Example with half-votes

Mike Ossipoff dfb at bbs.cruzio.com
Mon Jul 15 02:56:14 PDT 1996

Hugh R. Tobin writes:
> Mike Ossipoff wrote:

[I repeat that I'll post, right after this direct reply, a
letter replying more concisely to several statements. It will
be a fairly short letter. I'll post a few other letters 
like that, replying to a few topics. I'll then post one
that replies to a list of all the statements I've missed.
I'm also replying directly to some letters, as now. Of course
the statments I'm replying to are farther down n this letter,
after the other quotes.]

> >
> >
> > > >
> > > > Say we were using Condorcet's method, with the added provision,
> > > > recently proposed, that if a ballot ranks X & Y equally, below
> > > > everything else in the Smith set, then that ballot is counted
> > > > as casting half a vote for X over Y, & half a vote for Y over
> > > > X.
> > > >
> > > >
> > And what if they _are_ ignorant of false-preference strategy? That's
> > a good thing. Most likely  not many voters would be into
> > strategy enough to attempt it on their own, and a publicity
> > campaign, or even people talking in bars, etc, could never be
> > kept secret, and that guarantees that it would backfire reliably.
> >
> > If you're going to say that some voters are strategically-inclined
> > enough to attempt false-preference strategy, than you can't
> > say that their intended victims aren't strategically-inclined
> > enough to thwart it.
> >
> If voters are not strategically inclined, then my half-votes proposal 
> accurately reflects their preferences and non-preferences when they 

How can you say that it accurately expresses their preferences &
non-preferences, when it counts preference votes that they never
voted and which don't represent real preferences on their part??

Maybe you mean that the false half-votes represent an effort to
achieve sincerely-desired results, through strategy. That isn't
what we've been calling an "accurate reflection of preferences".
In fact, as I've discussed, it doesn't reflect genuine preferences
even in the sense of strategically trying for preferred results,
at least in most cases, or in the most important cases, because
I claim that falsification usually turns out to be contrary to
give results un-desired by the perpetrator. I've shown that, and
I'll be discussing it more, in this reply & in subsequent

> truncate, and no opt-out is necessary.  But if voters fail to choose 
> half-preferences out of ignorance, when doing so would elect their most 
> preferred candidate, I count this as a failure of the system.

Falsification would be more likely to help than to hurt the Dole
voters even if (contrary to what was stated in the example) they're
indifferent between Nader & Clinton--something that isn't at
all likely anyway. Falsification would help the Clinton voters
only if 1) the Dole voters falsify; & 2) that falsification
doesn't make Clinton more beaten than Dole. In other words, it's
very inept & unsuccessful falsification by the Dole voters. As
I said, falsification by Dole voters would have the purpose
of making Clinton more beaten than Dole, and it would be a
mistake for the Clinton voters to vote as if the Dole voters'
falsification were widespread enough to affect the result &
to require defense, but that that falsification failed to make
Clinton more beaten than Dole.

> If some voters are strategically inclined, then even though other voters 
> may recognize the potential adverse effect on themselves, these "victims" 
> may have no way to thwart the strategy; e.g., in a prior example, Clinton 
> cannot win if enough Dole voters participate in order-reversal, just as 

Clinton will win because Dole voters won't falsify, knowing that
it can't help them and will only hurt them--with my assumption that
Dole voters like Nader less than Clinton, which is probablyk a 
pretty safe assumption.

So the falsification strategy would indeed be thwarted if it were
attempted, and it wouldn't be attempted--because it's being

> he cannot win if too few Dole voters actually prefer him to Dole. In that 
> case the strategy of "zero-option" truncation can only help Nader win 
> over Dole in that case -- a result that they consider as bad as a Dole 
> victory (indeed, I think order-reversal is more likely to be attempted 
> when the middle voters are believed to prefer the plurality over the 
> other extreme, and can be counted on to give Dole, in our example, 

Yes, if the Clinton voters could be counted on to co-operate
with the stealing of Clinton's victory, then the falsification by
Dole voters would indeed be more likely. But that's a big "if".
For 1 thing, Middle voters aren't going to vote a 2nd choice
in a 3-alternative election. For another thing, Clinton voters,
even with more candidates, would act to deter falsification, to
ensure Clinton's victory if Clinton is Condorcet winner.

