[Election-Methods] Simple two candidate election

rob brown rob at karmatics.com
Sat Dec 22 22:46:17 PST 2007

On Dec 22, 2007 8:04 PM, Jan Kok <jan.kok.5y at gmail.com> wrote:

> And then they'd probably stop by his house on the way home and
> > burn it to the ground.
> :-) A good illustration of people having a "strong preference", eh? :-)
> > G - [Z] voters wouldn't care as much, and would tend to concentrate on
> other
> > issues on the candidates' platforms.
> ... vs. having a weak preference...

Yes.  Strong and weak preferences (for issues) are definitely expressed in
representative democracy (well, not so much in the "burning his house down"
sense, but still).  Not very efficiently, but it does work overall.

> Anyway... it seems we can tune these examples to appeal to more  or
> less selfish voters. For example, what if I substituted "cancer" for
> MS in my earlier MS-vs.-cold cure example? Then I think most people
> would prefer to cure cancer. What if it was "breast cancer"? Then
> maybe some misogynist men would prefer to cure colds.

Yes,  I wasn't trying to miss your point there, I just thought you could use
a better example.  I think if someone actually found a complete cure for the
common cold, that person would be celebrated more than someone who cured MS.

But I know what you are getting at....something that would affect a lot of
people a little, vs. something that would affect a few people a lot.

I think voting directly on such things just doesn't work right under any
sort of democracy (at least as long as each issue is voted on separately).
And I think that the idea that range voting would magically fix that problem
is a nice fantasy, but nothing more.

> Sure, they might well do so in the first few elections.  Until their
> > candidate loses, and they realize that some on the other side had more
> > "voting power" because they voted with max values.  They would feel
> > suckered.  Then they'll say "screw this being nice crap" and from then
> on be
> > strategic voters.
> Yes, some people might vote weak preferences in their first Range
> Voting election, then "learn their lesson" when their preference lost
> and they would vote strongly thereafter. But I sort of wonder about
> the intelligence of people who would cast a *weak* vote for some
> choice X, and then get upset when X lost. What were they thinking when
> they voted?!?

Well, I once again mention the 2000 election. Someone who likes Nader best,
Gore second best, and Bush the least would probably say "Oh cool!  Before, I
couldn't say that I liked Nader best because it would take my vote away from
Gore who really needs it.  Now with this newfangled Range voting system I
can express that.  I'll give 100 to Nader, 80 to Gore, and 0 to Bush.  Woo

And then Gore loses, just like he did with Plurality.

What exactly have you guys solved again?

The thing is, even more so that plurality, Range ASKS people to vote
"honestly".  I didn't feel dishonest at all when I voted for Gore (even
though I liked Nader better.  I just felt like I was giving a vote to the
candidate that could best use it.  (some, of course, people feel otherwise,
and interpret a plurality to mean "I like this candidate best")

Range, however, has a strong implication that you are SUPPOSED to express
more "rich" preferences than, say, approval.  After all, why else would they
go to the expense of offering the more complex ballot?

I know that's an opinion, and is psychological speculation....but I *am * a
UI designer, and psychological speculation is what I do. :)

By the way, I'm not about to go on a crusade to implement Range Voting
> for two-choice elections. I don't think the benefit of perhaps
> slightly better outcomes would be worth the effort and cost. I'm just
> responding to Rob's question: Yes, I think there could be _some_
> benefit, sometimes, to using RV in binary-choice elections.

Well, if range is implemented, I'd assume it would apply to two candidate
elections as well, wouldn't it?

My point, however, is that on two candidate elections, where you don't have
the potential for cycles and all these other problems you have with
multicandidate elections, it makes more clear the absurdity  (in my opinion)
of asking people to weaken their vote.

People already have the ability to not vote.  I skip candidates and
propositions I don't know much about or care much about.  Here in san
francisco, I even get to rank candidates, and will rank candidates equally
if that's how I feel.  But if I actually have a preference, I will express
it as strongly as I can.

I think people already feel like their vote doesn't count for much.
Expecting them to reduce it further is nuts, in my opinion.

With 3-or-more choice elections, I think the benefits of Range Voting
> would be HUGE.

Understood.  Disagree.
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