Index of blog

Newest posts first.

Grading Method – Assign grades of A, B, and F, in a superior combination of Favorite, Approval Voting, and Ranking. https://americarepair.home.blog/2021/05/19/grading-method/

The Default Is The Worst – Arguing against the terribleness of vote-for-1 elections. https://americarepair.home.blog/2021/04/10/the-default-is-the-worst/

A practical final to make IRV results more reliable. https://americarepair.home.blog/2021/01/22/practical-irv-with-double-win-final/

Posts from 2020 and 2019, most recent first.

The first five links are about ranking methods, mostly about my practical Condorcet method. Ranked choice has a lot of momentum, so if it’s going to happen, let it be an evaluation method that works right.

One Weird Trick to improve IRV. https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/12/13/one-weird-trick-to-improve-ranked-choice/

Basic summary of proposed Condorcet method. https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/12/13/brief-summary-of-practical-condorcet-election/

Condorcet Is A Better Ranked Choice https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/09/02/condorcet-is-a-better-ranked-choice/

Charts For Evaluating The Election, And Sample Elections With Condorcet vs IRV https://americarepair.home.blog/condorcet-method-tips-for-evaluating-the-election/

Practical Condorcet Ranked Choice Method, Full Proposal https://americarepair.home.blog/practical-condorcet-method/

One-Ballot Rating System, based on STAR Voting https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/06/29/one-ballot-system/

Variations Of Approval And Head-To-Head, expanding on Nebraska’s nonpartisan concept https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/05/27/variations-of-approval-and-head-to-head/

Head-To-Head Matches Make A Better Instant Runoff, without ranked voting https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/01/17/head-to-head-matches-make-a-better-instant-runoff/

2019 Posts

Brief Summary 2022 Tax Plan https://americarepair.home.blog/2019/09/09/summary-of-2022-tax-plan/

Proposed Statutes For Improving Elections, vote-for-2, blanket primary, very simple changes that would do a world of good https://americarepair.home.blog/2019/08/26/proposed-statutes-for-improving-elections/

2022 Tax Proposal, long version, with discussion https://americarepair.home.blog/2019/08/01/2022-tax-proposal/

A Better Voting System, blanket primary, vote-for-2 https://americarepair.home.blog/2019/05/25/a-better-voting-system/

The Beginning




Updated 6/19/2022

Adding options to improve Approval Voting:
Majority Reject (always first)
Instant Primary
2nd-Favorite / Choose-two
Majority Winner
Approval (always on last ballot)

Favorite-Approval Grading is several expressive Approval Voting methods that add concepts from Choose-one and Ranked Choice, designed to avoid the worst flaws of each. For example, a statewide hand recount of a close Ranking election would require labor-intensive, repeated checking of ballots, while coordinating across multiple counties. But to recount an Approval-based Grading method would require reading each ballot only once, tallying with simple addition, and each county reporting its summed totals one time. This makes Grading an appealing idea for multi-county or statewide districts.

This article recommends a few different ways of using Grading, starting with single-ballot, and moving on to a few two-ballot variations. For a quick summary, there is a black-and-white chart (2 copies) near the end that outlines the three practical variations, and points out some of the basic election principles involved.

Single-ballot Election, Instant Primary

(Good for local, regional, or lesser statewide offices such as state assembly, or state treasurer)
A = Favorite (limit 1)
C = Basic Approval (unlimited)
F = Disqualify (limit 1)

  1. Majority Reject: An option to eliminate a candidate that has F grades from over half of the voters. This discourages objectionable candidates, and can serve as an intelligent term limit.
  2. Reduce the field according to A grades. Eliminate a maximum of half of the remaining on-ballot candidates, as well as the write-in candidates who have as few A grades, but keep a minimum of three candidates. So each finalist should be the Favorite of a significant number of voters.
  3. The finalist with the most A+C grades is the winner. This produces an Approval winner, one who has broad support.

This single-ballot election will not necessarily reward a majority winner, because it may be best to avoid the majority criterion on the first ballot. A party, believing its leading candidate has a chance of winning a majority, might discourage challengers from running, when voters should be given the choice.

When there are many candidates, a slightly more complex version could be used to fairly narrow the field. Add a grade of B, representing a voter’s one second-choice. So A grades (Choose-1) could eliminate 1/3, A+B (Choose-2) could eliminate another 1/3, and A+B+C (Approval) determines the winner from the final third. Or, use a limit of 8 finalists, so A grades eliminate all but 16, A+B eliminate 8, and always using Total Approval in the final.

