[EM] Some answers to "1-person-1-vote"

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Mon Nov 7 21:21:35 PST 2005

I'll refer to the "1-person-1-vote" objection to Approval as "1p1v".

1p1v has been demolished on EM in so many ways that I don't claim that this 
message will cover all of them. But I'd like to mention a few of them.

1p1v advocates imply or say that the voter who casts more votes has more 
power. But you can cast as many votes as I can. You can cast as many as you 
want to.

It's ironic that 1p1v advocates are concerned that voters who vote for more 
candidates have more power, because the more candidates you vote for, the 
less power you have. If you have to vote for lots of compromises, that's 
because you're in a poor position and must compromise. The person who votes 
for only one, because s/he doesn't need to compromise, has no reason to envy 
you all of your votes.

Or maybe you've voted for more candidates because you're willingly 
forfeiting voting power. It's either that, or that you are in a position of 
less power and must compromise.

So much for more power.

Approval only lets you cast one vote for any particular one candidate. 
Approval only lets you cast one vote on any one particular pairwise race. In 
Approval, only one of your votes affects the outcome.

Say Worst loses because you helped Middle beat Worst, by voting for Middle 
in addition to voting for Favorite. Do Worst's supporters have anything to 
complain about? What possible claim to victory could Worst have if more 
people chose to indicate preference for Middle over Worst than for Worst 
over Middle?

Approval is Set Voting. It lets every voter vote one set of candidates over 
another. Every voter equally has the power to do that, and the freedom to 
choose which and what size sets.

I've told why everyone has the same voting power in Approval. But what if we 
define a "voting power" that can vary among voters? Then it can be shown 
that that voting power is much more unequal in Plurality than in Approval. I 
could find that demonstration and post it here again if you'd like.

1p1v is a rules criterion. That's a criterion whose requirement is about 
what kind of rules a method must have. Rules criteria have no meaning or 
value.  Results matter. A rules criterion says, "A method should (or 
shouldn't) have a certain kind of rule, because I say so." You could say 
that a results criterion says something similar about results, but results 
have material consequences.

Of course someone's rules criterion could be of some interest if it can be 
shown that it is justified by a fundamental standard. That's why, when we 
were previously discussing 1p1v on EM, I repeatedly asked the 1p1v advocates 
to tell me what fundamental standard justifies 1p1v. Guess what: The 1p1v 
advocates didn't have an answer.

Of course if a criterion is, itself, a fundamental standard, then it needn't 
have justification from another fundamental standard. But surly you agree 
that it makes no sense to speak of a rules criterion as a fundamental 

1p1v, as I said, has been demolished on EM in lots of ways. I've described a 

I recommend that this posting be kept ready for use when proposing Approval, 
in case someone raises the fallacious 1p1v objection. Also the demonstration 
about unequal voting power in Approval and Plurality, and  of course any 
other discussion on this topic that you can find in the EM archives.

Mike Ossipoff

Express yourself instantly with MSN Messenger! Download today - it's FREE! 

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list