[EM] Correction of false statements by Ossipff & Schudy about range voting.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sun Jul 22 13:58:31 PDT 2007

At 12:34 PM 7/22/2007, Chris Benham wrote:

>I don't have a "password", so I can't access the given puzzle solution.

Yeah, irritating. I think you can get a password by asking for it, 
there is a procedure....

>   Warren Schudy's "never" I suppose meant "never in a remotely
>plausible public political election scenario".

Where is the proof?

This is backpedalling. It's common for writers to make the claim, 
raw, without proof beyond an example which shows that a voter could 
regret voting sincerely. The problem with such a proof is that it can 
ignore all the situations where the voter could regret *not* voting 
sincerely. And, frankly, the pain of the latter is worse, other 
things being equal. That is, if you lost value because you were 
sincere, you can -- and most will -- say to themselves, well, at 
least I was honest. What do you say to yourself if you lose value 
because you exaggerated?

In any case, *now* Benham revises the claim to make it one which is 
far more difficult to test. Indeed, the only way to test it 
thoroughly is with simulations. But, wait a minute, these people 
don't trust simulations. Now, why are we supposed to trust *them*? 
The simulations are reproducible. And, indeed, I'm going to present 
one; I've taken a very simple tack with the three-candidate election 
described, looking at the voter's utilities and payoffs for the two 
strategies proposed: "Approval style" and "Sincere satisfaction 
rating." Or if you want to call it an "acceptance rating," fine.

>   I knew there was the odd exception in elections with very few 
> voters and/or the voter has
>much more precise information than s/he could ever plausibly have in 
>a public election.

Or the reverse! It turns out that in the zero-information case, where 
it is equally likely for all candidates to win, as far as the voter 
knows, it is in the voter's interest, clearly, to vote sincerely. 
Now, when I look at Warren's pages, I find that there is nothing new 
I have discovered. It's all there, but the problem is that ranked 
method supporters have read it skeptically, too skeptically. It's one 
thing to question Smith's *conclusions*, I question them all the 
time, he passes too far beyond what his evidence actually proves, 
sometimes. But his reports of what he has found, his expert 
testimony, if you will, should be taken at face value. Naturally, 
subject to verification.

But it is a long-standing legal principle that testimony is presumed 
true unless controverted.

In any case, I found a way to do an election simulation that takes a 
drastic shortcut; it turns out that if your vote counts at all, in 
Range, the election is equivalent to an election with only one other 
voter! I have not nailed down all the details, there are some aspects 
of the probabilities that are not crystal clear to me, though I 
intuit that I've got it right, but I'm sure there are people here 
capable of detecting any mistakes I've made.

It is categorically false that the optimum strategy is Approval 
style. The voter loses expected satisfaction by voting in this way.

In another post, I outlined the procedure. I'll repeat the outline here:

There is a voter with preference A>B>C, and the sincere ratings or 
utilities or expected satisfaction are such that the A>B preference 
is equally strong with the B>C preference. We will use a Range 2 
election, so the possible ratings are 2, 1, and 0, and these are the 
sincere ratings of our subject voter for the candidates A, B, and C.

With zero knowledge of the rest of the vote, what is the expected 
satisfaction for the voter for the two recommended strategies?

Kids are calling, gotta go. But I now have the answers. It's quite interesting.

>Regarding "social utility", I'm of the school that says that to the 
>extent that it is a real and wonderful thing it will look after itself if we do
>our best to ensure that the election method is as fair and 
>strategy-resistant as possible.
>Chris Benham
>election-methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

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