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If it isn't immediately obvious, an explanation for my nickname can be found on my Metafilter User Profile.

As of 2005, my favorite Condorcet completion method was Definite Majority Choice. In the interest of expediency, I would favor some kind of transition as follows:

  • Favorite plus Approval: Single Favorite vote, plus Approval of any number of other candidates. Favorite is also approved. If no Favorite wins 50% + 1, elect candidate with highest approval.
  • Favorite plus Range Voting. Single Favorite as above, plus a score of 0 to 99 can be given to any number of other candidates. Same fallback as above, except total range score is used instead of approval.

Once a Range Ballot begins to be used, the scores could be tabulated and reported in several different formats for comparison. It might even be of benefit to randomly choose the winner between the Range Voting winner, Schulze, Definite Majority Choice, and Cardinal Pairwise using River. Since all four methods have similar sincere voting strategies but different "gaming" methods, it would encourage voters to simply vote by preference instead of trying to work around the system.

You can contact me at araucaria dot araucana at gmail dot com.

Election Reform Priorities

My highly opinionated views on what can be done to improve the US form of government:

Trust in the process

Before anything else, we need to trust the mechanics of voting:

Redistricting reform

Redistricting is too entwined with partisan politics. By federal law, states should be required to enact non-partisan restricting reform along the lines of Iowa's successful law. In a nutshell:

  • First, after the census, the state sets up a 5 person redistricting commission. The Democrats and Republicans choose two members each. These four then choose a fifth non-partisan member who serves as the chairperson. By law the fifth member cannot be a holder of any political party office and cannot be a relative or employee of any member of the legislature.
  • This five member commission then sets about redrawing the districts using several legal guidelines. Among these are:
    • Population - The districts must be as equal in population as possible.
    • Respect for political subdivisions - for example county lines.
    • Contiguousness - The district must be contiguous. Iowa law says that any area that meets only at the points of the corners is not contiguous.
    • Compactness - This is the relative "squareness" of the district. As much as the other factors will allow, the district must be as compact as possible. This gets rid of those oddly shaped districts seen in other states.
    • Political and racial neutrality - The Iowa Code states that districts shall not be drawn to favor any political party, an incumbent legislator or member of Congress, or any other person or group. The district also cannot be drawn for the purpose of augmenting or diluting the voting strength of a language or racial minority group.
  • To insure compliance with number 5 above, Iowa law prohibits use of the following data:
    • Addresses of incumbents
    • Political affiliation of registered voters
    • Previous election results
    • Any demographic data other than population headcounts.

Transparency and efficiency of legislative process

The current US legislative process moves at the same leisurely pace it did in the mid-19th century.

  • Riders are attached with no warning and bills are not always voted on by all members.
  • There is no reliable way to determine accountability. This harkens back to the days of "smoke-filled rooms".
  • Career politicians are relying on lobbyists to write legislation.
  • The only way to debate is on the floor of the House.

We need a method of legislation that would works quickly and transparently, whatever the size of the legislative body, be it 50, 500 or 50000. The rules need to be open and non-partisan. And the system of making those rules needs to be protected by checks and balances.

One way to streamline legislation would be to compress the highly inefficient technique of Robert's Rules of Order, which reduces every decision to a series of Yea/Nay votes. A strong Condorcet method could be used to resolve the preference between many options at the same time.

Better Representation

The House of Representatives is not representative

The US House of Representatives has been frozen at 435 members for nearly 100 years. That's one member for every 640,000 people. The Founders originally thought there would be one member for every 30 to 50 thousand people. The number of representatives should be increased to at least 600. This would also decrease the over-representation of small states and under-representation of large states in the Electoral College.

Proportional Representation

Local representation is best implemented using Proportional or Full Representation, with at least 5 members per district. The best way to do this is with Single_transferable_vote (STV).

A better single-winner Voting system

Proportional Representation (PR) proponents tend to think that if STV is good for multi-winner elections, it will be good for single-winner elections also, in the form known as Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). But it isn't. That's because STV is very good at ensuring representation of a wide variety of different viewpoints but isn't so good at aggregating many different viewpoints into a single compromise.

The best voting system for single-winner elections (e.g. senator, governor, president) is Condorcet, also known as Instant Round Robin or Pairwise Voting. It uses a ranked ballot, just like IRV, but is counted differently.

  • Unlike IRV, it doesn't require recounting ballots after each elimination.
  • Unlike IRV, all ranked preferences are accounted for, not just those for the eliminated candidates.

See also