[Election-Methods] RE : Is this Condorcet method reasonable?

Steve Eppley SEppley at alumni.caltech.edu
Mon Dec 10 14:02:17 PST 2007


Diego Santos wrote:
> 2007/12/3, Steve Eppley <SEppley at alumni.caltech.edu>:
>> Perhaps I failed to emphasize, when I mentioned the withdrawal option a
>> few days ago, that it sharply reduces the incentive to vote
>> strategically?  A candidate strategically raised over the sincere winner
>> could withdraw if necessary to elect the sincere winner, and typically
>> would have strong incentives to do so, so why would voters bother
>> organizing to misrepresent their preferences?
>> If it is agreed that the withdrawal option sharply reduces the voters'
>> incentive to vote strategically, then it makes little sense to choose a
>> voting method based on comparisons only of methods that don't permit
>> withdrawal, and then graft withdrawal onto the chosen method.  It makes
>> more sense to include methods that permit withdrawal in the set of
>> methods being compared, and choose a method from this larger set.
> - Sometimes withdraw option is not applicable (e. g., referenda)
> - I think that effective use of CWO should be avoided, because of their
> possible negative perception of change of winner after elections.
> ________________________________
> Diego Santos
The withdrawal option can be used for referenda and other ballot 
propositions.  Each referendum or proposition is placed on the ballot by 
someone, who can be authorized to withdraw it.

Obviously, there is no empirical evidence there will be a negative 
perception that the winner has changed wrongfully after a candidate's 
withdrawal influences the outcome.  I do not agree that the possibility 
some voters will view the outcome negatively is sufficient reason not to 
allow withdrawal.  Think about the candidates' incentives.  The 
candidates will expect scrutiny of their decisions whether or not to 
withdraw, and if their decisions do not pass muster then their political 
futures will be undermined.  Also, think about the voters' learning 
process.  I do not believe it would take more than one or two election 
cycles before most voters understand the usefulness of the withdrawal 
option to society. 

If candidates may not withdraw after the voting, some of them may be 
forced to withdraw before the voting (also known as "deciding not to 
run, out of fear of being a spoiler that worsens the outcome") or some 
voters may be induced to vote insincerely.  I've observed considerable 
voter negativity regarding not having a good enough candidate to vote 
for on election day, in systems where spoiling prevents candidates from 
running, and having to "hold one's nose" while casting a vote for a 
less-preferred candidate.  I expect there would be considerable voter 
negativity regarding the need to vote strategically in systems that do 
not permit withdrawal.

A couple of weeks ago in this thread of messages, I wrote about voting 
methods in which each candidate publishes an ordering of the candidates 
prior to election day.  Another advantage of such methods (besides 
simplifying election day for the voters) is that the published orderings 
would serve to forecast the candidates' decisions whether to withdraw.  
A candidate whose withdrawal decision is inconsistent with his published 
ordering would presumably attract intense scrutiny, undermining his 
political future.  Also, the candidates' orderings would help prepare 
voters in advance for the withdrawal decisions, and (the few) voters who 
might respond negatively could choose to vote for someone else.

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