(I’ve mentioned 4 grades, A, B, C, and F. There is actually one more rating that needn’t be considered in the evaluation, but voters will use it: the rating of “unmarked,” or a virtual D grade. So we’ll have 5 rating options, though the unmarked one can be safely ignored.)

Below is a one-ballot A-C-F election example, that shows in the picture an unlikely, worst-case scenario. This may be an ugly win, but it still works as intended, to produce a consensus winner who is not majority-rejected, and not last-place in 1st-choice votes:

W, despite all the love, is disqualified by a majority, 18 of 35 voters.
V is eliminated by a lack of A grades, to avoid an accidental winner.
Z clears all hurdles, and wins the Approval final.

Senator, Governor, Top-4
Two-ballot Election

Blanket primary, for Congress, Governor, and President
  • The Top-4 Blanket Primary is Choose-two, with grade A for Favorite, B for 2nd-Favorite, and F to Reject (limit 1 each).
    A majority of F grades may eliminate one.
    Four candidates having the most A+B grades advance.
  • General election uses these grades:
    A = Favorite (limit 1)
    C = Basic Approval (unlimited)
  1. A Majority Favorite may win outright. If none have over 50% of A grades, go to step 2.
  2. Reduce the field to three, by eliminating candidate(s) according to A grades. This excludes the one with the fewest Favorite votes.
  3. Total Approval (A+C grades) determines the winner of the three finalists.
    A grades can also be used to break a tie.
General election, 4 candidates for Senate or Governor.
Representative will be three candidates.

Representative, Top-3 (Not pictured)

  • Blanket Primary is similar to the senate primary, also check for majority reject, but advance the three candidates having the most A grades. It’s A grades only, to prevent one majority party from picking all three. B is on-ballot just for breaking ties, and for gathering data for election science and for campaigns.
  • General election also checks for a majority favorite, but if there is none, it’s straight Approval of the top three, using A+C grades. The primary using Choose-one, and the general using Approval, provides balance.

President – Or High Office

This one is unlikely due to an entrenched national system, and would possibly require a constitutional amendment. And national parties currently control their own nomination process, though each state could pass laws to run their own nonpartisan nominations.

  • Blanket Primary, same as senator and governor, A-B-F.
    The top four in each state will advance to that state’s general election.
A very accurate general ballot for high office.
But having to make 9 marks could turn off voters.
3 finalists would require just 3 matchups, and 5 marks at most.

The Presidential general election will use these grades to evaluate the four qualifiers:
A = Favorite (limit 1)
C = Basic Approval (unlimited)

  1. A majority winner can win outright.
  2. The candidate with the fewest A grades is eliminated.
  3. Reduce the field to two, using A+C grades.
  4. Head-to-head Runoff
    For special accuracy, the two finalists will be compared separately.
    A second section of the ballot will list all six possible combinations of two.
    Voters may choose one in each possible matchup.
    The one Head-to-head matchup that includes both finalists will, with precision and clarity, determine the winner of the state, district, “elector,” or whatever state law says.

It has come to my attention that a simpler ballot could work practically the same as this “Presidential” two-section ballot. It would use ranking, with multiple candidates allowed on every rank below 1st, and voters would be advised that every rank also counts as a vote of Approval. Majority check (maybe Condorcet check too), then Favorite and Approval reduce the field to two, and ranks would show which of the two is preferred on more ballots. One disadvantage would be counties having to do extra coordination on the final ranked ballot check.

(Winner-take-all is the worst thing about the electoral college system, it’s worse than the small state advantage, it’s just very inaccurate. So please, let’s use something proportional. Your state could throw the runner-up voters a bone, such as the average of {% of the vote won} and {% of all registered voters won}. Or multiply the winner’s percentage by 1.3, and divide the remaining electors proportionally among the losers. We need to do something different.)

So that’s my good Grading proposal. Approval plus options. It will produce a winner as good as any other method about 100% of the time.
I said “about.”
But really, for simplicity of voting, simplicity of evaluation, expressiveness, and fairness, it will work wonderfully, especially as a first step away from awful, horrible, Choose-one, one-winner elections.

Grading Method Chart, showing Top-4, Top-3, and Single-ballot.

What could have happened in a real election where ranked choice failed:

In the real election, Kiss won the Instant Runoff,
while Montroll would have beaten anyone
head-to-head, but came in 3rd.
Montroll would win this A-C Grading method.

