The None of the Above Chorus:

Forest Simmons fsimmons at
Thu Apr 26 13:26:52 PDT 2001

On Wed, 25 Apr 2001, Bart Ingles wrote:


> I wouldn't say 50% was necessarily too high or too low, just that it was
> completely arbitrary.  It really depends on the makeup of the
> electorate.
> If the voting public consists of four mutually feuding groups of roughly
> equal size, then you might be lucky to find someone acceptable to 35%. 
> You could keep disqualifying candidates and re-running the election, but
> there is no guarantee that the next time will be better.  You may just
> deplete the pool of willing candidates, and end up with someone even
> worse than in the first round.

But in this case it would be just as likely that None of the Above would
win every time, too.  My point is that in Approval a quota is the
equivalent of None of the Above in Condorcet.

To see this, put the NOTA candidate on every Condorcet ballot. Now think
of NOTA's rank on each ballot as the approval cutoff for that ballot. Then
NOTA being the Condorcet Winner is precisely equivalent to every candidate
having below 50% approval. 

> Maybe one reason I naturally recoil at the 50% figure, is the fact that
> the pro-IRV groups (or group) use that as part of their "majority"
> argument, which is really based on compound fallacies.  

I agree with you there. Thanks for forcing me to think more clearly about
this issue. The happy coincidence of your critique and Demorep's
description of his ACMA method ... that felicitous coincidence was the
impetus for seeing the advantages of NOTA as an Approval Cutoff. 

> Except when
> there are exactly two candidates (or when doing a pairwise comparison),
> the 50% figure has no particular significance, other than the fact that
> it happens to be a round number.
> Bart

What we need is a better name for NOTA, because the referent of the word
"above" is ambiguous. Voters might think it means "above this rank"
instead of above the last name on the list.

A better name, in my opinion, would be MAC (Minimum Acceptable Candidate).

Another alternative would be just plain NONE.

That would go well with our notation:

A > B > NONE > C > D

could be expressed in Dyadic Notation

A > B >> C > D

by replacing NONE with a blank (nothing).

Once we have NOTA or MAC or NONE on the Condorcet Ballot, low utility
Condorcet winners are no longer a problem, and Condorcet can be completed
with Approval. All of the paradoxes disappear.  The only advantages that
remain with plain Approval are simplicity of ballot, simplicity of
procedure, an mathematical pedigree, and a history of actual

Between (in the sense of simplicity) the Condorcet Ballot and the Approval
Ballot lies the Five Slot Grade Ballot, which has a variety of uses as
discussed in recent postings. 

(To be continued)


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