[EM] recommendations

James Green-Armytage jarmyta at antioch-college.edu
Mon Aug 2 04:14:26 PDT 2004

Hi folks,

	Usually posts focus on a particular method or issue, but I thought that
it would also be interesting, from time to time, for people to post a
quick index of which methods they are currently advocating for. That's
what I have offered below. There is also a web page version of this at
but that one will hopefully continue to evolve, while this archived post,
of course, cannot. The web page version also has links attached to most of
the various key words (more links than the two or three I threw in below).
	Below, I talk about methods for 4 super-basic categories: single-winner
public, multi-winner public, small electorates, and DD. 
	So, I encourage you'all to post similar lists of top recommendations, or,
if you like, to respond to anything aspect of my list.
	Of course I don't claim to have invented all or most of the methods
below, although I did invent a few of them.
	I like posting these recommendation-indexes because it gives us a chance
to step back and put all the methods and issues in perspective.

Single-winner elections (large electorates)
          The basic principle of effective single-winner voting is
Condorcet's principle, that is, the process of pairwise comparison.
          My primary recommendation for single-winner elections is to use
the weighted pairwise comparison method. This is a Condorcet-efficient
method which uses both ranking ballots (first choice, second choice, etc.)
and rating ballots (assigning candidates a score from 0 to 100). When
there is a majority rule cycle according to the ranked ballots, the
ratings ballots are used to help determine the relative strength of the
defeats, and thus which defeat(s) should be dropped.
          I think that this method is marginally preferable to Condorcet
methods which only use ranking information because 
1. It takes into account strength of preference in addition to direction
of preference, thus providing more appropriate solutions to majority rule
cycles given sincere voting, and
2. It seems to provide an extra line of defense against the sort of
strategic manipulation that Condorcet's method is vulnerable to.
          If a society has the voting equipment to support ranked ballots
but not ratings ballots, then there are still many excellent Condorcet
methods to choose from, such as beatpath and ranked pairs. In general I
prefer versions of those methods which use winning votes rather than
margins. If feasible, I would recommend that these methods be used as part
of a two-round iterative Condorcet procedure.

Multiple-winner elections (large electorates)
	In most cases I think that it is desirable to use proportional
representation to fill seats in legislative bodies. In cases where you are
not using proportional representation, you can usually make small
modifications to single-winner voting methods in order to make similar
multiple-winner methods. However, to achieve proportional representation,
you need fundamentally different methods.
          The basic principle of effective proportional representation
methods is the single transferable vote (STV). In particular, I recommend
CPO-STV, which stands for "comparison of pairs of outcomes by single
transferable vote." This is an effective hybridization of STV and
Condorcet's method, where complete outcomes are compared to one another
using modified STV tallies. It is also possible to apply the principle of
weighted pairwise to CPO-STV.
          If the computational resources for CPO-STV aren't available,
then most other versions of STV (Newland-Britton, Meek, etc.) should still
work very well. 

Voting in smaller groups
          In this case, your electorate is smaller, hopefully small enough
to fit in a single room. For example, the voting that goes on within a
legislature or council.
          Because the group is smaller, it should be relatively
inexpensive to hold more than one balloting. Hence I recommend the use of
an iterative pairwise voting procedure. In a nutshell, this is 
1. to hold provisional ranked votes, and tally them by a good
Condorcet-efficient method. 
2. The winner of these provisional tallies, then, should be subject to a
simple yes/no vote, such that if a majority votes no, more another
balloting is taken, and so on until a provisional winner is subsequently
confirmed by a majority "yes" vote.
          This procedure should have substantial benefits in terms of
providing a strong line of defense against strategic manipulation, and
providing authentic majority rule.

Direct democracy
          I have proposed a non-binding system of direct democracy, which
incorporates the use of proxy voting. Voters would be able to vote
directly on issues, but they would also be able to designate proxies, such
that if they do not have the time to vote on a given issue, the weight of
the vote will be carried by the proxy of their choice.
          I believe that this would be a very real step forward for
democracy, and one that can be taken at any moment. While a change to the
official election system requires an enormous legal struggle, a
non-binding proxy system could be implemented without changing a single
state or federal constitution. This would allow people to express their
views on public issues directly and actively, rather than just by favoring
one representative over another, or through the dubious conduits of focus
groups and polls. 





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