A link to facebook, for more details concerning the Burlington election: https://facebook.com/story.php?story_fbid=253152493076710&substory_index=0&id=161930788865548&ref=bookmarks

Same as the previous chart,
with black and white reversed.
Looks cool. Don’t print this one.

The Default Is The Worst

Let me tell you about the default option, vote-for-1.

We are allowed to approve of one, and all other candidates are rated as equally undesirable.
Maybe we like two? Too bad!
Your vote is interpreted as love for one, and indifference for all the others.
Vote-for-1 is a bad gauge of what voters actually want.
In fact, it has conditioned us to believe that there can be only one.
The two-party system loves that.

So based on a farcical survey, the candidate who is allegedly most loved wins the election.
What if most voters hate him?
Too bad!
Vote-for-1 does not measure consensus.

Three candidates:
– Rapist
– Lawyer
– Entrepreneur
65% of voters despise Rapist, and would prefer anyone else. Vote-for-1 doesn’t care.
– Rapist 35% (Tax cuts.)
– Lawyer 34%
– Entrepreneur 31%
* Rapist wins. Yay. *
THE MOST OFFENSIVE CANDIDATE WINS, because vote-for-1 hires the one having the largest number of favorite votes.

For the sake of conforming to this defective election method, people feel pressure to not run.
In the example above, Professor Taxcutter decided to not run, out of concern that splitting voters with Rapist would have elected Lawyer. But anti-tax voters who desired an alternative to Rapist – including the ones that chose to not vote – might have elected the Professor.
If Entrepreneur had dropped out, it would probably be Lawyer by a landslide, and vice-versa.

Vote-splitting is not an issue when there are only two candidates.
Because of that, and because the two major parties don’t like competition, we have laws that guide elections in that direction, such as:
– Partisan primaries / private organizations exploiting government resources
– Sore-loser laws / political parties’ rights over the rights of individuals
– High fees and high numbers of petition signatures / restricting ballot access
– Top-2 elections. They’re not the worst, but limiting people to one vote entrenches the two-party system. A single-ballot Approval vote when there are few candidates, or a Top-3 with Vote-for-2, would be much better.

Summary of why vote-for-1 is awful:
1. Inaccurately measures approval.
2. Ignores disapproval.
3. Discourages candidates from running.
4. Promotes a divisive two-party duopoly.
5. Most pathetically stupid, the least popular candidate will occasionally win.
In a close 3-way race, DRAWING STRAWS will produce better winners than letting vote-splitting spoil the process.

So that’s the default. That’s the mess you’re choosing when you don’t ask for Ranked Choice.
ANY other election method would be better than vote-for-1, which, due to the reasons above, can do justice maybe only 50% of the time.

Instant-Runoff Ranked Choice is likely to work right 95% of the time.
Ranking collects more information from voters.
Vote-splitting is much less of a concern.
The most popular one might not win if vote-splitting eliminates them early (that’s part of the 5%).
But I’d rather have a rare glitch than a constant stupidity.

We can tune it up later. We can use a combo of Favorite and Approval, or a Condorcet final. I have plans.

But for now, NOW, tell the legislature and governor that it’s time to make a change. In Nebraska, in 2021, the bill is LB125, for Ranked Choice in elections for legislature, governor, and congress.

Most importantly, it’s time to stop using vote-for-1.

Practical IRV with Double-Win Final

This article was written with a specific legislative bill in mind, so you might find some of these items irrelevant. But please check out the double-win concept.

IRV = instant runoff voting,
popularly referred to as “ranked choice,”
voters rank candidates,
the whole field of candidates is compared at once,
each claims a vote by being ranked highest on a ballot,
the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated,
the process repeats until one candidate remains.

For anyone considering an IRV proposal,
knowing that IRV is hot right now,
and that it has a major flaw,
and that complex proposals are more likely to fail,
I offer these simple suggestions,
with plenty of explanation.

I’ll put 4 asterisks on each of my 5 core suggestions so you could skip ahead to them if you like. The first explanation is long, so skip to the bottom for more.


Vote-for-one is a poor election method, because it’s prone to vote-splitting, and it discourages candidates from running. So vote-for-one produces the right winner, who knows, maybe only half the time.

IRV is much better, but it has an occasional, annoying way of kicking out the strongest candidate in 3rd place.
(But not 2nd place, because they win whenever they can get into the top 2!)
A well-known case was a Burlington, VT mayoral election, that made people mad enough to repeal ranked choice.

