[EM] Why I think IRV isn't a serious alternative 3

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Wed Dec 24 18:42:12 PST 2008

At 10:29 PM 12/23/2008, Kevin Venzke wrote:
(in response to my post)

>This is missing the point. There is no implication anywhere that a
>zero-info strategy is supposed to be usable by real voters.

If we use zero-info strategy to judge a method, and that strategy 
doesn't apply to real voters, we are generating analysis that is 
divorced from real applications. Now, if what we like is playing 
mathematical games, and don't care about real applications, this 
could be fun. But it's not my interest. I'm interested in analysis 
that approaches, to the extent possible, description of how real 
voting systems with real voters in real elections will function.

Zero-info strategy is interesting, and I've put some work into it, 
but what gets dangerous is when, indeed, it is implied that voters 
will behave with this strategy, when zero-info strategy is used, for 
example, to criticize Approval Voting, as was done by Saari. Saari 
explicitly used a mean expected utility that was based on *no* 
knowledge of who might win the election, when the situation was that 
9,999 voters had strong preference (almost 50% utility) for A.

There is an implication here that the strategy is realistic.

> > The most common Approval Vote will be a bullet vote. How
> > much "knowledge" does that take?
>Do you have a very concise summary of why you believe the most common
>Approval vote will be a bullet vote? Are you making any assumptions
>about nomination strategy, what kinds of and how many candidates will
>be nominated?

I'm assuming that Open Voting is adopted for public elections under 
otherwise current conditions. Hence the norm in partisan elections 
would be a few candidates. With many candidates, and with nonpartisan 
elections, we also know that many or even most voters will add 
additional approved candidates. But if we look at the most common 
situation, two main candidates and possibly, even no minor candidates 
on the ballot, we will see a few write-in votes, and only these, with 
very rare exceptions, will have additional votes on the ballot.

Add a minor party, and only the minor party supporters, and only some 
of them, will add an additional vote, and a few major party 
supporters will add a vote for a minor party.

In nonpartisan elections, I'd expect the percentages to increase, 
and, as well, as more parties begin to show up on partisan ballots 
(because they start to get votes, they start to get ballot position, 
further increasing votes, and because the spoiler effect is reduced 
greatly), there will be more multiple approvals. In nonpartisan 
elections, alternative voting systems or top two runoff tend to 
encourage more candidates to run. This causes majority failure with 
any system, but my guess is that Bucklin addresses this the most 
effectively. Approval won't do it quite as well.

> >
> > It's been implied that the scenario is somehow
> > realistic.
>Do you want to name names? I don't know who has implied this.
> > If there is no possibility that a scenario could
> > occur in a real election, then considering it as a criticism
> > of the method is ivory-tower thinking.
>Are you talking about Saari?

Sure. But I think I've seen it elsewhere. For example, FairVote uses 
preposterous scenarios to show how Range Voting can produce allegedly 
preposterous results. Yet when one criticizes IRV with much more 
realistic scenarios, that is labeled "ivory tower thinking." 
Apparently geese and ganders require different sauces.

> > Mean utility of the candidates strategy has been proposed
> > by Approval supporters, but unless the utilities are
> > modified by expectations, it's a terrible strategy,
> > bullet voting is better, probably.
>Why do you think it's a terrible strategy? I think it is a better
>strategy than bullet voting, unless you believe lots of clones have
>been nominated in order to take advantage of your strategy. But that
>would be a pretty bizarre fear since, if anyone ever learned of this
>conspiracy, the strategy would disappear.

That's not zero knowledge, of course....

It's a terrible strategy precisely because applied by relatively 
ignorant voters, it produces worse results than if they simply vote 
for their favorite. Depends on other details, though.

Bullet voting causes majority failure, which is a good thing, in 
fact, when the electorate hasn't settled on a candidate. It's only 
for practical reasons that we don't like this.

There is nothing wrong with bullet voting. It's, in fact, the basic 
voting strategy, enforced by methods that only allow a single vote. 
That what I consider the ideal method can use the bullet vote is 
interesting: Asset Voting.

> > "Better than expectation strategy" is sound.
> > "Better than mean of the candidates" isn't.
> > But this is inherently a "strategy."
>The latter is a special case of the former.

