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

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Tue Dec 2 12:10:50 PST 2008

At 04:50 PM 11/26/2008, Juho Laatu wrote:
>I think it depends on the society and its rules (and the method and 
>election in question) if insincere voting is considered to be 
>"wrong" or not. In many cases the society will benefit if insincere 
>voting is generally not accepted. (Strategic voting can be accepted 
>in elections where strategic voting is the "agreed" way to vote.)

Here is the problem. We make ordinary choices, all the time, 
"strategically." Expecting elections to be different is swimming 
against the tide.

Rather, harness it.

The only way to consider a sensible Open Voting (Approval) vote as 
"insincere" is to use a rather warped and specialized definition. 
Everything expressed in the vote is sincere, and the only thing 
missing is some preference information. That information is missing, 
sometimes, with any voting system that I can think of, or at least 
possibly missing. Open Voting allows the voter to class the 
candidates into two classes, those the voter chooses to support, and those not.

We may assume that the voter never prefers a not-supported candidate 
over a supported one. We may assume that if the voter votes for only 
one, the voter prefers that candidate to all others, for there is no 
need to restrict the vote, to not vote also for a preferred candidate.

Open Voting is an extraordinarily strategy-free method, as was 
originally claimed, but that doesn't mean that no "strategy" is 
involved. It means that a "dishonest vote," one that reverses 
preference, never helps the voter.

Rather, the strategy that is involved, if the voter cares, is to 
always vote for at least one candidate who might actually win. If the 
voter does not do this, the vote is almost certainly moot, largely 
wasted. (It can be sensible to vote this way, actually, but usually 
we think of such votes as "nonstrategic." In fact, they could be part 
of a deeper strategy, one that is not about winning this particular election.)

It's important to recognize that there are two kinds of "strategic 
voting," as the term has been used. One is a vote that reverses 
preference, and the other is a vote that improves the chances of the 
vote being effective. The former is clearly "insincere," even though, 
really, these are votes, not sentiments. I have never seen a ballot 
instruction that says, "Vote for your true favorite." Rather, the 
instructions say, usually, "Vote for one." So if I do that, in 
*whatever manner I choose,* am I being "insincere"?

Only if I was expected to vote for my favorite. And, in fact, the 
expectation is, more normally, the opposite. Many of us are upset 
with Nader supporters who did just that, and behind this is something 
real. These are votes, not sentiments, and they have very serious 
real-world consequences. When we refuse to take an action that could 
make things better, we become responsible, by default, a "sin of 
omission," for things being worse.

If Nader was right, if there was no difference between Bush and Gore, 
then his supporters were right to vote for him. They might as well. 
But I highly doubt that there was no difference. Sure, in some 
respects, there was no difference. The present political system is 
addicted to corporate contributions. But that's only one side.)

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