[EM] Approaches to proposing Approval

Michael Ossipoff mikeo2106 at msn.com
Thu Mar 1 02:11:41 PST 2007

I was saying before that the worst thing you can do is introduce people to 
Approval by telling them that they can vote for as many candidates as they 
want to. That’s perceived as illegal Plurality and as a violation of our 
right to 1-person-1-vote (1p1v).

But how about this:

Start by describing the -1,1 point rating method. Or, of course, if the 
person has already heard about Approval balloting and expressed opposition 
to it,  then propose -1,1 to that person.

Point out that a -1 rating is every bit as powerful as a +1 rating, because 
obviously  your -1 rating for a particular candidate will exactly cancel out 
one other voter’s +1 rating for that candidate.

So, if there are 10 candidates, and I give +1 to six candidates, and -1 to 
four candidates; and if you give +1 to one candidate, and -1 to nine 
candidates, you’re not having any less voting power than I do.

Then point out that, without changing the winner, the counting work could be 
halved by only counting the +1 ratings. And that the voting work could be 
halved by only voting the +1 ratings. So why not just ask voters to mark as 
many candidates as they want to,  with the meaning that the voter is giving 
+1 to each candidate s/he marks, and -1 to every candidate s/he doesn’t 

That should introduce someone to Approval without the “unequal voting power” 
misunderstanding, and should answer the person who opposed Approval by 
claiming unequal voting power.

1-vote Plurality, like Approval or -1,1  is a points rating method. But 
1-vote Plurality is a peculiar points rating method that only lets you give 
a 1 to one candidate,  but then requires you to rate all of the others with 
-1, regardless of how you might want to rate them. It stifles expression.

Approval or -1,1 lets you rate _any_ candidate either way. Obviously a big 
increase in freedom.

Remind the 1-person-1-vote objector that 1p1v is a rules-criterion. Rules 
criteria are arbitrary “because I say so” criteria. Ask the objector if s/he 
can name an actual misbehavior or bad outcome that would result from using 
Approval instead of  1-vote Plurality. Ask him/her if s/he can give a 
justification for taking away the freedom described in the paragraph before 
this one.

With Approval, everyone, for the first time could vote for their favorite, 
with no strategic incentive not to.

It would take a pretty good bad-results objection to outweigh that, and the 
1p1v objector won’t have one.

Mike Ossipoff

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