[EM] Are proposed methods asymptotically aproaching some limit of utility?

Juho juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Mar 11 10:38:24 PDT 2007

On Mar 11, 2007, at 18:44 , Matthew Welland wrote:

> I can't follow every thread but I'm starting to think that the  
> search for
> some perfect voting method is asymptotically approaching some sort of
> limit.

Theoretically that may be the truth. In practice I see many experts  
with often quite different opinions on where the asymptote is about  
to lead us :-).

Note also that there may be also different targets on what kind of  
utility the method tries to maximize. Seeking for a compromise  
candidate with wide support may be a good target in most elections  
but one could also have different goals like minimizing number of  
really disappointed voters or giving a chance also to candidates that  
are not widely supported (e.g. random ballot). Allowing the majority  
to decide vs. seeking for best average utility is also another  
decision on what kind of utility to seek. And of course in some  
environments strategic voting is a bigger threat than in others and  
one needs to pick the voting method accordingly. There are however  
some good general purpose methods that work well in most typical  

> That doesn't mean that the pursuit isn't useful but there is an  
> academic
> path and a pragmatic path.

Yes, this list discusses both theoretical questions and pragmatic  
questions. Both are of course good topics to cover. It would be good  
to be clear when one claims something about the theoretical  
properties and when about the practical properties.

> I want to know what to advocate in various
> forums and what to implement on my own web site. My current choice  
> would be
> range voting. It is simple (only slightly harder to expain than  
> approval)
> and it seems to do a good job at leaving voters satisfied.

It offers some really nice properties with sincere votes. It however  
has the potential to lead to disasters if used in a mixed way so that  
some voter groups mark their sincere preferences while some others  
mark strategically only largest and smallest values.

Juho Laatu

> It is hard to
> imagine that more than 50% of the voters would be dissatisfied with  
> the
> results of a range vote.
> I see several important qualities to consider:
> 1. How hard is the system to describe to others and to implement.
> 2. Will the ratio of people satisfied to dissatisifed with the results
>     be greater than 1. A "satisficity(*) ratio" if you will.
> 3. Voting effort. How much effort does it take to express your vote?
> Voting system  Complexity  Satisficity(*)    Voting Effort
> ------------------  ---------------  ---------------     
> ----------------
> Pluratlity              simple         terrible              low
> Approval              simple         ok to good        low
> Condorcet           complex       good?               medium
> Range                  simple         good                 medium
> Based on what I know now I would settle on Range Voting. However  
> for a while
> I was dead set on approval voting and before that I was advocating  
> IRV. Is
> Range Voting "satisficient" or are its flaws or limitations serious  
> enough
> that there are many scenarios where it will fail to meet a satisficity
> ratio of greater than one?
> (*) My definition is "degree to which it satisfies" which may  
> differ from
> definitions found out on the web :-) and yes, I know I should be using
> Bayesian Regret but a)  don't really understand it and b) I like  
> the sound
> of satisficity.
> Matt
> -- 
> http://www.kiatoa.com, a self-governing site where *you* can be the  
> boss!
>   You make and choose the stories and the classifieds are always free.
>      Also, many "best of" polls. Come join in the ballot stuffing!
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