[EM] One more thing about "unknown middle"

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 12 20:19:18 PST 2000

>So you disagree with the concept of a quota?

Quotas aren't meaningful in single-winner elections. It just isn't
something that comes up when we look for the best way to do single-
winner elections.

>Would you also dispense with
>the practice in the US (as I understand it) of requiring a certain number 
>signatures (corresponding to a certain percentage of the vote) in order to

No. I don't object to requiring signatures to get on the ballot.
Or some other measure of support could be used. For instance, parties
here keep their ballot-qualified status if they get a required minimum
number of votes. But anyone should be able to run without being on
the ballot, by registering as a write-in. Anyone should be able to
do that, regardless of how little support they can demonstrate.

>It is the same concept (that of requiring a particular minimum primary
>support to be considered an appropriate choice).  Under your argument, a
>true CW might not get the requisite number of signatures, hence 
>the entire system before it even goes to the polls.

For one thing, even if he doesn't get on the ballot, he can register
as a write-in, and I'll include him in my ranking if it's to my
advantage to do so.

For another thing, if you think you need Al Gore as a possible
compromise, then it's to your advantage to sign his ballot-petition,
to get him on the ballot, even if he isn't your favorite.

>Should a candidate with
>*NO* first place votes (even the candidate doesn't vote for herself) get

Why would a candidate take the trouble to run, and then not vote
for himself?? A candidate who's the 1st choice of no one would have
a difficult time being a BeatsAll winner. I don't know if it would
be possible. Again, though, if one considers favoriteness to be the
important thing, then one should advocate Plurality. I personally
am more interested in getting rid of the lesser-of-2-evils problem.

I don't consider it my job to decide whether a candidate should win
if he's not the favorite of many. I'm only concerned that, if the
voting system doesn't elect the median compromise, then people will
do what it takes to elect him, abandoning their favorite to accomplish
that. That's my concern. I don't pass judgement on a middle candidate
who's favorite of few. I just don't want you to have to dump your
favorite in order to make him win instead of someone whom you like

>Incidentally, do you (and I would like to hear responses from other list
>members as well) support optional preferential or compulsory preferential 
>something in between (ie a minimum number of preferences be expressed for a
>vote to be considered valid)?

I believe that voters shouldn't have to rank any more candidates than
they want to. I'm sure that nearly all here agree with me on that.

>While truncated votes cause significant
>problems for pairwise comparisons,

Whether truncation causes trouble for pairwise methods depends on
what pairwise methods you're using. Yes, truncation causes significant
problems for most pairwise-count methdods. But truncation causes
no problems for Condorcet's method, as it has been defined here,
and at the electionmethods website.

>should a vote where the intention of the
>voter is clear (ie a single number 1, or a single x) be declared invalid,
>simply because it causes difficulties?

First, I repeat that truncation causes no difficulties in Condorcet's
method. But I don't know of any reason to declare a ballot invalid
if the voter's intent is clear. What should we do if the voter
merely marks one candidate with an "X"? Obviously he's saying that
he wants to vote that candidate over all the others. That's his
voted 1st choice. There's no problem in interpreting such a ballot.
That's part of the beauty of Condorcet & Approval: People can feel
free to vote just as they do now, if they want to. I re-empasize that
truncation causes no trouble with Condorcet. Or with Approval,for
that matter. With any method you get a worse outcome if you don't
support a compromise that you need, but that doesn't mean that you
can say that truncdation messes up the election result.

>Experience in Oz has shown that counting (and phrasing of rules) for
>preferential systems is a rather complex issue, as is what should be 
>on the ballot papers.

You mean in the Munchkin elections?

>For instance, there is a case for writing on the
>ballot papers 'YOU MUST number all candidates, starting with 1, and
>continuing until 12' (if there are 12 candidates), but still counting
>truncated votes (there is a variation of this that is actually used in some
>Australian elections).

Why tell people that they must rank more candidates than they want to?
Just say "Rank as many candidates as you wish to in order of preference."

But there is a rank-balloting issue that I'm not sure of the answer to.
Obviously, if you just put an "x" next to 1 candidate, then you
intend to vote him over everyone. But say you rank several. Maybe
you mean to vote all of those over everyone whom you didn't rank.
Or maybe there are other candidates who belong inserted at various
places in your ranking, but you didn't bother to include them because
they don't seem winnable, and you don't want to take the time to
rank everyone. You just rank the more winnnable candidates, to save
time. In that case, you aren't saying that your ranked candidates are
better than the others.

I suggest that there should be a box that you can mark on the ballot,
to indicate which of those 2 interpretations you want. But which
should be the default assumption? Maybe, if the voter doesn't indicate
a preference about that interpretation, the least possible should be
assumed. In any case, I feel that there should be a box where a voter
can indicate whether or not he votes all of his ranked candidates over
all the others.

Mike Ossipoff

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