A ballpark guess as to how often IRV works right would be around 95%. I don’t have data to back that up, but occasional misfires are certain with IRV because it violates the Condorcet criterion, which is one of the good ones. (Some “criteria” contradict others because they are just someone’s opinion.)

We could greatly improve the accuracy of IRV with a modification that uses a better way to compare the top 3.


Condorcet’s evaluation method for ranking elections is to examine every possible combination of two candidates. Examining two, head-to-head, is the perfect use of ranking ballots. The one ranked higher on more ballots is preferred over the other, it’s indisputable.

This pairwise comparison of candidates is the best insurance against the spoiler effect. But a 3rd candidate in an IRV comparison can split enough support (spoiler effect) to undo the most popular candidate before the top 2.

One candidate who has a “win” (winning a two-candidate matchup) over every one of the other candidates should always win the election.
(This undefeated candidate is called a Condorcet candidate.)

The average person dislikes the word “Condorcet.” No one knows how to say it because it’s French (my best guess is Cone-DOOR-say), and they don’t want to learn another vocabulary word.

One could call it “round robin,” after a tournament where each competitor goes head-to-head with each of the others. But since the word “round” is already used in reference to IRV rounds, maybe call it a double check, a pairwise check, condorcet check, or double-win final. (Double-elimination would be nice, but it’s not accurate.)


The evaluation of these pairings gets complicated with many candidates, but it’s simple when there are only three.

There are three possible combinations of three candidates called A, B, and C:
A vs B,
A vs C,
B vs C

And the two possible relevant outcomes are:
1. One candidate wins over both of the others.
2. Some kind of tie.

* * * * When three candidates remain, one candidate who wins over both of the others in a double-win final is the strongest candidate, and should be declared the winner.
If one candidate does not defeat both of the others, the double-win final is inconclusive, so resume the IRV evaluation to determine the winner.

IRV with Double-win Final won’t fully comply with Condorcet criterion, but at least the top 3 will, which I regard as necessary for both accuracy and lasting voter satisfaction. If one state uses this plan, another might then be inspired to use a top 4 or top 5 final. Onward and upward.

This part is really about semantics. But it might clarify some things if it’s still hazy to you.

I see two ways to describe the same double-win final procedure. I think the 1st way sounds better to people, and the 2nd way is more like what the computer would do:

1. Pause the IRV process when 3 candidates remain.
Use a double-win final, in which the three possible combinations of two candidates are compared.
The one that wins head-to-head against both of the others is the election winner.
If there is no such candidate, resume IRV to determine a winner.

Or, 2. Use IRV to determine the 1st seed.
The candidate eliminated from the top 3 becomes the 2nd seed. (The one eliminated from the top 2 has already lost a matchup, and can’t win.)
Use a 2-way runoff between the 1st seed and the 2nd seed.
If the 1st seed wins (double-win), the IRV result is confirmed, and the 1st seed is the election winner.
If the 2nd seed wins the runoff, a double-win is required.
Use a 2-way runoff between the 2nd seed and the other candidate from the top 3.
If the 2nd seed gets the double-win, the 2nd seed is the election winner.
If the 2nd seed does not win both of its runoffs, the 1st seed is the election winner.
(Because IRV is the tiebreaker for the double-win runoff)


Because this would use IRV both to narrow the field and as a tiebreaker, these 3 most common criticisms of Condorcet method will NOT be a problem:
1. Frequently inconclusive (ties)
2. Burying (Pure Condorcet could produce an unpopular winner when enough voters strategically, or insincerely, rank the same unpopular candidate. IRV provides no incentive for this, so it could backfire. And with only 3 candidates, “burying” is indistinguishable from consensus, one and the same.)
3. A candidate could win with few 1st-choice votes (True, but very unlikely to be a problem, especially with IRV early rounds depending heavily on 1st-choice votes.)


* * * * A tie between last-place candidates should be determined by a one-on-one comparison, rather than by lot. One might expect last-place candidates to be unelectable anyway, but that is not always the case.

Again, a comparison of two candidates is the perfect application of ranking ballots, so let the people decide which of the two they prefer.

Both possibilities could be tested, and if they result in the same election winner, there’s no grounds for a hand recount on the tiebreaker. But if the election winner differs, we had better get it right.

The people who write software for IRV elections should have no trouble giving us different options such as using one-on-one comparisons as needed, especially since the last round of IRV is also one-on-one.

But if it’s two candidates tied for last in a field of 7 or more, they are tremendously unlikely to be relevant, and could both be eliminated at once. Clearing out the riffraff clears up the picture of the true contenders.


