Saturday, March 17, 2007

Swing District Attracting Candidates

In 2004, Pierce County Council District #3 saw the closest ever County Council race with challenger Roger Bush (R) ousting incumbent Kevin Wimsett (D) 51%-49%. Wimsett has since moved out of the district, but two other Democrats are eying the seat for 2008. Helen Myrick and Bruce Lachney are considering a race for the seat.

In addition, Libertarian Party State Chair Ruth Bennett has been talking about recruiting a candidate to run in this race as the district has voted for libertarian issues heavily in the past.

During the campaign for instant runoff voting in 2006, there was speculation about the impact of IRV on the number of candidates. Thus far, due to a variety of circumstances, there is more interest in running for office in 2008 at the county level than in years. The result: more voter choice.


At 3:04 AM, Blogger TMW said...

Are you considering running for any county offices come 2008?

At 5:11 AM, Blogger Kelly Haughton said...


At 1:44 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Get the facts about IRV, the second worst common voting method. Democracy desperately needs Range Voting, a simpler system than IRV that eliminates spoilers (unlike IRV!) and produces a substantially greater voter satisfaction index than IRV.

More about RV vs. IRV

Voter Satisfaction Index (or "ratio")

IRV elects extremists!

Clay Shentrup
San Francisco

At 10:08 AM, Anonymous Karen said...

IRV is not what we will be getting in 2008 in Pierce County. According to the auditor's office, voters will have to limit themselves to voting for only 3 candidates (regardless of how many are vying for one office),AND the criterion for a "winner" is simply who has a plurality of votes after enough rounds have eliminated all but two. If you want to help change this, attend the April 11 meeting at 6 pm at the Elections Center in Tacoma. There's a reason why the auditor's office insists on calling what we'll get Ranked Choice Voting rather than IRV.

At 7:21 AM, Blogger Kelly Haughton said...

The Problem with Range Voting

Range voting can not solve the problems with plurality voting because, as a straightforward example will reveal, range voting will quickly turn into plurality voting.

Under the range voting system, voters can give a candidate a score of 0 through 9 (changing this to 0 through 99 won’t make any difference). Let’s say there are three candidates in a race, A, B, and C, with A and B representing the two dominant parties and C an independent candidate. Further let’s say there are 100 voters.

There are three types of voters. Type I strongly support A, dislike B, and like some of the ideas of the independent C. Type II strongly support B, dislike A, and also like some of the ideas of the C. Type III strongly support C and prefer A to B.

The results of an election could look like this:

Type I 48 voters 9 points for A, 5 points for C, and 0 points for B

Type II 46 voters 9 points for B, 5 points for C, and 0 points for A

Type III 6 voters 9 points for C, 5 points for A, and 4 points B

Or in a table like this:

Voter Type Voters Pts. for A Pts. for B Pts. for C
I 48 9 0 5
II 46 0 9 5
III 6 5 4 9
Totals 100 462 438 524

Despite only 6 voters who made candidate C their top choice, C wins the election. We can ignore the debate about whether the correct candidate won the race because the real problems with range voting come after an election like this. Even if C is the “right” winner, his victory will be short-lived.

Why did this happen?

While the voters for A and B (Democrats and Republicans) might refuse to give any points to each other, they can find good reasons to give some points to the independent candidate.

What happens next?

Candidate A will be quite annoyed at the outcome of the election and so will many of his/her supporters. If the voters had simply concealed their (weaker) preference for C and given no points, then A would have won. Voters for A could have put their top choice in power instead of their second.

In the next election, let’s say a rematch of these three candidates, candidate A will be certain to tell his supporters to give him/her 9 points and not to give points to anybody else; otherwise they risk a repeat of the prior election. Candidate B, not wanting to be a victim of a similar misfortune, will tell his/her supporters to do likewise. Voters for C might join the bandwagon (although it wouldn’t make a difference to the outcome.)

The results of the next election could be like this:

Type I 48 voters 9 points for A, 0 for the others

Type II 46 voters 9 points for B, 0 for the others

Type III 6 voters 9 points for C, 0 for the others

Candidate A wins with 432 points to 414 points for B and 54 points for C. Of course, the range from 0 to 9 does nothing for us; everybody votes either a 0 or a 9. So we could just as easily divide all these values by 9. A would get 48, B would get 46, and C would get 6.

This is the identical result that would be reached by a plurality election, the system that range voting seeks to replace.

Problems with Range Voting

Support for a second choice can easily hurt your first choice, thus voters will only give support their favorite candidate (insincere voting)
Voters will pick the extremes (0 or 9)
Range voting degenerates into plurality voting

Conclusion: While the advocates for range voting are correct in their criticism of plurality voting, and although no voting system is perfect, our best solution is ranked choice voting. With ranked choice voting, candidate A would have won the first election with a majority, and voters would have continued to vote sincerely in the second election.


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