The Instigator
jenkinsm
Pro (for)
The Contender
paintballvet18
Con (against)

Should Ranked Choice Voting (preferential voting) replace the current system?

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Debate Round Forfeited
paintballvet18 has forfeited round #3.
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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/11/2017 Category: Politics
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 743 times Debate No: 99831
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (8)
Votes (0)

 

jenkinsm

Pro

RCV (Ranked Choice Voting) is an electoral system in which citizens rank their top three or top five picks for the position in government that is being covered by that election. It consists of different rounds. If a person's first choice is eliminated because it had the least number of first choice votes, that person's second choice receives their vote. It goes on by eliminating the people with the least number of votes until one candidate can reach a majority. This system is believed to eliminate some of the flaws of the electoral college and to elect an official that has a larger amount of unanimous approval. Also, RCV doesn't allow for expensive run off elections. One of the most shocking effects of the use of this system is it's ability to change the tone of news coverage. According to the Center for Voting and Democracy in February of 2015, "about 85% of RCV city newspaper articles were more positive than negative. In contrast, about 77% of articles in control cities were more positive than negative." When the positivity of news coverage dramatically shifts and increases during a time as stressful as elections, the opinion of the public also changes in effect. When people are exposed to kinder and more hopeful information on the people that could be taking office in their area, then their view of our electoral system must change as all. The media sets the tone for the election. If the media spends less time bashing statements candidates make or little things about their past, then the American public will also have an increased level of positivity. Then, when the polls close, and the man or woman that will be taking office is announced, they will be happier with outcome because they won't believe that the election was terrible due to it's better atmosphere. If the media coverage changes it's tone to a more positive one, then there will be a shift in blame if a candidate that a person doesn't like is elected. Instead of claiming newspapers brainwashed people or forced fake facts on their neighbors, the people of this country will know it was a fair and free election.
paintballvet18

Con

I accept, and thank my opponent for bringing up this topic.

First, we must assume two things to be true. Supporters of Ranked Choice Voting believe that using it will change voter behavior and make us get along better politically with one another, and that second, RCV is promoted by beer run offs (http://www.pressherald.com...).

Now let's get to the obvious, there are many problems with a RCV system.

First, it does allow for expensive run offs, and is, in fact, the costliest of all systems. According to the Maine Secretary of State"s Office, the cost to the state of such an election would be about $910,000 in the first year, compared with $248,000 under the current system. "One of the reasons for the higher cost of ranked-choice elections is the need to transport all ballots to a single counting location. They would then be run through a computer. Contrast that with more than 450 voting locations today, where the votes can be checked by direct viewing and the results easily totaled" (Portland Press Herald 2016).

And, the RCV system is undoubtedly undemocratic and far more vulnerable to tampering than the current system. Today"s deep partisan divisions are not likely so easily to give way to political peace. It may prove difficult for ideological candidates to gain backup support. In fact, if candidates line up deeply divided on the issues, it is far from sure that in critical elections, voters will cast even second-choice votes (Portland Press Herald 2016). Furthermore, RCV forces voters to, instead of actually voting, create a campaign strategy that wages too much importance on the whims of their second and third choice votes. To put it more simply, RCV is truly a "shot in the dark", and that's why no US State uses the system.

In fact, "researchers have found that, put into practice, ranked-choice voting could have the unintended consequences of reducing voter turnout and leading to higher numbers of disqualified ballots when voters make mistakes, potentially worsening inequalities within the electoral process" (Bangor Daily News - Maine - 2016). In fact, Jason McDaniel of San Francisco State University found that giving voters the option to rank multiple candidates in order of preference can lead some voters stay home on election day. His research, published last October in the Journal of Urban Affairs, shows that voter turnout in San Francisco " which began using ranked-choice voting to elect mayors in 2004 " declined because of the lack of a simple yes-or-no choice. "The increased costs associated with voting in an RCV election fall most heavily on the youngest and least educated," McDaniel wrote. "At the other end of the spectrum, sophisticated voters " those who have the highest levels of education and are most interested in and involved with the political process " appear to be better able to navigate the higher information costs and are less likely to be negatively affected." My opponent in his 2nd round must therefore prove solvency for these people under his proposed system.

