[EM] FairVote on Robert's Rules of Order and IRV

Dave Ketchum davek at clarityconnect.com
Fri Dec 19 21:00:36 PST 2008

Authors of RR have their own primary goals and properly avoid the election
methods wars that take place in EM, etc, - simply recommending that group's
rules authors should be careful as to what methods they choose to define
for their groups.


On Sun, 14 Dec 2008 21:27:40 -0500 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
 > At 12:49 PM 12/14/2008, Steve Eppley wrote:
 >> Hi,
 >> I think Mr. Lomax missed the big point (though I agree he is right to
 >> criticize Instant Runoff).  The big point is that the authors of books
 >> on Robert's Rules showed zero awareness of the existence of
 >> Condorcetian preferential voting methods--or perhaps they were aware
 >> but their analysis was made before the technological age made it easy
 >> to exhaustively tally all the voters' pairwise preferences--so their
 >> "recommendation" of single winner STV preferential voting was only
 >> relative to a few even worse methods.  Clearly, Condorcetian methods
 >> have properties that are much closer to the properties of the Single
 >> Elimination Pairwise method that RR advocates, because Condorcetian
 >> methods are not subject to the criticism they made of STV that it can
 >> easily defeat the best compromise.
 > This analysis is incorrect. Yes, they show no specific awareness, but
 > the language they used was quite precisely crafted, surprisingly so, if
 > they were not aware that other preferential voting methods did not
 > suffer from the failure of the STV method. That is, they make it a
 > criticism of the *specific method they have described*, which is STV.
 > They have also mentioned that there are many forms of preferential
 > voting. That they spent precious words -- this is a manual of practice,
 > not a dissertation -- to make it clear that center squeeze was a
 > specific problem of "this method," i.e., the one they describe,
 > indicates to me that they were quite aware that this wasn't a universal
 > problem with preferential voting.
 > You have missed something else. RR does not recommend single elimination
 > pairwise. They recommend, indeed *require* by default, repetition of the
 > election, until a majority is found. There is no candidate elimination.
 > It's true, though. The RR method -- election repetition -- together with
 > associated rules, is an approximately Condorcet compliant method. The
 > deviation is, in fact, a Range-like effect. When a proposed candidate is
 > "close enough," i.e., the general preference for the Condorcet winner is
 > low enough, the process terminates. People would rather finish with the
 > election than seek any more improvement in satisfaction with the result.
 > If there is some group of voters who strongly oppose this, they will
 > attempt to prevent it, they will attempt to wheel and deal to come up
 > with some better compromise. It's when the remaining preference
 > strength, possible improvement, is lower than the perceived cost of
 > continuing the process, that it terminates. With the explicit consent of
 > a majority for the result.
 > I'm told that the reason they didn't describe other voting methods is
 > that those other methods, at the time, were not in common use, and they
 > still are not. They are a manual of actual practice, and it's remarkable
 > that they said as much as they did. In any case, they clearly think that
 > the practice of repeated elections is superior to IRV, and that using
 > this *even with a majority requirement* is deficient compared to
 > repeated elections. That's because, if voters do fully rank, a majority
 > may be found which is *not* the compromise winner.
 > But they don't seem to have realized that truncation is a reasonable
 > voter strategy in Center Squeeze conditions. And when the election must
 > be repeated, the top-two failure is irrelevant, or almost so.
 >> (Approval can easily defeat the best compromise too, because many
 >> voters will fail to approve compromise candidates out of fear of
 >> defeating preferred candidates, which in turn will deter potential
 >> candidates from competing.  If Mr. Lomax likes Approval due to its
 >> cheapness and simplicity, I'll point out that the family of voting
 >> methods known as Voting for a Published Ranking are as cheap as
 >> Approval, easier for the voters, some methods of the family are as
 >> simple, and if I'm right about how candidates would behave would tend
 >> to elect a good compromise.)
 > Published ranking is interesting, for sure, but Approval is far, far
 > simple and far less radical. Bucklin, in fact, addresses that
 > reluctance. Unstated here was how the published rankings would be used.
 > Condorcet? Bucklin is simpler, but when we are dealing with published
 > rankings, we need only collect those votes en masse, and then applying
 > them to a Condorcet matrix would be simple.
 > However, politically, it's, shall we say, a step. Count All the Votes is
 > a small step, *and* cheap. And quite surprisingly powerful, considering.
 > Bucklin has been used, and this might make it easier to bring it back.
 > The behavior of Published Rankings is unknown. There are a *lot* of
 > questions, some of them quite difficult to answer. I'd prefer pure
 > Asset; candidates could certainly publish their own Range ballots
 > regarding other candidates, but I suggest that encouraging voters to
 > select for trustworthiness, which covers a lot, is the best way to
 > proceed to reform elections, and Asset has legs. It should be able to
 > walk, one step at a time, all the way to full, highly accurate
 > proportional representation, continuous democracy (no fixed terms of
 > office, but, naturally, regular elections for electors).
 >> It would be worthwhile, I think, to reach out to recognized experts in
 >> Robert's Rules and teach them about better voting methods, and then
 >> see what they recommend.
 > It's an error to assume they don't know. They are not voting systems
 > theorists, they put together a manual of actual practice. It's quite
 > possible that in the next manual, there will be some description of
 > Approval, for example, because there are some major organizational
 > implementations.
 >> Another deception by the IRVings is their widespread claim that IRV
 >> eliminates spoiling.  It's an even bigger deception, much more
 >> important.  A variation of IRV that permits candidates to withdraw
 >> from contention after the votes are published, before the votes are
 >> tallied, would be much better at eliminating spoiling and electing the
 >> best compromise.
 > Sure. IRV eliminates, to a degree, the lower-order spoiler effect. I.e.,
 > minor party, no chance of winning, draws votes away from one major
 > candidate, resulting in an election unsatisfactory to a majority. That,
 > by the way, is an assumption. Nader, in 2000, claimed that voters who
 > preferred him should vote for him because the majors were Tweedledum and
 > Tweedledee, both shills for the corporations. If they believed him, then
 > why would we think that they would add votes under IRV? However, in
 > fact, voters are a bit more sophsticated and uncontrollable. Some of
 > those who voted for Nader would have added ranked votes or additional
 > Approvals for Gore.
 > Bucklin is what I recommend, as a first reform, beyond Count All the
 > Votes (Open Voting or Approval). It addresses the big problem that most
 > people give as an objection to Approval, but it is very much like
 > Approval. It's roughly as efficient as Condorcet methods with social
 > utility.
 > Ultimately, I prefer Range with explicit Approval cutoff, and pairwise
 > analysis, and a runoff in the case of majority approval failure or a
 > candidate who beats the Range winner by pairwise analysis. It's my
 > contention, by the way, that a genuine, sincere Range winner would
 > likely prevail in a direct runoff against a true Condorcet winner. And
 > if you don't know why, ask!
 > When I first proposed this, some thought it preposterous, a result of
 > single-ballot, deterministic thinking that the whole field of voting
 > systems fell into.
   davek at clarityconnect.com    people.clarityconnect.com/webpages3/davek
   Dave Ketchum   108 Halstead Ave, Owego, NY  13827-1708   607-687-5026
             Do to no one what you would not want done to you.
                   If you want peace, work for justice.

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