[EM] IRV proponents figure out how to make IRV precinct-summable

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km-elmet at broadpark.no
Tue Mar 24 02:08:29 PDT 2009

Dave Ketchum wrote:
> On Mar 23, 2009, at 4:38 PM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:

>> To be clear here, we're dealing with two sorts of election methods. 
>> There are one-round methods, like Plurality, Condorcet, contingent 
>> vote, etc.; and then there are two-or-more methods, like TTR, 
>> exhaustive ballot, eliminate-one runoff, etc.
>> It's possible to turn a multiple-round method into a single-round 
>> method by assuming the voters would never change their ballots. Doing 
>> so with eliminate-one runoff produces IRV, and doing so with TTR 
>> produces the Contingent Vote.
> Let's try it slowly for IRV, assuming multiple districts to avoid 
> shortcut temptations:
> 1  Count ala Plurality.  If leader has a majority, that is winner.
> 2 Sum vote counts, starting with weakest count and ending before doing 
> the next candidate that would make a majority.  None of those counted 
> could win, so mark them all as losers and go back to step 1.
> Never needing step 2 is single round.  In IRV voters do not have 
> opportunity to change ballots - but step 2 to decide on losers and 
> recounts is not avoidable.  Note that with three candidates step 2 is 
> trivial for there is only one candidate for it to find.
>     But, with four candidates, such as A 29 , B 28, C 27 , D 5, only D 
> can be discarded for round 2 - but for A 29 , B 28, C 6 , D 5, C and D 
> can be discarded for second (final) round.

I'm not talking about IRV. I'm talking about the Contingent Vote. IRV is 
to exhaustive runoff (do balloting, remove loser, do another balloting, 
remove loser, ...) as CV is to top two runoff.

I'm talking about the Contingent Vote because that was what I thought 
they were emulating. CV is not a particularly good voting method, in itself.

Again, the steps for the Contingent vote is as follows:
1 - Do a plurality count. If someone has a majority, he wins.
2 - Otherwise, eliminate all but the top two. Reread the ballots with 
all but the top two eliminated. Whoever has the greatest Plurality count 
(i.e, is voted above the other more often) wins.

Do you see that the first step can be done by a plurality count, which 
is summable, to find the top two? Also, do you see that the second can 
be checked by a pairwise comparison, no matter who the top two are? 
(Although, of course, it's a different pairwise comparison depending on 
who the top two are)

>> Summability is only properly defined for one-round methods. A method 
>> is summable if it's possible to process any group of ballots into a 
>> certain data chunk, where running the method on this data chunk 
>> produces the same result as if it was run on that subset itself, and 
>> where two chunks can be combined so that the same is true, and that a 
>> chunk is of size determined by a function that increases no faster 
>> than some polynomial of the number of candidates in the election.
>> Less formally, the method is summable if you can "count in precincts" 
>> to produce managable data chunks that can then be combined to get the 
>> result for all precincts or districts involved, no matter the size of 
>> each district.
> Not clear how this helps.  You have to get the totals for round 1 to 
> decide how to proceed - matters not how many chunks.

I never claimed IRV itself to be summable, just that the Contingent Vote 
is. I don't think it's possible to make IRV (the proper method) summable 
at all - the chaotic aspect that makes it nonmonotonic and causes those 
weird shapes in the Yee diagrams hints at that (small change in votes - 
large change in outcome).

>> The two districts were mentioned so as to show that using only the 
>> plurality counts and Condorcet matrices for each district, one could 
>> get the same result as by counting all the ballots combined. That is, 
>> that the Contingent Vote (the method) is summable.
> Huh!

I claimed it was summable. Then I showed it for a particular instance by 
first showing the result by counting both districts as one (central 
count), then showing the "data chunk" for each district, summing them, 
and showing that the result using the summed chunks was the same as the 
result by central count.

>>>> If nobody equal-ranks, then (A beats B) + (B beats A) = number of 
>>>> voters. Apart from that, you're right, Condorcet doesn't care. What 
>>>> I showed was that if they (the IRV proponents) tried to use only 
>>>> binary arrays instead of integer arrays for their kinda-Condorcet 
>>>> matrices, they would fail, because there's not enough information 
>>>> there. A Condorcet matrix has to be integer (or even more fine 
>>>> grained, e.g for CWP), even when that matrix is only to be used for 
>>>> determining the winner of the contingent vote.
>>> What do you do when some voters vote for neither A nor B?
>> That implies either explicit equal-ranking, or truncation, which in 
>> some sense is equal ranking last.
> We have IRV ballots permitting only 3 ranks - with more than three 
> candidates.

Ah, yes. SF's RCV is sort of summable, though. Because there are only 
three ranks, the possible number of unique ballots are:

n * (n-1) * (n-2)

where n is the number of candidates. This increases more slowly than 
n^3, hence the data chunk (which simply consists of the ballots 
themselves, each prefixed by how many voted this way), is polynomial 
with regards to the number of candidates.

With explicit equal rank, the equation is somewhat more complex. If by 
"3 ranks", A = B = C count as 3 ranks, then it's still summable. If A = 
B = C only counts as a single rank, then it's not.

>> I think this implies that any ranked vote system should deal with less 
>> fine-grained ballots. That is: voters should be able to bullet-vote or 
>> vote Approval style. That, in turn, means that the ballot system 
>> should both support explicit equal ranking (for Approval style) as 
>> well as truncation (for Plurality type counts). Supporting truncation 
>> makes sense in any case, because otherwise you get Australian 
>> conditions (that degrade into a form of external party list PR through 
>> how-to-vote cards).
> Your use of "truncation" bothers - I think of it as the system 
> discarding what it sees as excess data rather than the voter choosing to 
> say less than the method's limits.

Truncation is a term that's been used on EM before. It simply means 
stopping the ranking before you have ranked everyone. The machine or 
method doesn't truncate, the voter does.

See, for instance, 
September/008656.html , which is an EM post (from 2002) where the term 
"truncation" is used.

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