[EM] election-methods Digest, Vol 17, Issue 46

Warren Smith wds at math.temple.edu
Fri Nov 25 13:21:16 PST 2005

Hi Rob.

Your little essay about "how political parties form" aka "movie night"
started out nice but got lame at the end.
(You also exhibit some high class knowledge of how to create web pages...
my web pages use old technology and I think simply cannot do the stuff you did...)

Anyhow.  To answer some of your questions/points:

1) it asks the user for more information than ranked does.  While this is
entirely subjective, I feel it crosses the line into "too much".  I could
see a large percentage of the voters becoming frustrated, throwing up their
arms and saying "i don't know!!!" when asked for a particular number to
assign each candidate.

--First of all, CRV's range voting rules ALLOW voters to 
"throw up their arms and say `I don't know!!!'" about a candidate.
This is called an "intentional blank score."  If a voter does that,
the effect on that candidate's average is exactly the
same as if that voter had never existed.

--Therefore, your fears were unwarranted - range voters can
in fact provide LESS as well as more
info than providing a full preference order.

--Second, we did a range voting exit poll in the 2004 presidential election.
Voters did no have any problem filling out the range ballots at high speed.
So again, your fears are refuted by experiment.

2) Ranked ballots are already in place in San Francisco and Australia.  I
think it is an easier sell when a system is already making inroads. 

--It is an easier sell when you do not have to throw out your voting machines
and replace them with completely new system.  In San Franciso in all their non-obvious
IRV races, the softwar crahsed and died and then everybody had to wait weeks to
get the election results.  Rnage voting works even on today's voting machines.

2) The fact that they use IRV is mostly inconsequential, since the hard part is
educating people, and no need to reeducate when going from IRV to a
Condorcet method.


3) I don't like the way it has the option of "no opinion", which differs
from giving it a neutral score.  

--If you (the voter) prefer to give a neutral score, then do so.  Who is stopping you?
However, that in fact WOULD be expressing an opinion, i.e. will move that candidate's
result away from where it would have been without you.  If you truly wish to
express "no opinion", employ our option.

4) For instance, I would prefer it have the
scores range from -10 (strongly dislike) to 10 (strongly like), with the
default being zero (indifferent).  

--that is probably a mistake because it makes confusion and fraud more likely.

5) Unless you can figure out a way to
explain, in one sentence that could be understood by a third grader....."for
what reason would it be in my interest to vote 'no opinion', as opposed to
just picking a score midway between 'like' and 'dislike'?"

--See answer to (3).  [4 sentences.]

6) I think it would result in strategic voting.  Let me give a real world
example.  Say I like Ralph Nader most, but I prefer John Kerry over George
Bush.  I know that it will come down to Bush against Kerry.  So what do I
do?  I give Kerry the maximum score, even though I like Nader far more,
because I want to give Kerry as much advantage over Bush as possible.  I
have voted insincerely.  Range voting clearly encourages that since it
averages scores.  (please swap out the names with Perot, Bush Sr. and
Clinton if it makes you more comfortable)

--You are completely right - range voting will no doubt engender some degree of
strategic voting.  But so will essentially every other voting system.  You seem to favor
Condorcet systems (?); many of them are especially vulnerable to strategic voting.

So it just comes down to which systems incentivize greater voter dishonesty,
and which systems suffer the most from that dishonesty.  In range voting,
for example, there is never a strategic reason to dishonestly vote your favorite
below top.  Ever.  But that statement is false for every Condorcet system and every
system employing strict full rank orderings as votes.

Another example: In range voting in a 3-candidate election, there is never
a strategic reasons to dishonestly vote A>B if you truly feel B>A.  Ever.
But that statement is false for every
system employing strict full rank orderings as votes (Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem).

(Proofs and/or cites for all these things are on the CRV web site...)

The contrasts exemplified by those two example theorems, illustrate ways that range 
voting is less vulnerable to strategic voting than any of the systems that you apparently 
favor.  I am not saying it is immune to voter strategy.  It isn't.  I am saying
it handles it better.

I would suggest you join CRV and help us out...
click "join" on lefthand menu to join CRV, and also you can join the RV email bulletin board
(independent joining decision).


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