[EM] Re: minmax is not a good public election method

Russ Paielli 6049awj02 at sneakemail.com
Sat Jun 18 23:22:31 PDT 2005

On May 27, James wrote:

	I argue that minimax makes no sense as a public election proposal. If 
we're going to try to implement pairwise count methods on a big scale, 
we should choose good ones. In my opinion, that absolutely cuts out 
minmax methods (because of MMC failure, CL failure, etc.) and margins 
methods (because of lack of strategic stability). These methods have the 
potential to greatly embarrass pairwise count methods in general.

The rest of the message can be found at


I reply:

After thinking about this for a while, I have come to the conclusion 
that I agree with James on MMPO. I give Kevin credit for determining its 
significant advantages, but as James and Chris have pointed out, they 
come at too high a cost.

Imagine the following scenario. MMPO has been adopted for a major 
election. The results come in, and a Condorcet winner exists but does 
not win. With MMPO, that would not be unlikely at all. Maybe the 
Condorcet Loser even wins. Now imagine what the supporters of the CW are 
going to say:

"Hey, wait a minute. Are you telling me that my guy beat every other 
candidate but didn't win the election? What kind of brain-dead system is 
this? Who were the idiots who designed this scheme? Why do we bother 
with pairwise tallies if we are just going to ignore them?"

Imagine the field day Leno and Letterman would have. Then someone would 
come along and try to explain that MMPO satisfies FBC and LNH. Yeah, 
right. Imagine how well that will go over with the general public!

As most of you realize, we have a dilemma here. You can design an 
election method that counts sincere votes in a reasonable way, or you 
can design one that provides little or no incentive to vote insincerely, 
but you can't do both at once. You want FBC and/or LNH? Then you can't 
satisfy Condorcet.

So which concern should prevail? Should sincere votes be counted the 
best way we know, or should guarantees be given that sincere voting 
won't backfire? It seems obvious to me that any election method must 
first be able to deal well with sincere votes before any other concern 
is addressed. A good tally method for sincere votes is a *prerequisite*. 
*Encouraging* sincere voting is also important but is ultimately 
secondary to actually counting sincere votes properly.

By the way, I see that Kevin just added an Approval cutoff to MMPO. I 
consider that an improvement but it still falls short.

I still say that Smith/Approval or DMC/RAV are probably the best we can 
do. The rules are reasonably simple, and the Approval cutoff gives the 
voter a critical additional mode of expression without violating CC. And 
allowing equal ranking makes it at least as good as Approval for those 
who choose to use it that way.

As for AERLO, I say nice try but no thanks. First, it breaks 
summability. Secondly, I have yet to see an unambiguous explanation of 
how it would actually be applied. I get the distinct impression that it 
hasn't been thought through yet.


More information about the Election-Methods mailing list