[EM] Re: What exactly is an "Election Method"?

Bryan Ford baford at mit.edu
Fri Aug 20 01:09:53 PDT 2004

On Friday 20 August 2004 01:00, Paul Kislanko wrote: 
> Election Method:
> n. A combination of a procedure for collecting voter preferences and an
> algorithm for counting votes.
> >From a purely analytical standpoint, these can be dealt with separately
> > and
> I believe it is much easier to do so. I take no sides on the IRV vs
> Condorcet discussion, but observe that you can do neither if the collection
> process only supports plurality. Any improvement over plurality needs some
> of ranked-ballot input, and it seems to me to be pointless to be debating
> the attributes of tallying algorithms if there's no input to talley except
> first-place votes.

You're quite right to point out that both IRV and Condorcet (and Approval and 
most other "alternative" methods) critically depend on changing the balloting 
scheme to something other than simply "choose one candidate".  But I don't 
think it's quite true that "_any_ improvement over plurality needs some 
[sort] of ranked-ballot input".  For example, the Candidate Proxy scheme that 
has been discussed before on this list, as well as my very similar Delegative 
Voting scheme (http://www.brynosaurus.com/deleg/elect), use ordinary 
plurality-style ballots but nevertheless I think at least represent a 
significant improvement over plurality (independent of how they might compare 
to IRV or Condorcet).

One of the main reasons I suggested Delegative Voting in the first place was 
precisely because it requires no change whatsoever in balloting or vote 
counting technologies, or the attendant effort in re-educating voters in how 
to cast ballots.  In that sense Delegative Voting or Candidate Proxy could 
represent a "path of least resistance" from plurality to something at least 
substantially better if not necessarily ideal.

>So I would argue quite strongly that if you use a pairwise matrix as your
>tally mechanism, you allow each voter to fill in their pair-wise
>preferences. If you don't, the system is not "transparent" and can't be
>backed-up by voters' ballots. That would be a lot harder to sell (but it's
>trivial to implement)

Very cute idea - for us voting geeks anyway - but somehow I'm not quite sure 
it would fly with the general public... :)


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