[Election-Methods] Fwd: FYI - FairVote MN Responds to LawsuitAgainst IRV

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Thu Dec 27 15:46:48 PST 2007

On Fri, 28 Dec 2007 00:02:55 +0200 Juho Laatu wrote:
> On Dec 27, 2007, at 17:33 , James Gilmour wrote:
>>Juho Laatu  > Sent: 27 December 2007 07:36
>>>Condorcet methods are not very widely used today.
>>Are Condorcet methods used for any public elections today?  Have  
>>they ever been used for any public elections?  I ask only because I
>>am not aware of any examples, for public elections, and it would be  
>>very helpful to know if there were some.
> I don't maintain any such lists. But I'm not aware of any political  
> country level examples.
>>>Another reason why Condorcet methods are not used in wide scale today
>>>is that there are quite number of them and it is not quite obvious
>>>which one to take into use.
>>In terms of achieving practical reform it is a serious problem that  
>>that there are several methods and that there is no consensus on
>>which to use.  I would add, that all of the completion methods are  
>>complicated and would be much more difficult to explain to
>>ordinary electors than, for example, the basic Condorcet principle  
>>of pair-wise comparisons.
> Yes, the "internal confusion" is a big problem.
> Many of the completion methods are complicated but there are also  
> some simple methods and I have often reminded people of their  
> existence. My basic reference point at the "simple end" is minmax 
> (margins). Results can be calculated by simple addition and the  
> method has a clear and easy to understand utility function (=least  
> additional votes needed to win all others). If all Condorcet methods  
> are considered to be good then this one has also some additional  
> benefits coming from its clarity and naturalness.
Agreed that simplicity and clarity and reasonableness are important.
>>>But Condorcet methods have the
>>>interesting property that in some situations A may be preferred to B,
>>>B to C and C to A.
>>The possibility of such cycles is a very real problem (despite the  
>>plethora of completion methods available).  This possibility, no
>>matter how rare in practice, is likely to be ceased on by  
>>politicians and party activists who are opposed to any reform of FPTP
>>(simple plurality).  One simple and practical solution might be to  
>>revert to IRV to break the Condorcet cycle, but I suspect that
>>suggestion would go down like a lead balloon among the proponents  
>>of Condorcet (and the proponents of other non-IRV voting systems).
One possibility is to analyze actual data from IRV elections:
      Cooperation could happen since results will usually be identical and 
all should brag of this.
      When the results differ I would expect them to be explainable as 
reasons to back Condorcet, and explore handling of cycles.
> Yes, promoters of other methods (or status quo) are likely to use the  
> Condorcet strategic voting examples for their advantage. Probably  
> that is a much bigger problem to Condorcet than strategic votes in  
> actual Condorcet elections :-).

Need to explore whether these strategies could be real problems in 
elections with voters having doable access to data and doable cooperation.
> Sincere cycles themselves are not really a problem. They are just a  
> natural mathematical property of summed opinions that are collected  
> from multiple voters. The problem is only the strategic voting  
> scenarios that in Condorcet are typically related to the cycles  
> (sincere or artificially generated).
> The correct method to manage the public discussions around strategies  
> is maybe to just collect some solid material describing the facts and  
> probabilities and level of strategic opportunities. Similar analysis  
> of other competing methods is needed too.
> In typical large scale public elections with independent voter  
> opinion formation the strategic opportunities are really quite slim  
> in Condorcet based methods.
>>>I listed some of the problems of Condorcet methods above, but in
>>>general Condorcet methods are really good general purpose single
>>>winner methods for typical political elections.
>>One further practical problem that you didn't mention is the  
>>"political acceptability" to the electors of a Condorcet winner who  
>>very little first preference support.
Need education as to what this problem properly is.
> Yes, maybe also this should be mentioned in a complete list. I didn't  
> include this in my reply to Kathy Dopp since I already explicitly  
> asked her if this kind of scenario would be ok to her.
> My thinking is that different elections have different requirements.  
> But Condorcet utility function (that allows also consensus candidates  
> to win) is a very good utility function for general use in politics.  
> If some political systems explicitly want some other style (and  
> explain why) that is ok too.
>>  Where the three front-runners are fairly evenly matched, it is a  
>>completely different
>>situation and I think it would be possible to persuade the  
>>electorate that the result was "better" when the third-placed  
>>second choice" Condorcet winner took the seat.  But I would doubt  
>>very much if we could persuade UK electors that the result was
>>"better" if that Condorcet winner had very little first preference  
>>support.  I cannot speak for the likely response of electors
>>elsewhere, but I have come to this view based on many years of  
>>promoting practical electoral reforms to UK electors.
> Especially 1) politicians (that typically want to defend status quo)  
> that are used to 2) a two-party oriented system and 3) single party  
> government and 4) system where many people/officials at top layers  
> are changed when government changes as their starting/reference point  
> may find it strange that it is in theory possible to elect a  
> candidate that has no first place support. That candidate seems to be  
> coming from nowhere (not a single member in the party structure  
> supporting her). In typical multi party systems election of  
> compromise candidates in leading positions is probably in many cases  
> what people expect to happen. Of course in any system politicians may  
> fear any changes in the election rules since that might increase the  
> probability of changing the "incumbents" to new entrants.

Back to education.  Winning in Condorcet requires ranking above 
competitors.  This can happen and deserve winning even without the best 
candidate being ranked first by anyone.

Condorcet has nothing against candidates backed by politicians winning - 
it cares only as to how the voters vote.  It does care that voters have 
more freedom in how they vote, and alert politicians should learn how to 
take advantage of such.
> Juho
  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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