[2-5-2022 Note: Instant-Runoff Ranked Choice does not require the following instruction; it is only needed for the Condorcet portion.]

* * * * Put an instruction on the ballots that reads
“Only rank candidates that you would want to win.”
This will clear up a lot of confusion, and is fair warning that ranking a candidate can cause them to win.
(Someone might think they need to rank 5, even if they only approve of 2. They should rank only 2.)


Nebraska’s constitutional requirement for nonpartisan primaries must be addressed.

Condorcet method and IRV are designed for producing one winner, but neither is good for producing two winners in a nonpartisan primary. Here are three possible fixes.

* * * * Option 1: For simplicity’s sake, don’t change the legislature election at this time. Have ranking only apply only to governor, congress, and might as well add state officers such as auditor.

Option 2: Let the legislature primary produce one winner, and skip the fall election. I haven’t checked if the constitution would allow for this. But there’s potential for saving money with one-phase elections. Legislature and state officers might be right for no-primary.

Option 3: The best nonpartisan ranking primary could be this: Use the IRV procedure (or the IRV / Condorcet combo, it doesn’t matter which) to determine the 1st seed. And one head-to-head comparison of the 2nd and 3rd place candidates will determine the 2nd seed for the fall election.


Just putting it out there.

There’s a lot of support for more term limits. I’d say it’s a shame to fire someone who does good work.

An intelligent term limit would be to allow people to vote NO on one candidate.

* * * * A candidate receiving over 50% of NO votes is disqualified. No matter how many positive votes they get, they cannot win.

That’s the will of the people. Majority rules. We shouldn’t have to agree on someone else. We should be able to agree on blocking a bad guy.

The parties won’t like it.

The best place for it would be in a nonpartisan primary, so maybe we need more of those.

One Weird Trick to improve Ranked Choice

One rule can be added to Instant Runoff Voting to make it much less likely to eliminate the most popular candidate.

1. The quickest way to win any IRV election is to win a true majority, meaning over 50% of all first-choice votes. This rule could be expanded, to check for any Condorcet winner (undefeated in head-to-head matches). Presto, IRV now complies with the Condorcet criterion.

2. One bonus weird trick: Use IRV to eliminate all but the top five candidates, then apply Condorcet method to determine the winner. If Condorcet gets stuck, use IRV to eliminate one of the tied candidates, then go back to Condorcet. This would provide even better insurance against IRV going goofy, because even more most-preferred candidates would be protected from elimination. While this is not 100% Condorcet-compliant, the miniscule chance of eliminating a Condorcet winner in 6th place is probably not worth worrying about.

Please add either suggestion to your IRV proposal.

Basic outline of my practical ranking election method: https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/12/13/brief-summary-of-practical-condorcet-election/

Brief Summary of Practical Condorcet Election

Rank only the candidates that you would want to win.

1. Check for a first-choice majority winner, and for a Condorcet winner. (Winning head-to-head against all opponents wins the election.)

2. Use a tally of first-choice votes to eliminate up to half the field, but keep a minimum of five candidates, and a maximum of eight.

3. Compare the remaining candidates two at a time, in head-to-head matches.
A candidate scores a match win by having a higher rank on more ballots than an opponent.
The candidate with the most match wins (preferred over the most candidates) is the election winner.

4. Tiebreakers eliminate one candidate, but if one does not, then use the next:

  • Candidates tied for most wins will be compared head-to-head with one another, and any having fewer wins against the others will be eliminated.
  • Instant runoff of tied candidates, the one ranked highest on the fewest ballots is eliminated.
  • First-choice votes only.

Link to full procedure: https://americarepair.home.blog/practical-condorcet-method/

Condorcet Is A Better Ranked Choice


( To a short summary of my proposed Condorcet election: https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/12/13/brief-summary-of-practical-condorcet-election/ )

(Pros can skip to near the bottom of this page for a link to the full method, and another link with charts and examples.)

Here is an example of a ranked choice election that I say fails.

Parallel Universe 2016 IRV election:

Romney 37% 1st-choice votes
Sanders 32%
Biden 31% – eliminated first

The procedure of “Instant Runoff Voting” uses only 1st-choice votes to eliminate the first candidate.

Biden has 45% 2nd-choice votes from Romney and Sanders voters. He would beat either opponent in the top two, which makes him the Condorcet winner. IRV deems the support of 76% of the voters irrelevant, so Biden can’t win.

But a ranking election doesn’t have to shut out the most popular candidate.