> substantial support).  But if the numbers are a little different than the 
> Dole plotters are hoping for (or if the circular tie is natural), then 
> for the truncating Clinton voters, choosing the half-option may elect 
> Clinton, while failing to do so elects Nader.

A long-shot. You're saying that Dole falsification is widespread
enough to require defense, but not  widespread enough to succeed
in doing what it must do in order to work: making Clinton more
beaten than Dole.

> > In public elections, the voting of false preferences, either
> > by order-reversal, or intentionally voting false preferences
> > via the contrary half-vote option, would be most unlikely
> > to happen on a scale sufficient to change the election result.
> First, choosing the half-vote is not a false preference if one is
> sincerely indifferent.  Failing to choose it when truncating, which

Excuse me? Voting preferences isn't a false preference vote
for a voter who is indifferent? Voting 2 opposite preferences
inevitably means voting at least 1 false preference. For an
indifferent voter, it means voting 2 false preferences.

You're saying that the falsification would be strategically
advantageous, which I disagree with. But even if it were,
strategically advantageous isn't the same as "true", or
"sincere" or "not false".

> sacrifices some chance for one's favorite to win a circular tie, can
> better be regarded as a false preference.

Again, you're confusing truth & falsity with strategic advisability.
And I don't agree that the falsification is even strategically

> Second, if massive order-reversal is unlikely in the nature of things for
> public elections, then we don't need the zero option available as
> part of an attempted deterrent for the middle voters.

But one thing that helps make order-reversal not happen on a large
scale is that it's so well deterred by Condorecet's method, when
those Middle voters don't vote a 2nd choice.

Besides, when Clinton is Condorcet winner, compulsory falsification
of the Clinton voters' truncated ballots takes the election from
Condorcet winner Clinton & gives it to Dole in one of my examples.
I claim that that isn't desirable.

Thirdly, I repeat that I've never propsed not having one's
ballot falsified as an "option". I've always said that
not having one's ballot falsified should be the default assumption.
> > Because people aren't into strategy that much, or, if theyk
> > are, then their victims are into it too, and will use
> > defensive deterrent strategy. If you knew that I was going
> > to falsify preferences to take the election from your candidate,
> > would you still vote for my candidate, which is what would
> > make it possible for me to get away with it?? Not likely.
> Yes, I would, in a pairwise contest against another candidate that I

Thank you for telling me that. I'll make use of that information
next time we hold an election. :-) I probably won't, but I
reserve the right to. And you'd surely be taken advantage of
in a public election, with a devious electorate.

> liked less, at least unless I thought order-reversal on my part would 
> help elect my own favorite.  We all vote for lesser evils, and for 

That's something that we want to eliminate the need for.

> candidates whose campaigns use dubious tactics, all the time.  I take for 
> granted that major campaigns are run by cynical manipulators.  The 
> encouragement of order-reversal would not be high on my list of 
> objections to Dole or his party.  Voting out of pique is irrational.  

I don't propose voting our of "pique". If the Clinton voters make
it known that they wouldn't vote a 2nd choice, or  since, because
it's a 3 candidate race, it would be tacitly understood that they
wouldn't, or if it were a many-candidate race, and we all knew
that it was a devious electorate, and that order-reversal was
a possibility--if it could be gotten away with--and everyone
knew that others knew that and would be voting accordingly,
using the simple defensive truncation strategy of keeping one's
ranking as short as possible, not ranking anyone one likes less
than the likely Condorcet winner, or not ranking anyone whose
voters are likely to act dishonestly--under any of these
conditions defensive truncation isn't irrational, since it
ensures that offensive falsification won't be attempted.

> Whether voting to "deter" some voters from trying a similar tactic in a 
> future election might be rational belongs to the realm of game theory, 

I haven't appealed to game theory, though maybe it could be
discussed in that way. Let me add that a Nader victory is
worse for the Dole voters than for the Clinton voters, and
that makes the defensive truncation threat very credible, contrary
to what you claimed. Also, the one who isn't cheating or attempting
to steal victory is in a more credible position. This is familiar
in confrontations between domestic cats, for instance. The cat
who's defending his home territory tends to win the standoffs
because it's understood that he's the one defending what's his,
and that the other is the interloper, and that he has more
incentive to fight for that reason.

Let's not dismiss these obvious things by calling it
game theory.

