[EM] CR style ballots for Ranked Preferences

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Sun Sep 23 06:47:31 PDT 2001

A viewpoint refresher:
     Certainly working out theories has its place.
     Certainly voting in societies and other nonpublic elections is of
interest, and methods could be acceptable here that are not suitable for
public elections.
     My interest here is for public elections such as:
          Mayor of New York City.  About 4,000,000 registered voters. 
With present plurality they can do reruns on both primary and general
elections.  Getting rid of these reruns would be $$$$ saved in operating
costs (I think next election is 2005, but it helps justify buying new
voting machines ASAP).
          Governor of New York State.  About 11,000,000 voters.  Expect
a dozen candidates in 2002.  Preference voting has a special value here
- for a party to have ballot status (own a line on the ballot for 4
years) their candidate must get 50,000 votes - much easier to vote for
your party's candidate as first choice even with no hope of winning if
you can make a serious vote as second choice.
          School board or town council - I pick on these as reminders
that some elections are required to have multiple winners.
     Public elections need SIMPLE rules.  Voters need to understand how
to express their interests.  They need to understand the method of
calculating winners.  AND, the results BETTER look reasonable (a true
tie has to be acceptable; a near tie with disagreement as to proper
winner is acceptable tolerance for keeping the rules simple; a distant
loser (per visual scan of vote counts) getting declared as winner is a
failure of the method that produced it (I see IRV as a reject based on
this)).  Again, while great intellects are scattered around, MANY voters
have little to apply to voting.
     Writeins MUST be supported for public elections.  My initial
thought is to treat them as a single candidate, who almost always loses
without causing trouble.  Get enough writeins and you do recounts based
on the individual write-in candidates plus the nominated candidates.
     NOTA or NOTB (None Of The Above (Below)) should be valid
candidates.  However, I see this as doing nothing to the methods - their
value is in terrorizing those so unpopular as to risk losing to them.

On Sat, 22 Sep 2001 23:27:56 -0700 Bart Ingles wrote:
> 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 can go one step - keep ">" to say what precedes is preferred over what
follows, and add "=" to say two candidates tie in voter's mind.

While thinking theory I can get excited over great sophistication; come
time to explain to average voters and I want SIMPLE.
> > 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.

Are all these fancy words defined someplace - hopefully online?

"inconsistent" sounds like "unacceptable".  Puzzling, since what I have
read of Condorcet sounds acceptable - and the response I got above seems
only to repeat the word "inconsistent" without explaining why I should care.
> > 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?)

Fine if it is the best we can do - better if we look around and try for
the best we have thought of the first time.  Among other things, if we
buy voting machines for a city with one method included, and then want a
different method for the state - maybe the city does not want to change
and neither the voters nor the voting machine people want to talk about
two methods existing in one set of machines.
> > 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.

If those overvotes were allowed, that would set a precedent.  Then
voters using those ballots could take advantage.  Perhaps ok if every
voter understood and could use the new rules.  FALLS APART if some
voters use different ballots that do not permit overvoting (think this
was true in FL).
> Bart
 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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