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

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Fri Jan 9 08:32:18 PST 2009

--- On Fri, 9/1/09, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:

> The whole concept of strategic voting is flawed when
> applied to Range. Voters place vote strength where they
> think it will do the most good -- if they think.

Words "where they think it will do the most
good" sound like strategic thinking to me
(if you mean that voters will use different
values depending on how they expect others
to vote). Placing vote strength in line with
how good the candidates are would be sincere.

> Approval is essentially, as Brams claimed,
> "strategy-free,"  in the old meaning

I'd rather say that Approval voters are
expected to use a strategy (in the sense
that they will optimize their vote based on
how they expect others to vote). Approval is
relatively free of strategies in the sense
that there are not many tricks one can do
beyond applying the default strategy.

> , and the only
> way that it was at all possible to call it vulnerable was
> that critics claimed that there was some absolute
> "approval" relation between a voter and a
> candidate.

There are two very different scenarios here.
If voters mark candidates that they sincerely
approve (they are maybe requested to do so)
then voters that use the basic Approval
strategy will be more efficient (=> the method
is vulnerable to strategies). But if all are
expected to use the basic strategy then there
is not much space for additional tricks.

> > > There is no absolute approval cutoff
> In other words, it's not possible to define an Approval
> vote as "sincere" or "insincere," unless
> it reverses preference, which is insincere, and which
> Approval does not reward; at best it is moot.

I didn't intend to say that. Individual
voters may well be capable of saying which
candidates they sincerely approve and which
ones not even if there is no absolute scale
in use.

(Since "insincere" has a negative tone it is
maybe better to talk about "sincere" and
"strategic" votes. As you can see above my
basic definition of "strategic" is that the
voter tries to optimize the expected outcome
of the election and takes into account how
others are expected to vote.)

Preference reversal and other preference
modifications are both similar "crimes"
to me (typically strategic). Reversals
mean on average bigger changes than
non-reversing modifications.

> > There are no "absolute" and measurable
> > opinions. Much depends on what the voters
> > think they are supposed to do.
> An odd view, in my opinion. What the voters are
> "supposed to do"? Who is the sovereign who sets
> these requirements?

See above. Either there is an explicit
request/recommendation (in the ballot or
elsewhere) or the members of the society
just have a common understanding on how
they "usually" vote. The point is that
in every election there is some default
behaviour, or alternatively different
people have different understanding
(this is problematic in most cases).

> Here is what I'm supposed to do, as a voter: exercise
> my choice. Hopefully, it's an informed one, which
> includes understanding the voting system and how it works,
> the context, and the likely consequences of my action.

The last few words above sound like
strategic thinking to me.

In ranked ballots we typically take as
granted that people are expected to put
the candidates in the order of preference.
If they change that order they would
typically do that for strategic reasons.
In the first (sincere) case they need not
think how others are going to vote (and
optimize their vote based on strategic

I tried to apply the same logic in
Approval and Range above.



More information about the Election-Methods mailing list