> but please note: the plurality voters may reverse order again in order to 
> deter the middle from trying deterrence again -- this is the only way for 
> them to get their candidate into office and escape what they regard as 
> the tyranny of the middle.  Or the plurality voters may figure next time 

No, you're saying that the falsification perpetrators will
try it again out of some kind of warped sense of principle, or
because they can thereby bully their intended victims into
co-operating with them. Not likely. As I said, the Nader
victory is more undesirable for Dole voters than for Clinton
voters, so it's hardly something that Dole voters could
threaten Clinton voters with. Additionally, as I said, 
the fact that the Dole falsification perpetrators are the
cheaters, trying to steal the election from the Condorcet
winner, won't give them the bluff-credibility that goes
with being principled. What, principled cheaters?

In both of those respects, it's the Clinton voters who
have the upper hand. They suffer less from a Nader victory,
and everyone knows that. They're the ones defending the
Condorcet winner from a cheating attempt. You might not
call falsification cheating, but trying to steal the
election from a Condorcet winner would be generally understood
that way.

> that order-reversal will work because the middle voters think they 
> established their credibility in the last election and can safely vote 
> their true interests this time, because "order-reversal on a scale that 
> would change the election result" is now so unlikely.  Any benefits of a 
> deterrent strategy are distant and uncertain.  I doubt that I would vote 

After the Clinton voters have just proved that they'll use
defensive truncation, they have, as you said, established
their credibility. Certainly they now have more incentive to
use defensive truncation, because now it's obvioius that they
will, and it's all the less likely that the Dole voters will
elect Nader again. For the same reason that they initially
used defensive truncation, they would again, and this time,
if there was ever any doubt about whether they'd be the
ones to chicken-out, that doubt would be gone. Why would
they, at that time, abandon that defense, and switch to

It would be rather like a game of chicken beteween a car
& a motorcycle, in the car's driveway.

> differently in the face of expected attempt at order-reversal" than I 
> would if I thought a large portion of the plurality voters sincerely 
> preferred my last choice to my first (middle) choice, and were thus 
> likely to create a circular tie.  I would be extremely reluctant to use 
> any "deterrent" strategy that actually reduces my candidate's chance of 
> winning. 

Then you'd make it known that you'd use deterrent voting strategy,
and, if you wanted it to ever protect your candidate's win
in future elections, you'd carry it out.

> >
> > An important thing about preference-falsification in Condorcet
> > is that it only works against people who trust you & who
> > vote for your candidate. It's a big betrayal of friends &
> > allies. And they wouldn't be inclined to co-operate with it.
> It seems to work against a middle that fears the opposite extreme,
> regardless of the level of trust between plurality and middle.  If the
> Clinton voters think Nader is a nut, they don't have to like or trust
> Dole or his supporters in order to balk at a "deterrent" strategy that
> elects Nader, and the Dole voters won't find that strategy credible.

I've talked about several reasons why the threat will be credible.
You're looking at it only from one side. How credible is the
Dole voters' threat to falsify & elect Nader? A game of chicken
has 2 sides, both giving the same threat & facing the same 
choice. I've given 2 reasons why the Clinton voters are in a
more credible position than the Dole voters in that game of

