Approval/Plurality combinations

Bart Ingles bartman at
Tue Oct 6 17:15:52 PDT 1998

Thanks for re-mailing your message, Demorep.

In your message, you list two major defects of Approval:

1. Approval could defeat a first-choice winner.
2. Approval doesn't guarantee that the winner will have a majority.

I believe the first defect is addressed in the combination methods I
described.  In the runoff method (I should have avoided the term IRO,
since it more closely resembles Runoff) a first-choice majority would
win by the rules of Runoff (although I think I neglected to say so in
the description).  In the Plurality-Approval Hybrid, the Approval count
is ignored (weight factor = 0) whenever there is a first-choice

As for the second defect, I don't think any method can guarantee a
majority of sincere votes.  For example, your Condorcet-Approval method
would lack a majority whenever Approval does, unless I misunderstand the
method.  The only way I know of to guarantee a majority of voters is to
prohibit truncation and then treat all choices as a YES -- even though
the voter disapproved of the lower choices and used random-fill to
complete the ballot.  If you are going to add random votes to the
totals, why not eliminate the uncertainty and just add a fixed amount to
each total, and "decree" a majority?  I doubt that Approval would fail
to yield a majority very often, but when it does I think the problem
lies with the candidates and not with the method.

DEMOREP1 at wrote:
> Subj:   Approval voting defects
> Date:  Tue, Sep 29, 1998 10:54 PM EDT
> From:  election-methods-list at
> X-From: DEMOREP1 at
> Reply-to: election-methods-list at
> To: elections-reform at, election-methods-list at
> Mr. Ossipoff wrote in part--
> As for the people attacking Approval, that method is so simple
> that its properties are obvious, and not debatable, so it doesn't
> really need any defending.
> Demorep1-
> Approval is a very major improvement over Plurality but Approval has its own
> set of defects.
> Approval is very defective in the special case where a choice gets a majority
> of first choice votes (if number voting was being used).
> Example-- 100 voters
>      Number of votes in indicated place (if number votes were being used)
> View table in Monaco for alignment
>        1st   2nd      3rd      Total
> A       9     15       51        75
> B      15     51       10        76
> C      51     10                 61
> D      25      9                 34
>       100     95       61       256
> B wins using Approval.  C has a majority of the first choice votes (and is
> thus an automatic Condorcet winner).
> That is, the 51 C first choice voters by voting for other choices cause a
> defeat for their first choice if Approval is used.
> Thus, I have suggested that Approval (in the form of a YES/NO vote) be used
> along with number votes.
> A, B and C each get YES majorities (assuming the votes for each are YES
> votes).
> A, B and C would go head to head using the number votes so C would win.
> There is also the Approval case if ALL of the choices fail to get majorities
> of ALL of the voters.
> Example-- 100 voters
> President of the U.S.
>     Total
> K    41
> L    45
> M    43
> N    39
> Multiply by 1,000,000 for a possible real election.
> L wins using simple Approval.  I suggest that having minority winners is
> extremely dangerous (especially for public chief executive offices who have a
> very bad tendency to go powermad -- Johnson, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, etc.,
> etc.).
> Another fundamental election reform is having voter recall petitions to remove
> from office any legislative body and/or any elected or appointed executive or
> judicial officer, if/when they/he/she go(es) powermad.

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