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Bruce Ramsey not keen on RCV

Post by Kim Bradford on Oct. 13, 2009 at 4:57 pm with 5 Comments »
December 22, 2009 2:11 pm

Bruce Ramsey’s Seattle Times column for tomorrow tackles ranked choice voting.

Ramsey begins by saying that RCV might have been a better system for this year’s Seattle mayor’s race in which one of the top contenders, incumbent Greg Nickels, didn’t even make it past the primary. But then Ramsey takes a look at the RCV experience in Pierce County and concludes:

Fairness and democracy are important values, but they aren’t everything. An election system needs to be simple, so that citizens will participate in it, trust it and accept the authority of the candidates chosen under it. And ranked-choice voting is not simple. To the average voter, it’s a black box.

I think that kills it.

Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. jimkingjr says:

    And the Seattle Times celebrated Russell’s move to Seattle, too.

  2. RobRichie says:

    Bruce Ramsey says some good things about the RCV system too, but you’re right about his conclusion. Still, the evidence suggests otherwise. Every single place using ranked choice voting /instant runoff voting that has done a scientific survey has found overwhelming support for the system by its new users. See this summary:

    Some folks are trying to suggest there’s a backlash against IRV in places using it. It’s true that losers can get frustrated and incumbents nervous, but that’s not the case among typical voters. Take Cary, a city of more than 100,000 outside Raleigh, NC. It used IRV in 2007, and a scientific poll of residents by the city in 2008 found that an absolutely majority gave it a rating of 9 on a scale of 1 to 9, and ten times more rated it highly than lowly. The fact that the council decided not to participate in the state pilot program again n 2009 says more about incumbents’ attitude toward their ability to control IRV elections than voters’ opinions.

    Thinking about IRV in Pierce, what about this November’s election for auditor? Would county voters really have needed an August preliminary vote to narrow the field from three to two? I suspect your typical voter would say “no, it’s pretty easy to indicate a second choice.” (And yes, this is Rob Richie, with the group FairVote that is a national advocate of instant runoff voting. We have a point of view, to be sure, but a lot of good info – see the latest on IRV at

  3. S_Emerson says:

    RCV is not difficult to understand. Jeez, I’m so tired of hearing that it is.

    The RCV polling done by Auditor McCarthy was not only written to force a negative statisical outcome, but also, in many people’s opinion, was a tool to help her garner more 1, 2 and 3 votes simply by providing yet one more opportunity for her to print her name on a ballot-related item- much like Shabro’s current 16pt font ALL CAP name on the top line of the return envelope (bad, bad Shabro).

    Hopefully the voters are wise, and see that our entrenched politicians are doing their best to become even more powerful by trying to repeal RCV, and by trying to switch to odd-year elections, and by trying to add 4 more years to their terms (nearly a half million dollars per elect). That’s the whole of the PCBGL, which is made up of elects, politicians, and those who are employed by them. They are NOT doing this in the best interest of The People. They’re doing it for their own self interests!

    Enough already. Reject Charter Amendments 1, 2 & 3.

  4. ldozy1234 says:

    IMHO- I believe RCV hasn’t really had a chance here.
    It’s been administered by now 2 auditors who don’t want it and at least on its first run, given very confusing instructions. The ballot read one way and the ( then) Auditors instructions read another.
    I think it opens up elections and keeps the inbred poll of revolving politico’s off balance. Definitely the only way our new 5 member Exec team came into existence. So it can be both bad and good.
    It’s sad that this Auditors race doesn’t really have much choices for the public and the ballots are written in what I believe to be slanted language.
    But I feel it does deserve a run under a new Auditor with less vested interest in maintaining party power.

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