[EM] 03/30/02 - Re: How to vote in Approval:

Adam Tarr atarr at purdue.edu
Sun Mar 31 16:46:43 PST 2002

Dave wrote:

>I have nothing nice to say about Approval, noting that no one seems able 
>to give me useful guidelines as to how well I should have to like a 
>candidate to say "approve".

Rob LeGrand came up with a decent strategy that makes a lot of 
sense.  Approve every candidate you like more than the front runner, and 
approve the front runner if you like him/her more than the second-place 
candidate.  This requires knowing who's top two in the polls, but this is a 
pretty good bet in a large election.

The reason approval is far from perfect is that it's hard to say whether 
you need the front-runner in a very close race.  But this is a good 
guideline, and it will certainly beat the pants off of plurality voting.

>In Condorcet, and even normally in IRV, I list candidates first because I 
>would be pleased if they won, and last to discourage their winning.

Of course, that first place vote in IRV will get you into trouble if your 
compromise choice loses early on, but your favorite can't beat the 
front-runner.  But you know that.

Approval certainly has its places.  If I had to advocate wide-scale single 
winner voting reform to a large group that was not familiar with it, my 
inclination is to advocate approval voting.  It's simple and it's an 
obvious improvement over plurality.  But if I'm trying to turn around an 
IRV advocate, I would definitely jump straight to advocating Condorcet 
voting.  Once someone has accepted the concept of ranked ballots, they have 
a certain intuitive appeal that's hard to give up.  It's hard to convince 
someone who's bought into IRV that you get better results with plain old 
unranked approval ballots.  But a few simple examples will convince all but 
the most hardheaded IRV advocate that Condorcet is superior.


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