[Election-Methods] Election-Methods Digest, Vol 42, Issue 76

rob brown rob at karmatics.com
Mon Dec 31 19:26:28 PST 2007

On Dec 31, 2007 5:34 AM, CLAY SHENTRUP <clay at electopia.org> wrote:

> > From: "rob brown" <rob at karmatics.com>
> > Subject: Re: [Election-Methods] RE : Re: Re: rcv ala tournament
> > Well, I don't argue that there aren't contrived cases that can allow
> someone
> > to vote strategically and gain a slight advantage.  But I really think
> they
> > are highly contrived and not so relevant in the real world.
> it sounds like you're saying they're not relevant because they're
> rare.  but in a recent look warren took at around 150 australian irv
> elections, only 8 would have been differently with plurality (and
> assuming more voters would have strategically not voted for their
> sincere favorite if using plurality, plausibly more like 4 instead of
> 8).

Based on what?  Can I assume he used his patented DNA computer to model the
brains of the voters?

And who is this Warren fellow you seem to so love?  It's not like he has a
PhD in math from Princeton, does he?  Oh, he does?  If so, please tell me
again, it impresses me every time.  He must be correct then.

>  and probably none of those came down to a single tie-breaker
> vote.  so for any plurality voter who has ever strategically voted for
> the "lesser evil", he can be certain that it will almost _never_ make
> any difference whether he votes honestly or strategically.

Ummm, for someone who likes to accuse people of not attending election 101,
you seem to be using the most naive argument yet.  The tired "your vote is
unlikely to make a difference so you must be voting out of altruism so
therefore you will not try to manipulate it in your favor" argument.  Do I
really need to elaborate on why this doesn't hold true in the real world?
Or are you just throwing this one out there as a distraction?

For what it is worth, that is one reason I kept trying to get you to discuss
the one kind of election where this *isn't* an issue, which is a "vote for a
numerical value" situation (using interpolated median) which will actually
result in your vote making a difference, albeit a tiny one.  Because as long
as you get distracted with non-issues like this, it becomes necessary to go
to the basics to avoid them, so a discussion can take place without you
evading at every turn.

But you refuse to listen to such things because you claim you are only
interested in "real world" elections.  (and then I am expected to listen
when you make a contrived hypothetical case with 3 candidates and only 3

> yet well
> over half of the no-hoper voters (e.g. naderites) historically have
> chosen to vote strategically.  so your argument is bunk.

I happily acknowledge that most "naderites" voted strategically.  My
argument in no way assumed otherwise. But it didn't take many to throw the

Regardless, you can't assume that those who vote stregically under plurality
are the same as those who would vote strategically under range or condorcet
or any other method.  There are different payoffs, different risks,
different levels of complexity, different requirements as to information,
and different interpretations of what the "intention" is for each system.

But much of that is a psychology issue.  My guess (partly based on your
people skills)....not your strong point.

> Here's my big unanswered question.  As I mentioned, my favorite
> explanatory
> > device is a DSV system that includes "a software agent operating solely
> on
> > the voter's behalf, which takes your actual preferences as input and
> > produces the most strategic approval or range ballot".
> what does it "explain"?  i see it as a distraction.  and you
> apparently did not realize that it was just a condorcet system until i
> told you that, which i think is illustrative of your level of
> expertise.

Sorry, did I give the impression I learned something from you?

For what its worth, my article on movie voting which has been on the web for
2 years states pretty clearly that the DSV system described in it is
identical in effect as condorcet.  When I came up with the system in the
first place, i was told it had already been invented by Laurie Cranor a few
years before.  I suppose I could have just read all the material in the
world and wouldn't have had to reinvent the wheel, but then again, those who
avoid reinventing the wheel tend to also never invent anything new, because
they haven't had practice.

Regardless, I think a DSV system affords the most possibility of making it
100% strategy proof, because by definition the software agent is using
optimum strategy on your behalf.  You still haven't explained how you can
improve on optimum strategy by lying to the agent, unless the agent really
isn't 100% optimal.

BTW, you told me that I was the first one who had made a convincing case for
"fairness" being anything other than the sum of net short-term utilities,
and being something that you might actually want to factor into future
calculations.  That seems pretty elementary.  Or maybe pre-schoolery.

> Given that, why would a voter have an incentive to mislead the agent?  The
> > agent is simply casting an approval ballot on the voter's behalf, it is
> not
> > revealing the voter's "true preferences" to the agents operating on the
> > behalf of other voters.
> > Correct me if I am missing something, but it seems to me that the only
> way
> > you would need to mislead the agent regarding your true preferences is
> if it
> > is not really operating in your interest.
> i explained this in another post, but i'll do it here for parsimony.
> in a preference cycle, everyone's agents would keep cycling the vote
> in an endless loop.  since that means we die before an election result
> is declared, we can't have that.  so we have to have a cycle
> resolution. process.  no matter which one we use, voters are going to
> have a reason to strategically bury candidates to stop them from
> making it to the smith/schwarz set (or to get candidates into the
> smith set that otherwise would not have made it there).

