[EM] Why the concept of "sincere" votes in Range is flawed.

Terry Bouricius terryb at burlingtontelecom.net
Tue Dec 2 10:11:08 PST 2008

Jonathan Lundell wrote regarding Approval voting strategy:

"It's also obvious that if, for whatever reason, I vote for candidate X, I 
should vote for all the candidates that I prefer to X."

I note that Jonathan said the voter "should," rather than "would," which 
is an important distinction...

That is not the only strategy, nor in some elections the most likely 
strategy for many voters. If I prefer Y to X but love Z, yet also see Y as 
the most likely challenger to my favored Z, I might well vote for X (since 
I prefer X to W, whom I hate, and want W to come in dead last) assuming X 
has little chance of winning or hurting Z any way, but skip Y, even though 
I actually prefer Y to X, so as to not risk hurting Z, and also vote for 
Z. You might say this is poor strategy, or illogical, but I am reasonably 
certain it is the kind of strategy that would occur all the time.

Terry Bouricius

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Jonathan Lundell" <jlundell at pobox.com>
To: "Kristofer Munsterhjelm" <km-elmet at broadpark.no>
Cc: "Paul Kislanko" <kislanko at airmail.net>;
<election-methods at electorama.com>
Sent: Tuesday, December 02, 2008 11:40 AM
Subject: Re: [EM] Why the concept of "sincere" votes in Range is flawed.

On Dec 2, 2008, at 3:25 AM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:

> Paul Kislanko wrote:
>> I agree with almost all of what Jonathan says except that "as a
>> voter" (and
>> that's my main perspective) I _CAN_ see a need for equal rankings
>> in a
>> method that requests my ordinal list of alternatives.
>> A>B=C=D=...>V>W=...X=Y=Z
>> fairly precisely expresses what I was thinking when I voted. "Of the
>> lower-alphabet alternatives I prefer A, but if A doesn't win I
>> prefer any of
>> the other top-alphabet alternatives to all of the lower-alphabet
>> alternatives, of which I prefer V to any of the others that I find
>> equally
>> distastefull."
>> One can (and folks on this list often do) describe the > between
>> one set of
>> =s and another as an "approval cutoff", but that is unnecessay if
>> you have
>> fully ranked ballots with equal ranks allowed. From such collection
>> mechanisms one can count ballots by pretty much any method, which
>> is why "as
>> a voter" I prefer a vote-COLLECTION method that allows ranked
>> ballots with
>> equal ranks and truncation allowed, regardless of how votes are
> That's not really what an approval cutoff is. An approval cutoff is
> used by some methods to denote "the candidates above are those I can
> accept; those below, I really don't like". At least that's what I
> understand, though some methods may reward strategic placement of
> the cutoff as well.

Abd's point, and mine, is that such interpretations of some "approval
cutoff" isn't really justified, except perhaps as a shorthand way of
describing how a voter *might* behave. The only instructions a voter
is bound by the rules to follow are "vote for as many as you choose;
the candidate with the most vote wins".

Assuming that the voter a preference ranking, the decision as to where
to place the cutoff is inherently a strategic decision. Obviously I
should vote for my favorite candidate. It's also obvious that if, for
whatever reason, I vote for candidate X, I should vote for all the
candidates that I prefer to X. What's not obvious is where to place
the cutoff. Making that calculation optimally, especially in the light
of imprecise polling, is difficult to impossible.
Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list info

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list