Sunday, September 13, 2009

St Paul IRV tasting parties: "you might end up drinking some swill you never voted for"

If you thought that the comparison of instant runoff voting to choosing an ice cream flavor or a candy bar was dumb, how about "tasting parties"? Restaraunts in St. Paul Minnesota are hosting "tasting parties" to help "educate" and promote instant runoff voting. Diners are voters and menu items are to be ranked. This is to "help" St Paul voters who will decide this November whether to adopt IRV or not. But Joe Soucheray, a writer for the Pioneer Press joins in the IRV/tasting parties game and plays it all the way out. This is a sort of - be careful what you wish for scenario:

Joe Soucheray: Instant runoff voting promises instant headaches
By Joe Soucheray Updated: 09/12/2009

As it continues to be a solution for which there is no problem, a couple of restaurants, I was reading the other day, have decided to get into the instant runoff voting business. Diners, or drinkers, at the establishments that cheerfully allowed themselves to be duped into promoting IRV, will rank their favorite meals or beers.

At the Happy Gnome on Selby Avenue, for example, a great beer outpost, customers will be asked to rank their favorite beers. I guess you can sit there and get sloshed while you make checkmarks alongside your favorite import or boutique brew. But if it worked like IRV, you might end up drinking some swill you never voted for.

Same with the restaurants that are participating. The diners at the Coffee News Cafe on Grand Avenue, for example, will rank the omelets the restaurant features. That's great. But, again, if it works like IRV, you might be trying to feed the winner to a dog under the table.

Instant runoff voting is the desire of something called FairVote Minnesota, the title alone implying that voting is somehow not fair. To whom? The candidates? And if so, what obligation does a citizen have to see fairness imparted to somebody who wants to run for office.

As I understand it — and this is going to be a challenge for me because of the ridiculously complicated mathematical equations — IRV requires that voters rank their candidates by preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes, the candidate receiving the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and the ballots that listed that candidate as the first choice are redistributed to their second-choice candidate. We keep playing eenie-meenie-miney-moe until somebody, artificially, gets a majority of votes. Huh?

Wait a minute. I've only begun my research into instant runoff voting and I plan to educate myself as thoroughly as possible, but I smell a large rat. I can deduce that just by the yards where IRV support signs are springing up. We have been sold, or are attempting to be sold, on the idea that voting is a rigorous, burdensome exercise that needs to be made easier or refined or more accommodating to more people. Well, we saw the results of that in the Coleman-Franken race where the debate over which absentee ballots to count threw the race into a court-storm of controversy and protracted recounts.

Beware the secretary of state or always-available activist group that wishes to make your life easier. They usually have something up their sleeves, like the promotion, through obfuscation, of more of their own kind.

Keep in mind we will be asked to vote on this Nov 3. I'll get the ballot question and print it one of these days soon. I have a feeling it will be a doozy. I have a feeling the ballot question alone will cause us to scratch our heads while we read it with our lips moving.

Proponents of the idea offer the incentive that it will eliminate the primary election. Why should the primary election be eliminated? Oh, I suppose because that requires somebody to get out on that extra occasion and vote. I've never missed a primary. That's when you weed out the stiffs and pretenders and two candidates are left standing to fight it out in the general election. Nothing could be simpler.

When it comes to the general election, I only want one vote. I don't want yours and I don't want your neighbor's and you shouldn't want mine, either. I win or lose. I can live with that. That's the way we do it in this country, or did, until we let develop the
everybody-must-get-a-ribbon mentality.

We still have transparency in our election system. We saw it muddled last November, but for the most part, we still have honesty and transparency, a winner and a loser.

Can you imagine a recount of an IRV-determined vote? And, by the way, how are the votes reassigned on the day of the election?

This is a rat that needs to be ferreted out.

Joe Soucheray can be reached at

Spread of IRV slowed when CA senate defeates AB 1121

Close call. The spread of the IRV virus was just slowed down a bit. The California State Senate just defeated a bill that would have made it easier to spread instant runoff voting across the state. The bill was narrowly defeated. Hopefully lawmakers will learn more about the drawbacks of instant runoff voting before the IRV-whack-a-mole game starts up again for next legislative session.
California Senate Defeats IRV Bill by One Vote

September 10th, 2009

On September 10, the California Senate voted 20 in favor, 19 against, on AB 1121. California bills can’t pass unless they receive 21 votes in the 40-member State Senate, so the bill failed. It allows 10 non-charter cities or counties to use Instant Runoff Voting for their own elections.

There are many other ways to have meaningful participation of third parties without the drawbacks and complications of instant runoff voting.