Thursday, June 11, 2009

Minnesota Supreme Court Says IRV OK, Minnepolis to get its "free pony" now

Today Minnesota's Supreme Court said OK to instant runoff voting. The MN Supreme Court turned away a "facial" challenge to Minneapolis' voter-approved Instant Runoff Voting system. ..The Minneapolis IRV system has never actually been implemented, yet, so this challenge was not to the application of the ordinance, but to the concept of it. Basically, this means that Minneapolis will get to live with its decision, and the city will learn -as have others like Pierce Co Washington - that the "free pony" named IRV is lots of work and costly to take care of. Read on for news and analysis.

The Associated Press reports:

Minnesota Supreme Court OKs instant runoff voting; St. Paul may consider it 06/11/2009 Steve Karnowski

Minneapolis can go ahead with its plans for instant runoff voting for city offices, the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled today in a decision that gives St. Paul and Duluth a green light to consider it as well.

...Erick Kaardal, the attorney for opponents including the Minnesota Voters Alliance, said the decision doesn't prevent them from filing lawsuits after an IRV election to contest how the votes were counted, and that they likely will. He also said they'll continue to campaign against IRV in St. Paul and Duluth.

"The battle has just begun," Kaardal said.

The court's 30 page ruling is here (pdf doc)

The Minnesota Voters Alliance says - Court Rules IRV Constitutional? Not Quite

Warren Smith, an elections method expert from the Center for Range Voting provides analysis:
The two main parts of the plaintiff's argument were
1. IRV is non-monotonic,
2. IRV "unequally weights votes."

(1) ... we know that some non-monotonicsystems clearly are constitutional

(2)...the court either did not understand, and/or the plaintiffs failed to adequately explain, how IRV "unequally weighted votes."The court then pointed out that the plaintiffs in trying to get avoter-referendum result ruled unconstitutional on its face(without any actual problem having arisen since no IRV election under this has happened yet) theirburden of proof was very severe. (I'd also predicted that.) The plaintiffs failed to meet that burden, Case closed. Unfortunately the court's judgement contains some mistakes. Also unfortunately,the court weaseled to try to maintain its earlier 1915 judgement ruling Bucklin unconstitutional, was still valid.

...."Respondents contend that monotonicity is merely a mathematical concept, and nota constitutional requirement. They explain that monotonicity is one of severalcharacteristics identified by economist Kenneth Arrow as desirable in ademocratic election system. See generally Kenneth Arrow, Social Choice and Individual Values (1951). Arrow proved mathematically, in what is known as Arrow's Theorem, that no voting system can satisfy all of the desired conditions that he identified. Respondents contend that because no election system can comply with all the characteristics, it is inappropriate to use any of them as a constitutional requirement."

--that about Arrow was false. ...However this is true:

"In particular, respondents point out that, as the district court found, even the Minneapolis primary/general election system was non-monotonic, and thereforethe fact that IRV is non-monotonic cannot be fatal."

--but now back to being utterly false:

"Although it is disconcerting to acknowledge that a voter cannot be sure thathis or her vote for a candidate will help, rather than hurt, that candidate, any system that involves a process for narrowing a field of three or more candidates has that potential."

...The court did a fairly impressive job in some ways, but far from perfect since they fell for various falsehoods which have now been carved into stone. (If acourt rules that 2+2=5,is that a problem?)

the full commentary is linked at Center for Range Voting group