C. G. P. Grey has another election-themed video out and, like the last one, I have one tiny nitpick from the very end of the video. First, the video:
Right near the end, Grey suggests using a preferential vote as a way to avoid the ridiculous series of ties and tie-breakers he discusses, and by preferential vote I presume (since he made a video arguing in favor of it) the "alternative vote," AKA, instant runoff voting.
The problem I have is that IRV is actually more likely to run into problems with ties than most other voting systems; including plurality. This is because each elimination done under IRV, even the ones far down the list who received very few first place votes, could potentially be a tie, and effect the final winner. As always, a quick example:
- 45%: A > (others)
- 25%: B > C > (others)
- 15%: C > A > (others)
- 15%: D > C > (others)
Candidates A and B lead, but candidates C and D tie for third place. But how you break that tie determines who wins the election. If you eliminate C first, then A wins, while if you eliminate D first, then C wins. And it can get much worse; if A and B were instead at 40% and 30%, then after the first tie-breaker, we could have had another tie. Since each tie—or near tie— result can require a recount and potentially a series of lawsuits, IRV has the potential to be a total nightmare as the elimination of each minimally-supported candidates is fought out in court (supported by whichever candidate up the chain benefits.)
This is all, of course, extremely unlikely. A near-tie in a Presidential election has only gone to the Supreme Court for review once (in 2000) and that hopefully won't happen again anytime soon. But we can say, thanks to computer simulation, that IRV elections are about 1.8 times more likely to have a results-effecting tie than plurality elections, even with just three candidates.
So yes, the electoral college is kind of silly, and the tie-breakers for it even more so. But IRV wouldn't help with that.