[EM] Sticks-in-the-mud

Adam Tarr atarr at purdue.edu
Fri Aug 13 13:38:28 PDT 2004

  Diana Galletly wrote:

>Finally the dreadful Voting Review Committee at Cambridge has produced
>its Report.  I am unimpressed:
>Any comments (and, better, refutations)?"

I'll be "quoting" the text of the link from here out.

>Condorcet, however, would tend to produce consensual results, in that the 
>conclusion tends to be support for the proposition which has the broadest 
>support, even though other propositions may have majority support.

I find this statement hilarious, because it is a garbled version of a 
specious criticism.  It is as if someone played the children's game 
"telephone" with Don Davison on one end, and this was the statement that 
came out the other end.

What they're TRYING to say is that a candidate with weak first-place 
support can win a Condorcet election.  They end up saying the inverse, 
which is false.

I would challenge them to produce a single example where a method that has 
majority first-place support loses in Condorcet voting.  They won't be able 
to, because it is impossible.

>Condorcet rules
>For the voter action is the same as for STV. The votes are counted 
>differently, however, with the successive exclusion of least popular 
>pair-wise combinations,

This betrays an ignorance to the nature of Condorcet methods.  I assume 
this is a somewhat garbled description of sequential dropping.  Not only 
are they ignoring other methods such as Ranked Pairs, but they are ignoring 
the more fundamental formation of a pairwise matrix, and determination of 
whether a Condorcet winner exists.

>  with the result that the options elected carry the broadest support,

OK, they got that right.

>but may not be those with the strongest separate support.

This statement is meaningless without defining "separate support".  It is 
possible for the candidate with the most first place support to lose, but 
this is true of every method except FPTP.

>It can be complicated to count.

Again, betraying an ignorance to the counting methods.  For a non-trivial 
number of ballots, counting a Condorcet method election is far easier than 
counting a IRV election.

>  It was put to the Review Committee, that STV is particularly suitable in 
> voting in elections for representative bodies, such as the University 
> Council, where it is desirable to represent different strands of opinion,

Here I agree.  Condorcet IS a bad method for filling a legislature, unless 
you use one of the more complicated multi-winner variants.  It is far 
superior to STV in single-winner elections.

>and that Condorcet is particularly useful in voting on policy matters 
>where it is desirable that the result should be one of broad consensus, 
>rather than of representing the largest single body of opinion.

They keep saying this.  It remains a terribly ignorant statement.  STV does 
not reliably represent the "largest single body of opinion".  If that is 
really what they want, they want plurality.

>  While this assessment of STV

Typo here - I would assume they mean Condorcet.

>  does indeed seem applicable to University circumstances, it is not 
> necessarily the case that the best policy or legislative solution would 
> be achieved consensually,

How should policies solutions be achieved, then?  Erratically?

>  and the case for adopting Condorcet rules is not, therefore, made out on 
> that account.

I can see why you're unimpressed, Diana.  They seem to think they 
understand Condorcet and STV, but in reality they're obviously ignorant to 
the differences between these methods.

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