Monday, February 19, 2007

A Better Way to Vote

A post over at Utah Amicus, repeating a Trib editorial by Rep. Roz McGee, talks about her beef with the current districting process in Utah. I wrote the following comment as a follow up to that post.
I agree with the district boundary principles you have set forth here. However, if the 42% of voters who prefer Democrats were evenly distributed throughout the state, our current system of winner-take-all voting would not allow ANY seats for Democrats.

I think we should improve the process of creating voting districts. We should also look at other solutions such as instant-runoff elections that can elect multiple people in proportion to the preferences of the people. There is a site dedicated to the principle at

I've written about Instant Runoff Voting before on this blog. For a succinct and convincing explanation of how IRV can eliminate the "spoiler effect" in elections and give a greater voice to third parties, check out this short animation from the folks at


Rob said...

You have been linked Bradley.

Keep Blogging!

Anonymous said...

What studies have been done about the complexity of IRV? I am not for or against it. I think it worked for the Republican Utah Governor's race last year, but you are talking about people who are highly motivated in the election process. They are willing to take the time to understand how it works.

What about the average citizen who may not be as interested in the process. Will they be confused by it? Is it easier to understand that I think? Just interested in your ideas.

Scott Hinrichs said...

I'm with Travis. I want to see some evidence. A lot of the links on the page you referenced seem to run counter to my conservative leaning philosophy. I am completely opposed to eliminating the Electoral College, and yet some of these links seem to advocate such.

Bradley Ross said...

I'm also concerned about the complexity inherent in IRV. I suspect the advantages outweigh the risks. Electronic voting systems could make it even easier than it would be on paper.

We'd have to educate people that they are welcome to vote for only one person if they wish, just like they always have.

Reach, I certainly don't support everything linked on, but I think instant run-off voting is a great idea. They have the best explanations on the net that I've seen.

Kojo said...

After Florida in 2000, you really think that requiring voters to rank three (or more) candidates isn't going to spawn sufficient litigation to deadlock the system? Seems quite optimistic, to say the least.

Kojo said...

Also, see this Wikipedia example of how IRV can result in the election of a candidate when another candidate is preferred by a majority of voters.

Bradley Ross said...

Kojo, you make important points. IRV is more complex and that is a bit scary. It may not produce a perfect outcome, but I'm not sure that is even possible. It is better than the current system, in my view. If there is a better algorithm for distributing the preference votes, I'm open to that as well.

Kojo said...

The crux of the matter, at least as far as we are taking this beyond the abstract, is that it doesn't matter whether one system of voting is "better than the current system." IRV has flaws--it's complexity foremost among them--but the real hurdle is that implementing IRV would require a complete overhaul of the voting process.

It's definitely debatable whether, in the abstract, IRV will produce "better outcomes" in elections among more than two candidates. It is far more uncertain, however, that any benefits would outweigh the incredible difficulties inherent in overhauling the current system.