Why not just plain old runoff voting?

In this thread, the merits of instant-runoff voting are being debated. I’ve got no dog in that fight as far as the merits of IRV are concerned.

However, there seems to be a public-perception bias against IRV and other unfamiliar systems as ‘gimmicky’. So how do we get rid of the gimmick? Seems the easiest way to do this - and a way that’s already familiar, in many states - is to drop the ‘instant’ part, and keep the ‘runoff’ part.

That is, why don’t we move to a system where >50% is required for a win, and we have a runoff between the top two candidates where that requirement isn’t met?

The merits are obvious: at the end of the election, there’s been a vote where the winner got >50% of the vote; it gives independent and third-party candidates a chance to demonstrate their support without affecting the ultimate outcome (unless they place first or second in the initial vote, in which case they’ve won the right to be part of the ultimate outcome); the two major candidates can run against each other, and not have to worry about votes lost to fringe candidates; in general, it makes for a ‘fair game’.

The sole argument against it is that having a possible second round in an election costs more money. But it’s not that much. And if Louisiana can afford to do it, so can most other states.

I should have said, “the sole argument against it that I can think of”.

I think that the added expense, and the added trouble for the voters who have to vote a second time, is the big argument against it.

There’s another problem: with IRV, a candidate can win without being one of the two leading candidates on primary votes. I don’t know how often it happens in practice, but it certainly can happen. With runoff voting, that candidate would not win unless one of the two leaders withdrew.

A - 48%
B - 24%
C - 15%
D - 13%
If all of D’s second preferences go to C, then all of B’s second preferences go to C as well, then C wins the election by 52% to 48% on the final count.

Who wants to endure two campaigns back-to-back?

From the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Instant-runoff_voting):

Why not just allow people to vote for multiple candidates?

If Gore, Bush and Nader are on the ballot you can vote for Gore and Nader…

Person with the most votes wins.

I’m not aware of any real-life system that uses that.

Two problems:

(1) It brings about a whole new bundle of problems about strategic voting.

(2) Conceivably, using that system, a candidate that no one would vote for as their first choice, and who on a pair-wise comparison is beaten by the other candidates, would win.

3 candidates (A, B and C), 5 voters (!,2,3,4 and 5).
Voters 1 and 2 prefer in the order A, B and C, and give votes to A and B
Voters 3 and 4 prefer in the order C, B and A, and give votes to C and B
Voter 5 prefers in the order A, C and B, and gives votes to A and C
So A and C each get 3 votes, and B gets 4 votes – so B wins, even though 3/5 prefer A to B and 3/5 prefer C to B, and no one would give B a no. 1 vote.
(On any rational system of voting, A should win here, with 3/5 of the no. 1 votes).

I understand it doesn’t have the nuances of instant-run-off but it is very simple and so people might accept it easier.

A person votes for whom they would like to see win. If they wouldn’t mind seeing two win than they vote for both of them. If I wouldn’t mind seeing Gore or Nader win then I vote for both leaving Bush out. If I would rather see Gore win over Nader then I’d better not vote for Nader.

It’s not perfect but no system is. However it is a simple, transparent-to-the-math-challenged-voter change that has some nice advantages over our current system and avoids the complexity of other systems.

Most bang for the buck…???

What you are describing is called “approval voting.” Here are a couple of AV advocacy pages:


From the Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Approval_voting):

Thanks BrainGlutton!

The first time I ever voted I thought it was weird or wrong to be able to only vote for one. It would stop the similar candidates ‘splitting the vote’ while the one sails through with his group of voters.

Recently here in MN, my county had a big news story of a tax-and-spend-up-the-ying-yang candidate was secretly involved in starting up a ‘No New Taxes’ party hoping to split the vote off his fiscally conservative opponent. Probably would have worked if it hadn’t been exposed. Approval voting would have made it mute since people would have voted for the fiscally conservative candidate and the no-new-taxes one.

I had no idea it had people advocating it.

I imagine it won’t go through because people don’t like new things and because it will help third parties (and the ruling two won’t like that)

Don’t be so sure. Women’s suffrage once looked like a non-starter – because it was a new thing, and because it would have to be enacted by all-male statesmen accountable to an all-male electorate. But the suffragettes just wouldn’t shut up until they got it.