Not to mention the fact that no candidate in an RCV election is guaranteed to win with at least 50% of the vote. Is that really a democratic policy? In a 2015 study, the political scientists from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Ohio State University found that in four local elections in California that employed ranked-choice voting, none produced a winner who captured a majority of all votes cast. They found that high rates of ballot exhaustion " ranging from 9.6 percent in a 2010 election in San Leandro to 27 percent in a 2011 contest in San Francisco " led candidates to win on average with 45 percent of the total vote. Portland, the only city in Maine that uses ranked-choice voting, saw a similar result in its 2011 mayoral election. In that election, 19,728 votes were cast for 15 candidates, plus some write-ins. Over the course of 14 instant runoffs, 3,494 ballots were exhausted and Michael Brennan emerged in the final runoff as the winner with 9,061 votes, or 46 percent of all votes cast.

Now onto my opponent's case.

His definition of RCV requires a majority vote, but I've already proven with actual tangible statistics why that isn't true. Vote Con simply off that. But, if you don't buy that argument, let's continue.

He says RCV will serve, "to elect an official that has a larger amount of unanimous approval." How can an official winning by RCV and only receiving a lower-than-majority vote count have a larger amount of unanimous approval? Of course they can't. Statistics contradict his assertions.

He continues by saying that, "RCV doesn't allow for expensive run off elections." Let me reassert more statistics: "According to the Maine Secretary of State"s Office, the cost to the state of such an election would be about $910,000 in the first year, compared with $248,000 under the current system. "One of the reasons for the higher cost of ranked-choice elections is the need to transport all ballots to a single counting location. They would then be run through a computer. Contrast that with more than 450 voting locations today, where the votes can be checked by direct viewing and the results easily totaled" (Portland Press Herald 2016)." RCV is much more costly than the current system. Point blank.

I'll group his entire last argument under the pretense that RCV allows for people to believe that the election was fair and free. Look to my counter evidence saying that the RCV system is not only undemocratic but essentially bad. We must continue to value the current system that actually serves to cast votes instead of a system that is essentially a "shot in the dark".

Vote Con for democracy.
Debate Round No. 1
jenkinsm

Pro

Of course, anyone's first reaction to my opponent's statements must be "he must really know a lot about this subject." However, upon further examination, his evidence is clearly proven false.

To start, I turn to his claim that RCV costs exponentially greater than the current electoral system, citing the need for a machine to process the votes and gather them in one place. However, according to a study conducted by the Brennan Center for Justice, "In 2016, 43 states will use electronic voting machines that are at least 10 years old, perilously close to the end of most systems' expected lifespan" (Norden, Famighetti, 1). These machines are a part of the current system, the one my opponent will defend at all costs regardless of it's poor effect on the American people. The reason we are able to vote 'cheaply' is because the money has not yet been allocated to the improvement of these machines, which will cost over one billion dollars, exceeding the claims of the negation for RCV. Therefore, now is the most beneficial time to shift to a new system before we do spend our federal funds. It has been proven time and time again, especially through this study, that purchasing new machines is almost impossible for election officials due to the lack of support and public ignorance. My opponent's claims of increased spending may be valid, but at what cost? The cost of the democratic process he is so determined to protect.

Thus bringing me to my second point regarding his first outlandish and misleading claim. According to the same study, "Older machines can also have serious security and reliability flaws that are unacceptable today. For example, Virginia recently decertified a voting system used in 24 percent of precincts after finding that an external party could access the machine"s wireless features to "record voting data or inject malicious data" (Norden, Famighetti, 1). RCV candidates may not receive a complete majority one hundred percent of the time , but at least the people actually voted to elect them. By using a system easily susceptible to hacking, the election of government officials falls on the shoulders of one person, the one sitting behind the computer. It obviously would be idiotic to spend billions financing machines that will need to be replaced in less than twenty years again instead of switching to something capable of at least saving around $50,000.

My opponent also made the misleading statement that RCV is "more vulnerable to tampering." The data obviously shows otherwise.

Onto my next point, the opposition described IRV as "undoubtedly undemocratic" and claimed many candidates did not receive fifty percent of the vote. Let me ask him, how much of the vote did Donald Trump receive? Exactly. In that singular instance, a similar process occurred.

My opponent cited confusion as a cause for decreased voter turnout but only as a theory with no statistics to reinforce his claim. However, FairVote explained that San Francisco, a city that adopted RCV in 2003, "routinely outperforms other cities in turnout, with most voters saying they understand and like the use of RCV. Over 99.5% of voters cast valid, ranked ballots" (Penrose, 1). First, voter turnout has not and won't decrease following the adoption of this new system. Second, this diverse city's population was able to understand the process that my opponent continuously argues is just too complicated. If a system can be used to pick which oscar nominee wins best picture, then the american people definitely won't and don't have a problem comprehending it.

