[EM] Posting #2: intro, a plea, LWV, organizing v. IRV, terms & taxonomy

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 17 21:43:47 PST 2000

Joe Weinstein wrote:

These contend mainly that hi-res can be simplified to crudest-res, i.e. 
pass-fail (‘approval'), considering strategic voting.  A later posting will 
argue otherwise, and will examine issues of sincerity and strategy.

The case for Cardinal Ratings is that people are already familiar with
it, as in the Olympics' 10 point rating system, and the familiar
phrase "On a scale from 1 to 10...". Against that is the fact that
it requires new balloting, unlike Approval, and that it's a greater
departure from what we already use, making it more to ask for.
Are you sure that the pro consideration outweighs the con considerations? 
There's also the problem that, as people gradually
find out what the strategy is, they'll be angry that we didn't tell
them about it from the start. If we do tell them about it, that
detracts from the simple familiarity argument.

By the way, if your familiarity with graphs could answer any of
our Condorcet issues or questions, help is always welcome.

Joe continues:
	(2)  A Plea

	(3)  LWV

It's hard to imagine that an organization with the cachet of LWV circulates 
position papers only in non-e modes;

I reply:

LWV, national and state, has websites. I don't have it with me
right now, but search at Yahoo or Altavista.

Joe continues:

Bart, please indicate what you would have us Californians do re LWV - 
actions, contacts, etc. - and maybe I can do some of it.

I reply:

I'm not Bart. Bart might reply too. But if the legitimacy of the
CA LWV voting systems study doesn't start improving soon, then it
would be helpful if you'd e-mail the CA LWV Board of Directors and
ask them to raise the honesty level of the study, so that it
has more legitimacy than a Ferdinand Marcos election.

Right now I'm making an appeal to the Board. If that doesn't work
than I'll commit the no-no of asking nonmembers to write to them.
But what you could do right now would be to join LWV. Do it right away,
check out the members-only website that tells about the study,
and join the LWV voting system study fight. As the number of people
criticizing the study piles up, it will become more to their disadvantage to 
have all of us speaking out about their study's
illegitimacy. But now, join LWV. Obviously, as a member, you could
immediately contact the Board about the study's many improprieties.

Joe continues:

	(4)  Organizing v. IRV

Based on my very recent experience, such organizing should be taken very 
seriously very soon.

I've just joined a Long Beach local civic activist list, to which my first 
posting (2 Nov) concerned the (then-impending) tragedy/travesty of Election 
2000 arising from the lone-mark method forcing people to support just one 
candidate.  The only specific response to my posting was a typical pro-IRV 
tirade, spouting the doubly dubious CVD cult equations:  reform = p.r. = 

I reply:

The IRVies have been very busy everywhere.

Joe continues:

The cult is spreading because, using its very name and a website, CVD 
conveys the impression that it is an authoritative organization.

I reply:

Exactly. Rob Richie, probably the person responsible for choosing
CVD's policies, calls himself the Executive Director. Now, who's not
going to believe the Executive Director? :-) They know that the
impression of authoritativeness is all they need. There's nothing
behind it. If you'll help spread the word about that, your help would
be greatly appreciated.

If I understand this right, Rob Richie is the great nephew of
George Hallett, a famous PR advocate in the '20s. Hallett advocated
IRV (by the name of the Alternative Vote). Richie seems very loyal
to Hallett's agenda. Richie is determined to aggressively push an
agenda from the '20s.

I am ready to help create and support a real organization for use of better 
election methods.  To be effective, let's flatter CVD by imitating it and 
then some.  I suggest the following ingredients.

*1.   An authoritative-looking web site. (There is now, for instance, a 
low-key 'Approval' web site, but it doesn't connect to an 
authoritative-looking organization).

What do you think of the electionmethods website?

Joe continues:

*3.   An explicitly stated mission to promote superior election methods.  
The mission statement must include attractive and broadly accepted criteria 
for desired methods.

I reply:

The website lists some important criteria and compares some methods
by those criteria. The general standard for the website is getting
rid of the lesser-of-2-evils problem. Additionally, we include
Monotonicity, and a new criterion we call "Summability".

