[EM] recommendations

larrythecucumber at adelphia.net larrythecucumber at adelphia.net
Tue Aug 10 19:48:24 PDT 2004

This is my first e-mail to this listserv, although I have been checking the monthly pages for interesting entries for over a year and a half.  I can’t believe I waited so long to join in.  For some reason I’m more nervous about joining listservs seems than joining web discussion forums.  Maybe it’s because the last time I joined a listserv I was chased off by another member because I wasn’t a member of the political party which operated the listserv.  Well, on to the topic.

As for which single-winner method is best (at least in elections with large electorates and possibly all elections where there is the possibility of more than two options), I currently support a Condorcet method I like to call Locked Preferences.  It is very similar Maximize Affirmed Majorities, but the number of votes against a defeat is not used as a tie-breaker when two defeats are supported by an equal number of votes and pairwise ties which need to be resolved are treated essentially the same as defeats of equal strength that cannot both be affirmed, if they are not already treated the same in MAM (this could make a difference if two opposite preferences and a third preference that would contradict one of them and an already affirmed majority are expressed by an equal number of voters; I say “essentially the same” since a lot tiebreaker with each of the two candidates having an equal chance of winning would produce no different results from Steve Eppley’s tiebreaker if o
 ne pairwise tie was the only tie that needed to be broken).

These are the only real differences between Locked Preferences and MAM, but they are made more natural by the following difference in heuristic: instead of determining the winner of each pair and sorting each pair by the method described above, you sort the preferences themselves, all of them (“defeats”, minority preferences, and preferences that are part of a pairwise tie), by the method described above.  Using this heuristic could perhaps win over some supporters of margins being used to sort defeats rather than winning votes, since it would show that votes for a majority preference overriding those for the opposite preference is no different than votes for two defeats overriding those for a smaller defeat which contradicts those defeats.  It also just seems more natural to me.  My reason for not using the number of votes against a preference as a tiebreaker is that non-random secondary sort factors like that don’t seem natural to me.  If margins aren’t used in sorting defe
 ats in general, they shouldn’t be used as a tiebreaker either (and the preference opposed by the least votes among preferences expressed by an equal number of voters is the same as the preference with the greatest margin).  That same sense of what’s natural, plus the concept of comparing preferences rather than comparing pairs of preferences, is why I favor treating all cases where preferences expressed by an equal number of voters the same way as long as the outcome hinges upon the resolution of those ties.

Moving on to multiple-winner elections, ideally I would support CPO-STV, in pure form except that equal rankings would be allowed (how that would work is a topic for another post).  Ideally I would not even support the use of outcome elimination shortcuts since that would deprive citizens of a chance to see the full results.  But I have to be reasonable.  Eliminating outcomes from consideration that do not include candidates who would meet/surpass the quota in an STV count without exclusions would save a lot of time and money in most multiple-winner elections without compromising the integrity of the method or even (except rarely) eliminating comparisons of pairs of outcomes that are worth looking at.  I’m a little less sure about excluding outcomes from consideration that include candidates who cannot possibly win given evidence apparent early on, unless those candidates are write-in candidates.  I feel that a candidate has a right to see how close he or she came to being el
 ected, and at times a polarizing candidate who would be excluded in one of James Green-Armytage’s shortcuts ( http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/2003-July/010316.html ) may actually have come close enough to winning that a recount would not be unreasonable.  I also don’t like the idea of local CPO-STV, which is described in the link shown above, although I can certainly see why it was proposed since it can greatly reduce the number of comparisons necessary and will only very rarely yield a different result than pure CPO-STV.

In some aspects, however, I am willing to support a far less pure CPO-STV method.  In order to make voters’ number of options less overwhelming, thus making it easier for them to make an informed ranking of all the options, I propose allowing candidates for the same office to run in slates, including slates established by political parties by the same methods used to choose nominees today, preferably in primary elections where eligible candidates could also run in slates.  A first place vote for a slate would count as a first place vote for the first candidate on that slate, a second place vote for the second candidate on that state, and so on up to the number of candidates on the slate, which should not be allowed to be greater than the number of candidates to be elected.  A second place vote for a candidate or slate would in effect count as an n+1 place vote for that candidate or the first candidate on that slate, where n is the number of candidates on all slates ranked abo
 ve it, and an n+2 place vote for the next candidate on that slate, and so on.  One might be able to use shortcuts in addition to those proposed by Mr. Green-Armytage without further compromising the integrity of the method.  That, in addition to the fact that the number of distinct outcomes would often be much less than in the same election under regular CPO-STV, would in most cases greatly reduce the number of comparisons of pairs of outcomes which are necessary.  One might think that if candidates are going to run in slates than the addition of a Condorcet component is not worth the additional effort on the part of both the voters and the ballot-counters and the additional cost that will likely result.  I feel, however, that the Condorcet component provides some immunity from complaints that a certain party or slate benefited or was hurt unfairly by the way votes were divided among other, more similar slates.

I will conclude my description of my favorite multiple-winner election method by answering the three questions which must be asked of any method with both a Condorcet and an STV component.  Not surprisingly, I support my favorite single-winner method, Locked Preferences, as the Condorcet method used to determine a winning outcome was all the preferences of one outcome over another have been calculated.  I support the use of the Newland-Britain quota, especially in “party-list CPO-STV” where the Hare quota could potentially penalize a group of candidates for running in one slate, but in regular CPO-STV as well.  I agree that using the Hare quota would lead to more proportional results.  However, I feel, for example, that if there are only two groups, each with 100% common voter support, and one group receives more than twice as many votes as the other, then the first group should be awarded a second seat before the second group is awarded the first seat since each of two candi
 date’s equal shares of the first group’s votes is greater than one candidate’s whole share of the second group’s votes.  Using the Newland Britain quota assures that this will happen.  The way CPO-STV works, you won’t even need to have the caveat about a candidate’s votes having to exceed the quota for that candidate to be elected, except in the preliminary STV count to determine which outcomes can be excluded from consideration.  As for what surplus rule to use when there are multiple surpluses, I haven’t thought about it or researched it enough to make an informed decision.

I haven’t thought much about voting in smaller groups and about direct democracy beyond where there are more than two options on referendum questions.  (Maine, where I live, has had a couple of notorious three-way referendum elections in the past decade.  One was on restrictions on forestry practices including clearcutting and the other was on a shift of some of the funding for education from a primarily property tax source, the municipalities, to a largely income and sales tax source, the state – pretty divisive issues in Maine.)  This isn’t much different from choosing a favorite single winner election method, although I’m not sure I’d choose the same one.  I lack the energy to delve into the new realms of smaller group voting and proxy voting.  Thank you though, James, for starting this topic which finally got me to join this listserv.


Kevin Lamoreau

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