[EM] RE: [Condorcet] Truncation
Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Sep 14 13:55:08 PDT 2005
At 04:56 PM 9/13/2005, Kevin Venzke wrote:
>--- Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> a écrit :
> >Kevin may have talked me out of Condorcet entirely (unless truncation
> >is better handled, and unless there is a decent consideration of
> >approval cutoff.)
>Truncated candidates are considered tied with each other, and ranked
>strictly below all ranked candidates. [examples given]
>How would you want to handle truncation instead?
That is the best way. The problem is the effect
truncation can have. I'm not that familiar with all the Condorcet variants...
Without an Approval cutoff, it becomes impossible
to tell whether a vote is a true approval or is almost a complete rejection.
Warren Smith has written quite a bit comparing
Range Voting with Plurality, IRV, and Approval,
and has made the claim that Range shows more
"support" for third party candidates than the
other methods; however, without some kind of
definition of what the range numbers *mean*,
interpreting the numbers as "support," unless
they are very high or very low, this is basically speculation.
After all, a grade of 60% would typically be an
F. In a study, Warren Smith compared a few
percent plurality or approval vote with a
twenty-some-odd percent Range vote, and asserted
that the latter was "more support." The latter is
more accurate a measure in some ways, yes, but
whether or not it is support or rejection is a different question.
Approval cutoff is easy to add to ranked ballots.
All it takes for full approval expression is to
add a dummy "candidate" which is the margin between approved and disapproved.
Whether or not to *use* the generated information
in determining the winner is another question, as
well as how to use it if it is used. I argue
below, however, that in initial reforms, only
approval information should be used, not ranking.
As I have often written, there is a basic
question that must be addressed before it is
possible to intelligently pick an election
method: supposing everyone votes sincerely, which
is better for society: the Condorcet winner or
the Approval winner? (Roughly, the most popular
single candidate, or the candidate with broadest support.)
People, including election methods experts, don't
agree on the answer to this question, so, of
course, they are not likely to agree on the best method!
I have my own opinion: democracy is fundamentally
government by consent of the people, and the
broader that consent, the more democratic the
society. Plurality violates a basic democratic
principle, the will of the majority. It easily
elects leaders who were *disfavored* by a
majority. Condorcet methods don't guarantee a
majority winner, though they make a minority
winner less likely. Approval methods also come
with no guarantee, but probably will produce a
winner with the broadest acceptance. And this should be good for society.
There is no guarantee that basic Approval would
be voted sincerely. But at least it would make it
possible! (And the cost of basic approval is
minimal, it is easy to understand, etc.) Approval
voted insincerely is no worse than Plurality.
Tossing the no-overvote rule is something that
ought to be done regardless of what other reforms
are undertaken. It was *never* a good idea.
(Allowing overvoting also turns standard ranked
ballots effectively into approval ballots; basic
Approval is a Range method with two possible
ratings (0 and 1). A truncated IRV or Condorcet
ballot where the voter only votes for approved
candidates, and ranks them equally, is exactly
the same as an Approval ballot. So one method of
implementing, effectively, Approval with an IRV
or Condorcet ballot is to allow overvoting:
ballots with two or more candidates marked at a
given rank should not be discarded!)
(High equal rankings would generally mean
approval, low equal rankings would generally mean disapproval.)
What I'm suggesting is that simply repealing the
no-overvote rule should be a baseline reform, at
the worst harmless, and quite possibly much
better than that. Then, if there is the political
capital or energy for more complex reforms,
typically involving ranked ballots, fine. As long
as it is possible for voters to rank equally, it
is democratically acceptable. I'll point out that
if a Condorcet method does *not* ostensibly allow
equal ranking (perhaps it is implemented on a
lever machine that simply won't allow the entry),
it still is allowed through truncation, but only
at the bottom end. Why not allow it at the other?
One simple extension beyond basic Approval would
be the addition of an extra option for each
candidate. Instead of the single position to
mark, there would be two, perhaps labelled:
Rejection being assumed for any unmarked
candidate. (I have elsewhere argued that even if
a candidate is a genius and a saint, he or she
should not be elected until and unless enough
people *consent* to the election. So positive
consent is a basic necessity, failure to consent *means* rejection.)
This is only slightly more complicated than
simple Approval. Again, if overvoting is allowed
for both positions, the voters can single out one
or even a few candidates as Preferred, more as
Approved, i.e., "acceptable." This answers the
objection which has been made about basic
approval that voters should be able to specify
their favorite; this ballot would allow it.
Would that information be used in determining the
winner? There are methods which would allow full
use. As a Range method, one might assign 0 to
blank, 0.5 to Approved, and 1 to Preferred. But,
it will be noted, this will create strategic
incentive to always mark the preferred
frontrunner as Preferred, or else the vote is
effectively diluted and the voters risk seeing
the preferred frontrunner lose because of the
half-votes instead of the full votes that would
be received in basic Approval. Sincerity would be penalized.
So, at this time, until there is more experience,
and even if the expanded ballot is used, I'd
recommend that the election be counted as basic
Approval. Preferred and Approved would have the
same effect as far as determining the winner is
concerned. And *this* allows voter *more*
expression of preference than they would have if
the preference information is used!
Public campaign financing would be distributed
based on Preferred Votes. If a voter votes more
than one as Preferred, the money would be split.
But the vote itself would not be split. It would
do its utmost to elect any of the Approved candidates....
(And if there is a tie, of course, then there
would be a ready means of breaking the tie!
Highly unlikely that if there is an Approval tie,
there is also a Plurality tie.)
Later on, there would then be real data from real
elections which could indicate where to go with
further reform. And, immediately, supporters of
third parties could express that support,
something they cannot do now. Approval or Range
(or the other methods) are not going to magically
create third-party winners. Whether or not they
will favor or disfavor one or both of the two
major parties is really unclear; historically, we
can readily think of elections where having had
this system would have reversed elections, and in
some it has been one party that unfairly won, and in some it was the other.
This really should be a nonpartisan issue, overall.
However, when there is a single strong third
party, not a centrist party and therefore more
closely aligned with one of the major parties
than the other, election reform could possibly
work against the other party, which has been
benefiting by the spoiler effect. This changes
with time, though. What might help a little today
might hurt a little tomorrow, and vice-versa....
In the end, we either care about democracy or we
care about getting our personal way. My vote is
with democracy. Even when I don't like the outcomes.
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