[EM] CR style ballots for Ranked Preferences

Bart Ingles bartman at netgate.net
Sat Sep 22 23:27:56 PDT 2001

Dave Ketchum wrote:
> Ok, approval voting is a possibility, though I HOPE for better - I see
> most voters wanting to list their first choice up front, and have this
> affect who wins (but I think all I want in this preference list is a
> simple list of names).

Something else to consider -- with preference ballots, it may appear
that the voter is allowed greater range of expression, but this can
translate into LESS ability to influence the outcome of the election,
even with the best imaginable voting system.

First, suppose in your preference list, some of your true preferences
are much stronger than others.  By faithfully ranking all candidates,
you may in effect be diluting the preferences you consider important
with those you consider trivial.  You will frequently be better off
giving multiple candidates the same level of preference -- usually by
insincerely ranking several candidates either first or last.

More importantly, other voters will have the same opportunity to list
trivial preferences.  Which means that their most trivial preferences
can cancel out your most important ones.  If a perfect method is defined
as one in which the voter can list all preferences in order and have
them all count fully, then the perfect method is the most vulnerable to
this kind of "weak preference" noise.  I know of no compensatory
strategy for this second problem.

As a voter, I would much rather accept a reduced range of choice --
sufficient to indicate my strongest preferences, but no more -- with the
understanding that other voters get the same amount of restriction.  At
least that way if my candidate loses, he loses to a real opponent.

> I do not see how to avoid my combining precincts conclusion - we are
> talking of millions of voters scattered across a state.
> I notice that Condorcet is claimed to be inconsistent.  Agreed that
> there are multiple choices as to how to sort the counts of pairs but,
> are there none that come reasonably close (when IRV declares Bush the
> winner when only 35% call him acceptable and 65% call Gore acceptable
> and Bush unacceptable - THAT is a failure)?

It's actually the *Condorcet winning criterion* which is inconsistent. 
Any methods which comply with the Condorcet criterion are thus also
inconsistent.  I don't think this is a function of how you choose to
sort the pair counts -- the various pairwise methods mainly differ only
when there is *not* a single Condorcet winner.

> That Approval gets used in private elections does not excite me - most
> such elections affect FEW lives in the way that public elections do.

But at least it's some kind of a track record, with several hundred
thousand participants.  I doubt that it's enough vetting to qualify it
for use in presidential elections, but it should be enough to take it to
the next step (elections for minor city and county officials?)

> In response to comments in other posts:
>      About overvoting in FL - my understanding is those voters were (at
> least mostly) not deliberately overvoting, but getting tricked into
> errors via confusing ballots (that could be interpreted as overvoting).

I never meant to imply that the overvoting was deliberate.  My point was
that we would be better off it was allowed and encouraged.

As an aside, disqualifying ballots for overvoting does nothing to
improve the accuracy of the count -- at worst, if the intended vote was
for one front-runner, and the accidental vote for the other
front-runner, then the votes would cancel out.  So discarding the ballot
changes nothing.  On the other hand, if the accidental vote went to some
minor candidate, this probably would have had no effect on the outcome. 
So in this case, tossing out the ballot does more harm than good.


>      About Borda being consistent - perhaps in analyzing the counts.  Do
> I have the following right?  Being desperate to do the best I can in
> Gore vs Bush, I must place Gore first; wanting to say that I like Nader
> even better than Gore, I cannot place Nader first without weakening my
> Gore vote.
> Dave Ketchum
> On Mon, 10 Sep 2001 22:32:29 -0700 Bart Ingles wrote:
> >
> > Dave Ketchum wrote:
> > >
> > > I wander in looking for something better than plurality for uses up to
> > > and including electing a governor in NY - where we may have a dozen
> > > candidates next year:
> > >      Rules for voters MUST be simple and understandable.
> > >      Rules for deciding on a winner must be reasonably simple, and NOT
> > > declare as winners obvious losers.
> > >
> > > So we need preference voting.
> > > Must be able to combine votes from thousands of precincts.
> >
> > Your conclusions (preference voting, combining precincts) don't
> > necessarily follow from the requirements.  Approval voting is obviously
> > the simplest method other than simple plurality, and is consistent
> > (consistency means that combining two precincts, each with the same
> > winner, is guaranteed to produce the same overall winner).
> >
> > None of the other methods mentioned here (except plurality) is
> > consistent (although IRV would obviously fail more often).
> >
> > Approval voting also has a track record, in private elections (but in
> > some fairly prominent organizations).
> >
> > Bart Ingles
> >
> > > IRV clearly fails, due to easily declaring wrong winners - also has
> > > trouble due to vote patterns being important (Condorcet only counts
> > > pairs, with results that can be easily combined into sums for use in
> > > deciding on a winner).
> > >
> > > So far I LIKE Condorcet, though picking the best way to pick a winner
> > > from a set of counts needs thought.
> > >
> > > I like that without the >>> that I see below.
> > >
> > > REAL question:  Could Condorcet both be improved AND remain explainable
> > > to my voters with >>> introduced?  My suspicion is that the answer is no.
> > >
> > > Dave Ketchum
> --
>  davek at clarityconnect.com    http://www.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
>    Dave Ketchum     108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708    607-687-5026
>              Do to no one what you would not want done to you

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