Esteemed commenter Extradimensional Cephalopod spent an admirable amount of time and effort last week exploring and debating the desirability (or not) of ranked choice voting systems. As a special gift to Ethics Alarms readers, E.C. summed up all of the issues in a single epic comment, and I have added his addendum to that comment as well.
Here is his Comment of the Day on his own Comment of the Day on the post, “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?”:
Alright, I’ve collected the arguments people have brought against ranked choice voting and condensed my counterpoints. What do you think?
1. RCV is more complicated than voters can follow.
Counterpoints: Not if we educate them competently, like we already sometimes do with regular ballots. If they’re not capable of comprehending ranked preferences and a ballot that accepts them, then their vote would be meaningless noise even under a first-past-the-post system. If that describes most voters, we’ve got a bigger problem. However, standardized testing indicates that many children can understand and fill out bubble-sheets correctly, so adults should be alright. Continue reading →
1. More on Biden’s speech…I finally read the text of President Biden’s speech; it was even worse than I expected. What kind of advisors would let a President make such a speech? What kind of President would deliver it rather than fire the speechwriter and whoever advocated saying such stuff in public? It says something significant about the distribution of partisan extremism in the media that CNN and MSNBC would be the only networks to broadcast it, yet, ironically, as true blue propagandists, they should have embargoed the speech for their party’s own good. Fox News should have wanted to broadcast it. It’s the best marketing for the Republican Party I’ve ever seen.
Because there is, as the saying goes, no reason to re-invent the wheel, I’m going to send you over to Althouse for her section-by-section analysis, which is close enough to mine to make a parallel post here a waste of time. A sample:
There are far more Americans, far more Americans from every background and belief, who reject the extreme MAGA ideology than those that accept it.
His version of the soul of America represents what “far more” Americans think, so — what? — screw those other people? Something like 47% of voters voted for Trump, but even if the Trump voters were more dramatically overwhelmed by throngs of more “normal” people, they are still part of the population. Or maybe it’s not about excluding everyone who’s not in the majority. Maybe it’s about rejecting them because they have “extreme MAGA ideology.” What is “extreme MAGA ideology”? Desire for a secure border? Pro-life? Really, what are the elements that Biden envisions as not worthy of debate but justifying denouncement as not normal and not mainstream?
And folks, it’s within our power, it’s in our hands, yours and mine, to stop the assault on American democracy….
It seems to me that it’s within our power to participate in democracy and vote. Where is this “assault”? Why in the name of all that is normal and mainstream is he conjuring up violence — an “assault”? It’s going on right now. Don’t you see it? The “assault” I see is the effort to keep Donald Trump from running again. If the overwhelming majority of Americans reject his “extreme MAGA ideology,” what’s the problem? Let him run and he will be defeated.
Ann calls the speech “disturbing and incoherent.” I’d call it dangerous and irresponsible. Continue reading →
Extradimensional Cephalopod might break an Ethics Alarms record today with three COTDs—I’m not sure yet: stay tuned. This one the earliest of the three, includes his cogent analysis of ranked choice voting systems, which I am on record as hating. As I have learned more about the Democrats donating to the nuttier Trump-endorsed Republicans in state primary contests, my hatred is even more entrenched. The more opportunities a system creates to game it, the less trustworthy it is. In my view, ranked choice voting asks the voter to try to game the system. Count me out.
Here is EC’s Comment of the Day on the Alaska special election item in “Labor Day Weekend Ethics Warm-Up, 9/2/2022: Which Are The Pod People And Which Are The Fascists?”
At first I took issue with your characterization of the Alaska election, on the basis that ranked choice voting would have removed the spoiler effect. However, I realized that’s not quite true.
Under first-past-the-post voting, if 60% of voters preferred the Republican party but were evenly split across two Republican candidates, then the Democratic candidate would have won with a 40% plurality.
In the same scenario but with ranked choice voting, one of the Republicans would have been eliminated and their votes would have gone to the other Republican candidate, who would have won. In that situation a Republican wins, just like in the FPTP scenario, but also the Republican voters get to vote on which Republican wins without risking their party losing. That is, if they all have a Republican as their second choice.
Continue reading →