[EM] ignoring "strength of opinion"

rob brown rob at karmatics.com
Wed Nov 30 17:37:57 PST 2005

On 11/30/05, James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk> wrote:
> > rob brown Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 11:17 PM
> > >From a purely utilitarian point of view (i.e. "greatest
> > happiness"), it makes a lot of sense to give more weight to
> > the opinions of those who feel more strongly.  But common
> > sense tells us why this is a bad idea.
> By "common sense" I presume you mean, in the context of elections, that it
> is fundamentally undemocratic.

Not sure that's really what I meant, because it all depends on the
definition of "democratic" and don't think I want to go there.  :) I suppose
its unfair, but even that is debatable.  More importantly it's not
practical, because any rational person with an IQ over 50 would vote
insincerely, so the system would quickly break down.

All i meant by "common sense" is that almost anyone, with little or no
education in voting theory, can see why it would be unwise to have an
election take into account a voluntary assignment of "how much do you want
your vote to count?".

> I think this circle can be squared, if you normalise the responses so that
> each respondent contributes equally to the
> determination of the result.  That is democratic ("one person, one vote")
> but still allows those who wish,

to show the
> relative strengths of the preferences they express.  Brian Meek, inventor
> of Meek STV, described such a system for
> normalising weighted preferences in multi-winner elections.

Is that possible if you only have one question on the poll?

Certainly if you have a bunch of separate questions on the ballot, you could
allow voters to weight them relative to each other and that would make
sense.  Of course, strategy would quickly come into play, because voters
would be smart to apply the most weight to things that they think they are
likelier to make a difference on.  Maybe there could be a system that could
allow you to express things sincerely and it would tabulate in such a way
that your vote was spent the most wisely.......and then, you'd have
something roughly analogous to what Condorcet does to minimize strategic
voting, right?

Regardless, I used a simple "single question" poll in the example for a
reason, to keep it simple and, I thought, relevant.  In a single
winner/multi-candidate election, the only place I can see weighting come in
is if there are multiple elections elections on the ballot, i.e. multiple
offices being filled with different sets of candidates running for each.
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