Condorcet winner: a candidate who wins every possible two-candidate comparison in a ranking election.

IRV (instant runoff voting): a ranked choice system that will sometimes kick out a Condorcet winner in 3rd, 4th, or 5th place.

This quirk of IRV defeats the purpose of ranking, which is to elect the candidate who is preferred over the others. It happens because IRV works like a combination of two imprecise sports competitions.

The first is a pro wrestling battle royal, where a group of contenders all fight at once. In this mess, a gang of enemies can throw out the most talented wrestler early. Serious tournaments use focused, one-on-one contests.

IRV is also similar to a single elimination tournament, where if the frontrunner is unlucky one time, they’re done. A more complex tournament, such as double elimination, would be more thorough, more insurance against dumb luck. A round robin will pit each contestant against each of the others, providing even more data that can be used to logically determine a winner.

IRV uses an unreliable process to narrow a field of candidates. By ignoring part of the information provided by voters, IRV can put the wrong candidates into the final.


Runoff: an election in which voters choose between the top two candidates from the primary.

Instant runoff (the event, not the IRV system named after it): a virtual runoff, based on rankings, to determine which of TWO candidates more voters prefer.
A real instant runoff happens only in the final round of IRV.

So let’s build on that. Let’s use “instant runoffs” for all contenders, as if they’re the final two, a “Condorcet method.” It’s also referred to as “pairwise,” or “ranked pairs.” But I prefer “matches,” or to be specific:
(Since “pair” in English usually implies a harmonious relationship, and “ranked pairs” sounds like we rank two candidates together, it’s confusing to use “pairs.” And “pairwise” is weird.)


(The t is silent, so it sorta rhymes with Jose.)

The winner of a head-to-head match will be the candidate preferred by more voters, based on rankings. Condorcet methods compare the win-loss records of the candidates, to see which one was preferred by more voters, more times.

I propose simply counting match wins, and the candidate with the most wins will be the election winner.


A quirk of Condorcet systems is that ties for top candidate will happen, as in, two candidates having the same number of wins. This is the easy kind of tie. The easy tiebreaker is that the match involving these two candidates should tell us which one beats the other.

A more difficult tie is when there are three or more candidates, tied for most wins, who have beaten each other (called a cycle, or Condorcet’s paradox). Ranked choice supporters might enjoy using IRV as a tiebreaker, to eliminate one. IRV is better for tiebreaking than it is for narrowing down a large field.

For a persistent tie, yet another tiebreaker should be used. This one really isn’t important enough to argue about. It probably won’t be needed, and the winner will be one of the very best candidates. Keep it simple, use first-choice votes.

I would add one more thing, to simplify, and to soothe Condorcet’s critics. Early in the evaluation process, use first-choice votes to eliminate about half of the candidates, but keeping at least five. This keeps the number of head-to-head matches manageable, while ensuring the election winner will have a significant number of first-choice votes.


So the general procedure of evaluating this ranking election will be:
1. Check for a Condorcet winner. (Winning against all other candidates wins the election.) (Includes majority winner of first-choice votes.)
2. First-choice votes narrow the field.
3. Head-to-head matches determine which candidate(s) has the most wins.
4. Tiebreakers.

This head-to-head Condorcet system will prevent the early elimination of the most-preferred candidate. We’ll still be ranking candidates, and we’ll still have “instant runoffs,” but the results will be more precise, and more fair, than pure IRV.

A link to the details of my proposed ranking election procedure: https://americarepair.home.blog/practical-condorcet-method/

And a page with charts to aid in evaluating the election, and some detailed examples of IRV going goofy: https://americarepair.home.blog/condorcet-method-tips-for-evaluating-the-election/

[Note: A fellow named Tideman has crafted some well-known ranked pairs methods. One method, based on similar concepts to the one above, is called Tideman Condorcet-Hare, or Condorcet-IRV. It should be acceptable to the public, and the software for determining a winner is supposedly available online. I would give you a link to the official rules, but it seems we might have to pay for the copyrighted material, or visit a real-world library.]

One-Ballot Rating System

(In this post, I discuss Instant Runoff, things I’ve discovered about this voting system, and my proposal for a better option. Scroll down to the example ballot to cut to the details of my one-ballot rating system.)

Despite many complaints, and the malfunctions that can be expected, many people in the year 2020 want to give Ranked Choice / Instant Runoff Voting a try. So I decided to find out if I might offer the people a better ranking system.

In seeking to make the system accurately reflect the will of the voters, I realized the core problem is:
Instant Runoff is a vote-for-1 system.

