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

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km-elmet at broadpark.no
Fri Dec 5 10:38:04 PST 2008

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 12:34 AM 12/3/2008, Juho Laatu wrote:
>> --- On Mon, 1/12/08, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
>> > > One approach to sincerity is to compare voter
>> > behaviour to the requested behaviour. In Approval if the
>> > request is to mark all candidates that one approves then
>> > placing the cutoff between two main candidates is often
>> > insincere..
>> ("Insincerely" is not the best word here since
>> that carries a meaning "morally wrong". I could
>> have said e.g. "Not based on the sincere opinion
>> only".)
> The problem here, Juho, is that "sincere opinion" is not the basis for 
> voting, which is an action with, in fact, moral consequences. Vote for 
> Adolf Hitler because you like his moustache ....
> Or fail to vote to prevent the election of W.
> (Now, if your sincere opinion is that there was no difference between G. 
> and W., the vote cannot be faulted, only the stupidity of the opinion, 
> and I would have no intelligence test for voters, voters have the right 
> to determine, themselves, if they are qualified to vote or should, 
> alternatively, leave it to others. In fact, what I'd like to do is allow 
> them to *choose* the other or others who represent them when they do not 
> vote themselves, but to the maximum extent possible, I'd leave the power 
> to decide whether they vote directly or not in their hands. Instead of 
> deciding, as many have, that we cannot trust the people to know enough 
> to vote intelligently, hence we need a republican system, I'd leave the 
> decision of whether or not a person knows enough to vote to the person, 
> and I'd allow them to transfer their voting power to someone they trust, 
> without coercing or interfering with that in any way.)
>> > Approval is a special method from this point of
>> > view since it is often described as requiring the voter to
>> > plan what is the best strategic vote (where to put the
>> > cutoff).
>> >
>> > It requires no such thing. Voters, however, will maximize
>> > their expected outcome if they vote optimally.
>> "Optimally" means something like "following the
>> best strategy" here.
> Or close. Which is actually pretty easy, and is what most voters are 
> quite accustomed to doing. For most voters, should Approval be 
> implemented in the current contest, the best strategy is simply to vote 
> for their Favorite. But they now have an additional option or options, 
> and some might wish to use it, and, in particular, those whose Favorite 
> is unlikely to win the election. It gets tricky only in the situation 
> that there are three frontrunners.
>> > And they vote
>> > optimally by making a sincere expression
>> "Sincere expression" is obviously meant to be
>> different than "sincere opinion".
> Ballots do not ask for the voter's sincere opinion. They ask voters to 
> make a choice or choices.

I think that is incorrect. Ranked methods ask for the sincere opinion of
the voter, and that opinion can be well defined. The first preference is
the opinion of "who would you pick, were you the dictator". The second 
is "who would you pick if the first choice was not available", and so on 
down. Because of Arrow, we know that ranked methods are going to be 
vulnerable to strategy (optimization). However, that's a flaw with 
ranked voting methods. Knowing that they are vulnerable to optimization 
does not make an optimized vote sincere.

Now, you may say that only order reversal is insincere. This sounds a 
bit like a ranked vote advocate saying that only altering your first 
preference is insincere, and therefore, ranked methods that pass FBC are 
strategyproof because altering your subsequent preferences is mere 

Election methods in general are thus algorithms that take individual
opinions as input and returns a good common choice, or a social
ordering. What is a good common choice may be defined by criteria (e.g
Condorcet) or by utility.

As for Range, either Range, the method, has a well defined input or it 
has not. If it has, then incentives to misrepresent the input is bad, 
and would count as strategy. If it has not, then how can it make sense 
of the input to find a good output (choice or social ordering)?

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