Lastly, with the election of a man that has already reached majority disapproval ratings for the leader of this country's executive branch following his loss of the popular vote, the american public is without a doubt questioning the very system the negation is defending. The faith of the population in our democracy, which has failed many to date, is imperative to the ability of our government to do it's job. Another study conducted by fair vote found information vital to this aspect: "Likely voters in non-RCV cities were more likely to report that candidates and campaigns reached out to them by phone. By contrast, likely voters in RCV cities were more likely report that candidates and campaigns reached out to them in person or by e-mail. The impact of a candidate reaching out in person appears large" (Smith, 1).

When a candidate reaches out to their future constituents in person, our voters feel more involved in the process. This one on one attention will allow voters to be fully immersed in the election and truly care about voting and the results. It's important that the population of our country has full faith in the potential of our government as they will be less opposed to changes in power.

In conclusion, I urge you all to vote in affirmation due to the negligence of the opposition to address the benefits the shift in system will have for the voting process and the immersion of the people involved. The information the negation provided is clearly false and circumstantial regarding the juxtaposition of the cost of the elections and the turnout or errors that happen during the process.
paintballvet18

Con

Looking first at my opponent's case.

First, I agree with his evidence by Brennan. The current system needs remodeling, but it doesn't need a drastic shift to a new type of voting method. The system is indeed horrendously outdated, but the resolution at hand isn't about the remodeling of the voting machines, but rather the shift to a new type of voting method. We can therefore ignore my opponent's first argument as it doesn't actually address the resolution.

Next, my opponent makes another argument about hacking, and that my claim that "RCV is more vulnerable to tampering." I have two things to say to address this. First, his entire argument is based on improving the current voting machines, something that I have already agreed with above and something that we can also completely disregard because my opponent fails to show why RCV is better than the current system. But if you don't buy that, the problems with RCV still lie in the complexity of the fact. A ticket where electors vote for only one candidate is pretty straightforward. Voting for the same position three times and having to transfer votes complicates the process. As Spur noted that in San Francisco, 1.2 percent of ballots in 2011 had errors and could not be counted, a number horrendously larger than the normal amount of mistakes in a single vote election.

I'll extend my argument on the lack of democracy, because turn: In a 2014 paper in the journal Electoral Studies, political scientists Craig Burnett and Vladimir Kogan analyzed some 600,000 votes cast using RCV in four local elections in California and Washington. In none of the four did the winner receive a majority of votes cast. 4 times in the US election has a president lost the popular vote but won the electoral. 4 times out of 48. A failure rate of 8.33%. As proved in Round 1 and above in Round 2, the failure rate for RCV is much higher than that of the current system.

The Spur evidence above refutes the Penrose 1 argument that 99.5% of voters cast valid ballots.

My opponent's use of the analogy to compare the RCV voting system to the Oscars may be true if he can prove that a majority populace in the U.S. (1) knows what the Oscars are and (2) that they know how the votes for the Oscars are chosen. He doesn't provide evidence for this, so we can disregard his argument.

Further evidence lies here: The problem is exhaustion. Not the kind you"re experiencing now, as you cry yourself to sleep at the prospect of another day absorbing the pay-per-view punishment of "Clinton v. Trump: The Rumble in the Rustbelt." No, this is ballot exhaustion, which happens when voters rank too few candidates to stay meaningful until the final runoff. Say there are five candidates running, but the voter ranks only three, and all three are eliminated prior to the last round. As a result, none of their votes will have gone to the winning candidate or the runner-up. In effect, their ballot doesn"t figure in the outcome.
This may sound like a marginal problem, but its effects can be substantial. Of the four elections Burnett and Kogan studied, none produced an exhaustion rate lower than 9.6 percent. In one case, the 2011 San Francisco mayoral race, just over 27 percent of valid first-round ballots were exhausted before the last tally. "Voters who cast these discarded ballots had no say in the final round of vote redistribution, which decided the election outcome," Burnett and Kogan write. This is akin to saying that, thanks to RCV, 27 percent of voters who cast primary ballots sat out the general.
When RCV does produce majorities, they may be unconvincing. In 2010 the Australian Labor Party won the House of Representatives with just 38 percent of first-place votes on the initial ballot, while the second-place Liberal-National coalition captured 43 percent. That hardly sounds like a firm mandate (Democracy Journal).

Regardless, my opponent fails to show assurance that this system would work on a state or even national level. There has to be a reason that the system has never been used at either state or national level elections and that's simply because the system isn't infallible nor superior to the current system.

