[EM] Squeezing the most from the ballot [was Party's list or voters ranking, Let the voter choose]

Forest Simmons fsimmons at pcc.edu
Thu Jul 10 14:48:03 PDT 2003

On Wed, 9 Jul 2003, [iso-8859-1] Anthony Duff wrote:

> How about offering the voter a choice?  Let the voter
> choose to either (A) mark 1 box to vote for a party’s
> predefined ranked ballot, or (B) complete the ballot
> with their own ranking.
> This is a method that is in practice and works quite
> well.  It is particularly useful when there are a
> large number of candidates.
> Most voters will take option (A).  Few voters take
> option (B).
> Option (B) is more complicated to tally, count and
> track transfers, and so is helpful that few take it.
> However, it is important, in principle, that voters
> have the (B) option so that they are free to vote any
> way they choose.

What you describe is essentially a hybrid Candidate Proxy method.

Any method could be hybridized more simply as follows:

Rule 1.  Any ballot with a single mark ("bullet vote") is automatically
filled in according to the recommendation of the candidate whose name was

Rule 2.  A virtual candidate named "No Proxy" is listed among the real
candidates, so that someone who wants their bullet vote to remain a bullet
vote can make two marks on the ballot, thereby circumventing rule 1 above.

In other words, by default a bullet vote is considered a proxy
designation, but this default can be over-ridden by marking "No Proxy."

Since, as you say, most voters are inclined towards the proxy option, the
default should be in this direction.

The Approval/Proxy hybrid is especially attractive since it only requires
a one bit (per candidate) ballot, the same ballot used in FPTP Plurality.

Suppose that we had this hybrid going in the last U.S. Presidential

Since Nader called Gore and Bush, respectively, "Tweedle Dumb" and
"Tweedle Dumber," I assume that he would have approved Gore in the proxy
vote if he himself lacked the support to win (and assuming Bush didn't
offer some believable major green concessions for Nader support).

Nader supporters who couldn't stomach approval for Gore even if hell
should freeze over, could approve Nader and any other candidate besides
Gore, if only "No Proxy" for example, and that would guarantee that their
ballots would not count for Gore.

The main difference between what I am proposing and what you say is
already in practice is that the proxies get to decide where to put their
approval cutoffs after the rest of the ballots are counted.  So they know
how much loyal voter support they have before they have to decide how much
if any approval they should extend to other candidates while acting as

At present I cannot imagine any other method that could squeeze more out
of a one bit ballot.

And I seriously doubt that any single winner method currently in use for
public elections could be expected to give superior results, no matter how
complicated the ballot.


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