Some problems with the criticism of Dartmouth (mainly from FairVote)

  • The repeal of Approval Voting in Dartmouth, though done by an 80/20 margin, was voted on by only 19% of all Dartmouth voters:

There were 12,808 ballots cast in the election. Approximately 19.5 percent of the Dartmouth alumni body participated.

Furthermore, passage of the amendment will keep power over trustee elections in the hands of the Association. The Board of Trustees has made veiled threats to take control of the trustee election process if the amendment fails. Such a result would only further reduce the power of the College’s alumni to directly influence the Board’s decision-making.

I surmise this is largely because of the following point:

  • Approval was electing candidates favored by a minority of voters (who were interested in changing things in the school), whereas the majority (who largely didn’t feel like changing anything) was splitting its vote between 3 candidates each election. But had the minority really cared about defeating the minority, their obvious (and viable) strategy would’ve been to vote for all 3 of their candidates; the fact that they didn’t (over several elections) indicates either a weak preference for their own candidates or that they didn’t like any of the candidates on offer. In fact, FairVote claims that most of the people who had voted for multiple candidates were voters who had picked one of the majority-preferred candidates and the minority candidate!

Note that the counter-critique issued by rangevoting.org (https://www.rangevoting.org/DartmouthBack.html) appears to use data from an entirely different set of elections than the ones FairVote was analyzing.

Overall, considering that they moved away from Approval to runoffs, maybe STAR would’ve worked well for keeping the process to a single election while getting a majority decision.

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