Sure. However, to be realistic, the voter must be a nonrepresentative 
sample of the electorate, such that there is *no connection* between 
the preferences of the voter and the other voters. Otherwise the 
voter, from the voter's own preferences, has a clue about the 
preferences of the electorate, which the voter can *and will* use in 
determining votes.

Bullet voting is normal even with single transferable vote, unless 
it's prohibited. (It may be fairly common even there, we'd have to 
look at the percentages of spoiled ballots.)

> >
> > That's right. Zero-knowledge is, in effect, an
> > oxymoron, since the voter is a voter and therefore a sample
> > of the electorate.
>I guess you must be arguing primarily against Saari. I can't imagine why
>else it would be necessary to argue that a zero-info strategy isn't
>going to be relevant in a real election.

Because voters don't exist in isolation. Most voters, though, 
probably don't and won't use anything other than their knowledge of 
whom they prefer. They will bullet vote for that reason, and they 
will only add lower preference votes when they have sufficient 
knowledge of additional candidates and have low preference strength 
between them. Mostly, they won't use "strategies" other than this, 
unless they have reason to expect that their favorite, or the set of 
their favorites, won't win. And they, from their own knowledge of 
themselves, will usually have this when it is realistic. The 
Libertarian will know that the Libertarian won't usually win, under 
current conditions, so this voter doesn't need to look at polls, and 
therefore the idea of votes causing the predicted vote patterns to 
oscillate is unrealistic. Polls will affect a small percentage of 
voters, for most voters it's moot.

If your favorite is a frontrunner, of two or maybe three, you don't 
care much about polls. In the three frontrunner situation, under some 
circumstances, polls start to be more interesting, but how voters 
will behave will probably depend more on preference strength than on 
strategic decisions from polls.

In reality, the votes depend on both of these, but the weight given 
to the "lottery" will be different, it's a matter for voter judgement 
just like the preference strength.
>I thought I was clear about what I'm concerned about. If the polls (that
>is to include, the voters' collective impression on the state of all
>candidates' odds) cannot determine who the frontrunners are, then many
>votes may end up being ineffective, wasted.

In a poor system, yes. And, in fact, it is guaranteed that this can 
happen with up to half the voters, or even more, when it's a 
single-winner election. Want to deal with wasted votes? For starters, 
count them all, so that voter expression isn't totally moot! Good 
systems, which probably must include a runoff possibility, will 
limit, under most circumstances, "wasted votes" to less than 50% of 
the ballots.

But the problem is strongly addressed with single transferable vote 
used for proportional representation, and it becomes a total 
solution, no wasted votes, in effect, with Asset Voting, which can be 
used with STV, but which also would work fine with single-vote 
majority required, or with what I called fractional approval asset 
voting (FAAV). (In FAAV, unlike ordinary Open Voting, multiple votes 
are divided equally among those voted for; otherwise there would be 
extra voting power created by multiple votes, a true violation of 
one-person, one-vote. I really only propose FAAV to avoid discarding 
overvoted ballots. Otherwise I consider it quite adequate that the 
Asset system doesn't waste any votes, properly applied.)

Single-winner Asset would limit the wasted votes to half. Hence one 
could, in theory, take any voting system that allows truncation, pick 
out any ballots that will be wasted otherwise, and assign these votes 
to the first preference on them; these votes can then be used, by 
these candidates, to resolve majority failure without a runoff. (I'm 
not giving details here, and there would be details to be worked out....)

> > > The compromise choice would be much more likely to win
> > if he were
> > > identified as a frontrunner.
> >
> > Half of the following is nonsense. There were aspects of
> > this situation, clearly, that I need to examine more. But I
> > don't have time tonight to review it, and this is a
> > discussion, not polemic. Now, to what I wrote:
> >
> > Perhaps. What's a "frontrunner"?
>I'm assuming there will ultimately only be two frontrunners. If this
>isn't possible in some scenario then I write that scenario off as
>relatively likely to be a disaster.

I don't use it that way. I assume, usually, that there are *normally* 
only two. But in some situations there are three. Had there been an 
accurate poll in France before the 2002 election, it would have shown 
three frontrunners, not two. The second position was very close.

