2013 Minneapolis Sample Ballot (myballotmn.sos.state.mn.us).
by Tony Petrangelo
Oct 21, 2013, 8:00 AM

More Ranked Choice Voting Responses

I will be moving on to other aspects of Ranked Choice Voting, seriously. But before that I’m going to post a couple more comments on the issue of majority winners.

If you’re just tuning in, my first post on the issue was “Ranked Choice Voting Question Time: Majority Winner,” and the first comment I’m posting today is in response to my response to this person’s previous comment in the post that followed that. Follow?

It seems that you are stuck on the idea that the winner may not have over 50% of the votes cast in the initial round. That doesn’t bother me for the reason I gave before, but it obviously still bothers you (even though you also said you didn’t much care if the winner got a majority).

You claim that RCV proponents are using “bullshit talking points,” but that’s only true if they agree with you on the importance of having a majority based on first round totals. Criticize their ideas and their facts if you wish, but don’t accuse them of making up arguments just because you disagree about what a majority is.

While it’s probably tough to believe given this is now my third post on the subject, I really am not that worried about people winning elections with less than a majority. I am much more concerned with why people would use what I would consider to be a less then honest talking point to sell a voting system has plenty of actual positive attributes that can be talking pointed.

I do agree that this whole issue boils down to how we define a majority. To add to the volatility of the definition of a majority, I’ll end with this comment that further questions what a majority really is.

“Majority” is not as simple as you suggest it is.

For example, Boston is having an election for mayor, using the old Minneapolis system. The top two candidates in the primary had a grand total of 35% of the primary vote. One will win in November with a majority, but do you see that as upholding majority rule if one or both of the advancing candidates isn’t particularly representative?

Also, did Minnepolis count write-ins in the old November runoff system? Many such cities do, and many voters might want to cast a write-in because their real favorite was eliminated in the primary — as in Boston, where the top two are two white, Irish-American men in a city where white men are only about a quarter of the eligible voter population. If write-ins are counted, then the winner may lack of a majority of valid votes; in a San Diego mayoral runoff a few years ago, the winner had some 35% of the vote due to a strong write-in.

Or consider California’s top two system, where write-ins are not counted, but many people skip the race if they don’t like either candidate. In a congressional race in California last year, two Republicans advanced in a district that Obama carried because the Democratic vote was split in the primary. More than one in five November voters skipped the House races. So that’s a “majority?

Getting back to RCV, Oakland has 18 offices elected by RCV. Some of those winners haven’t had a “majority” of the first round vote, but fully 16 winners had more votes in the final round than the previous winner in that office without RCV. The mayor won more votes than had been won by an Oakland mayor in two decades.

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