[2406.AB] IRV Amendment

You are free to argue hypotheticals all day, but the fact of the matter is, those ballots were acknowledged to be cast under a different system, and it continues to happen election after election. “Personal responsibility” is a constant refrain, but I find it a difficult pill to swallow if it keeps happening time after time. Maybe the system is broken, and it needs to be fixed. Hypothetically.

The way citizens vote in these elections are clearly outlined, and it is right out there in the open. There’s even a step-by-step explanation of how to cast the ballot! Why should we change the voting system, especially in a way that would be less suitable in these elections, when so much has already been done to make this an extremely easy process?

There is a point where citizens, residents of this region who have explicitly asked for the supreme responsibility of voting in our region, should be held accountable for their own actions.

I’m going to post in here quickly and say that I’m vastly disappointed that both our delegate and chief justice think it’s perfectly fine that 25% of people didn’t have their vote counted because of ballot errors.

I also take issue with the implication that I — or anyone supportive of changing this — is trying to pass the buck or not take blame for screwing up their ballot. People can acknowledge they f----- up and there can still be an issue in the system. It’s not a binary choice.

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Just stopping by to say that I agree with this.
Yes, I and other voters made a mistake and there is no discussion about that. The point is that future errors, perhaps even from new voters, can be reduced. I, for example, went “automatically” and ended up voting wrong precisely because I confused the two forms of voting, since, I believe, standardization is expected.

I’m not saying that. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve also cast an invalid ballot in the past due to not reading the instruction. I did not take that as a reason to change the voting system, I used that as a learning experience.
I get that you’re concerned about 25% of the votes being invalid, but isn’t it more concerning that 25% of the voters chose to not read the instructions for voting, or otherwise chose to cast their ballot incorrectly? Yes, people can acknowledge that they made a mistake (without us holding it against them), and at the same time acknowledge that that there’s an issue in the system, but that’s just not what happened here.


Rather than discussing changing our election method, maybe we could talk about what could actually be done to correct spoiled ballots: allowing cast ballots to be edited.

With voting now private, the argument that people could edit ballots to alter the outcome of an election is moot since no one can see the ballots in progress.

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I don’t particularly care about vote editing while voting is underway (though frankly I’d rather we didn’t) but I am fundamentally opposed to editing once voting has closed. Elections are held during a set period of time and the Commissioner isn’t there to go out of their way to ensure voters cast their ballots the right way.

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I think it’s odd this entire discussion has become about reducing voter disenfranchisement. Even before this most recent election, there’s always been a good argument for changing to an IRV system. I’m in favor of it now, just as I always have been.

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I don’t think it has ‘become’ about confused voters, it pretty explicitly started that way:

Have there been arguments presented about the benefits of IRV over approval voting?

In principle, if no citizen who casts a vote misunderstands the voting system:

  1. If there is only one candidate standing (like in the most recent Delegate election), then IRV and Approval voting are functionally equivalent.
  2. Supposing that there is more than one candidate standing, the key functional differences between IRV and Approval would be how rankings between candidates might play out. For example, if under Approval voting I would’ve picked both Fluffy and Noodle for Delegate in the first round, under IRV I would be forced to rank between Fluffy and Noodle (or cast a ballot not listing either candidate, or consider whether to rank RON, or so on…)

(As a technical side-note: I’m not sure if it’s true that IRV would ensure that there are only two winners as candidates in the second round - as a simple mathematical example, suppose 3 candidates (excluding RON), 3 valid votes, with 1 vote cast for each candidate without listing any other candidates)

The reason I prefer Approval voting over IRV (and hence why I oppose the amendment), at least in the context of the first round of the Delegate election, is that it leaves less room for “over-strategizing” one’s vote and ensures a clear representation that the citizenry, in-principle, approves of the (at least) two candidates sent to the next round. Admittedly, I suspect that in practice, there really wouldn’t be that much of a difference between either voting system.

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I think the opposite is the case. In IRV, I rank the candidates in the order of my preference. If my first choice is the last ranked candidate of first preference votes, my vote is redistributed. It’s clean and my genuine preference is honored.

In the event of approval voting, I have to strategize. Let’s say there are candidates A, B, and C. I really like candidate A and want them to win, but I don’t think B or C would be terrible (and I prefer B over C). Arguably, the spirit of approval voting is I should approve all 3. Arguably, I should approve A and B, because those are the 2 I prefer the most and if either was Delegate, I’d be happiest, and it would be me expressing my preference that one of those 2 be Delegate. Arguably, I should approve A and C, because I likely think A would beat C in the second round, so I should approve C to get A a better shot in the second round. And, lastly, arguably I should approve only A, since that’s my true preference.

