[EM] Can we come to consensus? this way?
Abd ulRahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sat Sep 10 21:52:49 PDT 2005
At 12:24 AM 9/10/2005, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>Approval gets mentioned so often that I comment up front:
> Approval as the method. Simple, but a loser because I too
> often come up with something like: I WANT Nader, but I cannot
> tolerate Bush - so far, so good - But, Nader is not a likely winner
> so I WANT to show liking Kerry less than Nader but more than
> Bush. With this common desire I am ready to reject Approval as an
> acceptable method.
Doesn't it depend on your options? If the option is the status quo or
Approval, would you still reject Approval?
Approval has the singular advantage of requiring no ballot changes,
only a tweak of the election rules: simply stop discarding overvoted ballots.
As to what you want, i.e., to indicate preference for Nader over
Kerry, would you be consoled by the fact that Nader would, under
Approval, likewise share in increased votes from those who preferred
Kerry but thought Nader acceptable? Approval would be, for third
parties, a *drastic* improvement in the situation. Would Condorcet be
better? Maybe. Maybe not. Condorcet would indeed allow you to express
your preference, but in simple Condorcet there is no indication of
approval and no indication of degree of separation of preference. A
small preference may have the same vote pattern as a drastic
difference, between love and abhorrence. Besides, what is the purpose
It is not to express your preference, per se, it is to select an
officeholder. Preference, approval, ratings, are *means* which may be
used in this process. What qualifies an officeholder?
As I have written here and elsewhere, there are two philosophies
about this: one is that the candidate with the broadest approval
should be elected, the other is that the most popular candidate
should be elected. Note that in a polarized multiparty election, the
"most popular candidate," a Condorcet winner, might actually be
preferred by much less than a majority of voters. It is easiest to
see with truncated votes:
Under Condorcet rules, A wins, with 30 pairwise victories over all
I'm not arguing against Condorcet, just pointing out how different
the two philosophies are. Were the same election run Approval, A
would also win; Approval voting is more likely to encourage multiple
votes; but we really don't know, there is not very much experience on
which to base predictions.
> Approval to resolve Condorcet cycles. Worth considering, but
> I question the explaining, the doing, and the counting being worth the pain.
Condorcet is complicated to count. Once you are doing that, Approval
cutoffs add very little complication, and greatly increase the
ranking information. (It is equivalent in complexity to adding one
candidate to the ballot.) A>>B>C>D has a meaning quite a bit
different from A>B>C>>D. Elections are not only used to elect
officials, but they also indicate the degree of support an official
enjoys, which should theoretically encourage a candidate elected with
narrow support to tread more lightly than one elected with a true
mandate. Approval, even if it does not determine the winner except in
the presence of a Condorcet cycle, probably a rare occurrence.
>Each voter ranks candidates, from best to worst. Ranking two candidates
>as equally liked is permitted. Truncation is permitted - acceptable to
>omit the least liked candidates as equally disliked.
Note that if equal ranking is permitted, the method is an Approval
method. Approval is a ranked method where only two ranks are allowed:
Yes or the implied No. (Some Approval forms explicitly have Yes or No
votes for each candidate, but these lose the utter simplicity of
basic Approval, and then raise the spectre of what one does with the
blanks, a matter which seems to be of considerable controversy.)
> I insist on permitting truncation because forcing voters to go
> beyond their desires gets noise rather than information - when some
> theorist demands that voters study rejects in more detail, I
> recommend more effort in sorting out which possible winner is more attractive.
Not permitting truncation would involve considering ballots as
spoiled which are not complete, I think I remember reading that this
is actually done in some countries. Personally, I find it just as
offensive as spoiling ballots because the voter marked too many
candidates.... Definitely, truncation should be allowed, and should
have a simple and rational meaning.
There are two possible meanings: truncation on a ranked ballot means
that the voter ranks the candidate below all ranked candidates, and
equally with all other unranked candidates. If it is an Approval
method, an unmarked candidate would similarly be considered not approved.
The other meaning possible would be that truncation is an abstention
in every pairwise consideration of the unranked candidate. The
consequences and implications of this are, however, problematic, and
I think voters would not expect this. Presently, not marking a
candidate is effectively a vote against that candidate (as long as
the voter votes for at least one). Turning that into an abstention
would be confusing.
More information about the Election-Methods