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

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Jan 8 14:26:26 PST 2009

This is a reply to an old mail. (I didn't cover this well enough earlier)

--- On Fri, 5/12/08, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:

> >  One
> > could say that any placement of the approval
> > cutoff is sincere as long as it respects the
> > sincere preference order of the voter. But one
> > could also require that the approval cutoff should
> > be placed on some "main gap".
> Why? I don't see any reason why that particular
> position is better than any other. It is simply *easier*.

If one's ratings are A9 B3 C2 then the
"big gap" is between A and B, and it is
very natural to the voter to approve
only A. Doing something else might be a
result of strategic thoughts.

> >  I mean that if the
> > sincere ratings are A=93, B=31, C=30, D=4, and B
> > and C are the front runners, then Approval vote
> > {A, B} is probably a strategic/optimized vote.
> Really? Suppose A is a write-in, Jesus Christ by name. He
> didn't register as a candidate, but I really do want to
> always think about him. (I'm a Muslim, but that
> doesn't contradict that.) And B is a total loser, nobody
> likes him, he's irrelevant. B and C are ordinary
> candidates, a Democrat and Republican, with the usual
> relatively minor difference between them. Neither one is
> going to save the world, A would do that. And neither one is
> going to wreck it, D would do that. There is enough gap
> between B and C that I will bother voting! So I vote.
> Technically, this is optimized, but anyone that doesn't
> optimize with the situation being as I described it is not a
> serious voter, trying to deal with the real world and make
> it better instead of imagining that voting is an exercise in
> pure, absolute opinion and sincerity. It's an exercise
> of *power*. We each have one vote's worth of power. We
> should use it wisely, and using it wisely implies not
> wasting it on empty and useless expression of opinion. If
> it's more important to me to say that I support Nader,
> with my vote, than to actually affect the result, that's
> my decision. I must think that political speech is more
> important than effective action. If progressives think this
> way, no wonder they are so often out of power.

Yes, protest votes and other messages
carried in the votes are also possible
(like the Nader votes that you mentioned).
The strategic voting scenario that I
presented covered only cases where one
tries to influence the formal outcome
of this election (and only that).

> There is no absolute approval cutoff

There are no "absolute" and measurable
opinions. Much depends on what the voters
think they are supposed to do. They may
think that they should mark all candidates
that they accept for the position, or they
may be just told that they should mark
candidates that they want to promote in
the given competitive situation (based on
the available poll information, expected
winning probabilities etc.).



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