See how silly and over-strategized that got? The simpler answer is to just vote 1. A, 2. B, 3. C. That’s my preference order.

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You’re ignoring the second round of Delegate voting. If you like candidates A, B, and C, then arguably you should vote for all of them to give them the greatest chance of entering the gameside election

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Here’s a hypothetical to illustrate my qualms with IRV in the context of the delegate election (it is contrived but all such hypotheticals are):

3 candidates (A, B, C), about half the first round electorate ranks A > B >>> C, remainder ranks C > B >>> A. (That is, half are fine with A or B, prefer A slightly, but would really hate if C won; half are fine with C or B, prefer C slightly, but would really hate if A won).

If they vote by revealing their true preferences under IRV, B will be eliminated first round, and we proceed to the 2nd round with the divisive candidates A and C. On the other hand, under approval voting we probably end up with the more ideal outcome of B getting through to the next round.

My point is that:

  1. One’s voting strategy is very dependent on beliefs about how others vote - even IRV is not immune to this.
  2. While you are right that approval also is not immune to “over-strategizing”, I think approval would lead to less divisive, more broadly acceptable candidates being put forward to the wider electorate in the 2nd round, which I hope you would agree is an ideal quality for a delegate in our system of government.

Approval voting is just as vulnerable to tactical voting as any other system.

As always when tactical voting comes up, I have to point out that under IRV, ranking your honest favourite first can lead to overall less desirable outcomes for you ‒ under AV, giving your honest favourite an approval can never affect the result negatively for you.

A 1 3 2
B 2 1 3
C 3 2 1

B is eliminated in the first round, their voter’s next preference is C, who thus picks up two votes and wins over A by 6‒5. This is the least desirable result for the A voters, who could have achieved a more desirable result if a mere two of them ranked B first:

A 1 2 3 2
B 2 1 1 3
C 3 3 2 1

A then is eliminated instead with three first-preferences against B’s now four and C’s four. The three first-preferences of the A voters go to B, and B wins over C 7‒4, meaning the two tactical A voters have achieved a result more desirable to them by betraying their true favourite.

This might seem like a highly unlikely edge case, but according to Wikipedia is estimated to occur in around 15% of three-way races.

I also agree with the point from lordnwahs’ example of how IRV would actively work against consensus candidates ‒ who are certainly more desirable for the concrete office of the Delegate ‒ by requiring candidates to receive decidedly first-place preferences for avoiding early elimination. The inner workings of different voting methods make them more or less suited for electing any given office based on the desired properties of the winner, and in my eyes AV simply is the better-suited method of the two for first-round Delegate elections. A preference between the winners can then always be indicated in the second round.

On the topic of voter confusion: Couldn’t we just use a form like on the old forums, where an invalid input would be (almost) impossible? From a cursory read of the Discourse wizard plugin documentation, creating IRV and AV wizards in the style of the ones we used to have should be possible, which would eliminate this issue altogether.

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If it possible but quite inconvenient for the EC. I’d very much prefer not having to update the wizards every election.

Literally the best solution for this whole thing. Beyond that, nothing needs changing.

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Do wizards utilize an “unaffiliated account, group, or server”? Do they ensure all votes remain “available for audit”?

I think one of the underlying assumptions here is that you’d be the one updating the wizards — which is possible as long as you’re both (forum) administrator and Election Commissioner, but which I think is an unstated assumption that we should be aware of.

I generally feel it’s best if our processes are not designed around the assumption that particular people will stay in their roles (even if they’ve been doing it well for a long time), and I’d rather not have our elections tied to whether our administrators have the time to update the wizard when we hold our elections. It’s not a political position, and it feels weird to depend on them for a political process.


I apologize for starting this discussion then literally disappearing just as it got interesting. For a few weeks there, real life got in the way of doing anything enjoyable like debating voting methods. I likewise apologize for digging it back up now, but I am just catching up on everything I have missed and found these points very interesting:

I’m not sure I fully agree that Approval Voting is absolutely superior to IRV for purposes of electing the Delegate. But I do agree that the question is close enough that, were it not for the voter confusion issue, there would be no pressing need to change the system that we have.

Given that, I’m curious what the mechanics behind the old-forums form system are? Was it always a burden on the EC, or was there a way to automate it on the old forums? Is there no way to do the same here?