[EM] Re: Voting Systems Study of the League of Women Voters of Minnesota

Araucaria Araucana araucaria.araucana at gmail.com
Wed Jun 8 11:34:00 PDT 2005

On  7 Jun 2005 at 21:01 UTC-0700, Abd ulRahman Lomax wrote:

At 01:25 PM 6/7/2005, Araucaria Araucana wrote: >On 6 Jun 2005 at 21:20 UTC-0700, Abd ulRahman Lomax wrote:
>> > What if we had IRV with Approval? What is that called?
>>Equal-Rank [allowed], Instant Runoff Voting, whole [votes counted for
>>equal rank].
>>In other words, each round of the runoff becomes an approval election
>>rather than a single-vote-transfer election.
> Let me make sure I understand. If we had a face-to-face meeting, and
> an election was held by show of hands, which is not an uncommon
> thing, I've never seen a rule that prevents a person from voting for
> more than one candidate. And the winner is the person with the most
> hands shown.  Essentially, approval voting is *standard*. The oddity
> is the practice of discarding ballots which are multiply-marked, as
> if they were somehow defective. Does anyone know the history of that
> practice?


Let me summarize two sides of the main argument.

On one side, we have those who say, 

   Let everyone have their say, even if they choose more than one
   candidate.  Every voice should be heard.

   [with mumbled grumblings about overly stringent voting requirements
   and inadequate voting facilities]

For now, let me call this the Liberal point of view, in the original
sense that we should be as free and open as required to allow every
vote possible.

On the other side, we have those who mistrust the process:

   How can we be sure that the ballots were not tampered with, between
   voting and official tally?

   [with mumbled grumblings about stuffing ballot boxes and
   unqualified voters]

For now, I will call this the Conservative point of view, with the
original meaning of taking every precaution to avoid counting
something that is not qualified to be counted.

With Approval voting, marking more than one candidate with no other
means of verifying the vote means that Conservatives will mistrust the
process.  The ballots could have been marked with extra votes
somewhere along the way.

So simply using standard ballots but relaxing (in a Liberal way) the
'vote for only one' rule is accessible to fraud, to Conservatives.

But from the Liberal point of view, the current system favors the
Conservatives because ballots could be tampered with (in order to
invalidate some votes) by marking an overvote.

Besides that, single-vote can be implemented by simpletons, of whom we
seem to have ample supply in our election administrations.  Each
ballot can be sorted into exactly one candidate stack, and the number
of single votes sums up to the number of ballots.

A similar issue exists with ERIRV.  Under standard IRV, there is only
one vote for each ordinal rank.  So at any round, a ballot would be
sorted into exactly one stack.

You can have Approval or Equal-Rank IRV and still satisfy the
Conservatives by having the voter explicitly Approve or Disapprove
each candidate.  Then the total number of Approval and Disapproval
votes should add up to number-of-ballots times number-of-voters.
Ballots cannot be tampered with simply by checking extra boxes.  But
this is *much* more complicated for the voter.

A less-onerous alternative (in many-candidate races) would be to have
the voter explicitly state the number of candidates being approved or
equal-ranked.  This might be reasonable with machine-aided ballots.
[Note that I advocate only machine-ASSISTED ballots, with only a
voter-readable paper ballot used for the count.  I mistrust electronic
voting.]  The voting form could automatically keep track of the number
of candidates at each rank.

Abd is correct that the more Liberal procedure is used in face-to-face
meetings, but in such a setting there are many ways to prevent the
count from being falsified.

araucaria dot araucana at gmail dot com
Q = Qoph = "monkey/knot" -- see http://www.ship.edu/~cgboeree/alphabet.html

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