[EM] random voting, Eastern Bloc

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Fri Jul 19 12:13:39 PDT 2002

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Let's not give opponents an opportunity to get away with saying
that Approval differs from Plurality in requiring random voting.

If someone would flip a coin to decide whether or not to vote
for someone in Approval, that same person would have that same
need to flip a coin in Plurality, to decide the same kind of
choice, where he isn't sure how far he needs to compromise, which
candidate is the best one he can get and the one he should vote for.

So the best strategy suggestion to make is: Vote for the same
candidate you'd vote for in Plurality, and for everyone whom
you like better (including your favorite, of course).

As we were discussing earlier, it would also be to your advantage
to vote for candidates who are better than your expectation before
voting. If you're fairly sure that X & Y are the only ones who might be
in a tie or near-tie for first place, then, in addition to
voting for whichever of those 2 you like better, it's advantageous
to also vote for any candidate who is better than (Ux * probability
that X outpolls Y + Uy * probability that Y outpolls X). That's
because if you aren't _entirely_ sure that X & Y are the only
ones who'd be in a tie or near-tie, voting for such a candidate
is harmless if the tie or near-tie is between X & Y, and
is to your advantage if it turns out that the tie isn't between
X & Y.

Ignoring the small probability that X & Y aren't the ones who
tie, that means voting for a different candidate if he's better
than your expectation (estimated with the assumption that X or
Y will win).

I mention that now just to agree that you don't want or need to
go into it with most voters. Just say "Vote for the candidate
you'd vote for in Plurality, and for everyone whom you like better."

The strategy of voting for everyone who looks better than the
election, for all the candidates whom you'd prefer to holding
the election, is another easily described one. But people
aren't used to it, and the suggestion to vote for whom you would
in Plurality and for everyone better has the advantage of
requiring exactly the same estimate that voters now make.

By the way, voting for a candidate if his value is greater than
that of the election is a method that I'd often use, in situations
where it isn't a clear-cut matter of acceptable and completely
unacceptable candidates. I often prefer it to estimating
probabilities such as Pi, Wi, or those villain & hero probabilities
which, I was saying earier, seem more intuitive than Pi or Wi.

But the acceptable/unacceptable situation seems very common.

About Eastern-Bloc voting, what I heard was the the USSR, and
probably some other East Bloc countries were using Approval, but
with an equivalent but different form of balloting: The voter
is given a list of candidates, and he can cross out as many
as he wants to, giving them a negative vote (or witholding from
them a positive vote).

Those aren't Americans' favorite governments, and so I don't
suppose it would help to cite that use of Approval. But that
did get Approval accepted as a method for the Calif. LWV to
consider, since they had a rule requiring methods to have been
used in public political elections.

But I've already discussed
how CVD gave \$5000 to Calif. LWV, and got a majority on the
committee that runs that project, and predictably had IRV promotion
at the official website, but nothing about Approval*, and distributed
official "educational" material to LWV members that was blatant
IRV promotional material. Blake didn't like it when I called
that "sleaze", but I don't know what he'd call it.

*Oh yes, after a long time they eventually put something up that
mentioned Approval by saying only that Approval isn't in use
in any political elections.

Mike Ossipoff

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