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

Kevin Venzke stepjak at yahoo.fr
Mon Jun 20 22:04:38 PDT 2005

```Russ,

--- Russ Paielli <6049awj02 at sneakemail.com> a écrit :
> My calculation shows
>
> A: 51 against
> B: 48 against
> C: 51 against
>
> If that's correct, I wouldn't call it "decisive." Nevertheless, the fact
> that B wins at all is certainly an embarrassment, considering that only
> 4 of 100 voters ranked B above last place.

I say "decisive" because B wins with 100% probability.

> >>And as for why voters "abstain" from a particular pairwise
> >>contest, I don't see why it should matter in the tally procedure any
> >>more than it matters why some eligible voters abstained from the entire
> >>election.
> >
> > Because those voters have a right to be considered, but we don't know why they
> > abstained from a given contest. Maybe they did want other voters to decide.
> > Maybe they felt unable to participate in the contest for strategic reasons.
> > Maybe they wanted the method to behave exactly as it did. When the method is not
> > Condorcet, you can't use Condorcet to argue how abstaining voters should be
> > counted. You don't have their permission. Get them to vote for you next time.
>
> Actually, I think the most likely reason for a voter to "abstain" from a
> pairwise race is also the most likely reason for a voter to abstain from
> the entire election: apathy. Why should a voter spend his time ranking
> the candidates all the way down if he doesn't care about all of them?
>
> Therefore, I still don't think it makes sense to count one and not the
> other in the definition of "majority."

But my point is that we *do not know why* a voter abstains from a given
contest. I do not see the "most likely reason" to be relevant, since it can't
be demonstrated when it matters.

If the method is Condorcet, then by definition the CW has a right to complain
if he doesn't win. When the method is not Condorcet, the CW can't argue that
abstaining voters should be counted as "indifferent," because the method in
use is not Condorcet; if it had been, the votes could have been different.

> >>By the way, one of the great features of Smith/Approval and DMC is that
> >>the entire "margins vs. winning votes" debate is completely irrelevant
> >>-- as it should be. The notion that the winner should depend on some
> >>convention about counting abstentions strikes me as fundamentally wrong.
> >>(If we count them as equal ratings, why not give each candidate 1/2
> >>vote? Then margins = winning votes.)
> >
> > If it is fundamentally wrong to have a convention on abstentions, why do you
> > propose a convention on abstentions?
>
> I don't recall proposing any such thing. All I said is that whichever
> convention is used is merely a convention. If a voter leaves two or more
> candidates unranked, then one perfectly reasonable interpretation is
> that he considers them all exactly equal. That's what his vote says. If
> he didn't consider them exactly equal, he could have specified a
> preference by ranking them. Given that fact, I don't see why it is not
> perfectly reasonable to split the vote half and half for each pair of
> unranked candidates. You may think the voter did not intend to make them
> exactly equal, but the simple fact is that he did just that.

Well, in my opinion the bottom line is that margins and half-votes cause
the method to fail Plurality and Minimal Defense. I don't have a philosophical
argument against margins. I just think the philosophical arguments against WV
are silly.

> > Smith//Approval and DMC behave more like WV than margins, by the way, so
> > it doesn't seem to me that they have "dodged the issue." WV and Approval
> > both consider the literal number of voters in favor of some position.
>
> I don't know how it "behaves," but the fact is that Smith/Approval does
> not need to determine margins or winning votes. It simply doesn't come
> up. Each pairwise race is essentially binary (ternary if you count the
> possibility of a tie).

I don't understand why this fact is interesting. Is it because there's no
potential for an argument over it? Presumably someone who dislikes WV and
likes margins will have enough sense to determine that S//A and DMC aren't
what he wants.

Kevin Venzke

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