Oversized majorities and RCV appeal

When you can’t agree on the one you want, but you can agree on the one you don’t.

I mean instant-runoff voting, which goes these days as “single-winner ranked-choice voting.” As readers of this blog know well, IRV manufactures a majority. If no candidate has a majority of first-choice votes, the last-placed candidate is eliminated. Ballots for the eliminated person flow to next-ranked picks on each. Rinse, repeat.

Two developments now catch the eye.

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Eleven Maine Democrats

They blocked RCV. It’s hard to say why.

At the same time that they use it in party primaries, Maine voters this June will vote a second time on retaining ranked-choice voting. This second referendum is the next stage of a people’s veto, a citizen-initiative process that can overturn acts of the legislature. The first stage was collecting more than 66,000 valid signatures, or 10 percent of votes cast in the last gubernatorial election.

What brought about the people’s veto was a classic, legislative roll. Last October 23, in a special session, eleven Maine Democrats joined their Republican colleagues to scuttle ranked-choice voting. This behavior was strange because the Democratic Party is poised to benefit, at least as public sentiment now stands.

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A reply to Foa and Mounk (2017)

Note: I wrote this several months ago. It might as well live here.

Rejecting democracy or calling for change?

To the Editor:

In the January 2017 issue of the Journal of Democracy, Roberto Stefan Foa and Yascha Mounk gave “warning signs” of democracy’s collapse (“The Signs of Deconsolidation,” pp. 5-15). They noted how one quarter of young Americans think democracy is a “bad” way to run a country, one quarter of all Americans want “a strong leader who does not have to bother with parliament or elections,” and 46 percent “either ‘never had’ or had ‘lost’ faith in U.S. democracy.” To be sure, these data points are alarming.

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