Approval/Plurality combinations

Bart Ingles bartman at
Thu Oct 8 15:48:27 PDT 1998

Mike Ositoff wrote:
> Bart Ingles wrote:
> > Approval's simplicity is tempting despite its drawbacks.  Even if you
> > hold a separate FPP vote to detect a majority winner, the two votes
> > together are simpler than full ranking and can be conducted on any
> > equipment, including punch-card ballots and paper "X" voting.  Of course
> > if you are going to hold both votes, it would make sense to come up with
> > a counting method that makes better use of the available information.
> But when defining a new count rule, you lose the simplicity
> and have the problem of selling a completely new method, and
> you open the can-of-worms of a count rule debate.

True, the new rule would have to be a significant improvement.  I mainly
intended these as examples of what could be done with a combination of
plurality & approval data, using the simplest equipment.

> The suggestion of combining Plurality & Approval on a ballot
> is a good one. Disadvantage: The ballot has to be different
> from now, and  the 2 votes require twice the ballot space.

Probably only 50% more space.  All the YES/NO votes I have seen actually
require a yes or no vote, so there are two checkboxes or punch-outs
(blank = abstention).  This is presumably to discourage fraud & make it
difficult for someone else to come along and fill in the blanks.  The
combined methods would only require a third box (i.e. First choice,
Backup choices, No).

> Advantage: The Plurality count can be used to find out if
> there's a majority candidate & elect him/her.
> But, rather than the new count rules described later in the
> letter, I prefer the very minimal use of the Plurality vote:
> If someone gets a majority in the Plurality vote, he/she is
> elected. If not, then the winner of the Approval count wins.
> For the sake of simplicity, that's the only way I'd suggest
> using the Plurality/Approval ballot. Using any kind of new
> count procedure places us in the same predicament as when
> advocating a rank-count rule.
> Disadvantage: If no one gets a majority in the Plurality count,
> and it's obvious that the Plurality winner is different from
> the Approval winner who won the election, the supporters of
> that Plurality winner would fight to repeal the reform and
> replace it with plain Plurality.
> [rest deleted]

Valid point, but probably true for any system where the identity of the
Plurality winner can be known.


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