Friday, February 24, 2017

Why use ranked choice voting over Condorcet voting

This is a follow up article to my previous article explaining why I prefer ranked choice voting over approval voting. The task here is to explain why I prefer ranked choice voting (RCV) over Condorcet for most elections.

To not keep you in suspense, I'll tell you up front. It is MUCH harder for voters to understand how Condorcet ballots are counted than to understand how RCV ballots are counted. In my view, it is very important for voters to understand the counting process. For this reason, I recommend that most organizations use RCV and not Condorcet.

With both RCV and Condorcet, voters cast the same exact ranked ballot. The difference is how the ballots are counted to determine the winner, and I'll explain this next.

Counting RCV Ballots

With RCV, the ballots are counted in rounds, and here is an example of RCV results. For the first round, each ballot is allocated to its first choice. For each subsequent round, the last-place candidate is eliminated, and the ballots of the last-place candidate are transferred to the next choices on the ballots. The counting is complete when a candidate has a majority or only two candidates remain.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Why You Should Run Your Election Online

Whether it's to decide the flavor of ice cream to serve at the church social or decisions of international import, election time is always exciting! Seeing people line up for the polls or eagerly awaiting ballots by mail, counting the votes and finally announcing the winners. But elections are also nerve-wracking for those who run them. Keeping track of the ballots, ensuring voters have access to information, and keeping returned ballots safe until counting makes voting day a long one for election staff. If your organization has a small staff, OpaVote's voting software make voting day a breeze while losing none of the excitement.

We offer multiple voting methods, so that voters can rank their options, or choose more than one option to get the most information about your voter's preferences. We will send your voters a link to an online ballot and you have the option of submitting paper ballots into the count, making voting accessible to all voters. Our voting software is highly secure, preventing tampering and accidental duplicate votes. The emails we collect for your voters are discarded as soon as you close the election. We have the deepest respect for the privacy of your voters.

Some voting software companies offer the same service we do, but at a much higher cost. If you're running a small, fast poll or election, we offer a free package with the same quality of service as our packages designed for thousands of voters. For the price of having pizza delivered, your organization can cut back on the amount of paper and printing you need and have a smooth, secure voting process.

If you're a regular voter, you see how much paper and time is used in getting your vote. Candidates sometimes send out flyers months ahead of elections, or go from city to city offering the same talking points to different people, and spend millions of dollars. But wouldn't it be much easier if you could sit down, peruse the relevant materials and vote at your leisure? This is the convenience you can offer voters with OpaVote's voting software.

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ranking Electoral Reforms

Electoral reform is near and dear to my heart, and I started OpaVote to help promote betting voting methods, such as instant runoff voting and the single transferable vote.  There are many other important electoral reforms, and some are more important than better voting methods.

Below I present a U.S.-focused list of electoral reforms roughly in order of the importance that I place on them.  Others will certainly have strong disagreements, and I'd love to hear from you.  I'll update this post over time with additional explanations for the other electoral reforms.

Top-two primary

The 2016 election for U.S. President is a shining example of the problems with conventional primaries (likely producing the most disliked major-party candidates ever).  Although voters are increasingly identifying themselves as independents rather than being affiliated with a political party, the Democratic and Republican parties hold enormous control over the electoral process.

For most elections, the Democratic part has a primary to elect its candidate, the Republican party has a primary to elect its candidate, and later an election is held to decide between the Democrat and the Republican (and sometimes third party or independent candidates).

Conventional primaries produce bad election outcomes because (i) they elect partisan candidates rather than moderate candidates, (ii) the parties have too much control (e.g., "super" delegates), and (iii) third-party or independent candidates are essentially shut out of the electoral process.