So I wouldn't change my vote depending on who was in second place, 
unless the gap to third place was large. I.e., I'd assume that second 
and third place were interchangeable, and my vote would take this 
into account. There is, thus, hysteresis in the feeback between polls 
and intended votes as expressed in the next poll. I don't expect 
oscillation, normally, it would be unusual. Rather, there would be 
slow drift. There isn't, normally, enough time for an oscillation to show.

(How much do real votes vary from poll predictions? That, as well, is 
a factor. As I've said, voters will take poll results with a grain of 
salt. They won't make big shifts based on poll results, only small 
ones. Strong preference is not going to be overcome by ambiguous poll results.)

>When there are only two frontrunners and the compromise is identified
>as one of them, then the compromise should be unbeatable by the other
>frontrunner. (Some other candidate could still theoretically win, but
>I would consider this a disappointing failure of the polls to predict

Right. However, this is not the Center Squeeze situation, which most 
commonly happens when the compromise winner is edged out by another 
candidate, and drops to third place. I've never heard of a Center 
Squeeze situation where the compromise winner was far behind number 
two. In those elections, voters who realize the danger might adjust 
voting strategy. FPTP primary places them in a difficult situation, 
voters in a TTR environment have become accustomed to being able to 
vote for their favorite in the primary. (And IRV voters as well). And 
that is unfortunate, it's a false security, because of Center Squeeze.

But with Bucklin, voters can have their first preference vote, and 
security as well. Bucklin used as a primary method would be a drastic 
improvement, but we need to remember that this is still only maybe 
ten percent of TTR elections. (It would be nice to have a study.) 
That's big enough to be important, for sure, though.

> > Standard Approval strategy: vote for your favorite, the
> > preferred frontrunner, and any candidate you prefer to the
> > preferred frontrunner. This strategy breaks down if there
> > are three frontrunners. Are there? Being in third place
> > doesn't mean that one is not a frontrunner.
>Under FPP being in third place means you are probably already sunk, or
>will be shortly. I don't think Approval is that much different in general.

The third place winner under FPTP has won in Vermont, where the top 
three (for certain state offices) go to the legislature if there is 
majority failure. The meaning of that is unclear, though. It could 
have been a center squeeze situation, or it could have been pure 
politics. Odd, though: if one assumes that core support is related to 
political viability, it's odd that the legislature would elect number 
three, unless this really was a center squeeze situation, in which 
case that result could be popular.

Even though number one and two will scream bloody murder.

> > Actually, there are very strong reasons for requiring a
> > majority, hang the strategy issues. Lack of a majority means
> > that the electorate hasn't made a collective decision,
>But when you say that there will be a remedy, if a majority is not
>reached, then there is less incentive to try to attain a majority (or
>most votes, etc.) in the first place.

Deliberative bodies face this constantly. There is incentive to find 
a majority, because nothing gets done until one is found. It's a 
nuisance to have to keep voting. Under unusual situations, there can 
be many ballots, I remember numbers like thirty or forty, but that's 
rare. The risk of this is the price of democracy and of majority 
rule. Indeed, the reform direction most commonly proposed, in direct 
democracies, is toward increasing the completion requirement beyond 
the "greater than half" margin. Papal approval elections, I think, 
required a two-thirds vote. (Consider those direct democracies of the 

>The electorate does not reach, or fail to reach, a collective decision,
>in a vacuum, without respect to the political institutions in place.

We don't, generally, trust the whole electorate, we are schizophrenic 
about this in the United States. "This not a democracy, this is a 
republic," is a common statement. Yet some parts of the U.S. do, in 
fact, operate as democracies, though with limited sovereignty. Town 
Meeting government is mostly a direct democracy. Town meeting can't 
pass anything without a majority vote, but, as usual, it's a majority 
of a quorum that is required. Sometimes it might be less than a 
quorum if the meeting started with a quorum, but a quorum didn't vote 
and nobody objected. (Present and not voting is considered consent.) 
In those situations, I think that quorum might be 5% of the registered voters.

