[EM] Dave: Approval vs rank methods

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 7 20:55:39 PST 2005


You wrote:

Your subject implies a promise to compare among three methods.

Your content goes into great detail as to Approval vs RV, but very little as 
to rank.

Seeing rank as far superior to either, I read looking to see why you might 

I reply:

Neither is superior in every way. Approval is superior in some ways. The 
best rank methods have advantages that our public election voters probably 
need (but only time will tell). I've said that though Approval would be good 
in public elections, I, for practical reasons, would rather have RV, and 
would especially rather have MDDA, MDDB, MDD,ER-Buckllin(whole), or MAMPO.

So we don't disagree on that: We'd both rather have a rank method rather 
than Approval for public elections.

I've compared Approval to a solid, reliable handtool, in previous discussion 
with you on EM, probably last month. I've said that the trouble with a 
handtool is that you have to do the work yourself, and so you have to really 
know how to use it. Of course you have to know how to use a machine too, but 
the machine does most of the work. With the handtool you have to know how to 
do everything, because you don't have a machine doing it for you.

Rank methods are majority-enforcing machines. A machine can be well-designed 
and high-quality, or it can be a cheap and defective machine like IRV.

Of course any machine is a contrivance, a contraption. But the voters in 
public elections probably need a good majority-enforcing contraption.

If the voters are as incompetent as they seem to show that they are, they're 
going to need a good majority-enforcing machine so that they won't have to 
incompetently make the all-or-nothing strategic decisions that the handtool 
Approval would require of them.

I claim that FBC is essential in public elections, as I've been saying, 
which is why I say that the best majority-enforcing machines are MDDA, MDDB, 
MDD,ER-Bucklin(whole) and MAMPO.

I hope that better clarifies my position on Approval vs the best rank 

As you said, this probably isn' t the discussion in which to debate which 
rank method is the best for the exisiting voting situation with the existing 

You continued:

Time for comment:

Approval does not let competent voters vote their decisions full strength.

I reply:

Corrrect: Approval doesn't _let_ people vote pairwise preferences full 
strength: It _forces_ them to.

Maybe you're referring to the fact that Approval doesn't let people vote all 
their preferences. No, just their most important ones.

But, unlike IRV, Approval reliably counts every pairwise preference that you 
consider important enough to be one that you vote, when you can't vote them 

Approval, which I also call Set Voting, lets you vote one candidate-set over 
another. That lets you vote the pairwise preferences that really matter. 
Anything more would be a frivolous luxury--except that, as I said, our 
public election voters need that luxury.

Is it better to let people vote all their pairwise preferences? If the 
incompetent voters are going to botch their choice, in Approval, of which 
pairwise preferences to vote, then yes, it would then be better to let 
people vote all of their pairwise preferences. But of course that's 
worthless if we don't count them all. IRV doesn't count them. It's desirable 
for a rank method to have majority-enforcement criterion compliances. It's 
also necessary, in our public elections, to never give anyone incentive to 
bury their favorite. Choose a rank method accordingly.

You continued:

Easy enough to vote for A and against B.  Then there is no way in Approval 
to say for C that C is preferred over B BUT that this preference must not 
interfere with voting full-strength preference for A over C.

I reply:

Exactly. And the incompetents that I've referred to don't do a good job of 
choosing which of those pairwise preferences to vote. That's why I want them 
to be able to vote all their pairwise prefences, and have them all counted, 
by a method with majority-enforcing criterion compliances.

Is I was saying before in this message, and in previous messages last month: 
We don't disagree on that!!!

You continued:

RV permits fine grained expression of such differences but, after giving 
voters headaches as to how to express them in more detail than rank permits

I reply:

Yes, sincere rating is more work. But no one forces you to do that work. You 
can just give maximum points to the candidates you'd vote for in Approval, 
and give minumum points to the others. That's your best strategy. And 
another reason to use that Approval strategy is that Approval is easier to 

You continued:

, gives the counters headaches trying to decipher exactly what the voters 

I reply.

I disagree there: RV doesn't give any problem to counters. They merely have 
to add up each candidate's points, and declare as winner the one with the 
most points.

You continued:

For all of which reasons I prefer rank, especially for public elections:

I reply:

I too prefer the best rank methods for public elections.

You continued:

Voters can indicate order of their preferences.

I reply:

A necessity for our incompetent voters. Otherwise a frivolous luxury. As I 
said, Set Voting  (That's Approval) lets you vote one candidate-set over 
another. Those are the important pairwise preferences,  and that should be 

You continued:

Counters can read these preferences in the same language as the voters used 
for writing.

I reply:

That's true with Approval and RV too. And I remind you that Approval and RV 
receive information that rank methods don't receive: Preference strength. In 
that regard, Approval and RV are more expressive than rank methods.

You think that Approval doesn't allow you to express as much because it 
doesn't let you indicate the direction of all your pairwise preferences. But 
Approval lets you express their strength: You vote a preference if it's 
important enough to you. Rank methods let you express the direction of all 
your preferences, but that's all. They don't let you express the strength of 
your preferences.

No one denies that the best rank methods do the best job of enforcing 
majority rule. But who says that's all that matters?

Mike Ossipoff

FREE pop-up blocking with the new MSN Toolbar – get it now! 

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list