Furthermore, my opponent makes an argument with the Smith 1 evidence that RCV will cause candidates to become more involved with their constituents. Fact of the matter is, our current president was elected by relating to his constituents. He was elected by the white, uneducated, working men that he was more able to relate to then Secretary of State Clinton. So his argument clearly doesn't actually make sense, because the current system already allows what my opponent preaches in the RCV system. Drop the argument.

Point blank, there are no benefits that outweigh the status quo if the US were to change to RCV. You have no reason to vote Pro.

More downfalls lie in a few places:
1. Extremist candidates may create coalitions with mainstream parties that they most align with (see Tea Party and Republicans) to snipe off their opponents, leaving us essentially where we are today. RCV again fails to address this, so there still is no net benefit to switching.
2. Ad buys will not fall under an RCV system. When Oakland first tried RCV for its mayoral race in 2010, candidates spent $1 million; the 2014 race cost them nearly $1.8 million. This may reflect the sense that RCV makes viable a wider range of candidates, so more people run. One way or another, it doesn"t sound like a recipe for a smaller TV war or reduced bickering. Again, no net-benefit to switching.
3. There is also little reason to believe that RCV will promote legislative moderation"or new campaign tactics"at the federal level, because it usually produces outcomes similar to what one would expect from a standard plurality system. In the 2013 Australian federal election, 90 percent of constituencies elected the candidate with the most first-preference votes, which suggests that choice ranking had little effect on the outcome.
4. My opponent literally cannot prove that RCV will help elect third or fourth party candidates more than the current system because (1) he can't and (2) RCV won't. There is no evidence that proves this, not in US local elections or in the system's most major international constituent, Australia.

Basically, at this point, you can extend all the Con's arguments made in Round 1 because no counter evidence has been provided.

First, it does allow for expensive run offs, and is, in fact, the costliest of all systems. According to the Maine Secretary of State"s Office, the cost to the state of such an election would be about $910,000 in the first year, compared with $248,000 under the current system.

And, the RCV system is undoubtedly undemocratic and far more vulnerable to tampering than the current system. Today"s deep partisan divisions are not likely so easily to give way to political peace. It may prove difficult for ideological candidates to gain backup support. In fact, if candidates line up deeply divided on the issues, it is far from sure that in critical elections, voters will cast even second-choice votes (Portland Press Herald 2016). Furthermore, RCV forces voters to, instead of actually voting, create a campaign strategy that wages too much importance on the whims of their second and third choice votes. To put it more simply, RCV is truly a "shot in the dark", and that's why no US State uses the system.

RCV is truly a shot in the dark, and you must vote Con in today's debate.
Debate Round No. 2
jenkinsm

Pro

My opponent once again demonstrates a lack of understanding of the true use of this system in comparison to plurality voting.

To start, he claims my arguments on the condition of our voting machines made in the last round are not related to the subject at hand, citing his agreement with my statements. However, he has consistently argued that RCV is much more expensive than the current system, which was the center of the refutation made in that argument. Yes, currently, plurality voting is much less expensive than RCV, but the machines will need to be replaced which will cost, as I cited in my previous argument, at least $1 billion, which is much more than the cost of RCV.

However, to further this claim, I turn to evidence collected by FairVote on San Francisco's 2004 mayoral race, which saved the city $1.2 million dollars due to the use of RCV and the lack of a run-off election. This is one example of the numerous times ranked choice voting has allowed a city to bypass expensive, under-attended run-off elections. My opponent does not account for the money saved by using this system.

Secondly, I simply pointed out in my first argument during round two the misleading nature of his claims that IRV is a more vulnerable than plurality voting, considering the majority of the country is still using machines that are susceptible to hacking. In a sense, I was revealing the hypocrisy of his argument and the convenience of installing this system now.

Next, I will once again address his claims surrounding the 'horrendous' number of exhausted votes. To start, the only way someone who voted for less people than they were able to would have their vote exhausted is if one candidate did not win a majority in the first round. In the plurality system, this would be the equivalent of a run off election. According to a study done by fair vote, the average number of votes in the final round of RCV elections in the Bay Area from 1995 to 2015 was 88% compared to the 63% of people that showed up at run off elections. Furthermore, the same study drew the conclusion that during many run off elections (3 out of 10), the winning candidate received less votes during the first election than his opponent. If any system is undemocratic, it is plurality voting.

Another statement made by the negation that reflected his lack of understanding of the topic was the insistence that candidates do not receive majorities. The mechanism in which IRV works is that if there isn't a majority in the first round, the candidate with the lowest amount of votes is dropped and the second choice votes of the people who voted for him are dealt out. That continues until a majority is reached. Even if a candidate did not receive the majority of first round votes, they did receive a majority all together.

