[EM] Introduction (cont.)

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Mon Aug 6 15:34:13 PDT 2001

One more comment on the strategic equivalence of Range Voting and Approval

There are ways of using range ballots that do not yield the strategic
collapse to the extremes of the range. 

However, Smith's use of range ballots is of the type that do yield the
strategic collapse.

A zero to ten "Olympic" range ballot can be the basis for head-to-head
comparisons similar to the head-to-head comparisons of Condorcet methods.

The advantage of the zero to ten scale over the usual ranked preference
ballots are three fold:

You can rank two candidates equal if you feel like it.

If there is a big gap between adjacently ranked candidates, you can
express it.

The ballot itself is simpler in the case when there are more than ten

The price you pay is the inability to completely rank more than eleven
candidates. That's not so bad when you consider that a standard Approval
ballot can only completely rank two candidates. 

Here's a way of doing a zero to fifteen range ballot in such a way that it
would be hard to mark the ballot in a meaningless way:

Jose Blaze    (8)  (4)  (2)  (1)
Sheila M.     (8)  (4)  (2)  (1)
Jana P. Q.    (8)  (4)  (2)  (1)
A. Ron Bla    (8)  (4)  (2)  (1) 
J. Q. Sten    (8)  (4)  (2)  (1)
Sajh Amlkj    (8)  (4)  (2)  (1) 

Each candidate's score on this ballot is the sum of the digits shaded
(with a number two pencil) to the right of the candidate's name (or

Any combination of shaded and unshaded digits produces a validly marked

If none of the digits are shaded, then the score is zero for that

If voters know their addition tables up to seven plus eight or else
remember to bring a simple calculator, then they can vote this kind of

Furthermore, this kind of ballot is a Dyadic ballot in disguise, so it can
be easily used for Universal Approval, Various forms of Approval runoff,
and other methods that depend on Dyadic ballots.

[If you cannot easily find these in the archives, I can provide some
info on these Dyadic based methods.]

These are all good uses of range ballots that do not waste the expressive
power of range ballots through strategic collapse.

The simplest method that doesn't discourage full expression is Approval
itself. All scores above the midrange score (7.5 in the zero to fifteen
case) are considered approval votes. All other votes are considered lack
of approval.  

In this method, the extra expression doesn't influence the outcome of the
current election, but it does provide psychological benefits.

It gives the same election results as Smith's Range Voting method (in the
strategic case), but without requiring the voter to sacrifice expressivity
for the sake of strategy.

This form of Approval is inferior to the other alternative uses of Range
ballots mentioned above, but it is hard to beat when expressivity and
simplicity are both considered important.

Joe Weinstein and I have a method called Five Slot Approval (FSA) based on
Grade Ballots (F, D, C, B, A, equivalent to a range of zero through four)
which incorporates this simplest expressive use of range ballots. 

It takes advantage of the voters' familiarity of being graded all through
school on the basis of those letters.

The candidate with the greatest number of passing grades (C or above) is
the FSA winner.


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