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All the Perl that's Practical to Extract and Report

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  • Some things are now obvious to me about government procedures:

    • Every election should have a planned runoff. No candidate should be allowed to be elected to any office on only a plurality.
    • If the two final candidates in any election poll within 1% (or some threshold) of each other, the election should be declared a statistical tie and the law should specify a clear cut procedure for resolving the tie (legislature vote, temporary electoral college, court proceeding, or whatever). Unless the number of vote
    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • I have no problem with plurality, as long as a majority chooses to accept a plurality. If that is what the people want, who am I to tell them they shouldn't do it? So I can't go along with "every election" and "no candidate."

      However, if it is a district of *mine*, that is a different story. In that case, I am conflicted. One nice thing about runoffs is that it helps third-party candidates, in that you might be more inclined to vote third party, as right now people might vote for Gore instead of Nader just because they are afraid of Bush winning (just picking a well-known example); Nader would surely have gotten more votes if people knew there would be a runoff. On the other hand, then you go to the runoff, and all those Nader votes go to Gore, even though their favorite, their vote, was Nader. That doesn't seem quite "fair," either.

      All in all, I prefer just voting for who you think is best and then picking the one who gets the most votes. I think that is the most democratic and fair way of doing things, though no system is perfect. This is why, incidentally, the two-party system is so popular among politicians and journalists these days, because it simplifies these issues. It makes their job easier. Not that I wish to make their job easier ...

      Moving on ... I don't believe in statistical ties when you actually have physical things to count. You have a procedure to count the votes. Whoever gets the most wins. Statistical ties apply when you are doing approximations, when you are taking shortcuts to guess. Elections don't work that way. Yes, it is true that it is very difficult (though certainly not impossible) to do perfectly accurate counts of the vote, but that just means you need to come up with better procedures.

      Yeah, and I knew the last point was related to the Texas legislature ... I am not inclined to care too much about your little infighting, except to giggle furiously. ;-)
      • Well, when I said "should," I was assuming this was in a state/country/district where I/you have a vested interest in getting it right. Other governments can do whatever the people there want, and it's no skin off my back. I was just musing on what I'd do if I were writing a constitution (or whatever).

        Runoffs seem very fair to me. Seems like the Nader votes ought to go wherever the Nader voters wanted them, if he can't when. Maybe you'd enjoy reading about Condorcet's method and other interesting voti

        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
        • I disagree with your statement that it is not impossible to do a perfectly accurate count of an arbitrarily large number of votes.

          You can disagree all you like, but it is, in fact, not impossible. :-) It is easy to imagine a system where accurate counts are not only possible, but immediately tallied. Yes, software has bugs, but that doesn't mean it is impossible to write software that is provably accurate in its tallies.
        • "a Republican watcher who asked why a Bush vote was being put in the Gore pile was expelled for being unreasonable"

          Wow, I saw this debunked almost three years ago... you still believe it happened?

          • I saw video of it on the evening news. I'm willing to listen if there's an alternative explanation for what I saw.

            J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers