VA, Margins, & voter wishes

Blake Cretney bcretney at
Fri Oct 2 10:11:08 PDT 1998

On Thu, 1 Oct 1998 17:51:11    Mike Ositoff wrote:
>I'm going to back out of my agreement with Blake's stat4ment
>that VA is out of the rank-count discussion. For 1 thing,
>the fact that I don't believe that rank-balloting is a
>practical public proposal doesn't mean don't believe that
>1 rank method has more merit than another. Some people do
>advocate rank methods for public use, and I suggest to them
>that VA is the one that does what they want, if they want
>what most people want from a rank method. And the merit of
>methods can be discussed regardless of what some of us
>believe in proposing publicly. Also, pursuing this discussion
>helps prove my claim that rank count discussion will always
>be a hopeless mess.
So, one of your reasons for advocating VA is to discredit Condorcet
methods in general.

>Also, I'm not the only one here to speak for VA vs Margins.

>So you see, Blake, we all agree with the desirabilty of
>that measure. But the Condorcet Criterion, by itself, isn't
>enough. That's why I added:
>If a majority of all the voters indicate that they'd rather
>have A than B, then if we choose A or B it should be A.
>Do you disagree with that, Blake? Or other Margins advocates?
Yes, I disagree.  What your saying is that a pair-wise vote
where the winning side has a majority of voters must always
take precedence over a pair-wise vote where this is not the
case, no matter what the margin of victory is.
So, when one must be over-ruled, a victory of
52 to 48  with 100 voters
must take precedence over a victory of
49 to 4
despite the fact that for those expressing a preference, the second
vote seems clearly more decisive.

Furthermore, if you accept VA, it has the side effects that
60 to 40
must take precedence over
59 to 3
48 to 47
must take precedence over
47 to 2
These results seem contrary to our usual idea of what constitutes a
decisive vote, and are not required by GMC, but are the result of VA.

The problem here is the basic belief that a majority of people
participating in a pair-wise vote is not a real majority, that
only a majority of participants in the election as a whole is a
real majority.

But consider that a majority of those participating in the election, is
not necessarily a majority of those elligible to vote.  Typically,
however, we interpret majority rule as a majority of participants.
So, in a pair-wise vote, I think it is reasonable to think that it is the participants in that pair-wise vote that count.

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