The website is at:


Joe continues:

These criteria should include many usual methods, while clearly excluding 

I reply:

Out criteria only include the best methods. One starts with goals
& standards. Only a few methods meet our standards. Of course IRV,
being one of the worst methods, fails all of the criteria that we're

Joe continues:

My suggestion: a  qualifying method should be one which ‘faithfully' rewards 
each voter's expression of priorities.  Here, ‘faithfully...' is taken to 
mean or anyhow to imply isotony, alias MONOTONICITY - thereby qualifying 
many non-runoff methods but clearly disqualifying runoff (or automated 
runoff) methods like IRV.

I reply:

Yes, Monotonicity is one of our criteria. I'd hate to change its name,
though, because lots of people know it by that name. I sometimes call
it "Opposite Response", and liken nonmonotonicity methods to a car
whose steering wheel has come off.

Joe continues:

It seems to me that the main purpose of runoff, at least in the 1-winner 
case, is to guarantee that in the last stage the contest can be claimed to 
be won by a ‘majority' - a magical term for some people.)

I reply:

Don't get me started on IRV's notion of majority :-)

They tout IRV's alleged advantage that it always gives the election
to someone who has a majority--that is, to someone to whom IRV
has given a majority.

It never seems to occur to them that any value or meaning of that
majority depends on the legitimacy of the rule that gave that majority
of the votes to that candidate. He got that majority by IRV's
peculiar rules. Then, the fact that he has a "majority" is used as
an advantage of IRV. Bart pointed out that circularity, and we should
all talk about it whenever IRV is proposed anywhere.

You wouldn't believe the absurdity of how that phoney majority
noting is being used to push IRV through in the study. I shouldn't
say any details now, until I find out if it's ok to talk about
study details outside LWV, but for now, take my word for it. Or join
LWV, and find out what I'm talking about. Of course, if the study
continues as it has been, I'll eventually be talking about the details
outside of LWV, but things haven't reached that point yet. I've already
written here about the improprieties of the study. Now we've received
some "study materials" from the IRVie study committee. I hesitate to
go into detail now, but if you want to find out just how absurdly
sleazy is the IRVie effort to push IRV through, then I urge you to
join LWV now, and join the voting systems study.

Joe continues:

*4.   Positive promotional efforts for the family of methods which meet our 
criteria - as well as opposition to methods such as IRV which do not.

I reply:

Any help that you can do, to advocate Condorcet & Approval
(or Cardinal Ratings too) would be very much appreciated.

Joe continues:

In particular, use of an attractive generic semi-descriptive term or phrase 
- e.g. ‘faithful' - for our favored family of methods.

I reply:

I've been using the term "LO2E effective" for the methods that do
something about the lesser-of-2-evils problem. Condorcet, Approval,
and Cardinal Ratings are LO2E effective.

About the terminology changes, the trouble is that the existing terms
are what is in use, and changing terms would confuse people, and
make it harder than it has to be to present out positions.

For example, when opposing Instant Runoff, we must call it what its
promoters call it, so that people will know exactly what we're opposing.

Joe continues:

A ‘ranking' method is one where, in the MARKING phase, all nonzero grades 
are required to be distinct and to form a set of consecutive integers, from 
L downward, where L is the number of listed options.  Given that a method IS 
a ranking lone-balloting method, the standard SCORING procedure (by grade 
summation or averaging) amounts to Borda.  So in describing a lone-balloting 
method, the terms ‘Borda' and ‘ranking' should be deemed synonymous.  Only 
for a non-Borda ranking method need the nonstandard scoring procedure be 

I reply:

I don't think Borda deserves special status as the way to count
rank ballots, when no count rule is specified. If someone advocates
rank-balloting, and doesn't specify a count rule, that should never
be taken as meaning that they advocate Borda. In Utopia, Borda may
well be the best rank-count. In the real world of political voting,
Borda is the worst.

Yes, it's good to clarify meanings like the ones below.

Mike Ossipoff

	(6)  Glossary

Abbreviations and acronyms:
	CVD = Center for Voting and Democracy; IRV = ‘instant runoff' voting;  LWV 
= League of Women Voters;  p.r. = proportional representation.

Tricky definitions:
	Monotonicity.  An election method is monotone (more precisely, isotone)  
if, given any election held under the method, the result of changing any one 
marked ballot by raising a winning option's grade (and possibly 
simultaneously lowering the grades of one or more of the other options) must 
again result in victory for that option.

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