I first became aware of ranked choice mathematics in mid 2000, when the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) used Instant Runoff Voting to elect 5 at-large members to the Board of Directors. It’s hard to think of a better approach to support a massively scalable deliberative decision-making system for the Web.
Finally, in 2007, I decided to try building the system I had been thinking about. A lot of time and effort has gone into this since then, under the aegis of what I call the “Indaba Application Network.” IAN’s ranked choice polling sites have included Indaba.org, ChoiceRanker.com, WeVote.net, AmericanQuorum.com, and Mayor2011.com (the last three were also Facebook apps). These were all PHP sites that shared the same underlying MySQL database.
I’m currently in the process of refactoring the database to support proxy voting and better scalability. I’ve also been pursuing a branding strategy for a hybrid liquid democracy/opinion research platform called Sygnol. It’s going to take some time, but the goal is to redeploy the database in SQL Azure, and to scale the service as an API across a broad spectrum of mobile, game, and website channels.
I’d rather be coding, but I also have to put time into publicizing this in order to attract some helpful force multipliers. So here’s my first video, which focuses primarily on the interactive ballot tool and the very cool analytics that ranked choice data make possible.