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posted by chromas on Wednesday June 13, @04:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the [6]-a⠀[⠀]-b⠀[3]-c⠀[1]-d⠀[⠀]-e⠀[9]-f⠀[2]-g⠀[4]-h⠀[7]-i⠀[5]-j⠀[⠀]-k⠀[8]-l dept.

Maine Is Trying Out A New Way To Run Elections. But Will It Survive The Night?

The man who lives in the Blaine House in Augusta, Maine, was, for many, a sneak preview of the 45th president of the United States. Like Donald Trump, Republican Gov. Paul LePage has transformed the face of government with his politically incorrect brand of conservatism — and he did it despite winning less than a majority of votes. LePage won a seven-way Republican primary for governor in 2010 with 37 percent of the vote, and he beat a Democrat and three independents in the general with just 38 percent.

Eight years later, it's far from clear that LePage would have a path to victory if he were running now in the Republican primary for governor. That's because, partly in response to LePage's plurality wins, Maine on Tuesday will become the first state to use ranked-choice voting to decide a statewide election. So not only are there races in Maine we'll be watching, but the process matters too. And if Maine voters don't pass an initiative reauthorizing the voting method at the same time, this real-life political-science experiment will be cut short.

The question of keeping ranked-choice in place for future primaries and Congressional races in the general election led 54-46 percent with 57% of precincts reporting at 12:05 AM EDT.

Maine's Governor Paul LePage has threatened to not certify the results, but that doesn't matter according to Maine's Secretary of State:

Gov. LePage on Tuesday says he "probably" won't certify results from the voter-approved ranked-choice voting system.

Maine law requires the secretary of state to tabulate results and get them to the governor within 20 days of an election. The governor "shall" certify them within a reasonable time period, but Secretary of State Matt Dunlap, a Democrat, said this only applies to state general elections and not primaries. "He can bluster all he wants, but he can't change the results," Dunlap said.

Also at WGME, Vox, NYT (live results), and Portland Press Herald.

Previously: Maine Supreme Court Approves Ranked-Choice Voting for 2018 Elections


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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @05:38PM (14 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @05:38PM (#692423)

    This makes me a bit concerned. People look at instant runoff voting as a sort of panacea. The problem is that, depending on how you define it, it can lead to bad results. For an example see this election [wikipedia.org]. I prefer one of the systems that elect a Condorcet winner. However, with every system there are tradeoffs. A comparison (not necessarily a good one or the best one) is available here https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_electoral_systems [wikipedia.org]

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Thexalon on Wednesday June 13, @05:59PM (4 children)

    by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday June 13, @05:59PM (#692431) Homepage

    It's not a panacea, but it does mean that the winner is likely to at least not be completely loathed by the majority, which is a good thing.

    Also, on the off-chance that you're a politician trying to do right by your constituents (I know, fantasy, but let's pretend for a moment), it would be really useful to know which of your opponents the public thought was best. If it's a 3-way race between Smith, Jones, and Johnson, and Jones wins, it will help Jones to govern well if he knows whether more people like what Smith was saying or Johnson was saying. Or, alternately, if Jones doesn't do a good job of listening, it would help Jones's next opponents figure out whether the public would be behind someone who sounds more like Smith, or someone who sounds more like Johnson. Even from the political science point of view, that extra information would be interesting to have, since you're no longer throwing away the preferences other than the #1 choice.

    --
    A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday June 13, @06:40PM (3 children)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 13, @06:40PM (#692463) Journal

      since you're no longer throwing away the preferences other than the #1 choice.

      Bullshit. You absolutely ARE throwing away preferences for anyone but the first winner.

      Are you trying to assert the second and third choices in the first election has any effect on the next election? You are delusional, and you are mixing inputs and outputs across events widely separated in time. You've let you laboratory experiment bleed over into real life.

      You can't bank second place and use it as a stepping stone to first place in some distant election. So any system of elections chosen with that in mind is base on a fantasy.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Thexalon on Wednesday June 13, @07:29PM (1 child)

        by Thexalon (636) on Wednesday June 13, @07:29PM (#692490) Homepage

        I didn't say you'd save the votes for upcoming elections, which is ridiculous. I'm talking about the raw data, the ballots themselves. Compare two hypothetical results, first the plurality results:
        Smith (i.e. Smith > Jones or Johnson) - 150,255
        Jones (i.e. Jones > Smith or Johnson) - 200,127
        Johnson (i.e. Johnson > Smith or Jones) - 223,934

        And now the ranked-choice results for voters with the exact same preferences as what were recorded above:
        Smith > Jones > Johnson - 25,203
        Smith > Johnson > Jones - 125,052
        Jones > Smith > Johnson - 175, 867
        Jones > Johnson > Smith - 24,260
        Johnson > Smith > Jones - 142,362
        Johnson > Jones > Smith - 81,572

        In both cases, Johnson wins: In the plurality version, Johnson has the most votes. In the ranked-choice version, Smith is knocked out after round 1, and then Johnson's strength as the second-choice for Smith voters puts them over the top.

        The difference is that now everybody can look at that raw data and know more about voter's preferences, and can make decisions based on that. For instance, the Johnson administration can make sure that they aren't antagonizing the Smith supporters who picked Johnson as the #2 choice, and/or try to encourage Jones supporters to abandon Smith as the #2 option. Which means that now Johnson is being more responsive to the preferences of more citizens, which is part of the point of holding elections.

        --
        A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of bad gravy.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, @03:17AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 14, @03:17AM (#692676)

          Yeah well I'm voting Jackson/Thompson 2020! Glad there are no Gray or Brown supporters here. Those people are deplorables.

      • (Score: 4, Insightful) by tfried on Wednesday June 13, @07:35PM

        by tfried (5534) on Wednesday June 13, @07:35PM (#692492)

        Well, actually, what GP was probably trying to say is that you do not have to put Lesser Evil in the first place, for fear that voting for your real preference will be diverting votes from Lesser Evil, and help Greater Evil win. Instead you can vote for your real preference, and then put Lesser Evil in second place, just in case.

        So, before, you were throwing away the preferences for candidates other than those that people think are the top two before even conducting the ballot. Now, you will at least keep alternative preferences on record.

        Will that change the outcome in practice? Remains to be seen, but certainly only under somewhat special circumstances. Does it allow for a more accurate poll of public opinion? Definitely.

  • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday June 13, @06:25PM (4 children)

    by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday June 13, @06:25PM (#692448) Journal

    When dealing with humans, nothing is perfect. The question is, which solution is less bad?

    If you dislike the 2-party system then this process is less-bad.

    Duvergers Law indicates that our current process tends toward 2 parties by nature. [wikipedia.org]

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Wednesday June 13, @07:06PM (2 children)

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 13, @07:06PM (#692481) Journal

      If you dislike the 2-party system then this process is less-bad.

      One could as easily say that any election system that leads to multi-party systems invariably leads to government by the political class.

      Because once you use a system that dis-values forming consensus in the minds of the electorate BEFORE an election, you leave it to politicians to build a coalition government AFTER an election. With enough splinter parties, choice is effectively removed from the hands of the electorate, and handed to the politicians. Pretty much what is happening in the EU today.

      Two parties may not be optimal. Maybe three, possibly 4 could work better. Much beyond that, and the goal isn't about the people's choice any more.
      In Europe, there seems to be a tendency toward 5 parties. [wikipedia.org]

      The recent push toward different election systems isn't designed for consensus rule. Its designed for removing ACTUAL choice from the hands of the electorate, by flooding the slate with a multitude of shell-parties, and handing the choice to politicians. A refuge for scoundrels if you ask me.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by DeathMonkey on Wednesday June 13, @07:41PM

        by DeathMonkey (1380) on Wednesday June 13, @07:41PM (#692496) Journal

        One could as easily say that any election system that leads to multi-party systems invariably leads to government by the political class.

        Well, one could say that. But that statement would apply to every other Democratic system on the planet as well.

        Democracy is the worst form of government, except for all the others.

