Always impossible! - not

Saari at Saari at
Fri Jul 10 18:18:58 PDT 1998

In a message dated 98-07-08 08:53:05 EDT, you write:

>By the way: As far as I remember correctly, you wanted to post
>an election method, that uses absolute preferences and that is
>not vulnerable by exaggeration. You haven't done it yet.
>Could you -please- do that?

One method to prevent the problem of voter exaggeration is to associate a
"cost" of some sort with each vote.  The cost might be money, or time, or
written words of explanation, or most any other method specified by the
system.  Then a system of geometrically escalating costs could be used.

Suppose, then the method were as follows:
For any given proposal or candidate, you may vote Neutral, Support and/or
Oppose in any combination.  You may vote partials if you like (say to
distinguish two close candidates).  You may also vote multiple Support and/or
Oppose votes.

A Neutral vote is free.  A vote of Support or Oppose requires at least one
handwritten word of explanation.  Multiple votes per proposal (either Support,
Opposed or mixed) are  require additional handwritten words of explanation, on
a geometric scale:
a double-vote requires at least 10 handwritten words of explanation
a triple-vote requires at least 100 handwritten words of explanation

Scoring is done by counting the total number of Support votes and dividing by
the total number of Oppose votes to obtain a "support/oppose ratio".  When
sufficient time has elapsed and/or a specified number of total votes is
obtained (200% of the membership?) on a given proposal, then that proposal
PASSES if the score (ratio) is 3:1 or higher.  [A given group may choose
different threshold criteria.]

On each proposal/candidate, then, each person voting support or oppose needs
to decide for him/herself just how strongly they feel.  For example, on a
"pie" vote I would be unlikely to cast more than a single vote on any given
flavor.  Unless I was quite allergic to a certain choice, or had some
compelling reason to really want some flavor, in which case I might be willing
to cast a double-vote or triple-vote.

The point is, such a system is invulnerable to exaggeration.  Each voter will
only cast a vote as strong as is appropriate given their true feelings.  To
cast a stronger vote than that would be both impractical and a waste of time.

Personally, I prefer a system where money is used.  With a sufficiently steep
scale ($1, $10, $100) there would actually be only a slight opportunity for
rich people to have more influence.  (A poor person casts a $10 triple-vote; a
rich person casts a $100 quadruple-vote.  The rich person only has 4/3 the
influence of the poor person.)  If all money goes into a pool which is divided
equally, the money of the extravagant voters flows in the direction of the
poorer people...)  While I still like the requirement to explain votes
(especially Oppose votes), the money system would take up people's time the
way the comment system would.

Note the "Neutral" vote opportunity - very important.  It allows an
intelligent, rational voter to cast a meaningful vote on a situation where
he/she really doesn't care either way.  The vote counts toward the "quorum"
but doesn't bias the outcome either way.  I note that many "majority" systems
(which require support by 51%) don't really distinguish between opposition and
indifference.  This is a flaw.  As far as I am concerned, if 90% of a group is
indifferent but all of the remaining 10% support the idea, it should pass.
There should be no need for a massive campaign to convince the people who
don't care that they really should.  Just pass it and move on.

I do not claim that the above "cost-votes" system is perfect, desirable or
politically acceptable.  I merely claim that it demonstrates that it is indeed
possible to design a rated voting system which is invulnerable to exaggeration
- yet still allows for the expression of a wide dynamic range of feelings by
the voters.

Mike Saari

P.S. Mike O - I no longer advocate a "point scale" voting system with a fixed
upper limit.

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