Author: Of The People

Why Ranked-Choice Voting is bad

It was at a 1980 Alcoholics Anonymous meeting when someone is first recorded coining this famous aphorism: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” You may have heard a rumor that Albert Einstein said it, and that would be false.

We live in an era, though, when the truth is subjective. If enough people believe a thing, it does not have to be true.

The coronavirus jumped to humans in a Wuhan seafood market. Vote-by-mail is fraudulent. Jared Kushner is a cyborg. The flu vaccine makes you susceptible to Covid-19. Hillary Clinton eats babies. All true, we’ve heard.

Just like the Romans reveled in gladiator games and torture, so too are our citizens addicted to conflict of their favorite untruths. Conflict is very entertaining, after all.

Our elections are the modern-day version of the Roman Colosseum. We keep the masses captivated with semi-regular clashes.

There is a 24-hour opinion industry that reaps the benefits of constant conflict coverage. Networks have devolved into de facto subsidiaries of the two major political parties.

And so, it goes. Another Black man receives unjust, extrajudicial capital punishment on our streets from a white police officer. No judge, no jury; just the death penalty, aired.

Protests turn counterproductive when Antifa socialist agitators (and white supremacists pretending to be Antifa) join in. Looters loot. Police shoot rubber bullets at badged media, on air. Our president openly calls for the shooting of looters. No trials or convictions required. Who needs a legal system? These ratings are gold.

We all seem to be living in a parallel universe, with time running in reverse. The 1960s are upon us and the 1860s may be on the horizon.

The root cause of all this suffering is plainly one fundamental flaw — the way we vote. A voter’s voice is limited to just one thumbs-up vote, which guarantees conflict.

A one-vote system always manifests over time into a tug-of-war, or actual war, between two major parties.

It also artificially empowers two ideological minorities to make them appear to be much larger than they really are. This is called a cramming effect. It inflates and emboldens extremists and unbalanced partisans, who then wrongly believe they represent a majority. In truth, Republicans and Democrats nowadays each represent less than 20 percent of the American electorate.

To make matters worse, some “reformers” prescribe a new way to vote, which is really the same old way in disguise. They call it ranked-choice voting — and it is yet another one-vote system.

Ranked-choice voting is spreading like a disease because Americans are desperate to try anything to fix their political system. And they are extremely gullible to disinformation that it will disrupt the two-party system. RCV will not.

That majority winner will always be from the two-party system because multiple independent and minor party candidates must all split votes with each other.

One-vote elections fuel negative propaganda and a money-in-politics arms race — then generate plenty of close contests.

Ranked-choice elections perpetuate the two-party system, artificially inflate those parties to make one appear dominant, further empowers extreme partisans — then generate even more close red vs. blue contests

And the prospect of razor-thin margins of victory enables foreign governments to meddle in elections, exacerbates the money-in-politics arms race, and cements the status quo.

RCV advocates shamelessly, and falsely, promote the opposite narrative. Here’s an example of the disinformation and another below how this false claim is constantly re-spread.

Imagine for a moment that we decided criminal guilt by popular opinion. Now, I know that RCV advocates are going to say, “You can’t possibly believe that crackpot Shannon fella. He’s the guy that thinks we should decide guilt based on popular opinion.”

To clarify, I do not think that we should resolve guilt or innocence based on popular opinion. It is just a useful mental exercise to illustrate how RCV fails.

So consider an opportunity to rank these three possible answers — President Trump, Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin or George Floyd himself — to the question: Who was responsible for George Floyd’s death?

This presents a complex dilemma. Because the first reaction for many is surely going to be “definitely not George Floyd!”

However, RCV prohibits you from voting against any options. You may only list in order of priority the options you favor.

Under RCV’s instant runoff system, the second-place finisher will get a head-to-head matchup runoff against the first-place option, with ballots with the third-place option on top getting redistributed to those voters’ next choices.

What if polls indicate well above one-third support for the idea that Floyd was responsible for his own death? What if many are also likely to vote that the president was responsible?

If you wanted Floyd to “lose the election” (as I would) but believe he is not going to be eliminated in the first round, your ranking decision would be influenced by your conclusion about whether Trump or Chauvin would fare better in a head-to-head against Floyd.

Accordingly, you cannot always vote sincerely with RCV. You must vote strategically to make sure your worst outcome does not prevail.

It would be much simpler just to vote thumbs-down against our worst outcome.

Unfortunately, Americans everywhere will adopt ranked-choice voting in the coming decades. Its momentum of untruth is unstoppable. It will become widely accepted before voters inevitably experience its shortcomings — and it will ultimately be repealed by voters, again. All that will cost us millions of dollars and many years of precious time.

But if Albert Einstein invented ranked-choice voting, who can be against it

Calling on Balanced Ballots to break the two-party duopoly

Future candidates would be forced by the math to moderate their positions toward compromises in order to avoid the wrath of our thumbs-down votes.

It’s all in the math

Researchers at University of Aukland and UCSD have published proof that a negative vote would curb the influence of extremists. Cahan, D. & Slinko, A. Soc Choice Welf (2018) 51: 259. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00355-018-1115-7

Ranked Choice Voting is decoy reform

There is a new voting system that is sweeping the nation, but don’t be fooled. The term “Ranked Choice Voting” is itself just a marketing term for Instant Runoff Voting (IRV).

The irony is that Independents, who don’t understand Ranked Choice Voting, advocate Ranked Choice Voting, which is designed to eliminate…Independent candidates!

Plurality Voting (meaning whichever candidate gets the most votes wins) is flawed if ever there are more than two candidates. A third (or 4th, 5th) candidate spoils the election. Think Ross Perot, for example.

Ranked Choice Voting allows Independents to vote for Ross Perot, for example, as their first choice but also asks them for a backup (2nd choice). It’s sort of like asking teenagers for their list of dream cars, “but choose from these two clunkers just in case,” because those are the real choices.

After Perot – in this hypothetical election – gets eliminated in the first round, the next round in an instant runoff would be between just two candidates. It becomes a pure two-person race without the spoiler effect.

Additionally, each incremental Independent candidate will basically ensure that none of them will prevail, because in each round, they have to split the votes of Independent voters.

Lastly, according to the Center for Election Science, Ranked Choice Voting is also proven to increase ballot spoilage rates by more than 7 times the normal plurality voting rate.

So Ranked Choice Voting is great if you’re trying to quell the groundswell of Independent, middle-minded voters and cement the two-party monopoly. But that’s not what 80% of Americans want! They want to break the two-party monopoly.

Please don’t advocate for Ranked Choice Voting if you are an Independent voter.

40% of Americans (62% of Independents) think the two-party system is broken and want to disrupt the two-party monopoly

Independents comprise 65-70% of registered voters. Compare that to Republicans, who comprise 15% of registered voters (tops). Compare that to Democrats, who peaked in 2008 at 19% of registered voters. Yet Independents, people who do not affiliate with either major political party, have very little influence over American politics. This is a classic tail-wags-the-dog scenario. It is a “majority doesn’t rule” system.

Republicans and Democrats each only comprise ~15% of voters

Ask people this question: how many voters are comprised of Republicans or Democrats? Most will respond with “40%-ish.” Actually, Republicans have never comprised more than 15% of registered voters. Democrats – peaked at 19% of voters. But since we only have one vote, we must choose between extremes, so we artificially boost their results in general elections, and they say, “wow, look how many of us there are.”

America ready for Independent challenge to two-party system

There is a huge dissonance here: Americans are ready for an Independent challenge to the two-party system, yet they know if they vote for an Independent, it will HELP their least-preferred candidate. The solution is a negative vote.

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