First, I would argue that doing so will not advance their interests if
looked at in a statistical sense, especially if they know that other voters
are likely to be doing the same thing.  It becomes too hard to predict what
others will do.

Even so, if that *is* possible then the agent isn't operating on the voter's
behalf, and its algorithm should be changed to have the same effect when
casting the approval ballot.

> the fact that you were not able to deduce this on your own should tell
> you something.  you have a lot more to learn than you realize.


> Regardless, my main issue is being able to present scores, which I feel is
> > important if we are going to sell it to the masses.
> sell condorcet to the masses!  bwah hah hah hah.

Childish much? Anyway, better chance than Ron Paul getting elected, but you
seem to go to effort to advocate that.  And I never said sell it for
political elections, not in the short term.  I'm more interested in getting
people to use it for non-government elections for now (organizations, etc),
so that it can get some real world testing.

And its not like Range voting has a snowball's chance in hell of being used
for political elections, not in our lifetimes.  Sorry to say, but just
telling people that you've proven that they want range, even though they
don't think they do, isn't gonna do it.

> > It is my opinion that all condorcet methods are imperfect, but that
> > plurality is so much worse, and so much more used, that a better use of
> my
> > own time is debating condorcet vs. plurality rather than condorcet vs.
> > condorcet.
> or you could just use range or approval voting which, once you
> understand it, is clearly superior to either.

Or not.  Range and approval simply converge to Condorcet as people are
better informed anyway, you said it yourself.  The only difference is that
Range and Approval have shifted the responsibility for resolving cycles to
polls, the media, and psychology, rather than having as much as possible of
cycle resolution in the tabulation method.

> If I have to debate against the range people, so be it, but that is mostly
> > because because I think the effect of the range advocates is actually to
> > keep the status quo.
> range voting is better and much simpler/cheaper to adopt than
> condorcet, by far.  (better as in, picks more representative
> candidates.)

Not better as in "more fair" though.

Tell me where in Princeton math PhD Warren's simulations does he demonstrate
that the long term value of perceived fairness doesn't outweigh whatever
short term value having more "representative candidates" has?

All I've heard you say is that you doubt that fairness is important enough
to people to outweigh whatever gain in short term utility you think they
will get from range voting.  (meanwhile you sure seem to love that book,
subtitled "why elections aren't fair")

> it can be done on ordinary voting machines and reduces
> spoilage rates.  if you think advocating range voting is preserving
> the status quo, then jousting at the condorcet windmill should make
> you feel like the ultimate advocate of the status quo.

I'm not sure how you see that I am jousting at the condorcet windmill.  I
like condorcet, so why would you say that?

And for what its worth, I support IRV (God forbid), in the sense that it has
momentum and does address some of the worst problems with plurality.  Yes I
am well aware it is far from perfect, but I would rather it gain momentum,
and hopefully once people are more comfortable with the whole idea of
ranking candidates they will be more receptive to other methods of
tabulation.  So my main effort is to advocate "ranked voting methods",
condorcet being my favorite, IRV being the one likely to make short term
gains.  I know your approach is to bullet vote your favorite and screw the
consequences, so this strategic approach is probably a bit tough to grasp
for you.

If I joust at windmill, it is the Range voting one. (its a rather small,
though, as far as windmills go). Partly because I think the Power Rangers
are obnoxious and rude and misguided and do nothing to advance voting

And I think their method is stupid, because it is just approval voting with
some attempted deception thrown in for good measure.

And because it is based on the idea that short term utility is the only
criteria for measuring something.

And because it is clear in its very design that it is all about rewarding
those who discourtiously exaggerate (and things that reward such
non-cooperative behaviour are almost always bad).

(yes I am aware the condorcet can, in some cases, reward those who vote
insincerely, but I think there is a difference between leaving the gate wide
open (Range) vs. a system that makes you climb over a tall fence with razor
wire (condorcet).

> you want a radically more complex

Complex if you only count the clock cycles of the computers.  Not if you
count the confusion that will go on in the brains of the voters.

> and WORSE

Your opinion.  I know you think it is fact.  It's not.  Unless "short term
happiness with the actual results" is equal to "long term satisfaction with
the results, the method used, and whether it seems fair and equitable".

But, of course, it's not.

> voting method that is MORE harmed by
> gaming.

Not provable (and I don't agree, at all).
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