Abolish the Electoral College

From: David Mertz <voting-project_at_gnosis_dot_cx>
Date: Mon Aug 30 2004 - 21:08:49 CDT

> In order to quell this fear, France instituted run off Presidential
> elections.

The "paradox" in the last French election was every bit as bothersome
as anything anyone imagines happening in the USAian electoral college
system. The runoff system is still a sort of "first two past the
post."

Specifically, in the last election, about 80% of voters would rank the
racist Le Pen dead last in their candidate choices. But 15% of French
voters were/are the sort that support Le Pen. At the same time,
numerous Left-ish parties ran their own candidates, most of them
assuming the runoff would be between the Conservative Chirac and the
Socialist Jospin.

It turned out that with the center-Right unified around Chirac, and the
Left split a dozen ways (about five "significant" parties), the runoff
was between Chirac and Le Pen. Well, basically, Le Pen got the same
number of votes in the runoff that he did in the first round, and
Chirac was elected by a huge margin. So it's not the case France
"accidentally" got a Fascist, in the end.

But it *IS* the case that well over 50% of French voters would have
chosen Jospin over Chirac, given a two-option choice between the two.
Most likely something like 60% of the electorate. Everyone who voted
Green or Communist was basically a lot closer to Socialist than to
Conservative. Chirac isn't a terrible choice or anything... but it's
easy to have a VERY strong intuition that the French election system
was strongly suboptimal in this last election.

FWIW, IRV or Condercet systems almost certainly would have produced the
"correct" result in the last French Presidential election. But, of
course, by Arrow's Theorem, those (and every system) have their own
paradoxes given a different set of voter preferences.
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Received on Tue Aug 31 23:17:21 2004

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