Ranking candidates makes people feel better, but only one vote at a time is counted from each voter. This insufficient use of data sometimes causes the elimination sequence to not make sense.

IRV Malfunction Example
Bush 37% 1st, 14% 2nd choice votes
Clinton 42% 1st, 5% 2nd
Perot 21% 1st, 56% 2nd
Left blank 25% of 2nd choice

IRV eliminates Perot first, it’s not even close.
IRV winner: Bush 51%.
This is arguably better than a basic vote-for-1, in which the spoiler effect would elect Clinton.
But who is really most popular?

Check Condorcet:
Bush:Clinton 51:42 – Bush
Bush:Perot 37:49 – Perot
Clinton:Perot 47:49 – Perot
Perot is the Condorcet winner, because he is preferred over the other candidates in head-to-head matchups.

Check who didn’t vote for them:
Bush 49% (51% voted for him.)
Clinton 53% (47% voted for him.)
Perot 23% (77% voted for him.)

Again, IRV eliminated Perot before the final two, even though he would beat Bush and Clinton in the final two.

In a similar dysfunctional way, IRV could eliminate the voters’ overall favorite candidate before the top four or five. Counting only one vote per ballot is Instant Runoff’s greatest weakness.
– –

So I tried adding different features to Instant Runoff. I wanted to make the system use more data from each voter.

One of my better ideas was counting two votes at a time, either counting every 1st and 2nd choice in one round, or using each ballot’s two highest-ranked qualifiers in multiple rounds.

For example, the procedure could be:
1. Count 1st choice votes, a candidate over 50% wins.
2. Narrow the field to the 4 candidates having the most 1st+2nd choice votes. (That’s vote-for-two. Would make a nice primary.)
3. Narrow the field to 2 candidates by counting the votes for every voter’s two highest qualifiers. (That’s counting up to 2 votes from each ballot.)
4. Relative rankings on each ballot determine the winner. (That’s 1 vote per voter who ranked either finalist.)

Then I thought maybe a person’s three highest-ranked qualifiers could work if there are many candidates, or count everyone’s 1st, 2nd, and 3rd choices.

Then it seemed right to make a third choice worth less, maybe a half vote.

Then I realized I was making a Scoring system, a more precise way of analyzing voter preferences.

Scoring systems are easier to count and recount than Instant Runoff.

Scoring allows an opinion to be expressed about every candidate. IRV does not.

Scoring allows us to rate two candidates as the same. IRV does not.

When IRV would shut him out, Scoring could help a very popular 3rd candidate who was just a little short on 1st choice votes.

Scoring considers the 2nd preferences of the voters whose 1st choices are in the Top 2. Instant Runoff ignores that information.

Final decision on Ranked Choice / Instant Runoff:
It can work well for finding the better of two candidates, and that’s about all it’s good for.

A good Score voting system will be much better than IRV. (It will also spare me from trying to explain why vote-for-2 makes so much sense. It just does.)

So here’s my suggestion for gathering the most data, and finding the right winner, if it must be an easy-to-understand, one-ballot election.

(Thanks to the people who created STAR voting, who did a lot of the work for me.)

Example ballot:


with point values 4-3-2-0,
Ranked Top 2 runoff,
and Worst-candidate disqualification:

All candidates can be assigned a rating, all ratings can be used multiple times, except “Worst” can be used only once.

Voters can select from three different ratings for favorable candidates. Each rating has a corresponding point value for determining the finalists (Top 2), and a rank, for determining which of the final two candidates is more popular.

Voters should give a favorable rating only to candidates they want to win. The favorable ratings are:
– Excellent, 4 points
– Good, 3 points
– OK (Acceptable), 2 points

Voters can also rank candidates of whom they do not approve, without giving them any points. This allows voters who dislike both of the Top 2 candidates to choose between them.

The unfavorable (don’t want to win) rankings are, from high to low:
– Neutral, 0 points (mild dislike, unknown, or not marked)
– Bad, 0 points
– Worst, 0 points (Limit one Worst vote per ballot)

“Worst” indicates a special disapproval, the sole candidate that the voter wants to lose to every other candidate.
A rank of “Worst,” given to one candidate by more than half the voters (a true majority) will eliminate the candidate, regardless of score.

1. A candidate who has “Worst” votes from more than half of the voters will be disqualified.
2. Point totals qualify the two highest-scoring candidates (but not a disqualified one) for the Top 2 runoff.
3. Rank on each ballot determines which of the Top 2 is preferred by more voters, and is therefore the winner.

