As founder of Virginians for Instant Runoff Voting, I support the experimental use of range voting and reweighted range voting in elections. Most of the U.S. electoral reform movement has rallied behind instant runoff voting for single-seat races and proportional representation by single transferable vote for multi-seat contests. While these two systems have a longer history of use, alternative systems – such as approval voting, Condorcet, and range voting – have not been adequately tested to determine whether they would perform better or worse than STV in the real world.
Further, the splintering of electoral reform advocates into camps supporting rival voting systems has harmed all of our efforts. While each system is bound to have its own pros and cons, additional experiments with the lesser-used voting systems could help test the claims of their proponents and opponents. A clearer picture of how well these systems work in the real world could help eliminate less workable systems from consideration, allowing a greater consensus to emerge among reformers as to which system we should back.
Opponents of any electoral system can devise hypothetical scenarios and voter behaviors that would cause it to produce undesirable results. Practical experience with each system will be the surest way to test the relevance and validity of these arguments.
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