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

Paul Kislanko kislanko at airmail.net
Tue Nov 8 16:02:01 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.

I don't think you're understanding 1P1V. There's no argument against ranked
ballots, for instance, since each voter "casts a vote for" one of the
possible orderings of candidates. Each voter casts one ballot, but SOME
methods "count the vote multiple times" in a way that depends upon ballot

> 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.

I've never heard the "voting for more candidates" argument relating to
voting behaviour. I haven't studied it, but the only reference I've seen on
the list or the 'net has to do with vote counting methods being declared
unconstitutional in some states. I think this related to Bucklin, which is
sort of "approval with ranked ballots", and I think the court ruling was
based upon inadequate argument, but nothing in this post addresses the
issues actually raised by that 1P1V anti-approval argument.

> 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.

Yes, approval is succinctly described as one vote per candidate by each
voter (1c1v, 1v/c??? PLEASE, stop with the new abbreviations... they only
make things arcane, not clear). But defend the statement "only one of your
votes affects the outcome". I only MADE one vote in which I approved a
subset of the available alternatives. To say that each of the approvals I
made was a different "vote" is to admit that the "1P1V" argument is correct.
It is much better (and much more likely to pass the 1P1V constitutionality
requirement) to say that an approval ballot is voting for ONE proper subset
of the available alternatives.

Everything else about the method is how the votes are counted, and that has
NOTHING to do with the individual voter. (Hint, to prove that "only one of
my votes affects the outcome, note that if I approve all alternatives I've
only cast one vote. If I approve NONE of the available alternatives, I've
also only cast one "vote", but if my not approving any caused "one of my
votes to affect the outcome", which of my votes did?)

> 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.

THIS is clearer than the terminology I found unhelpful above, and is
consistent with 1P1V - just take the view that in approval voting the voter
is casting one vote for a proper subset of the alternatives. That's 1P1V.

> 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.

I don't even know what you're talking about, so please do, but define terms
and avoid abbreviations, please.

> 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.

I have no idea what this paragraph is talking about. But whatever the heck a
rules criterion is, 1P1V is not such. 1P1V is a REQUIREMENT. Separate the
ballot collection process from the vote counting process. A VC process that
gives more weight to some ballots than others a priori would violate 1P1V.
Approval doesn't, as long as you don't describe "approving alternative A" as
a "VOTE for A". It's not, it's a vote for the specific subset of candidates
which coincidently includes A.

> 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.

Err, I wasn't around for that but the judicial literature has clarified
this. "1P1V" has been held to be a requirement of the US constitition. As
both you and I have said it is likely that Approval (and its Bucklin
variant) meet this if we consider the vote to be for the particular Ranked

Approval = Bucklin if the only rank a voter can specify is 1 and equal
rankings are allowed. 

> 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 
> standard.

Quite correct, "1P1V" is a fundamental standard. I call that a REQUIREMENT
since that is a well-decided (and good) legal precedent vis a vis the US
constitution. A fundamental standard by definition does not need
justification any more than Euclid's Axiom's. In fact, I think almost 100%
of any US Citizens who've ever taken a civics class would agree that "no
person's vote should count more than another's" is an AXIOM that any
proposed method should meet. 

Approval and its variants would meet that axiom if we use the right language
and explain that in election that consists of alternatives { A B C D E } a
vote for { A D E } is one person voting once.

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