> >
> > >
> > > Consider a slight modification of this scenario: Dole's strategists get a
> > > minority of his supporters, 18 per cent of the total, to order-reverse
> > > (alternatively, they really prefer Nader), the rest sincerely vote Dole,
> > > Clinton.
> > >
> > > 28 Dole, Clinton
> > > 18 Dole, Nader
> > > 20 Clinton
> > > 34 Nader, Clinton
> > >
> > > Now we have a circular tie, and if no 1/2 votes are counted between Nader
> > > and Dole for the 20 Clinton voters, Nader is least-beaten with only 46
> > > against, though he lost by 12 to Dole, while Clinton lost by only 4 to
> >
> > But to use "margins-of-defeat" as a standard calls for justifying
> > margins as a standard. Though margins can sound convincing,
> > applying that standard doesn't get rid of the lesser-of-2-evils
> > problem. Maybe I sound like a 1-issue advocate, but I consider
> > that to be the important goal. As I said, the LO2E problem has
> > progressive voters so cowed & dominated that we may never have the
> > opportunity to find out how many Democrat voters are really
> > progressives who want something better. I've written here about
> > why GMC follows from a basic fundamental majority-rule principle,
> > and I've talked (in "Advantages of Condorcet's Method") of
> > how Condorcet's method's "votes-against" count transparently
> > ensures that your vote for Clinton will do what you're trying to
> > do when you vote for him: vote against victory for someone you
> > like less. Margins doesn't do that.
> I don't argue for margins; for the reasons indicated in my original
> posting, I think my proposal better reflects voter intent.  But where 
> equal ranking results only from sincere truncation, "margins" is 
> equivalent to my proposal and accurately reflects the voters' preferences 
> and non-preferences.
> >
> > > Nader.  But if the half-votes are counted, Clinton is least beaten, with
> > > 52 against to 54 and 56 against Dole and Nader.  No rational Clinton
> > > voter who understood the system would refrain from choosing the 1/2 vote
> > > option, but I suggest that few voters will ever understand the definition
> >
> > Again, not at all. What you're saying is that the Clinton voters
> > will help Dole beat Nader, because they trust the Dole voters to
> > not make Clinton more beaten than Dole.
> Sorry, that is not at all what I was trying to say.  I was assuming the 
> Clinton voters were sincerely indifferent between Dole and Nader; I am 
> sorry if I did not make this clear.  The Clinton voters don't have to 
> trust anybody; they only have to believe the probability that Clinton 
> will be less beaten than Dole is greater than zero.  If the Clinton 

No. They have to believe that that probability is so great that
they should abandon the reliable deterent strategy of defensive
truncation, to deter falsification by the Dole voters, and to
thereby ensure victory for their candidate, Clinton, the
Condorcet winner.

Considering that the Dole voters know that falsification can't
succeed unless it makes Clinton more beaten than Dole, and
since we're assuming that the falsification will happen on
a scale sufficient to change the election result, a scale
sufficient to require defense, the probability that
the falsification will leave Clinton less beaten than Dole
seems a bad idea to base one's voting on.

> voters are indifferent between Dole and Nader, I
> am saying they will vote half-preferences if they are rational because it
> might elect Clinton and can't hurt Clinton.  If Clinton is not

It can hurt Clinton if it allows falsification to take the
election from Clinton, where that falsifiction would otherwise
be deterred.

> least-beaten the half-vote may help Dole beat Nader, but again, by
> hypothesis they are indifferent to this effect, so even if the likelihood
> that the results would be as given in my example is perceived as small,
> it would be irrational not to cast the half-votes.

Deterrence based on a threat of a defensive action is quite
common. You can call it irrational if you want to, but it's
frequently used, and it regularly works. And again, you're
neglecting to compare the credibility of the threat that
the Dole voters will elect Nader to the threat that the
Clinton voters will. You're taking the Dole falsification as
a given, and then only questioning the credibility of the
Clinton defense.

> >If the Dole voters don't make Clinton more beaten than Dole than why should they bother
> > preference-falsifying? No, any serious attempt to steal the
> > election requires making Clinton more beaten than Dole.
> Sorry, I was assuming the Clinton voters were sincerely indifferent, not 
> that they were falsifying anything.  The fact that Dole strategists try 

If Clinton voters are indifferent then they're falsifying if they
vote otherwise. I realize that we disagree on what consitutes
a false vote.

> order-reversal does not mean they will succeed in what you have called a 
> risky endeavor! Remember, nobody knows how close the Dole voters are to a 
> majority, much less how many will follow the strategy.  As a Clinton 
> voter, how can I be certain they can pull it off well enough to make Dole 
> less beaten than Clinton?

You can't be certain. You might be very lucky, and the Dole voters,
though falsifying on a scale that will succeed unless it's defended
against, might still fail to make Clinton more beaten than Dole.
If the Dole voters dislike Nader more than Clinton, as they surely
do, then they take a great risk when they increase how beaten
Clinton is. They shouldn't do that unless they're pretty sure
they can really pull it off and make Dole win. Otherwise the risk
is for nothing. The Clinton voters know that, and therefore that
if the Dole voters falsify enough to change the outcome, they're
serious enough to make sure Clinton ismore beaten than Dole--
they have strong reason not to falsify if they can't do that.

So though it isn't certain, it would be the assumption that
would have to be made.

Want something certain? It's certain that if the Clinton
voters make it known that they'll use defensive truncation,
then the Dole voters won't falsify.

