[EM] One more thing about "unknown middle"

David Catchpole s349436 at student.uq.edu.au
Mon Nov 13 14:38:23 PST 2000

An example of the phenomenon of write-ins (tongue-in-cheek!) is at

On Mon, 13 Nov 2000, LAYTON Craig wrote:

> Mike wrote (in part):
> >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.
> Write-in? Do you mean writing the name directly on the ballot?  This would
> require special rules.  What happens when there are spelling errors?  Are
> they considered as different people, or would there be some kind of 'person
> is reasonably identified by writing on the ballot' type rule.  What happens
> if there is more than one person with that name?  What if voters write stuff
> like 'the guy with the beard'.  If there is only one candidate with a beard,
> is this a valid vote?  I think you're talking about major headaches for vote
> counters and legislators.
> >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.
> Ah, I really wasn't aware that this was the case.  It is perhaps a flaw that
> your (and I don't mean you in particular) examples always assume
> non-truncated rankings.  There should, perhaps, be additional rules for
> this.  I think that pairwise contests where no candidate gets an absolute
> majority should be considered differently from pairwise contests where a
> candidate does.
> >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."
> I basically agree.  I was offering a counter-argument because I assumed that
> there would be alot of support for compulsory preferences.
> I imagine that the justification would be that no-one likes two candidates
> exactly the same.  Encouraging as many people as possible to use preferences
> means that the results more accurately reflect what the voters think
> (without invalidating voters who do not rank all candidates where their
> preference is clear).  Please note that I don't necessarily support this
> view.
> >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.
> I think that this is worse than requiring voters to rank all candidates.  I
> doubt that it could be phrased clearly enough so as not to confuse voters (I
> hear that some American voters have difficulty identifying arrows pointing
> at circles; I think that your two options might be a bit much for them).  I
> would assume that the default interpretation is that the voter intends all
> numbered candidates to be preferred over all unnumbered candidates.  This is
> the interpretation used in all preferential systems that I'm aware of, and
> any other seems rather counter-intuitive.  You can include an instruction on
> the ballot that this is how the votes will be counted.

"I only said we'd make it across"
				-"Road Trip"

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