Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Response To Think Progess' Yglesias Post About Gerrymandering

I just discovered the Think Progess website. Here is my response to a recent post by a writer for the site (Yglesias):

I believe this article misses the point. The primary reason for getting rid of gerrymandering is not about making politics or government work better, it is about making sure each party receives its fair share of seats. A second reason for getting rid of gerrymandering is to prevent the artifical creation of “safe seats” for one particular party. Safe seats mean there is no competition among the parties. No competition among the parties means there is no accountibility to the voters because a politican in a safe seat knows that no matter what he/she does (within limits) he/she will keep getting re-elected again and again.

Gerrymandering is another example of why we need Single Transferable Vote (STV). No method of voting does a better of job of giving each political party its proportional share of seats. (Other than a "party list" system, which I doubt Americans are willing to adopt.) That's why it is called Proportional Representation!

STV eliminates any possiblity of gerrymandering when implemented in an at-large manner (for example, for city councils, county boards of supervisors, or school boards). STV also significantly minimizes any effect from attempted gerrymandering when used with multi-member districts (especially districts which elect 5 or more representatives), for example, for Congressional elections or the election of state legislators.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Response To "Voting Matters Blog" Criticism Of Instant Runoff Voting

I recently discovered the Voting Matters Blog. It seems that the author/editor of the blog and I agree on many points (verifable voter paper trails, suspicion of Diebold, and investigating allegations of minorities being blocked/diverted/intimidated at the polls). However, we disagree in our views of ranked choice voting, as evidenced by the misleading video about IRV (instant runoff voting, a form of ranked choice voting) posted on the blog.

This video is one of a whole set of videos posted by the YouTube user "SJVoter". The videos grossly exaggerate the few disadvantages that ranked choice voting has, while at the same time ignoring the enormous advantages it has over the current methods. A side-by-side comparison of ranked choice voting with the current methods, reveals that ranked choice voting is hands-down the winner, no doubt whatsoever. Below is the response I posted at "Voting Matters Blog" regarding this video:

It would take a long time to address all of the fallacies and misleading statements in this video, so I will briefly touch upon only a few points:

The voting example in this video doesn't make any sense. How would Sam be able to convince 28% (10 out of 35) of the Manny voters to switch from ranking him (Sam) LAST to suddenly ranking him (Sam) FIRST? Even more bizarre, assuming Sam could somehow achieve such a feat, then why would every single other Manny voter still rank him dead LAST?

Somehow Sam can convince a number of voters to change their ranking of him from 3rd to 1st, but he can't convince a single person to change their ranking of him from 3rd to 2nd?!?!

Sam didn't lose because "he got more support" as stated in the video, Sam lost because (1) he didn't have a majority of first-choice votes, and (2) he was so unpopular that he couldn't get a single 2nd-choice vote from any of the Manny voters.

This example is a ridiculously contrived situation which would never exist in reality. If ALL of the Sam voters prefer Manny as a 2nd-choice, then why is it that ZERO Manny voters prefer Sam as a 2nd-choice? If ALL of the Manny voters prefer Joel as a 2nd-choice, then why is it that ZERO Joel voters prefer Manny as a 2nd-choice? If ALL of the Joel voters prefer Sam as a 2nd-choice, then why is it that ZERO Sam voters prefer Joel as a 2nd-choice?

As a side note, I would encourage Lea Terhune to do some research before making wild, uninformed allegations about FairVote. They are actually a highly reputable organization that has always been open about their involvement in elections and campaigns.