      • (Score: 5, Insightful) by tfried on Wednesday June 13, @08:30PM

        by tfried (5534) on Wednesday June 13, @08:30PM (#692515)

        I think you're mixing up IRV and proportional voting in an interesting but misleading way, here.

        First thing to note is that IRV implies a majority vote, really, and does not make much sense in a proportional vote (except perhaps in combination with an electoral threshold, but that's a bit of a corner case). Your coalition argument does not apply for the same reason. And in fact an IRV is exactly about moving the "forming consensus" part to the electorate in a transparent fashion: If I cannot have my favorite, what would I agree with instead (and what other option would I avoid at all costs).

        Second thing to note is that - for the same reason - IRV does not directly lead to a 2+x party system, but it does not condemn any third option to meaninglessness a priori. For third parties to gain any influence, they'll still have to gain a majority, even if it is of second or third choices.

        Third thing to note is that - again for the same reason - IRV is in fact handing an advantage to those candidates that are acceptable to most, i.e. that are closest to a consensus. It precisely helps to avoid the problem where the "majority camp" is splintered over trivialities, while the "extremist camp" stands united, and wins the vote.

        Fourth thing to note is that - independent of IRV - a proportional vote has the advantage of keeping certain positions represented, even if they are not "important enough" to win a majority vote. The EU's pirate parties (most obsolete by now, but still) are a great example of that, and the EU's green parties (I know you hate them) are another.

    • (Score: 2) by dry on Thursday June 14, @05:00AM

      by dry (223) on Thursday June 14, @05:00AM (#692708) Journal

      In a Federal system, that is not necessarily true. Here in Canada, different regions have different favourites. In one region it is Conservative vs Liberal, another area it is Conservative vs NDP and another area it is Bloc Quebecois vs Liberal or Conservative with the orange wave election before last where all 3 of the regular candidates were so bad that the NDP did very well.
      We almost always have at least 3 parties in Parliament with 5 lately and in a close election a minority government is formed where compromise is needed to govern. I love minority governments rather then voting in a dictator for 4 (or 5) years. And even with a majority, the government seems to worry more about the voters then down there.
      It probably also helps that the Provincial elections are mostly divorced from the Federal elections, which allows regional parties to grow.

  • (Score: 2) by insanumingenium on Wednesday June 13, @06:40PM (1 child)

    by insanumingenium (4824) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday June 13, @06:40PM (#692462)

    I find it funny, that in that particular example, the presumed winner using the old method would have been the same. So the argument mentioned in the wiki that IRV "elected an extremist" seems really skewed, especially when he was an incumbent, who won his first IRV election without an uproar being mentioned. In fact by the numbers IRV passed the biggest argument I see against it, 99.99% of ballots were valid, no mention of voter confusion. It is true the Condorcet winner wasn't selected (though I am very curious how you determine that when 16% of ballots were bullet voted, the temptation is there to run the numbers myself, but it seems beyond pointless being almost 10 years later and a repealed system), but repealing IRV doesn't give you that either. Good doesn't have to be the enemy of great, and I would be better served by being able to better express my choice even if the result isn't perfect.

    • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Wednesday June 13, @07:44PM

      by isostatic (365) on Wednesday June 13, @07:44PM (#692498) Journal

      I'm trying to understand the problem with that example, seems to work exactly as planned.

  • (Score: 2) by isostatic on Wednesday June 13, @07:38PM

    by isostatic (365) on Wednesday June 13, @07:38PM (#692495) Journal

    This is why the US has a two party system, and why presidents win despite getting less than 50% of the vote

    Much of the country agree that "the voting system should be better". The incumbants rely on the fact that some people want ranked list, some want STV, some want condorcet, etc, etc

    Due to this, the majority of people thing "this is stupid, I just want to vote for my candidate"

    So we end up with two party systems, where people vote for Kodos in case Kang gets in.

  • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @11:47PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 13, @11:47PM (#692608)

    Can lead to bad results? As opposed to the current system where almost every single result is bad and people just vote for who they perceive as 'the lesser evil'? Whether range voting or ranked choice voting, both are far better for democracy.