Big decisions in Town Meeting are generally known in advance and 
those who care show up. Has anyone else ever noticed that this 
creates a Range-like effect? On hot issues, the meeting becomes very 
large and can be difficult and cumbersome, and when this starts to 
happen frequently, towns tend to move to representative government. 
Eventually, I'd like to see Asset systems considered for this, or, 
failing that, FA/DP organization of the town's voters to advise the 
representatives elected.

I was a resident of a small New England Town Meeting town, had the 
support of probably the most influential single individual in town, 
and some expressed support from the highest elected official (which 
isn't much in a town meeting town, but, such as it is ....) and the 
result of my attempts to get FA/DP going was ... nothing. Most people 
don't get it at first. I've noticed, though, that, at a year later, 
interest has increased, people start to think, hmmm... maybe it could 
work. Part of the filtering system that protects normal people from 
crazy new ideas is persistence. If an idea is around a year later, it 
will get a little more attention. But still not much, often.

>Compare the fragmentation under first-round TTR with a single-round
>Plurality election. There are more candidates and lower vote totals in
>the former. The electorate "hasn't made a collective decision" but this
>is entirely because the method hasn't yet provided the incentive to come
>to a decision.

That's right. TTR tends to lead to more candidates and thus to more 
majority failure. Some of that is fixed with preferential voting, 
best with the American System. Not all. But a good primary system 
will get the right candidate into the runoff, almost always. Allowing 
write-ins in the runoff will fix some of the few remaining problems, 
when there is sufficient preference strength behind the problem. (If 
there isn't, standing on our heads to insist upon the absolute best 
under all circumstances may not be worth the effort. Sometimes Good 
Enough is good enough.

> > What a majority requirement does in a primary is encourage
> > bullet voting. Bullet voting is fully sincere! A bullet
> > vote, in an Approval method, indicates that the voter
> > prefers the candidate over all other candidates.
>This is a good case of your earlier statement that strategic voting
>is not necessarily a bad thing.

It also indicates that the preference is significant to the voter. 
But this isn't "strategic voting" necessarily. The vote is fully 
sincere, unless we try to define some rather arbitrary floor for 
preference strength below which the voter "really approves" of 
another candidate. It may also be true that the voter is ignorant 
about the other candidates. The preference in that case is clear.

I find it odd that bullet voting is called "strategic voting" in Open 
Voting (Approval). Nor are multiple approvals "strategic" when the 
preference is low -- or non-existent. The term would apply to 
multiple votes where there is significant preference strength between 
them, votes which would not be made if the voter doesn't have an idea 
that without them the vote will likely be wasted.

And those votes help the outcome, probably. They hurt it if the voter 
judges wrongly. But wrong judgments on the part of voters hurt 
election outcomes in general, don't they? We depend on voters to make 
good judgements!

> > > What I'm saying is that I view it as bad if large
> > numbers of Approval
> > > voters are failing to participate in the most
> > important contest, or
> > > failing to even identify such a contest.
> >
> > If they care, they will participate. So what's the
> > problem?
>The potential problems are
>1. They cannot tell what the most important contest is
>2. They take your advice and tend to bullet vote no matter what the
>polls say.

It's not just my advice, it's the common practice of voters 
everywhere, when they are allowed to do it. And if a voter is so 
ignorant as to have no decent idea of what the important contests 
are, I really wonder about designing the voting system to give such a 
voter more power! Asset allows voters to exercise very significant 
power, full power really, taking advantage of minimal necessary 
knowledge, the knowledge of the favorite. In some applications, the 
voter may be able to give relatively detailed voting "instructions," 
-- i.e., STV, for example, for proportional representation -- but 
Asset is there as a fallback.

Require a single-winner majority, always, and use Asset to get it. 
And if the electors can't settle by a deadline, run the election 
again, to give the voters an opportunity to choose better!

> > > I am not disputing that the candidate with the most
> > Approval is the best
> > > candidate to win an Approval election. Same as I
> > wouldn't dispute that
> > > if we run out of food we should resort to cannibalism
> > rather than starve.
> > > I'm saying it's bad if we do something that is
> > prone to leading us in this
> > > direction.
> >
> > Isn't the metaphor a tad extreme? Just how likely is it
> > that the most-approved candidate was actually not preferred
> > by a majority. It's possible, but actually not likely at
> > all.
>I'm hoping it isn't very likely. But you are saying that voters won't
>necessarily care about polls, that they will vote their gut, that they
>will tend to bullet vote.