One last note on step 3, the Top 2 runoff: This is to guarantee the winner is the more popular of the top two. The runoff uses the ranking of candidates on each ballot, so it would require the same equipment or programming necessary for Instant Runoff. Without that capability, the Top 2 would have to be dropped, “Bad” and “Neutral” would be merged into one rating, and the winner would be the one with the highest score, which will almost always be the most popular candidate anyway.

Or, use a primary to narrow the field to 3 or 4, and use Head-to-head matches for the Top 2 instead of ranking. Without the primary, there could be too many candidates to list all the possible combinations. Click this link for the article on Head-to-head matches. https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/01/17/head-to-head-matches-make-a-better-instant-runoff/

Variations of Approval and Head-to-Head

The Legislature column in the chart shows what Nebraska calls its “nonpartisan unicameral” election. A constitutional amendment, approved in 1934, requires nonpartisan elections for the office of state senator. The party affiliations of candidates are not listed on ballots. The top two in the fall can be two candidates of the same party. Again, we’ve been using a unified primary and a top-two for decades.

(Turn phone sideways or zoom in.)

Neb compare

The other four columns show proposals, extensions of these concepts, submitted for your Approval (Approval Voting). These are not just for Nebraska, so please implement wherever you like.

The rule of “one per party may advance” in federal elections is to make sure voters have some variety of options, instead of just a big field of Republicans. This could also motivate Democrats to run as Green, or Labor, etc, or as independents (no limit on independents). However we do it, we should make domination of our government, and our minds, a little harder for the Big 2.

It has come to my attention that in proportional representation systems (multiple winners), approval voting is not used, because it would tend to defeat the proportional concept. I have reviewed my previously proposed system of vote-for-2, top-4 semifinal, and head-to-head final, and it should work fine. But when sending only 3 to the semifinal round, I now support a vote-for-1 primary, as shown in this chart.

The previous blog post, about an approval-heavy voting system, has more info and a sample ballot with this head-to-head matches concept. https://americarepair.home.blog/2020/01/17/head-to-head-matches-make-a-better-instant-runoff/

Head-to-Head Matches Make A Better Instant Runoff

A boss wants his employees to choose a color for the new company van. And he likes accurate elections.

If using a simple plurality (as many states do in elections for high office), black is the winning color, with only 7 votes out of 28.

Allowing people to provide more information about their preferences will allow them to arrive at a better consensus.

The above ballot will be used as a primary. A 2nd ballot is created, with two sections.

The Approval vote is the Semifinal. The Head-to-Head section determines the people’s favorite of the final two.

Below is an example of a tied Final match.

A procedure will be created for resolving ties, but a total vote count in section 2 should not be used, so there will be no downside in voting for a bad candidate over a worse one.

The van color voters might think their boss is crazy. But for high office, governor, congress, and president, this system would be ideal.

Head-to-Head Matches allow Semifinal and Final rounds on the same ballot.

Elections can and should gather more data from the people, to accurately measure their true will.

Many Americans are embracing ranked choice, also known as instant runoff, as a better system than plurality. But ranked choice is not all it’s cracked up to be, and the instant runoff aspect is largely false advertising. Approval would be better, or a point system such as Star voting.

I’ll leave it to you to research these systems if you wish. But a system with a Semifinal and Final on one ballot would be hard to beat, and simple enough for use in the real world.

An open primary, allowing each voter to select up to two, to narrow the field to the top four candidates, maximum 1 qualifier per party. (Bye bye, bipolar B.S.)

A fall ballot that provides for a semifinal and a REAL runoff final. The semifinal lists the top four, and allows each voter to choose as many as they wish. The final is one of the six possible head-to-head matches of candidates, and voters may select 1 per match. (Five of the six matches will usually be disregarded, since just one match involves the top two.)

(Smaller states and congressional districts might prefer 3 candidates in the semifinal, which will make only 3 possible head-to-head matches.)

The winner is the one with more votes in the head-to-head of the final 2.

Here’s a link to my other blog post with more philosophy on this voting system. Maybe skim it.


(This article previously included an erroneous reference to Louisiana’s “jungle primary,” which is a one-round election if one candidate gets over 50%, otherwise there’s a second, top-two round. The system is being actively pushed in other states too, with a main selling point being cost savings. But it is important to spend the few bucks it costs for a second ballot every time, for the sake of ACCURATELY measuring the people’s will, with minimal spoiler effect.)