[EM] Three Stage Approval Election

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Jun 8 06:51:18 PDT 2006

At 01:57 AM 6/8/2006, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>On Wed, 07 Jun 2006 12:32:55 -0400 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>Your words show there are TWO views of complexity:
>      Ranked choice (IRV and Condorcet) have ballots that are messy 
> to count by hand - but we can program computers to do the work and 
> not get annoyed at the repetitiveness.

The level of difficulty varies with the number of allowed ranks. 
Plurality and Approval have the minimum number (two).

>      As to complexity that the voter sees, Condorcet makes it easy:
>           Plurality desires can be voted easily - just vote for one.
>           Approval desires are also doable, provided the rules 
> permit - just vote for all approved at the  same level.
>           Even taking full advantage of Condorcet is simple - order 
> as many as seem worth it in desire order and vote accordingly.
>      Coming back to being offered Approval by itself, the voter can 
> only accept vs reject - a difficult decision when the voter WANTS 
> to show first vs second choices.

This objection is only in the comparison between Approval and a 
method with more ranks. Many such methods do allow equal ranking, the 
question is why Plurality is the method being used rather than 
Approval. Approval wins, hands down, in comparison with Plurality. It 
does not necessarily win in comparison with methods allowing more 
ranks. (But I did present one argument why it should. It more or less 
forces the voter to make a judgement on a very important issue: how 
important is the choice between two candidates? Is there a compromise 
which would be generally acceptable? Ranked methods force a choice, 
but sometimes will not choose the Range winner, and Range is, in my 
view, the optimum voting method, given a sincere electorate.)

>Agreed Condorcet asks only whether A is greater than B, but supports 
>no attempt at saying how much - BTW how does a voter express how 
>much AND BE UNDERSTOOD in a method that permits such.

Range does it, quite handily, and how well it does it depends on the 
resolution of the ballot. Approval is the lowest resolution Range 
ballot, in which case the expression is binary: these two candidates 
are equally acceptable *considering a goal of having a united 
constituency* or they are not. Obviously more resultion equals more expression.

>Back to Approval - it does provide ONE gap between acceptable and 
>unacceptable - but NO WAY to have any other gap or to express how 
>big a gap the voter sees between those accepted and those rejected.


>The discussion below misses the point.  WE KNOW from recent horror 
>stories that anything uncheckable from results, such as selecting a 
>group of voters, should be avoided in designing methods (could take 
>more seriously validating implementation of methods - but that seems 
>far in the future).

I know of no example where a method carefully designed to be unbiased 
-- and that can be done -- and which is thoroughly observable -- it 
takes place in public -- has even been tested, much less proven to 
lead to horror stories. Dave is quite welcome to relieve me of my ignorance.

(Public random selection, as an example. Each candidate submits a 
ten-digit number of their choice. The candidates' numbers are summed 
and MSD truncated if necessary and used to seed a pseudo-random 
number generator, the output of which is compared with a complete 
voter list to select the desired number of voters. It is thoroughly 
verifiable. The above all takes place in public. Nobody knows the sum 
in advance. Only a collusion of all candidates could allow advance 
knowledge, and if the candidates are colluding, why not just let them 
select the best of themselves? Anybody can run the pseudo-random 
number generator on any computer (could have done it with my Vic-20) 
and verify the output, compare it with the voter list, and come up 
with the same selected voters. Something like this would work quite 
well for Warren Smith's DDJ method. It is actually an excellent idea 
(but with the much smaller juries that Smith anticipated, there are 
other hazards. There aren't these hazards with a group of voters 
which is still quite large, such as ten percent of the eligible.)

>Just restating:  Preparing for ONE election day means one campaign 
>and one load on the media.  For multiple days this gets 
>multiplied.  Even the mailing is tricky - takes extra work on 
>addressing and smaller mailings sometimes mean extra cost per item.

Not when the difference is between ten million mailings and one 
hundred million. And usually the method will terminate before the one 
hundred million, so parties would actually get improved access at lower cost.

As to "load on the media," they would LOVE this particular load. It's 
a horse race!

>>A plus for the method, in my opinion. It may even be desirable for 
>>the sample voters to be in a publicly known set. As a random 
>>sample, the content of the campaign material wouldn't be different, 
>>but mailings just to those voters would be less expensive, so that 
>>kind of campaigning would get less expensive. The media would 
>>rebroadcast that as news without requiring candidates to pay for 
>>advertising. I don't have a crystal ball, but, my point is, this 
>>could be an improvement.
>>As with many of these issues, we won't really know for sure until 
>>it is tried. This method could be tried in a fairly small 
>>jurisdiction. It might take legislation to enable that, but I don't 
>>see any constitutional issues, except perhaps with Presidential 
>>elections, I'm not sure about that.
>>>Voters will have problems remembering when to vote.
>True, there should be a card as to where to vote.  As to when, with 
>ONE election day the when gets publicized.  With multiple, family 
>members may vote on different days.

>>Scraping the bottom of the barrel, there. A voter who has trouble 
>>remembering when to vote, having received a voting card or ticket, 
>>this is the person I least want to be voting. It would be all over the news....
>>The first poll might be quite a bit less than 10%. 1% might be 
>>quite enough, if the sample is truly random. (In this case, more 
>>stages would be used, almost certainly.)
>>>On a normal election day multiple races are attended to at each precinct,
>>>with a dozen races in perhaps 4 different districts - how does this scheme
>>>fit in?
>Needs more thought:
>      Keeping ballots the same means later voters will have lots of 
> opportunity for useless votes.
>      Changing them complicates getting absentee ballots out when wanted.
>>Well, they would be included in the stages. I see no reason why 
>>not. That is, the ballot would stay the same for all stages. There 
>>is no extra cost for this, as far as I can anticipate. Because of 
>>the possibility that a margin would be great enough that 
>>statistically it is nearly certain -- or even impossible -- for the 
>>outcome to change through the last stage, indeed, costs might be 
>>lowered by eliminating that stage and replacing it with a mail-in 
>>ballot that would be used for other purposes, such as campaign 
>>finance. But this wouldn't happen, I think, with many-candidate 
>>ballots. Still, it could save voter time, perhaps.
>>But, to my mind, the value of a good election outcome is much 
>>greater than the costs for any of the election methods I've seen. 
>>Cost arguments are, again, a red herring. Election costs are 
>>trivial compared to the sums that will be handled and allocated by 
>>the victors; the most significant election cost, which is often 
>>neglected, is voter time at the voting booth and waiting to get 
>>there. This cost is enormous, it dwarfs, in fact, in value, what is 
>>normally spent on campaigning.
>And the voting gets complicated by each voter needing to get to the 
>polls ON THE DAY THAT voter is to vote.
>  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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