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Another well-written letter on HB177

July 3, 2007

Courtesy of Tyler Patrick Nixon, here is the letter that he handed out to members of the House before Saturday night’s big win. Let’s get him and Karen into office soon, Delaware.

Tyler Patrick Nixon

Wilmington, Delaware

 

 

June 30, 2007

 

 

TO :    THE DELAWARE GENERAL ASSEMBLY

 

RE :    ELECTION REFORM PROPOSAL –  INSTANT RUNOFF VOTING

 

Thank you for your service to the people of Delaware as our representatives in government.   You are the voices we all count on to act in the best interests of the citizenry and ensure government is truly the peoples’ servant and never their master.

 

This year we have seen legislative proposals introduced to alter Title 15 of our state code – the law governing our elections.   In a republican democracy like ours, there is perhaps no more profound act lawmakers can undertake than to change election laws.   Of all the laws governing the people of Delaware election laws are the only ones that directly determine how and whether the people of Delaware truly govern themselves. 

 

As you wind up this session and prepare for a well-earned break over the interim adjournment, I would like to offer you some information to consider.  It offers a positive,  progressive means to further democracy and self-governance by expanding the voice of the people in our elections. 

 

It is a revolutionary voting system called “Instant Runoff Voting” (IRV) that is taking hold around the country in a variety of jurisdictions large and small.  The response of voters has been overwhelming in support of it, wherever it has been proposed or adopted.  The system eliminates many of the problems associated with traditional ballot methods, including “spoiler” and minority-elected candidates.   If adopted in Delaware it could eliminate the need for divisive, contentious party primary contests that often see paltry turnout but nonetheless are conducted at great cost to the taxpayers.

 

I urge you to consider this proposal as you reflect on the needs of the people of Delaware and the imperative that our elections not be restrictive, corrosive partisan battles but rather free, equal, and worthy contests of ideas and leadership for the future.

 

Again, thank you for your service to the people of Delaware.  Have a great summer and a happy, successful break until we meet again next year.

 

                                                                            Best Regards,

                                                                        

                                                                                /signed/

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 3, 2007 4:59 pm

    yup
    this will ensure that we get a candidate who is supported by at least 51% majority of voters

  2. July 3, 2007 5:46 pm

    This post repeats common myths that are perpetuated by IRV propaganda groups, like FairVote.org. The truth is that better and simpler methods than IRV exist – and IRV is lethal to third parties, because voting for a non-major-party candidate is statistically more likely to hurt you than help you. The world needs Range Voting or its simplified form of Approval Voting. Here’s why.

    Consider this hypothetical election using IRV.

    % of voters – their vote
    28% “Green” > Edwards > McCain
    20% Edwards > “Green” > McCain
    6% Edwards > McCain > “Green”
    46% McCain > Edwards > “Green”

    In this IRV election, Edwards is eliminated in the first round, and then McCain wins against “Green”. But wait! 54% of voters prefer Edwards to McCain – and 72% prefer Edwards to “Green”! Yet Edwards loses? The Greens now slap themselves on the forehead for not strategically top-ranking Edwards, the most similar major party candidate to their true favorite.

    IRV sounds initially appealing, because people picture a weak third party candidate who loses in the first round. The myth is that this takes away the fear of voting for your sincere favorite candidate, and gives third parties a fair chance to grow; but if that candidate or his party ever grows to be a contender, he is statistically more likely to hurt the party closest to his own than to win. It doesn’t matter how unlikely you imagine the above scenario to be – it’s still _more_ likely than the odds “Green” will win. And so third party voters will learn to strategically vote for their favorite major-party candidate. You don’t have to buy my math; you can look at decades of IRV usage in Australia’s house, and Ireland’s presidency. Both use IRV, and have been two-party dominated. So much for the myths that IRV allows you to “vote your hopes, not your fears”, and eliminates spoilers. Now we know why the Libertarian Reform Caucus calls IRV a “bullet in the foot” for third parties.

    Electoral reform advocates (especially third parties!) should be demanding Range Voting – score all the candidates and elect the one with the highest average. Its simplified form, Approval Voting, is probably the most feasible to implement. It simply uses ordinary ballots, but allows us to vote for as many candidates as we like. Consider the benefits:

    * Spoiler free: Whereas IRV merely _reduces_ spoilers
    * Simpler to use and implement: A simple one-round summation tells us the results, whereas IRV’s potential for multiple rounds can cause long delays before the final results are determined. A side-effect of Range Voting’s simplicity is that it makes the necessary transition away from voting machines more feasible. IRV’s complexity leads most communities implementing it to purchase expensive and fraud-conducive (electronic!) voting machines, the fraudster’s best friend.
    * More resistant to strategy: As we see above, IRV often strategically “forces” voters not to top-rank their sincere favorite. But with Range Voting and Approval Voting, this _never_ happens. A vote for your favorite candidate can never hurt you, or the candidate. With IRV it can hurt both.
    * Decreases spoiled ballots: Since voting for more than one candidate is permissible, the number of invalid ballots experimentally goes down with Range and Approval Voting. But here in San Francisco, we saw a seven fold increase in spoiled ballots when we started using IRV.
    * Greater voter satisfaction: Using extensive computer modeling of elections, a Princeton math Ph.D. named Warren D. Smith has shown that these methods lead to better average satisfaction with election results, surpassing the alternatives by a good margin. But IRV turns out to be the second _worst_ of the commonly proposed alternatives. This mean that all voters will benefit from the adoption of either of these superior voting methods, regardless of political stripe.
    * Reduces the probability of ties: While they are not extremely common, they do happen. IRV statistically increases them, but Range Voting decreases them.

    Get the facts at RangeVoting.org and ApprovalVoting.org

    And if you’re in the market for a better system of proportional representation than the antiquated STV system, check out Reweighted Range Voting and Asset Voting.

    http://RangeVoting.org/RRV.html
    http://RangeVoting.org/Asset.html

  3. July 3, 2007 5:58 pm

    I approved this last comment because I had to read through this whole website spam, and so should the rest of you. My pain is now yours.

    Clay (should you ever read this follow-up),

    I support my readers engaging in conversation and debate. Long-winded diatribes are mine and mine alone to cherish.

  4. Tyler Nixon permalink
    July 3, 2007 6:58 pm

    I am absolutely open to any new, ground-breaking means of empowering voters and expanding choices in democracy.

    In my letter I simply ask the legislators to consider the information about IRV, as I gathered it.

    I intend to take a close look at Range Voting as another alternative proposal to the current Delaware system.

    It is my goal to spark public dialogue about comprehensive election reform to remove all artificial or systemic barriers between voters and candidates. The current system is built around such blockades and arbitrary restrictions that treat our elections like games.

  5. July 6, 2007 3:52 pm

    Tyler,

    If your proposal is for the legislature to sponsor a study of various voting methods, then you should consider the following.

    (1) For legislative bodies, study proportional representation as well as methods based on single-member districts.

    (2) For executive offices (and single-member districts if you end up keeping them), evaluate IRV and range voting, but also include approval voting, two-round runoff, and at least one Condorcet method. There are a host of others methods as well.

    (3) In addition to advocates of various methods, get input from academics in the fields of both political science and social choice theory (a branch of welfare economics). They’re not unbiased either, but they’ll give you a different slant than us activists.

    (4) Instead of a blue ribbon panel of stakeholders and experts, consider a Citizens’ Assembly While the core idea goes back to the ancient Greeks, the modern form was invented in British Columbia only a few years ago.

    (5) If at all possible, involve the League of Women Voters in the development of your proposal.

    Best wishes for a successful proposal in the Delaware legislature.

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