Yes. And with many candidates, this can lead to majority failure, 
which legitimately should lead to runoffs, which are inconvenient. 
When one of the first Bucklin elections was held, it was five-seat 
multiwinner, there were 92 candidates or so. Next election, far 
fewer, as candidates realized it was a waste of time for most of 
them. When there are many candidates, though, we see many more 
additional ranked votes added.

> > And how much damage is done in this case? It's
> > hardly likely to be a bad outcome, but the lower that X is,
> > the more the likelihood increases.
>The thing to compare it to is Plurality. Plurality hardly ever has
>problems like this. So if Approval is going to be more prone, for whatever
>reason, there also need to be good arguments to say why Approval is
>still better than Plurality.

I can't imagine a problem that Approval will have that Plurality 
doesn't have, and there is a major problem that Plurality have that 
affects Approval much less.

Bullet voting will be the norm because the voters who prefer the 
frontrunners don't have any incentive to add additional votes, unless 
they also like a minor candidate, a few will. But the supporters of 
minor candidates have far more incentive, and in real Bucklin 
elections, it seems that most of them did rank additional candidates. 
With significant numbers of candidates, majorities were still 
sometimes found. Later No Harm has little meaning for supporters of 
candidates who have no hope of winning. There is bullet voting 
anyway. As I've said, it all turns on preference strength and expectations.

> >
> > I'm calling Approval "Open Voting," because
> > the voting really isn't about "approval,"
> > it's about "consent," or a "decision to
> > support," a different animal. Most voters will bullet
> > vote, probably roughly 90% or more.
>You must assume there are very few candidates, and that the frontrunners
>are actually the most common favorites.

Uh, isn't that the meaning of "frontrunners" normally. Center Squeeze 
is an exception. Bucklin allegedly showed as little as 11 percent 
additional ranking in political primary elections in Alabama. And 
these elections *usually* had majority failure. People will bullet 
vote, no matter what, especially if they don't have adequate poll 
information. (There may have been practically no poll information in 
those elections.) So what I conclude from that is that voters had 
relatively strong preference among the candidates known to them, plus 
for some of them, they only knew one candidate, and supported that 
candidate. The incumbent edge, sometimes.

Under those circumstances, no method is going to find majorities. 
They aren't there in the votes. Bucklin was replaced, I believe, with 
top two runoff. It would have been smarter to require a majority, but 
still use Bucklin to find it. The eleven percent vote would 
occasionally have avoided a runoff, plus it would have made a better 
choice of who went into the runoff.

> > Where Open Voting makes
> > a difference is with those who support minor candidates.
>I am almost speechless that this is your claim, and that you don't
>seem to want to argue that Approval would operate better than FPP or

But it would. This claim is normal, has commonly been made, and is 
the main argument against those who have argued that Approval isn't a 
good method because most people will bullet vote. In fact, under the 
right conditions, we see plenty of multiple votes; under others, few. 
The IEEE implemented Approval when it feared a spoiler effect from a 
rogue candidacy. (Like many such organizations, the IEEE has an 
official nominating committee that nominates official candidates.) 
When the immediate need disappeared, they revoked Approval, citing 
the low number of additional votes. However, that wasn't a sensible 
reason. Those additional votes were harmless, unless they made a 
difference, in which case they were beneficial. No, it's pretty 
obvious: having Approval in place made additional candidacies more 
practical, and that was considered a nuisance. So the Board dumped 
it. Neither decision was made by the members. Why bother asking them? 
They don't know much, anyway!

And the membership apparently stood for it. *That's the problem, 
folks!" As long as it doesn't get *too* bad, we will tolerate 
domination by an oligarchy.

Open voting makes a difference for supporters of minor candidates. 
These are the ones who will add additional votes, for the most part. 
There will also be some expressions of support for minor candidates 
by those who prefer the majors. All this will increase with Bucklin, 
to a degree, because of the ability to express exclusive preference 
for one, while still adding an additional approval for use if necessary.

