2009 elections demonstrate flaws in voting methods
Press Release –
the Center for Range Voting – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE 2 November 2009.
This press release is available as a web page, with many hyperlinks, at the following URL:
Of the four most-important-for-the-US elections in 2009
(the three most-examined elections in the USA plus the Afghan Presidential election)
three clearly exhibited major flaws. The problems in the two US elections are traceable to
the flawed voting method, "plurality," employed.
score voting (also called "range voting")
both would have behaved reasonably.
But Instant Runoff Voting
(IRV; lately called
by its US advocates "ranked choice voting"
in an attempt to mislead people into wrongly thinking
there is only one ranked-ballot voting method instead of an infinity)
still would have
yielded clearly undemocratic behavior.
The fraudulent Afghan election,
if they'd foolishly employed
IRV, would have been even more vulnerable to the fraud with even
less chance of correcting and detecting it.
For Afghanistan we recommend approval and Simmons asset voting.
All three candidates had approximately equal
quality in the collective opinion of the voters –
with Daggett having the most approval and greatest average score
and approval-style polls. It also is probable Daggett would have defeated every rival
in head-to-head races.
This truth was massively distorted by plurality voting
("must not 'waste' vote" strategic imperative amplified by media and cash)
which caused Daggett to finish far behind in last place. Second, a Corzine
victory (if it had occurred)
quite likely would have been due to Daggett's "spoiler" effect.
IRV would have cured the second problem but not the first.
The pre-election polls before Scozzafava dropped out (after, they oscillated wildly)
seemed fairly clearly to indicate that all three
candidates again were seen by voters as having approximately equal quality,
and make it probable that Scozzafava would have defeated every rival
in head-to-head races.
But again the massive built-in undemocratic distortion of plurality voting
caused the outfunded Scozzafava
to fall far behind her two rivals in plurality-style polls, to the extent where she actually
felt it best (as she was urged) to drop out of the race to avoid possible
"spoiler" and "vote-splitting" problems.
With approval and score voting, spoilers and vote-splits do not exist –
and the nonsense that a perfectly good candidate dropping out
constitutes an "improvement" of democracy, is abolished.
Our data based on approval and score-style polling
[as well as subsequent developments, such as Scozzafava endorsing Owens(D)]
suggests the whole fear of a Republican-Conservative "vote split" actually may have
With IRV, this whole pathology still would have occurred.
IRV only works well in "two-and-a-half candidate"
races, not in genuine 3-way races like this one.
it is worth noting that IRV has inherent properties
making fraud harder to stop and detect, and also harming ballot privacy
(e.g. any attempt to publish IRV-style ballots in Afghanistan's 41-candidate race would
have instantly identified voters, enabling vote-buying and coercion).
instant runoff: bad (plurality behaves badly; IRV has problems less often, but
as this makes clear, still too often, and also IRV is more complicated and fraud-prone)
originally invented by famed children's writer
looks like an excellent choice
for multiwinner elections
in places like Afghanistan where
proportionality, simplicity, and fraud-proofness are paramount.