Rank choice voting unworkable for presidential elections


The electoral college Is incompatible with rank choice voting. Even if you changed state laws to bind electoral voters there’s no great way to translate the ranked preferences of individuals into the into the ranked preferences of delegates.

So even if the EC was removed there is the lack of precinct summability. In the United States we have 50 separate elections that are counted and summed individually this would not work for RCV we would have to have a Central government to count the votes which is a security and political nightmare.

Score voting and Approval voting are both compatible with the electoral college although it would require binding delegates.

Score voting: super simple. Every delegate rates each candidate what they average was rounded.

Approval voting: slightly more complicated, each electoral delegate represents a % so if a state had 10 delegates one candidate would vote for anyone with approval over 10%, the best delegate votes for anyone over 20%… all the way to the tenth delegate who would get the honor of not voting got anyone who didn’t get 100% of the vote. This delegate would represent a great reminder that no candidate is universally supported and the actions of government should be tempered and humbled by the knowledge that they are to some small extent oppressing people.


Except the 12th Amendment requires electors to pick one candidate for each office.
Even putting that aside, states would be very reluctant to willingly sacrifice their voting power by wasting electors on unattainable thresholds (really anything less than 70%).
A more palatable scheme from the states’ perspective would be to approve everyone over 50% (or if no one got that, the best overall.)
Another way might be to approve everyone approved by state voters more than the projected winner (if it’s ambiguous, the combined national vote leader), as well as the projected winner if he is approved more than the projected second place candidate.
Using any method other than plurality for presidential elections would be very difficult to reconcile with the electoral college.


Why would that be more palatable? 90% approval candidate B 51% approval candidate A so they both get 100% of the states EC votes? Sounds terrible.


Because states want to maximize their voting power in the EC. It’s why we still have winner take all even though proportionally distributing them would be more representative of actual opinions of the states’ voters.


States don’t have wants, individuals have wants. Some individuals want to suppress the minority view of their state but most people are willing to use proportional EC support if it’s done in concert. No one will disarm unilaterally but we could coordinate the effort easily.


But if we’re already looking at Constitutional Amendment level difficulty, what’s the point of keeping the electoral college intact at all?


Because it’s a federal influence that ensures presidents represent interests of individuals from every state. It also limits voter fraud.


Also, if you were to draft a constitutional amendment to use a combination of approval and the electoral college, would you mandate that states allocate their electoral votes using a proportional method, or would you allow the state governments themselves to choose how they want to allocate their approvals?


Let the states choose.


Also, on the benefit of the electoral college. My biggest problem with it is that it exhibits an ‘existence failure’ analogous to participation failure: your Census form often has more influence on presidential politics than your ballot. Unless you live in a swing state, your ballot will never influence which party receives your state’s votes. But by choosing to live in that state, you increase its congressional apportionment and thus its electoral vote share. So California Republicans and Texas Democrats would have been better off never having been counted, at least as far as presidential politics are concerned.
Granted, a proportional allocation of EVs may lessen this problem.
I am not convinced that the EC makes elections more secure. See: https://www.jsonline.com/story/opinion/contributors/2018/09/17/how-hackers-could-attack-wisconsin-elections-and-what-we-can-do/1338809002/
I also think that the urban-rural cleavage has a much greater impact on presidential politics than any cleavages based on state boundaries. And that cleavage gets exploited a ton, especially since the EC gives rural areas a natural advantage. I know that rural areas often fear being ignored under a popular vote, but just reversing who gets dominated isn’t really a solution.
Also, while I know that you are not a fan of score voting, if the electors use it, it has the benefit of allowing for finer proportionality. With a continuum scale, electors could score each candidate numApprovals/totalVotes and get perfect statewide proportionality.


Rich people pay more taxes than poor people. That’s desirable in a society. People are encouraged to move to less populated States just like people are encouraged to donate all their money to dodge taxes.

We are all equal. If you choose to help protect a less protected part of the union we’d give you more representative


But votes have very little value on the individual level, it’s only on a large scale that they actually have the power to effect change. A nearly negligible gain in influence is not going to get people to move halfway across the country. When policymakers want people to do that, they offer substantive gains, like paying off the med school debt of doctors willing to work in medically underserved areas. And since most small states aren’t especially close, your influence will still be small. The real incentive is moving to states whose electorates align with your political views so the corresponding increase in apportionment isn’t used against you.


Why would you want to live by people who think like you? that sounds boring. If I wanted to live somewhere where everyone was the same and people with disabilities were aborted like spartan savages I’d go to denmark or some nonsense.

Diversity is strength when you get older you’re maybe be lucky enough to figure that out.


That’s a bit of a straw man. I never advocated moving to places where everyone agrees with them. I was arguing that the electoral college incentivizes moving to states where your preferred presidential candidates will win easily. I never said that was a good thing.
Also, politically safe does not imply completely homogeneous. An area where one party is favored 60-40 will hardly ever see competitive general elections, but over the course of a day, in all likelihood, you will interact with several members of the 40% minority.


60/40 why would there only be 2 candidates? You’re thinking FPtP imagine an approval world. There’s more than 2 choices.


president is single seat, so it would be IRV. And that would be quite practical, and simpler ballots than score or allocation voting. If some states refuse to switch to IRV ballots, you just count their ballots as IRV with only one choice filled out. Or maybe their second rank to be the next candidate (whatever candidate would have the most votes if there votes weren’t transferred) of the same party.

An advantage of this is you get rid of the need for a party primary. So e.g. Bernie supporters would have been able to vote for him and he might have beat both Hillary and Trump.

Allocation voting has the same benefit, but the ballot is more complicated. And if a state used single winner ballot presumably you’d distribute eliminated candidates to all others from the same party.

Overall I don’t see any legitimate argument you can make that IRV is any better or worse than allocation voting for president, when it comes to practical matters. The only real points of difference are ballot complexity and tallying algorithm.


Who would count the votes?



you seem to be implying that only one person can add together any given set of publically available numbers.

commissions from all 50 states can count separately. and any motivated citizen with some computer skills and google sheets can double check that count.


oh, and I forgot all major news stations, which already use real time election data to provide up to the minute election results, and even to call elections.

they’ll also be counting the votes. in real time. literally on national television.


What a wonderful argument you have just made… for Approval and Score Voting.

You see, IRV is very difficult to sum in precincts especially as you blind optimists seem to portray IRV as attracting large numbers of candidates. IRV is just fine being counted with only 3-5 candidates but if you have 10 then you need to transmit 3,628,800* numbers to the Grand Central Election Counting Station.
*OK, so fine, you can batch send zeroes for every rank ordering that does not come up. But you still need to send a LOT of data and double-check everything, unless your district is small enough to send every individual vote. And if that happens, we can bribe people as follows:
“I want you to vote Evil > Nasty > (very specific ordering of other N-2 candidates). If that exact vote is not found, you and your family will be terminated as soon as possible.”

And then 4 more candidates run. Your problem is now over 10,000 times worse. This is simply not scalable even with the latest technology.