Lucien: No Disagreement on Results

Hugh R. Tobin htobin at
Fri Jul 12 01:14:10 PDT 1996

Mike Ossipoff wrote:
> We're in complete agreement about the results with sincere &
> truncated rankings in the example. We agree that with sincere rankings
> Clinton wins, with or without the compulsory contrary half-votes.
> And we agree that, with the truncated rankings, Dole wins with the
> compulsory contrary half-votes, and that Clinton wins without those
> compulsory half-votes.
> Mike
> --

I suggest that "sincere" and "truncated" are likely a false dichotomy in 
this example, as I think Ossipoff's response to my commentary on the 
referenced example also suggests.  Truncation as a strategy would not 
make sense for the Dole voters, so we should take their votes at face 
value.  The results then do not suggest any defect in the system from 
counting half votes.  I elaborate in a response to Eppley.

I also think the emphasis on the term "compulsory" clouds the issue 
presented by this example.  Clinton's win in the example derives from the 
Dole voters (unaccountably) failing to vote the half-votes between 
Clinton and Nader, not from the mere fact that the zero option is 
provided to them.  The whole tiebreak system is "compulsory", and the 
question is what formula to use in making the best of a bad situation -- 
the circular tie.  For example, using the margin of defeat may not be the 
best system, and it does not allow any option, but it does not compel the 
voters to do anything.  The rule I propose would not attribute any false 
preferences, because the effect of counting a sincere voter's half votes 
under that rule cannot cause an election result that the voter considers 
worse than the result that would have occurred had his equal rankings 
counted zero.  Whether to allow any particular option to voters as to how 
their votes will be considered for tiebreak purposes depends upon what 
advantages are gained, compared to the detriments, including increased 
complexity.  For the sincerely indifferent, non-strategic voter, I cannot 
see any reason to value the zero option.  Is the only benefit of the zero 
option to give voters, in rare circumstances, one method strategically to 
"punish" other voters for the way they are believed to have voted?

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