> > > This makes it odd that he has seemed to prefer
> > Condorcet to IRV,
> > > seeing as IRV can't have such disastrous failures.
> >
> > It certainly can. With sincere votes. That's the
> > problem, Kevin.
> >
> > Center Squeeze.
>I don't think you're grasping the severity of the alleged problem with
>Condorcet, if you're comparing it to center squeeze under IRV. Under
>IRV you can hardly win without getting many sincere preferences.
>(There's no incentive to give you insincere preferences.)

It's not true that there is no incentive, that's what Favorite 
Betrayal is about with IRV.

However, setting that aside, it's true that normally IRV votes will 
be sincere. The problem is that IRV can produce a terrible result 
with sincere votes.

>  Under Condorcet,
>in a scenario where burial strategy is rampant, you can be elected
>receiving only "pawn" votes and not a single sincere preference.

Now, talk about rare! What we have to have here is a huge number of 
strategic voters, which is extraordinarily unlikely. Most people, 
given a ranked ballot which allows equal ranking, will vote 
sincerely. Give them a ranked ballot which requires exclusive 
ranking, there will be a burial effect, but it isn't necessarily 
"strategic voting." Rather it is that the vision of how bad a 
candidate may be can be amplified by the candidate being a competitor 
of the favorite. But what is much more likely -- and is a practical 
reality, should Condorcet methods be implemented in public elections 
in the U.S., is that voters will still vote sincerely and fairly 
accurately. They will simply bottom rank that competitor, but also 
most other candidates as well, thus *not* raising up a turkey to be elected.

This crap disappears with Range methods, probably, except for the 
perceptual badness part. No help for that.

> > Supposedly
> > one advantage of IRV is that it encourages voters to vote
> > sincerely. I think it probably does that, though it
> > probably, also, doesn't do it to any great extent beyond
> > that which happens with Bucklin. The problem is what it does
> > with those sincere votes. It doesn't count most of them,
> > for starters, usually. We don't really know -- precisely
> > because the votes aren't counted or reported.
>Well, if there are still two expected frontrunners, and the voters have
>the sense to rank down at least that far, then IRV will never reach
>the lower preferences that LNHarm protects, unless IRV is in the process
>of going into the ditch because a frontrunner got eliminated.

That's right, at least about the irrelevance of LNH protection. 
However, note that the LNH protection is what can allow the 
compromise winner to be eliminated, typically by a minor shortfall in 
first preference votes. What it is preventing is the appearance of 
the votes, actually cast by voters, that would show this winner as 
the best choice, because the votes are concealed underneath 
candidates not yet eliminated. In the most common scenario, this 
would be the votes concealed underneath the frontrunner-loser. I.e., 
that candidate was going to be "harmed" anyway. So the protection is 
applied when it hurts the voter who is supposedly being protected 
against "harming" their favorite. The only difference is timing.

>Anyway, I really don't care what kind of awful results voters appear to
>be consenting to, if this produces worse results overall.

How do you define "worse results." It seems to be quite unclear.

> > Now, of course, the problem here is that Plurality
> > doesn't allow the expression of additional preferences.
> > The voter has a Hobson's choice. However, that's
> > terribly easy to fix. Just Count All the Votes. Open Voting.
> > Approval. No cost.
>There may be a cost. As this whole discussion has suggested, the incentives
>and electoral dynamics under Approval may be different from those under
>Plurality, and it isn't completely obvious that Approval always comes
>out on top.

Approval, I expect, will appear to be almost identical to Plurality, 
except in spoiler situations, where it's an improvement. I don't 
expect to see significant differences in campaigning, though, if 
there are, they will probably be improvements. Mostly it will be 
minor parties which will benefit, to a degree, and major parties get 
their spoiler fix, which sometimes is considered a benefit -- when it 
helps them to win! or not, when it allows the other party to win.

"Cost" refers to the cost of canvassing. The incidence of additional 
approvals is unlikely to be high, just enough to, often, fix the 
spoiler effect. With automated voting equipment, there is no cost at 
all, it's just a matter of programming the machines to pretend that 
it's a multiwinner Plurality-at-large election. (Ideally, as many 
winners as there are candidates on the ballot -- which then allows a 
write-in and antiplurality voting.)

