[EM] What do we mean by 'your vote counts'?

Bill Lewis Clark wclark at xoom.org
Fri Jan 23 17:37:02 PST 2004

Eric Gorr wrote:

> With Approval and Condorcet, the entire way you vote will affect the
> outcome of an election.

But Jan's point is that with Approval or Condorcet, most of the time the
way you vote WON'T affect the outcome of the election, because your single
vote gets swamped by the sheer volume of other voters.

Even in situations where some of the preferences expressed in Approval or
Condorcet matter in individual cases (such as tiny elections) there are
many preferences which DON'T matter.

Or, to put this second point another way, you could continue to run
elimination rounds in IRV so that more preferences were "counted" and 3rd,
4th, etc. place finishes determined -- but who cares?  *Some* of the
preferences that Approval and Condorcet "count" simply don't matter.

Now, I realize Approval and Condorcet "count" preferences in a different
(and more important) way that IRV does not, and I have somewhat of an
intuitive understanding of what that notion of "count" is -- but Jan is
requesting something more explicit, and I don't think that's been provided

Jan, I think what Mike (et al) is trying to say is that there are some
situations where the preferences that IRV disregards *would* make a
difference to the outcome of the election, if they were taken in
aggregate.  He's not saying that individual votes matter in these cases,
but rather that when using Approval or Condorcet it makes a difference to
the outcome of the election whether a lot of voters rank D over E -- but
that IRV would ignore this preference anyway, because neither D nor E has
a lot of first-choice votes.

-Bill Clark

Dennis Kucinich for President in 2004

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