Regarding his third point during the end in which he states, "90 percent of constituencies elected the candidate with the most first-preference votes, which suggests that choice ranking had little effect on the outcome." If this will have little affect on the outcome, then why is it so undemocratic? He continuously argues the winner will not receive a majority but then turns around and states that nothing will change. Pick a side and stick with it.

In refutation of the claim that ranked choice voting does not give third parties a chance, an article written by Bloomberg in 2016 highlighted this nicely. In summary, it stated ranked choice voting eliminates the status of all third party candidates as potential spoilers due to the ability of the constituency to vote for them and a larger candidate at the same time. Many citizens must refrain from voting in support of a candidate in a third party because of the possibility their vote will be a) thrown away or b) used to benefit the candidate they hate. Therefore, RCV does give third party candidates a chance because it allows for guilt free voting in which citizens will not feel that they are doing either of the things mentioned previously when supporting the candidate they agree with. The plurality system doesn't only take away from candidates in those third parties, but also from citizens themselves.

Lastly, the most intriguing result following the implementation of RCV systems was the affect it had on the media. According to the Center for Voting and Democracy, "mayoral candidates in Minneapolis addressed other candidates on Twitter more often and more civilly than did mayoral candidates in non-RCV cities. When candidates in non-RCV cities did reference each other, it was usually to attack or discredit."

Directly following an election where tweets and emails mattered more than any piece of policy either candidate produced, the appeal to this change in the voting system should be obvious. The candidates are less likely to discredit their opposition due to the possibility of their voters supporting their opponents. Therefore, instead of watching candidates get torn down by insults and nicknames, the people of this country will be able to consider policy because that will be the true subject of the conversation online and off.

In conclusion, the negation has continuously disregarded the benefits of this system and cast them away with singular instances based on circumstantial evidence. He has undermined the intelligence of our fellow citizens, claiming they won't be smart enough to understand a system that is simply asking them which candidates they want to win more than others. He is insistent that passing this will both not change a thing and change everything in the entirely wrong way, exposing the hypocrisy of his side.

I must remind everyone wishing to see a change in the civility of our elections through the mediums of campaigning, social media, and news coverage that RCV is the way to make that shift. Voting in the affirmation will eliminate expensive run offs and allow the citizens of this nation to vote on the candidate they choose without the guilt of throwing their vote away or helping someone they despise.

RCV isn't a shot in the dark, as my opponent may claim, considering countries like Australia have already employed it and expressed it's success to the world. For years, cities like San Francisco have produced data that does not condemn the system, as the negation would like you to think, but commend it.

If you want to be ridden of the headache of mudslinging through social media and the news, RCV is the cure.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 3
8 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 8 records.
Posted by paintballvet18 1 year ago
paintballvet18
Posted.
Posted by paintballvet18 1 year ago
paintballvet18
Round 2 to be posted tomorrow. Sorry for the wait...
Posted by paintballvet18 1 year ago
paintballvet18
Finally! A good debater. Thank you. This'll be fun.
Posted by paintballvet18 1 year ago
paintballvet18
I accept the debate.
Posted by 3RU7AL 1 year ago
3RU7AL
RCV will let us get rid of primaries and getting rid of primaries will save tax payers a ton of money and RCV will allow everyone to vote for the person they actually want to win without "throwing their vote away".

I can think of good reasons why this won't happen anytime soon, including the fact that the two parties currently in power see any realistic third party as a threat to their entrenched power structure.

Right, and as a side note I believe elected judges should be forced to reject all party line affiliations.

Should RCV replace our current ballots? Yes. Will it be difficult to convince the people who approve new ballots? Yes.

Maybe you'd have some takers if you changed to title to something like "RCV will replace traditional ballots in the next ten years". I think most of us agree that it should but there is quite a bit of doubt that it will in the near future.
Posted by Taust 1 year ago
Taust
It looks like no one's accepting the challenge because there aren't any good arguments that the con could possibly make.
Posted by Capitalistslave 1 year ago
Capitalistslave
I agree with pro on this one actually. I would say for the president, we should have instant-runoff voting(a type of ranked preference voting) and for congress we should have single-transferrable voting(another type of ranked preference voting). If you don't know what they are, I would suggest looking them up.
Posted by Taust 1 year ago
Taust
When you actually look at the math, our current electoral system, even if the Electoral College was gone, is absolutely horrendous if there are more than two candidates. This is the reason third parties and independents will never get enough support to win and why there is so much polarization, with almost everyone agreeing exclusively with one of the two parties. RCV would fix this problem.
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