[EM] Expressive and instrumental votes

Anthony Simmons asimmons at krl.org
Thu Apr 26 15:44:02 PDT 2001

>> From: "Joe Weinstein"
>> Subject: Re: [EM] Five Slots and Cranor

>> Many discussions - here in EM-list postings as elsewhere -
>> presume wrongly that voters care only about
>> instrumentality and therefore that optimal voter
>> 'strategy' concerns only instrumentality and not also
>> effective expression.

>> For instance, compared with Approval, higher-res CR
>> methods are more expressive, but are often decried as
>> being subject to 'strategic collapse': for optimal
>> strategy, a CR vote uses just the same extreme grades (0
>> or 1) as does Approval.  The claim is correct for a
>> strictly instrumental strategy, but is wrong for some
>> expressive strategy, for instance for a voter whose
>> interest is to send the message 'A>B>C', expressing a
>> comparison of three candidates.

I don't mean to knock Homo sapiens, but there's a third
possibility -- that Demorep's reservations about John/Mary Q.
Voter are warranted, and many voters don't even distinguish
expressiveness and instrumentality.  They will likely believe
that if they express themselves, that's all that's required,
and justify it with "I'm voting for what I want, and if the
system refuses to recognize that, it's not my fault", or some

After the recent Presidential election, there was
considerable sentiment in favor of declaring the winner of
the popular vote the winner of the election -- that the
election was broken because it declared the winner
incorrectly.  I don't think those people saw any distinction
between expressive and instrumental winners.

Now that I think about it more, I can't help but think that
people who refuse to distinguish between instrumental and
expressive votes are at least partly right.  Isn't the
purpose of an election to turn the expressive into the

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