[EM] Re: Condorcet's strategy problem

Jan Kok jan.kok.5y at gmail.com
Mon Sep 19 02:15:17 PDT 2005

On 9/18/05, Abd ulRahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> At 08:36 PM 9/17/2005, Rob Lanphier wrote:
> >My understanding is that FBC is mutually exclusive of the Condorcet
> >winner criteria.  As I've stated above, when Condorcet winner is
> >violated, there's a good chance that one person, one vote has been
> >violated.
> What happens in the example is that some people, able to cast a full
> vote, cast only a fractional vote. Therefore they seem to have fewer votes.
> >Example:  Range vote of 0-5 (integers only).  1000 voters, 2 candidate
> >(A and B)
> >
> >800 votes:
> >A: 3
> >B: 2
> >
> >200 votes:
> >A: 0
> >B: 5
> >
> >Total:
> >A: 2400
> >B: 2600
> >
> >B wins, despite the fact that A would win 800-200 in a head-to-head
> >matchup.  This is because the B>A voters receive 5 net points per voter,
> >while the A>B voters are only getting 1 net point per voter.
> Because the A>B voters wasted their votes, failing to understand that
> the ratings in Range are relative, not absolute. Because some voters
> would not understand that they are half-way staying home if they
> don't vote the maximum range, I have suggested that Range Ballots be
> normalized before being used for totalization.

Please don't normalize the Range ballots.  There are several reasons
why people might not vote the full range:

- Lack of information about the candidates, or lack of confidence in
the information.  If I knew nothing about the candidates except their
parties, I might vote A:3, B:2 as above.  I often don't vote on
questions about whether to retain judges, and sometimes I don't vote
on referenda if I haven't studied the issues, or don't have a strong
opinion.  In Colorado, at least, leaving those questions blank counts
as neither a Yes or a No.  Thus, I voluntarily leave the decision up
to other (hopefully better-informed) voters.

- Truly considering the candidates to be nearly equal.  Sometimes,
when I am in a group that is trying to make a choice, and I am asked
which alternative I prefer, I may say, "I weakly prefer A".  What I
mean by that is, if several of us weakly prefer A, but a few people
strongly prefer B, then I don't mind if B wins.  I'm willing to give
others, who have a stronger opinion, a larger vote.  Similarly, when
I'm asked to rate something (a course, a seminar, the food in a
restaurant, etc.), if it's not exceptionally good or exceptionally
bad, I will give it a medium rating.  A vote such as A:3 B:2 might be
a sincere vote.  The people who vote A:3 B:2 won't be upset if B wins.
 But the people who vote A:0 B:5 would probably be anguished if A won.
 Because of that, fine-grained Range Voting produces better social
utility when people vote sincerely, compared with voting
strategically/Approval style.  Why would you want to _prevent_ people
from voting sincerely?!

- As you say, "some voters would not understand that they are half-way
staying home if they don't vote the maximum range".  Well, if a voter
doesn't understand that, and the voter ignores the directions of his
favorite candidate to "Vote 5 for Favorite, and 0 for all others", do
you really want to normalize his vote so it has the same power as
other voters?

- The voter may fail to give the highest rating to a candidate because
of some sort of error.  For example, punching the wrong hole in a
butterfly ballot.  Or not punching the hole out in a punch-card
system.  Consider what would happen if a voter intended to vote A:5
B:1 C:0, but failed to punch the 5.  Normalizing the ballot would give
A:0 B:5 C:0.  It's unfortunate that A lost that 5-vote, but promoting
B from 1 to 5 just makes the problem worse.

> The raw ballots would
> still be available for informational purpose, so if someone was
> voting, for example, their "favorite" as, say, 2, and the rest as 0
> or 1, their statement would not disappear. But the ballot would be
> normalized, i.e., the votes would be counted in this way:
> 800 votes:
> A: 5
> B: 3.333
> 200 votes:
> A: 0
> B: 200.
> Totals:
> A: 4000
> B: 2666
> Looks better, doesn't it?

No, I don't think so.

> ...To exercise a full vote under
> Range, you must rate at least one candidate at maximum.

And at least one candidate at minimum!

> >Given the number of caveats and problems with Range and Approval, I feel
> >that an all-out push for either would be a distraction away from the use
> >of Condorcet.  I would hate to see use of Condorcet be delayed by a
> >failed attempt to institute Range or Approval voting.

Some people are working to implement Condorcet in Washington State. 
Rock Howard did some work to try to implement Approval Voting in
Texas.  I'm willing to leave them alone.  I'd like to stake out a
claim on Iowa and New Hampshire for Range Voting.  That leaves 46
states up for grabs.

- Jan

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