A point-by-point rebuttal of FairVote on STAR


I had a look at FairVote’s STAR write-up, and the rather contradictory logic (concern about center-squeeze while claiming IRV condorcet failure was rare, concern about center-squeeze while insisting on later-no-harm) annoyed me, so I wrote a rebuttal.

I know Equal Vote already published this piece a while ago, part of the idea here was that since FairVote’s arguments sound reasonable if you are unfamiliar with the subject, the counterarguments need to make it clear why the original arguments don’t hold water to someone unfamiliar with the subject. I think the Equal Vote piece relies on a fair amount of assertion of concepts that aren’t obvious to people who haven’t thought much about any of this (such as the claim that tactical voting in STAR generally backfires). Hopefully some of the explanations here are useful as ways to frame the issue.

That said, I won’t claim that this a good argument to show people on its own. Some of the snark directed at FairVote might seem uncalled for. It also spends a lot of time criticizing IRV rather than defending STAR. The reason for this is that a lot of the original piece touts various features of IRV that STAR lacks, and I was trying to explain why they aren’t desirable. The other thing is that it harps more IRV criteria failures than STAR passes - most notably participation failure. I still think it’s legitimate, as this kind of pathology seems both less likely and smaller magnitude (i.e. the ‘best winner’ and the ‘actual winner’ will be closer to each other) in STAR than IRV, but I didn’t mention that in the rebuttal.


Well FairVote updated their document, too, so it needs an updated rebuttal. :smiley:


I like how FairVote is skeptical that STAR lives up to Illusory Reform Voting’s “proven standards”. I am also skeptical that STAR would fall to Two Party domination and spoilers IF we get enough third parties to run and those third parties grow quickly.


It isn’t exactly common, according to the ballots

…but that’s because most people (especially in Australia) have adapted to the system and may not be casting honest votes.

Um… do either satisfy Participation? Because this chart indicates otherwise


I’m not optimistic about that, myself. Parties are hard to grow, precisely because the political centers of mass are already well established, and relatively cohesive. In order to establish new parties (ideological clusters) you need to find people who:

  1. have a different ideological vector than offered by the established parties
  2. can agree on that vector
  3. can recruit people from the middle of the bell curve to join them

Generally speaking, things break down at #3, if not #2.


My point was that ‘center squeeze’ scenarios are IRV Condorcet failure scenarios, so to claim that ‘center squeeze’ scenarios will prevent STAR from working properly while at the same time claiming that IRV Condorcet failure is too rare to be concerned about is a contradictory position. Two party domination plays a large role in decreasing the rate of IRV Condorcet failure, because IRV is fine so long as there are only two credible candidates. But the threat of Condorcet failure promotes 2PD, because no one wants to be a spoiler, so credible challengers won’t run.

This was in reply to:

(Note: that should say “harps on”.)
My original sentence was poorly written. It was intended to point out a weakness in my rebuttal: that STAR fails some of the criteria that I criticize IRV for failing, for example participation.


Well, there’s potential for schism within the dominant parties themselves, particularly in places without competitive general elections, since the runoff will probably be between the two sides of the schism.


Thanks for taking the time to do this Marylander. I haven’t read it yet, but assuming it’s solid I’d love to see it posted and accessible. One thing that would make it more compelling is if it were not authored anonymously. Signing the rebuttal with your name and a brief bio including any credentials that are relevant would likely go a long way.

There is an ongoing conversation requesting that FairVote retract their misleading hit piece on STAR and adding more voices is helpful. Have you written to FV or Rob Richie directly to share your concerns?