[EM] Trees and single-winner methods

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Mon Mar 19 22:26:52 PDT 2007

At 10:45 AM 3/18/2007, Chris Benham wrote:

>>Chris has made some assumptions about the identity of candidates. In
>>particular, I've assumed that write-in votes are allowed. So what is
>>to prevent a voter from voting for himself or herself?
>As I understand the Asset Voting procedure, if a significant 
>proportion of voters did that the meeting
>room where the final negotiating and voting takes place could become 

What Chris has done is to assume a particular inefficient procedure 
for handling the next stage(s) in Asset. We have not generally 
discussed how the vote reassignments would take place. I would not 
assume a single meeting. I'd assume, instead, in public elections, 
some sort of paper-filing process. Proxy voting might be used, by the 
way. So if there *is* a meeting, it need not have a very large number 
of people.

>>I'd be interested to know why Chris is opposed to "proxy voting for
>>public political elections." What is it about political elections
>>that is different from, say, corporate elections? Sure, there are
>>differences, but why do these differences imply that proxy voting is
>>to be rejected?
>I don't see any need for it, and its obviously open to abuse.

Sure, proxies can be abused. However, I'd ask Chris why such an 
"obviously open to abuse" concept is universal practice in business. 
People who have choices will use proxies.

It is unclear to me how proxies in public elections would actually be 
abused. Asset Voting, secret ballot, is effectively the assignment of 
proxies by secret ballot. Where is the particular vulnerability to 
abuse? I don't see it, and I suppose I could be overlooking the 
obvious, it wouldn't be the first time, but I haven't seen anyone 
mention anything specific.

The most I can come up with is the spectre of someone gathering the 
proxies of a lot of ignorant people. The danger of this is, of 
course, based on there being a lot of ignorant people, who can't be 
trusted with their votes. It is the old anti-democracy argument in 
another form.

Yet I've seen direct democracy functioning, here in New England..... 
People, quite simply, are not so stupid. The big problem with direct 
democracy is not mob psychology, it is the problem of scale, it 
breaks down when the size is large (and true mob rule happens when 
the scale is large and there is no deliberative process).

>  Plus it is good for democracy if everyone
>directly participates.  I don't see that people who are too lazy or 
>incompetent to vote, or not allowed
>out by their domineering associates should be allowed to sign over 
>extra voting power to Uncle Abd.

Excuse me. Chris, I want to be able to assign *my* proxy to someone. 
I'm not particularly interested in serving as a proxy. Too much work. 
I'll do it if there is nobody else.

"Good for democracy is everyone participates."

Chris doesn't apparently have any experience with direct democracy. 
If everyone participates, here in New England, the whole thing breaks down.

I agree that it is good if everyone participates, but I don't mean by 
that for everyone to show up at Town Meeting. It would simply be 
impossible. What I'd like everyone to do is to select someone whom 
they trust to represent them if they aren't present. And then 
participate directly if they have the time and inclination. The 
representation will take care of itself.

Now, that isn't possible at present, because of the rules against 
proxy voting. It isn't possible with regard to *voting*, that is. But 
it is possible with regard to representation. And representation is 
actually what is needed to reform the system, not voting, per se. If 
you can get people *represented*, where the representatives ensure 
that their views are presented at some level, and where the 
representatives *recommend* action to those they represent, you can, 
I believe, use the existing system of voting. More intelligently and 
more powerfully.

>>>>What would Chris think about Asset used for multiwinner elections?
>>>Bad, but less so.
>>Again, why?
>Less bad because (as with Party List PR) with a very simple ballot 
>and voting, some sort of proportionality
>is achieved.

"Some sort of proportionality"!!! Asset produces, as we have 
described it, total proportionality, created out of free choices.

>>Note that Asset Voting can be, effectively, STV. Consider this: the
>>ballot could be an STV ranked ballot, which may be truncated. I would
>>assume, generally, that a voter would most trust their first choice,
>>so if a truncated ballot is exhausted, the vote would revert to the
>>control of the first-ranked candidate. It would be possible that the
>>voter could separately specify the proxy to control votes in the
>>event of ballot exhaustion, but I really don't see significant 
>>benefit in that.
>>With this procedure, if a voter votes for only one, it is, for that
>>voter, pure Asset Voting. If a voter ranks all candidates, it is STV,
>I get it and don't like it. It just gives parties and candidates 
>extra 'sheep manipulating' power by making it easier
>for the sheep to  assign their lower  preferences  blindly.

Yes. Chris is with many. He distrusts democracy.

There is a writer on top-politics who opposed direct democracy 
because of the "lemmings." He wants to set up a computer-based system 
that is similar to delegable proxy, but automated, with default 
assignments of proxies, and a prohibition of direct voting.

He's absolutely right that most people shouldn't be voting on most 
subjects. However, my point is that the one to decide who is 
qualified and who is not qualified to vote is the *voter*. Not 
someone else and not some system or system programmer.

Proxy representation allows this choice to be made, directly and simply.

Asset fits into a more traditional system with terms of office, but 
it is similar to delegable proxy used as an election method.

It allows people to be represented by someone they choose, either 
directly in the assembly, or in the process of choosing who is to be 
in the assembly. As we have described it, every voter would have a 
known representative on the assembly, who their vote elected 
(together with the rest of the quota). The compromises necessary for 
some are worked out by the candidate(s) the voter chose on the 
ballot. For most voters, we think, the representative would be 
relatively local, for a few, the rep might be jurisdiction-wide.

It has nothing to do with political parties. It neither requires them 
nor does it prohibit them. Voters will choose whether or not to use 
parties, by whom they vote for.

Prohibiting the power to delegate authority is a restriction on authority.

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list