Monday, May 26, 2008

LIBERTARIANS USE RANKED VOTING TO SELECT BARR

ROB RICHIE, FAIR VOTE In a hotly-contested eight-candidate race for its presidential nomination, the Libertarian Party has picked former Georgia Congressman Bob Barr as it 2008 nominee at its national convention in Denver. Although the best-known candidate coming into the convention, Barr was no shoo-in. He’s a former Republican congressman with a record of casting some votes that most Libertarians reject, and most of the other top candidates had a far longer history in the Libertarian Party. That helps explain how it came down to the sixth round, where Barr defeated his top challenger Mary Ruwart with 54% of the vote.

In each round, any candidate finishing last or dropping below 5% was eliminated if there were no majority winner. Then a new round of voting happened. This duplicates exactly the counting algorithm for instant runoff voting; the difference is that the voters had a chance to evaluate the preceding results and react to new information when voting again.

The progress of the rounds of the counting, reported on the Libertarian Party website was informative. For example, former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel was eliminated once the field was reduced to four, having picked up relatively few votes as other candidates were eliminated. After his elimination, Ruwart moved to the lead based on the votes of Gravel supporters, but Barr won when Wayne Root was eliminated. Root ultimately won the vice-presidential nomination in another contested, multi-round race.

John McCain has spoken eloquently in favor of instant runoff voting, and Barack Obama was lead sponsor of IRV legislation as a state senator. And yes, there’s another backer of instant runoff voting in this story: Bob Barr.

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