Blake reply N+8

Mike Ositoff ntk at
Tue Sep 22 20:19:25 PDT 1998

> I think this may be our main difference of opinion.  You are only
> interested in situations where there is a Condorcet winner.  I think it
> is important to use a method that is fair and reasonable even when there
> is no Condorcet winner.  A fair method would not punish voters for
> ignorance of the random-filling strategy.  A reasonable method would not

Yes, and a fair method would meet IIAC. We have completely different
goals, in regards to which criteria are important, and which
attainable criteria should be gotten at the expense of other
criteria. It must be becoming obvious that single-winner reform
in the form of rank-balloting isn't going to happen, because
there'll never be agreement among rank-count proponents, who
all want different things. More & more obvious that rank-balloting
should be abandoned as a proposal, and that Approval is the
attainable reform.


> consider a vote of 
> 	52 to 48
> as more decisive than a vote of
> 	51 to 1
> We should remember why we abandoned GMC in its original form.  To do so
> meant we had to abandon some of the stronger statements about the power
> of a "genuine" majority.  And the difference between original and beat
> path GMC only affected those cases without a Condorcet winner.  But we
> abandoned it anyway because of the strange way it forced a method to
> behave in these cases.  I think the next step is to abandon GMC and the
> genuine majority distinction altogether for the strange results it
> causes.
> I imagine someone could at this point say, "All right, it does not make
> any sense to sincerely leave candidates unranked in Votes-Against, but
> that is a small price to pay for the defensive strategy it creates for a
> Condorcet winner against order reversal.  That is, the purpose of
> leaving candidates unranked should not be because you consider these
> candidates equal, it is because your favorite is a Condorcet winner and
> you want to try to protect against order-reversal."
> Presumably, the introduction of the Votes-Against method would go
> along with a public education campaign.  The campaign would explain how
> leaving candidates unranked is not intended for cases where you think
> they are equal and lower.  It would be explained that this is instead
> intended to be used by voters if they are sure there candidate is a
> Condorcet winner, and want to defend against possible order-reversal.
> > Blake said that in Votes-Against, everyone would start
> > ranking everyone, even if indifferent between them, and then
> > the method would become equivalent to Margins, except for
> > offensive strategies. Big difference.
> > 
> > Say everyone starts ranking everyone, even without having
> > a preference between them, and that, as Blake suggests, that
> > will lead to order-reversal the way marijuana leads to heroin.
> > 
> > But what's the Votes-Against defense against order-reversal?
> > Strategic truncation. Avoid ranking more candidates than you
> > estimate necessary. Oh what a cruel dilemma that puts the
> > strategists in! They can't resist ranking everyone,even though
> > they know that it sets them up for the order-reversal that
> > everyone has been led to because of discovering the benefits
> > of ranking everyone.
> I would like to deal with the contradiction between the statements
> 1.  You should always random-fill instead of truncation
> 2.  Truncation defends against order reversal
> The problem is that although the random-fill strategy is best if what
> you care most about is getting your candidate elected, truncation can be
> used as a way to punish people who insincerely vote against you.  That
> is, given voters who vote X first, and then are evenly split between
> voting Y and Z second, truncation will never help X win.  It will make X
> more likely to lose.  It does not defend in the sense of protecting X,
> and for this reason I am doubtful of whether people could be convinced
> to use it.  However, it does mean that the election will tend to be won
> by whichever of Y and Z, has voters who sincerely or insincerely rate X
> the highest.
> > But wait, it gets better than that: In VA, the defensive strategy
> > punishes, & deters the order-reversal, while, in Margins, the
> > more effective your defensive strategy, as a C voter in my
> > example, the _safer_ you make the order-reversal. You make
> > it safer if you vote B equal to C. You make it completely safe
> > if you vote B over C. When order-reversal is less risky, it
> > will be more tempting.
> I doubt whether order-reversal will really be less risky.
> > In a public election, if you organized the B voters to
> > vote C in 2nd place, whether sincerely or not, do you think
> > that the C voters wouldn't hear about that? You'd be setting
> > B up for offensive strategy by C voters. And with Margins,
> > it wouldn't even take order-reversal. Mere truncation would
> > often do the job.
> I do not think you can criticize a method for both being more safe for
> the initial reversers and more likely to give the election away to the
> other side.
> > Look what you're saying the B voters would have to do to defend
> > against order-reversal. The defense that they have in Margins
> > is just the general pairwise defensive strategy. Whereas in
> > Votes-Against, they can defeat the truncation by merely not
> > voting for A or B, in Margins they have to vote the other
> > extreme over the extreme whose voters they expect to use
> > order-reversal. For 1 thing, maybe they don't know which
> > extreme will try order-reversal. Also, anytime defensive 
> > strategy requires you to insincerely raise someone in your ranking,
> > that can give away the election when you misjudge and do so
> > when you didn't need to. That's the trouble with drastic
> > defensive strategy.
> Remember that the whole purpose of the truncation strategy is to give
> the election away.  It cannot make your candidate win, it can only make
> the order-reversers lose.
> Furthermore, I suggest that the normal pairwise defense strategy is more
> natural than the Votes-Against truncation strategy.
> For example, lets say my preference is 
> B > C > A  with B being the suspected Condorcet winner
> Now, I here that A is mounting an order-reversal or truncation
> campaign.  This probably confirms my worst suspicions about them.  So,
> what does the truncation defense strategy suggest I do about this?  Rank
> B > C = A.  That is, increase A in my ballot.  Is it because this will
> help B win?  Well, not exactly.  On average my change of vote will hurt
> both B and C.  I am doing it so that if C order-reverses too, then A
> might win.  A is my last choice remember.
> This just seems totally unnatural to me.  What seems more natural is
> that people who would have voted B > A > C will now consider B > C = A 
> to punish A voters for their conduct. And that people who would vote B >
> C = A will now consider B> C > A.
> This is a clear punishment and deterrent to A in both methods.  I think
> it is important to remember that the real purpose of order-reversal
> punishment strategies is as a deterrent.  If the deterrent is strong
> enough, no one will attempt to organize order-reversal campaigns.
> You also mention the possibility that you do not know who will be doing
> the order-reversal.  Well, if both sides have order-reversal campaigns,
> both deserve to be punished.  You cannot punish them both under any
> method.
> I am not sure whether I would ever accept a method that violates SEC. 
> Such a method seems somehow fundamentally dishonest, or at least
> confused.  However, I do know its violation would have to be offset by
> tremendous advantages, and I do not see this with Votes-Against.
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