’s second choice, but no voter’s first choice, IRV would immediately eliminate this ideal compromise. You could argue that this is unlikely, but real-world variations of this do occur. IRV is only a marginal improvement at the cost of a great deal more complexity. IRV would probably have prevented the 2000 presidential-election fiasco, but would not make third parties viable without the additional reform of proportional representation, which is actually many IRV advocates’ true goal. Merely ending spoilers and the wasted-vote dilemma is nice, but not enough. In any event, readers here should now have enough starting material to perform their own research.
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