Brief initial reply to Steve
dfb at bbs.cruzio.com
Fri Apr 19 01:06:43 PDT 1996
This is just a very brief initial reply, just 1 or 2 comments, because
I have to go somewhere, and there isn't a chance to really reply right
Steve asked why 0 is a fairer value for x than 1/2 or 1. Because
it should be up to the voter to chooses whether or not he/she wants
to express preferences between a particular pair of alternatives.
If x is other than 0, then compulsory preferences are counted, which
may not be what the voter intended. So flexibility & democratic freedom
are reasons for x = 0. Reasons for not counting preferences that the
voter never voted. Besides, I claim that it just doesn't make sense
to count you as voting preference that you didn't vote, especially
a pair of opposite preferences, which couldn't both reflect your
Aside from that, Condorcet doesn't meet the standards & criteria
that I've been talking about if we make up preferencess that people
As for whether something else is fairer than counting votes-against,
that depends entirely on what standards one uses to judge fairness.
That's an individual choice, and I can't say you're wrong if you
say it's fairer to go by the standard of margins of defeat, or votes
for, or whatever.
It depends on what you want from a single-winner method. So you want
to give up the lesser-of-2-evils standard, and the majority rule
standard? Because that's what we'd do if we used votes-for or margins
instead of votes-against.
I personally vote for the standards that led us to want better voting
methods. Steve asked for documentation about whether certain other
procedures, including an elimination method, would do well by the
lesser-of-2-evils standard. The elimination procecure Steve suggested
was something that I checked out early on, along with votes-for &
margins of defeat. No, nothing else does the job but votes-against.
But I'll demonstrate that in subsequent letters.
Referring the the Dole, Clinton, Nader example, Steve asked if it would
still be fair to count votes-against and elect Nader if the Dole voters
_really_ liked Nader better than Clinton. Well, for one thing, if they
really like him then they wouldn't have too much problem with electing
him. But that's a flippant answer, since they obviously like Dole better.
The answer is yes, it's fair to elect Nader in those examples, because
there isn't a full majority saying that someone else is better. Note
that in my "order-reversal" examples, if we assume the Dole voters are
sincere in ranking Nader over Clinton, that doesn't change the fact that
more than half the people say someone else is better than Dole, more than
half the people say someone else is better than Clinton, but fewer than
half the people say someone else is better than Nader.
Admittedly, as Lucien has pointed out, there's no right answer when there's
a circular tie. But one thing we can still go by is an implementation of
majority rule that says that if someone has a majority saying that
someone else is better, and not every candidate has that against them,
then surely majority rule says not to elect the one with a majority
So majority rule still counts in that example. But for me what's
important is lesser-of-2-evils. We could come up with a zillion
different standards for scoring ranked ballots. But I just want
voters to be able to vote sincerely and not feel forced to abandon
their favorite or falsify their preferences.
As I said this is just a brief initial reply.
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