[EM] Can we come to consensus? this way?

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Mon Sep 12 00:40:56 PDT 2005

On Sun, 11 Sep 2005 00:52:49 -0400 Abd ulRahman Lomax wrote:

 > 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?

Yes, for just as I say above, Approval is not a useful goal.
 > Approval has the singular advantage of requiring no ballot changes,
 > only a tweak of the election rules: simply stop discarding overvoted 

Not much advantage, for even this requires reprogramming.  Better to go 
for more good with the programming.
 > 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
 > of elections?
 > 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:
 > 30: A
 > 20: B
 > 20: C
 > 20: D
 > 10: E
 > Under Condorcet rules, A wins, with 30 pairwise victories over all
 > other candidates.

Agreed that if the voters chose to vote by Plurality rules, A would win.

A would also win under IRV or Approval if the voters followed Plurality rules.
 > 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.
I reject Approval as a goal while agreeing that Plurality voting equipment
could count Approval votes with little effort.

Then there are the voters.  Many of them will see Condorcet as easier than
Approval.  Those who prefer could also vote per Approval rules so long as
equality is permitted.

And the equipment.  True that we have seen much equipment recently that
does not deserve the label "voting machine".  However, any voting machine
designed and built in this 21st century will have a computer that could be 
 >>     Approval to resolve Condorcet cycles.  Worth considering, but
 >>I question the explaining, the doing, and the counting being worth the 
 > 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.
Programming for approval cutoffs would not be hard, once you decide on 
rules.  Explaining what you are about to voters is a bigger deal when you 
get challenged to explain why bother.
 >>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.)
It DOES NOT become Approval by letting voters who wish use only two rank 
levels - while ranking permits multiple levels.
 >>     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 
 > 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.
Hooray - we seem to agree on this detail.
   davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
   Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
             Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                   If you want peace, work for justice.

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