> >The Clinton voters therefore certainly can't assume that the Dole
> > voters, while using preference-falsification against Clinton
> > , won't make Clinton more beaten than Dole.
> >
> > And if the Dole voters do make Clinton more beaten than Dole,
> > which has to be their goal when they falsify, and the Clinton
> > voters oblige & co-operate with them by making Nader more beaten
> > than Dole, then the Clinton voters are being a little too
> > co-operative with their victimization.
> >
> Again, they don't have to assume anything.  The Clinton voters are merely
> voting rationally, given their uncertainty and sincere indifference
> between Nader and Dole.  The Clinton voters are sincerely trying to elect 
> Clinton by casting half-votes between Nader and Dole.

That isn't the most reliable way to elect Clinton. The most
reliable way is to make it know, in conversations, call-in shows,
polls & articles & letters-to-the editor, that the Clinton
voters are not going to rank Dole.  

If you believe it would be irrational for them to carry out that
threat, then you should agree that it's even more irrational
for the Dole voters to still attempt their offensive falsification.
Irrational & a mistake. Since the deterence would work, it
wouldn't be irrational.

Lest anyone be put off by this discussion of a game of chicken,
I emphasize that this is the only conceivable problem in
Condorcet's method. And that even in the extremely devious
electorates where this would be a consideration, Condorcet
still has less strategy problems than other methods do under
_ordinary_ conditions. And that our public is unlikely to
be a devious electorate in that sense--offensive falsification
is extremely unlikely to happen on a scale sufficient to change
the election result; especially since it's deterred as I've

> (snip)
> > No, the Clinton voters won't choose the contrary half-votes option
> > because it would be co-operating with their victimization, under
> > conditions requiring strategy, and would otherwise serve no purpose,
> > voting contrary insincere preferences. And the Dole voters
> > won't do it because they know the Clinton voters aren't going
> > to help them steal the election from Clinton.
> >
> Again, the purpose of Clinton voters in casting the half-votes when they
> truncate is so that Clinton has a better chance to win a circular tie,

But a lower chance of winning the election. 

> however it may be caused (conveniently, in my example this worked).
> There is nothing insincere about choosing half-votes for this purpose.
> > And will there be lots of voters who don't even know about
> > these strategies? Absolutely. That's one reason why falsification
> > won't happen on a scale sufficient to change the election result.
> > But even if voters found out about it, it still wouldn't happen,
> > for the reasons I've given. In that kind of an atmosphere,
> > everyone would know what the result would be.
> >
> By the same token, I fear that voters will be ignorant of the fact that 
> they need to choose to cast half-votes in order to express fully their 
> sincere desire to maximize the chance that their higher-ranked candidate 
> should prevail over either of the equally-ranked candidates.  Therefore, 

Again, you're confusing the use of strategy with expressing a
sincere preference. Aside from that. It isn't that voters will
be "ignorant" of a need to falsify half-votes: They won't do it
because it would be contrary to their best interest. For both the
Clinton voters & Dole voters, the falsification would only
produce a worse result.

> at a minimum the half-vote option, as in my proposal, should be the 
> default.  If we have a zero option then perhaps we also should have four 
> choices: (1) my proposal, (2) zero in all cases, (3) zero only if all 
> other Smith set candidates are ranked below the voter's equally ranked 
> candidates on his ballot, otherwise half-votes; (4) half-vote in all 
> cases.  But this gets very complicated.  As a sincere voter, if I can 
> have only two options, I would rather have (1) and (3) than any other 
> pair.  If my equal rankings will usually be at or near the bottom, then 
> (2) is the option I would miss the least were it not offered.
> > > think it should be made difficult to elect the "zero" option if its is
> > > allowed.  Perhaps the voter should have to give a rational explanation of
> > > why he would not want the 1/2 vote to count in case of a tiebreak, in
> > > order to opt out of it.
> >
> > Oh no: The voter should be in charge of what preference votes
> > he casts, and shouldn't be accountable for it. In particular, he
> > certainly shouldn't have to explain why he didn't cast a false
> > preference vote, or contrary halves of false preference votes.
> >
> >
> I do not seriously propose any Condorcet literacy test.  But again, I do 
> not see where any false preference is involved.  I will always vote the 
> half-votes when I truncate out of sincere indifference between  
> candidates, for the reasons stated above and in my original posting.
>    -- Hugh Tobin
> > > .-
> > >
> > Mike
> >
> > --
> .-


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