The votes of America on I.R.V.

Shows how much attention I've been paying. San Francisco voters on Tuesday approved Measure A, which establishes Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) for local primary elections.

This is the voting system used by the Hugos. It's a complex system, and voters may not understand all the ramifications; on the other hand, it's a really good system if you do understand it. It does a great job of giving the prize to the candidate who is preferred by the greatest number of voters; and as the name suggests, the results should be pretty close to the results that you'd get if you held a runoff election immediately after the main election. Someone who's popular enough to get a majority in the first place will still win; if nobody's that popular, then voters' second choices come into play.

This seems like a great idea all around to me. I have political motives, of course; IRV is the system of choice for third-party voters. It allows you to vote for who you really want to win in first place, and then put your pragmatic vote in second place. That way you can make a political statement without worrying about letting the worse of two evils win. If we'd had IRV in the last Presidential election, I don't know if the results would've been different, but at least people wouldn't have blamed Nader for how it came out.

But the coolest part is that SF isn't alone. The article says that Vermont and Alaska have been considering implementing IRV, as have Bay Area cities and counties. And that Cambridge, MA, has had a version of it in place for decades. Way cool.

Unfortunately, the article linked to above notes that the technology isn't really in place yet to implement this system in SF. Maybe they should talk to the Hugo administrators.

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