Time to ditch IRV
October 22, 2010
We have spent a good deal of time and attention in the last three-plus years on the choice of voting methods in the city of Aspen. It was a wonderful (and sometimes wild) experiment, and I sincerely believe we learned a lot. Humbly speaking, I for one now possess a greater appreciation and opinion as to what I believe is the most appropriate approach for future elections. I have to say that IRV (Instant Runoff Voting) must go, and we should re-install the traditional runoff system deployed just prior to IRV.
I can succinctly summarize the rationale behind my view in two words – confidence and trust. I seriously doubt that the electorate holds either of these feelings when considering IRV. Let’s face it: IRV plainly requires too much description, definition, process, and procedure (even “strands,” for Pete’s sake) to apply, as opposed to the time honored tradition of voting for your favorite and counting ’em up.
Yes, the old, traditional runoff system may take additional time and be more expensive – two of the major reasons we experimented with IRV as an alternative – but these shortcomings are probably outweighed by the extra benefits afforded through the runoff timeline (allowing a deeper exploration of the issues and the candidates’ positions, akin to our primary/general election procedures conducted for higher offices). Call me old school, but there is something more comforting, and perhaps more trusting, when I can see and understand the tally counts as they build up with each precinct reporting in. There is no special software or complex algorithm to depend on; just the application of a complete and comprehensive set of election procedures that we can focus on and consistently improve.
It is also important to note that in the rough 50 years of plurality voting and runoff voting in Aspen, we have managed to avoid electing any Frankensteins or Darth Vaders (but somehow we allowed a Cajun from south Texas, with a penchant for silly military jargon, to slip right past our defenses). In other words, Aspen has done fine with past elections, and will continue to do so in the future. Just as I’m sure we will work on improving our processes and procedures.
So, again I say thanks, but no thanks to IRV. And, just as importantly, I thank the citizens of Aspen (and those interested/involved but not registered in the city) for participating in this informative experiment. Please vote for the traditional runoff system.
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