Kathy Dopp takes on IRV

Kathy Dopp (1) has written a scathing criticism of instant runoff voting (aka IRV 2).

It’s a list of many criticisms but it is rooted in Dopp’s election integrity and election auditing background. IRV is a disaster from an election integrity point of view – primarily because it is not ‘summable in precincts’.

I agree with much of what she has to say. However, I find her paper to be somewhat difficult to read since the latest version frequently switches tone and voice between her voice and that of Abd ul-Rahman Lomax (who posts profusely on the election methods’ email list and the range voting message board.) [Update: 6/17/08 – see correction in comments] .

Here is Dopp’s summary:

Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a method for counting “ranked choice” ballots where each voter ranks the candidates – first choice, second choice, etc. The IRV counting process proceeds in “rounds” where the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated in each round and that candidate’s votes are reassigned to the remaining candidates using voters’ choices. IRV sounds enticing to voters who can express their preferences, but according to the new report, IRV does not solve the problems it is promoted as solving and causes significant new problems.

According to Kathy Dopp, the report’s author, “Instant runoff voting is a threat to the fairness, accuracy, timeliness, and economy of U.S. elections. The U.S. needs to solve its existing voting system problems and then carefully consider the options before adopting new voting methods.”

The full report “Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting – 17 Flaws and 3 Benefits” is found on-line at
http://electionarchive.org/ucvAnalysis/US/RCV-IRV/InstantRunoffVotingFlaws.pdf

One main point I disagree with her about:

The National Election Data Archive recommends restoring verifiable integrity to elections first before implementing alternative voting methods.

There are many problems and issues with our election system.

They include integrity, election methods, gerrymandering, representation via districts vs other options, the electoral college, voting on Tuesdays rather then more accessible times.

In my view, getting rid of lousy election methods is pretty important.
(aside: a very loosy-goosy attempt to compare the importance of various reforms (+ discussion))

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6 responses to “Kathy Dopp takes on IRV

  1. Go Kathy Dopp! It’s tough to find the time to rebut all the deceptive pro-IRV propaganda put out by FairVote and friends, and we need people like you working to educate the public.

  2. Although Kathy Dopp’s report remains a moving target, there is a comprehensive response to her earlier release here:
    http://fairvote.org/dopp

    Note that leaders of election integrity movements in the nations using IRV like Ireland are not trying to eliminate it. They recognize all the good things it does for their politics and know that election administration procedures can be developed that provide appropriate transparency, security and accountability.

    In addition, readers might be interested in our document on the issue of monotonicity posted her:
    http://www.fairvote.org/monotonicity

    I continue to hope that advocates of other single winner reforms will try to avoid so much focus on a well-tested reform being advanced by “workhorse reformers” out there convincing charter commissions, elected officials and voters of the value of reform. Go out and win your reform — IRV and proportional representation advocates aren’t going to stand in your way as long as you are taking on the status quo rather than an alternative reform.

  3. Correction:

    My post said “the latest version frequently switches tone and voice between her voice and that of Abd ul-Rahman Lomax “.

    Dopp objects to this characterization. It was my subjective impression based on my having read Dopp’s paper and many posts by Lomax. On closer reading there were 3 specific paragraphs in the body of the report whose ‘tone and voice’ were evocative to me of Lomax. As it turns out only one of these is derived from correspondence with Lomax.

    (Note: Lomax is credited as a co-author of appendix F)

  4. >[Ritchie]Although Kathy Dopp’s report remains a moving
    >target, there is a comprehensive response to her
    >earlier release here:
    > http://fairvote.org/dopp
    Note that appendix F of the 6/16/2008 version
    of the report is a rebuttal to these points.

    >[Ritchie]I continue to hope that advocates of other
    >single winner reforms will try to avoid so much
    >focus on a well-tested reform…
    Your organization probably has the most on-the-ground power to achieve this. You regularly help draft legislation that allows jurisdictions to implement IRV. Why not generalize that language to allow for other election methods as well.

    Speaking for myself – I am an approval voting advocate who finds a few other methods to be good, many others to be acceptable and a rare few to be totally unpalatable. IRV is in that last category.

    Dopp’s objections to IRV are not based on advocacy for other election methods but rather on the election integrity complications that it presents.

    These are due mainly to:
    * ranked choice input (typically truncated to 3 choices)
    * complexity in counting
    * not summable by precincts

    These complications greatly complicate the counting process.

  5. All About Voting: “Your organization [FairVote] probably has the most on-the-ground power to achieve this. You regularly help draft legislation that allows jurisdictions to implement IRV. Why not generalize that language to allow for other election methods as well.”

    I can’t speak for FairVote, but here’s my personal answer.

    Because (1) advocates for other methods would never agree on which methods to put on the menu and which to leave off, (2) such a bill will never get passed, not with a dozen FairVotes behind it, and — most important — (3) such a bill would *reduce* the odds that any of the methods ever got implemented in a covered jurisdiction. Watching reform advocates squabbling among themselves doesn’t cause the general public or opinion leaders to take sides. It doesn’t cause them to decide that several options are worth trying. Instead, it turns them off to whole reform idea. Besides, (4) IRV is a good election method.

  6. Sadly, Bob may well be correct about reasons 1-3.

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