[EM] Participation & SARC

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Fri May 5 21:44:44 PDT 2000

Steve had said:

 > A criterion like SARC seems better than participation when the
 > voters are sophisticated (and unconstrained by accountability,
 > e.g., secret ballot), since it is unreasonable to compare only
 > sincere voting and the abstention strategy when other strategies
 > may be better than both of those.

Markus said:

The problem is: To be able to compare sophisticated outcomes, you
have to make presumptions about the used strategies. It is not
easy to make non-trivial justifiable realistic presumptions
about the used strategies.

I reply:

Presumptions? Voters' common use of defensive order-reversal
in Plurality isn't a presumption--it's a well-known fact.

In general, it's surely a safe presumption that voters will
vote to gain the best outcome that they can, based on some way
in which they feel sure that other voters will vote. Or that they'll
vote so as to maximize their expectation, based on their
valuations of the candidates & the relevant probabilities.
Voting behavior when Plurality is used is best explained by
those presumptions.

Those are justifiable realistic presumptions. Non-trivial?
I'm not sure what that means here, but if you mean that
justifiable realistic presumptions can only  be made under
special rare conditions, that isn't correct.


Steve had said:

You wrote (5 May 2000):
 > For participation to be considered an important criterion in
 > large public elections, wouldn't there need to be empirical
 > evidence that significant numbers of voters will routinely not
 > vote due to a procedure's failure to rigorously comply with
 > participation?  (Voter turnout might actually increase overall,
 > given a procedure which fails participation but does a good job
 > of solving other problems like spoiling.)  Also, is there a
 > plausible argument that society would be worse off using a
 > procedure which doesn't rigorously comply with participation?

Markus said:

Supporters of Alternative Voting usually claim that Alternative
Voting guarantees that a set of additional voters each with the
same sincere opinion can never be punished for going to the
polls and voting sincerely. They claim that -as Alternative
Voting guarantees that a vote of a given voter for a given
candidate will never be counted unless all those candidates who
are prefered to this given candidate by this given voter cannot
be elected any more- a voter cannot be punished for making an
additional preference. And they claim that this means that
an additional voter cannot be punished at all for going to
the polls and voting sincerely.

I reply:

Yes, and that familiar IRVie claim for the Alternative Vote
(currently promoted under the name "IRV") is false. Even in
simple, plausible, 3-candidate examples, voters in IRV can
cause their last choice to win, because they voted, when that
wouldn't have happened had they not voted.

Markus said:

The participation criterion is the mathematical formulation of
the claimed property of Alternative Voting.

I reply:

IRV fails that criterion. But for IRV to fail a criterion
isn't unusual; it fails much more important ones than Participation.

Markus said:

Independently on whether you think that a given property is
important, you have to find a mathematical formulation of this
property to be able to discuss it in a non-trivial manner.

Excuse me, Markus, but what mathematical formulation is lacking
in SARC? And will you please tell me what "non-trivial" means?
Or maybe the way to word this question is: What is it about
SARC that makes you say that it lacks a mathematical formulation
that a criterion should have?

And if you feel that some of my other criteria lack a necessary
mathematical formulation, would you specify what it is about them
that would make you say that they lack a mathematical formulation
that a criterion should have.

One thing I admit is that I still haven't put an extended
"voting equilibrium" (extended to non-point systems) on a precise
basis. So of course I can't write a precise criterion that
speaks of that equilibrium. But I'd be interested in what
you'd say that my other criteria lack, that a criterion needs.

If you mean that all criteria have to be written in the stilted
symbolic jargon found in some journal articles, then I'd ask
who says criteria need that, and how would you show that they
need that.

If it's because spoken language can be ambiguous at times, I
believe that it's possible to write something in ordinary
language (as opposed to symbols borrowed from mathematics) in
a way so that people know what it means. Surely that's the goal
of language. And I've noticed that authors who use
mathematical symbols still need lots of ordinary language to
try to clarify what their symbols mean.

Actually, I'd say the opposite: Criteria & method definitions
that are written only in that symbolic jargon borrowed from
mathematics are useless for showing to the people to whom
criteria most need to be shown. Mathematicians can exchange
symbols forever, but practical use of criteria & method
definitions requires showing them to members of the public,
members & leaders of organizations, etc.

If there's an ambiguity in one of my criteria, then someone
can point to it and ask me what I meant. I've tried to say
them so that it will be clear what is meant.

Mike Ossipoff

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