Interesting Website

Fri Jan 25 21:15:56 PST 2002

I checked out the website you referred to, but are you sure that
, when electing an executive who has the power to veto the decisions
of a legislature, it's more important to elect someone who has
a large 1st-choice base than to elect someone who doesn't have
majorities against him?

One would expect that the legitimacy of that executive, and of his
vetoes, would be hurt more if it's common knowledge that a majority
of the voters indicated that they wanted some other particular
candidate(s) instead.

And, about Approval, he says that it can cause strategic voting.
As if that were a property peculiar to Approval.

If you divide the candidates into acceptables & unacceptables, and
your goal is to minimize the likelihood of an unacceptable winning,
and so you vote for all the acceptables, then someone could say
that that doesn't count as strategy, since you're voting for the
ones whom you approve. That's how I'd vote if Approval were used
in our actual elections, by the way.

But of course if you don't
divide the candidates in that way, then your Approval voting is
almost sure to be strategic. But the people who repeat that seem to
be unaware that the other voting systems cause a need for strategy
too, and, with nearly all other methods, that strategy often requires
dumping one's favorite by voting someone else over him/her.

Rank methods look good at first glance, till you find out that most of
them cause worse strategy problems, like a cheap laborsaving automatic
machine that goes haywire. Of course there are some good rank methods,
but IRV isn't one of them. Approval is difficult to improve on much
with any 1-balloting method.

Of course, in Plurality, if you divide the candidates into acceptables
and (absolutely) unacceptables, and you want keep an unacceptable from
winning, then you give your Plurality vote to the acceptable who has
the best probability that you can help him take victory from an
unacceptable. That's the Plurality strategy that I recommend, though
we might differ on what we call acceptable...

Admittedly, depending on how particular you are, there might often
only be one acceptable.

I'm not sure what's interesting about that website; it seems to trot out 
familiar misunderstandings.

Mike Ossipoff

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