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

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Tue Dec 9 10:34:37 PST 2008

--- On Tue, 9/12/08, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:

> > > The problem here, Juho, is that "sincere
> opinion"
> > > is not the basis for voting,..
> >
> >What is the alternative basis?
> The basis is choice. I can drop a marble in this bucket, or
> that 
> bucket. Maybe I can drop a marble in each one I choose of
> many 
> buckets. Maybe I can drop ten marbles like that, with rules
> constraining me.
> These are not opinions. The basis for voting is choice, I
> choose this 
> action and not that one, and presumably I do so because of
> expected effect.

Use of "choice" as the base (if seen as an
atomic concept) when explaining different
voting styles ("strategic", "sincere",
"insincere",...) would hide some essential
information like strategic reasons vs.
plain sincere opinions (behind the atomic

> Okay, already, sincere opinion is *a* basis for voting, but
> rational 
> expectations, the likely *effect* of the vote, is a
> necessary 
> element. That too, is an opinion, an expectation by the
> voter.

Yes, voting may be based on "sincere
opinions" and "likely effects" (that may
be based on knowing the method and the
polls and expected changes) and "morale"

I referred to "sincere opinions" as *the*
basis since I modeled the other voting
styles as add-ons to this component that
is always present and behind the other

> tell, me, what is the difference between a sincere opinion
> and an ordinary one?

I guess all human opinions could be said
to be ordinary and sincere (in everyday
language). In this particular case
(election method discussions) "sincere"
usually refers to opinions (or ballots)
that have not taken into account (yet)
the impact of the used election method
(=algorithm to pick the winner) and
possible strategic considerations.
(Polls could already have impacted
the "sincere" opinion.)

> >Definition "sincere expression" = "no
> >preference reversal" is not very intuitive
> >to me.

> Range and Approval votes may be presumed to all be sincere 
> expressions of setwise preferences. Preference reversal
> violates 
> this, clearly.

Yes, "sincere expression of setwise
preferences" would be more intuitive.

> How often is it that one cannot predict with confidence
> that the 
> winner is one of two?
> With Chirac/Jospin/Le Pen et all, it was pretty much a
> foregone 
> conclusion that the winner was going to be Chirac or
> Jospin.

There are also countries with more than
two (big enough) moderate parties, and
that may mean having regularly more than
two potential winners.

In France the first round votes were
Chirac 19.88%, Le Pen 16.86%, Jospin
16.18%. It was probably a surprise to
most people that Le Pen made it to the
second round. But if this was possible
then it could also have been possible
that the second round would have been
between Le Pen and Jospin (as a result
of a shift of 3.5% of the votes from
Chirac to Jospin). In this case Le Pen
could have had some chances. Jospin was
not very popular at that time. But I
can't really tell what could have
happened since I'm not familiar enough
with the political atmosphere in France
in 2002.

> >Yes. Not a bad definition. Here "method and
> >environment information based optimization
> >of the vote" = "strategy".
> The problem comes when it is assumed that strategy equals
> bad voting, 
> or being affected by strategy equals bad method. The
> question is the 
> nature of the effect, and the kind of strategy.

No need to associate feelings like "bad
method" to the scientific use of term
"strategic". If that is a problem then
one can find some more neutral word and
use those instead for the same purpose
and with the same definition (=>
"tactical", "optimized",...).

> A Range winner is likely to win a runoff against a
> Condorcet 
> winner, that's my assertion.
> >I have always thought "strategy" to refer to
> >any kind of modification of one's vote (or
> >nomination or whatever) to achieve better
> >results.
> Modification from what? Try to find some standard
> definitions. Not easy.

Modification from the sincere opinion
based ballot (= first idea before
considering what would be a strong
ballot). I think it is quite straight
forward to define that for most ballot
types. Approval is the first one to run
into problems since it is not easy to
say what "approval" means, or if the
intention is that all voters should
find their best strategic vote and vote

> >If the ballots are seen as separate
> >independent votes (that makes counting of
> >the sum irrelevant) then I'd expect all the
> >ballots to be identical, and cutoff location
> >not to be based on strategic considerations.
> I may sweep my approval cutoff while voting the 100 votes,
> starting 
> out, perhaps, with tight preference, bullet voting, then
> lowering the 
> cutoff. How far I go, that's up to me. It is not
> necessarily 
> strategic, which, here, must mean in consideration of the
> election 
> probabilities.

Ok, you could do that also e.g. for
fun, not necessarily for strategic
reasons. But you would deviate from
your "sincere approval opinion" if
there was one. If there was not one,
then you could say that all the votes
are approximations of your "sincere
ranking opinion" (and do not violate
your sincere opinion although each
ballot lacks some information (flattens
some to equal preferences)). You could
also claim that the votes are not
"strategic" if your decisions were not
based on any strategic considerations.

> And it is not defective or selfish or bad to
> consider 
> those probabilities.

This depends on the society and your
own feelings.

> It is poor practice to use loaded terms, because it invites
> abuse. It 
> may be necessary, but that's another matter.

Any better alternatives for "sincere"?
("method independent", "honest",
"original", "subjective",...?)



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