Look, there is no expert opinion that Approval would be worse than 
Plurality. Plurality *requires* bullet voting. Approval still allows 
it and gives little incentive to most voters to do anything else. Nor 
does IRV, by the way. I need to do that study....

> >
> > You may not think this voter's vote to be optimal, and
> > I certainly don't either. But the voter apparently
> > thought differently.
>Here is the question: Are there methods that make voters more inclined
>to vote suboptimally? I am concerned that there may be, especially as you
>speak of intuitive voting behavior under Approval, which may have no
>connection to strategically wise voting behavior, or behavior that is
>adequately informed by polls. It could be that some methods aren't
>conducive to producing useful polls, as well.

*Does* Approval give an incentive to voters to vote suboptimally? I 
don't think so. Voters are only going to add additional votes under 
limited circumstances, and those circumstances represent situations, 
for the most part, where the vote increases performance. Voters 
already vote with little attention to polls, or else the votes for 
trailing candidates in primaries would be even less (though it's hard 
to tell, we would know more with Approval and even more with Bucklin. 
It's Bucklin we should really be looking at, because Bucklin fixes 
the major problem with Approval, the inability to express a first 
preference without bullet voting. That inhibits voters, but it 
doesn't inhibit voters any more than Plurality! Rather, less.)

> > > If Approval polls prove relatively unable to whittle
> > the field down to
> > > two frontrunners, I would expect more votes on
> > principle and (with it)
> > > more waste of votes.
> >
> > Compared to what? The proper comparison of Open Voting is
> > with standard vote-for-one Plurality, and then possibly with
> > IRV, as an example.
>I was comparing to FPP. FPP has no difficulty getting down to two

Except when it's close!

Voters in Bucklin can and will add additional preferences with more 
freedom. These preferences apparently made a difference fairly often, 
in some elections, particularly the municipal ones. It would be 
useful to gather comprehensive statistics, only a few relatively 
famous elections have results available on-line now.

Approval may not do a great deal, except fix the spoiler effect in 
occasional elections (like perhaps in Florida Presidential 2000). 
Bucklin would do more, I suspect, and Bucklin would have no trouble 
with accessory decisions made with ballot information (like public 
campaign financing). But Approval is practically cost-free, and 
results in fewer spoiled ballots. That alone is a major effect. 
Consider the double-votes in the current Minnesota Senatorial 
election. The voter has voted for two candidates. One of these votes 
was, perhaps, the intended one. Counting both of them results in 
better representation of voter intent than discarding them. Usually, 
only one is a frontrunner. *Usually this was the intended vote.*

We never should have prohibited voting for more than one, and I've 
never seen a decent argument for prohibiting it. The only arguments 
I've seen in print refer to the overvote as an error, with it 
therefore being impossible to "determine the intention of the voter." 
That, alone, is inaccurate; rather, the intention is *partially* 
visible. The voter apparently intended to vote for at least one of 
them. (There is some argument for counting these as half-votes, if 
they are to remain discouraged. But I see no reason to discourage them.)

> > It's got lower Bayesian regret than
> > IRV, apparently, even with all it's problem.
>Even if so, this finding doesn't use your ideas of how Approval polls
>will work and how often people will bullet vote.

That's correct. However, both simulations don't consider the effect 
of bullet voting, which shifts IRV results and Approval results 
toward Plurality. I doubt that it would reverse the sequence of 
Approval better than IRV.

In other words, there isn't any reason to expect Approval results to 
be worse than IRV.

> > Sure, if
> > all voters bullet vote, it's simply Plurality.
>It could be well worse than Plurality, depending on the situation with
>the polls.

That seems like a totally remote possibility, and would be unlikely 
to damage results severely. If polls are oscillating, it must mean 
that preference strengths are weak, hence electing the wrong 
candidate (the true utility winner) does little harm. With Plurality, 
it can do a lot of harm, particularly with majority failure.

(Serious majority failure can do a lot of harm with any voting 
system. Electing any candidate with less than half the votes is a 
dicey proposition, think Adolf Hitler and other nightmares.) 

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