[EM] [RangeVoting] Re: Range Voting As an Issue

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Fri Aug 5 19:22:22 PDT 2011

```2011/8/5 Dave Ketchum <davek at clarityconnect.com>

> Brought out for special thought:
>
> rating is easier than ranking. You can express this computationally, by
> saying that ranking requires O(n²) pairwise comparisons of candidates (or
> perhaps for some autistic savants who heap-sort in their head, O[n log(n)]),
> while rating requires O(n) comparisons of candidates against an absolute
> scale. You can express it empirically; this has been confirmed by ballot
> spoilage rates, speed, and self-report in study after study.
>
>
> This somehow does not fit as to rating vs ranking.  I look at A and B,
> doing comparisons as needed, and assign each a value to use:
> .     For ranking the values can show which exist:  A<B, A=B, or A>B, and
> can be used as is unless they need to be converted to whatever format may be
> acceptable.
>

I'm sorry, I don't understand this sentence.

> .     For rating the values need to be scaled.
>

There is no need to scale rating values for MJ. In fact, it is not the
intention. A vote of "Nader=Poor, Gore=Good, Bush=Fair" is perfectly valid
and probably fully strategic even on a ballot which includes "Unacceptable,
Poor, Fair, Good, Excellent".

> Thus what needs doing is a trivial bit of extra effort for rating.  The
> comparison effort was shared.
>
> "Ballot spoilage rates" also puzzle.  Where can I find what magic lets
> non-Condorcet have less such than Condorcet, for I do not believe such magic
> exists, unless Condorcet is given undeserved problems.
>

Right, I was thinking of strict ranking when I wrote that part.

>
> On Aug 5, 2011, at 8:57 AM, Jameson Quinn wrote:
>
> If I understand Robert correctly, I think that his concern is to find
> whichever system gets good results, while still leaving the voters' job
> crystal-clear.  In particular, the first priority would be to find a system
> which puts the minimum burden of strategic thinking on the voter. Insofar as
> it's consistent with this first priority, his other priorities are to
> simplify the ballot and to elect a better winner.
>
> He says that he finds Condorcet to beat Range, Approval, IRV, and Plurality
> on those priorities. I can't say I disagree. There is no question that the
> average voter can get away with less strategizing under Condorcet than under
> any of those systems. Range and Approval both give significantly more power
> to a voter who can correctly guess which two candidates are the
> frontrunners; and a conscientious voter simply can't leave it up to the law
> of averages to balance out that power between themself and those crazies on
> the other side. And IRV and Plurality both require lesser-evil thinking and
> favorite betrayal, which is worse.
>
> But I would contend that, just as clearly, both Majority Judgment and SODA
> beat Condorcet by these criteria. These are two very-different systems, so
> I'll tackle them separately.
>
> Why is Majority Judgment easier on the voter than Condorcet? First and
> foremost, because rating is easier than ranking. You can express this
> computationally, by saying that ranking requires O(n²) pairwise comparisons
> of candidates (or perhaps for some autistic savants who heap-sort in their
> head, O[n log(n)]), while rating requires O(n) comparisons of candidates
> against an absolute scale. You can express it empirically; this has been
> confirmed by ballot spoilage rates, speed, and self-report in study after
> study. You can look at the trend of websites - Yelp, IMDB, Amazon, and an
> interminable etc., all use ratings. HotOrNot explicitly experimented with
> FaceMash-style comparisons and found that even a single two-way comparison
> was harder for users than ratings.
>
> Second, MJ has, if anything, less of a strategic incentive than Condorcet.
> Balinski and Laraki found that, in a simulation seeded by real polled
> ballots from the 2007 French presidential election, the MJ result was more
> likely to be stable under strategy than the Condorcet result. Warren Smith
> has argued that, if you know who the two frontrunners are, a Condorcet
> burial strategy is essentially risk-free, while saving cognitive effort. In
> MJ, on the other hand, chances are that your honest vote is already getting
> all possible benefits from such a strategy.
>
> The last two paragraphs may seem counterintuitive to people who are used to
> thinking of ratings ballots in Range terms. That's because, in Range, some
> amount of strategic thinking is almost totally inevitable. It would be
> ridiculous to mark a Range ballot by simply rating each candidate on an
> absolute scale, without normalizing so that you marked at least one max and
> one min vote. And voting power continues to increase as you move towards an
> approval-style ballot. With MJ, on the other hand, even a non-normalized
> vote with no max or min ratings could well have full strategic voting
> power.
>
> As to ballot simplicity, it's partly a matter of taste. I'd say that MJ has
> the edge over Condorcet, but you might disagree. Of course, it would be
> possible to do Condorcet with a rated ballot, but since I don't know anyone
> who seriously advocates that, I'm neglecting that possibility.
>
>
> Condorcet can use THE SAME values as rating - the ratings show what is
> needed to identify A<B, A=B, and A>B.
>

Right, that's what I was trying to say. But I said that I think most people
don't actually suggest pressing for doing it that way in real life.

>
> For results, I think that MJ and Condorcet both do more than well enough.
> Is it better to have the candidate who makes some majority happiest, as in
> MJ, or the one who has majorities over all the others, as in Condorcet? On
> principle, it's hard to say. In the end, I definitely sympathize with Warren
> that BR is the best measure of results (while disagreeing that results
> should be the end-all criterion). I haven't seen BR results for MJ, but
> based on its similarity to Range and MCA, I'd suspect MJ clearly beats
> Condorcet by this measure.
>
> If you want to read more about MJ, the place to start are the papers on Laraki's
> These are pro-MJ papers, but honestly, I've found that I got more
> understanding even of MJ's flaws from reading these critically, than I did
> from reading the couple of shoddy anti-MJ papers that you'll find in a
>
> ....
>
> As to SODA, the case is also clear. Less need for strategic thinking than
> Condorcet? Check. Simpler ballots? In spades. Good results? If voting blocs
> tend to be well-defined so that voters agree with their favorite candidates
> — not too excessive an assumption in an ideological, partisan election —
> then the CW will win in SODA more often than in Condorcet! That is to say,
> honesty will be the strategic equilibrium in SODA, and lead to a CW win; but
> in Condorcet, strategy could confound this. In practice, I think that the
> only case where the CW will not win SODA is when they're an
> relatively-unknown centrist. Such a person can become the CW precisely
> because voters do not know their flaws; but in SODA, the other candidates
> will evaluate that person much more carefully before they transfer a winning
> pile of votes to an unknown.
>
> ....
>
> I've been actively interested in voting systems for going on two decades
> now, and sometimes it's frustrating. We continue to argue amongst ourselves
> between system A and system B, we continue to invent new system Z, while the
> rest of the world basically ignores us.
>
> In that time, it seems as if I've favored everything under the sun. If I
> remember correctly, I've gone from Borda, to IRV, to Condorcet, to Range, to
> Approval, to Asset, to Bucklin, to Bucklin-which-I-called-MCA, to MJ, back
> to Approval, to SODA. So I think I can pretty fairly say that I'm not
> fixated on any one system. I also think that I understand the arguments in
> favor of different systems.
>
> And I honestly have more hope on this issue right now than I have for some
> time. SODA could be the winning combo. Yes, perhaps I'm biased, because I
> helped invent it. But if you look at that list of what I've supported, you
> won't see any other systems where I'd done more than minor tweaks around the
> edges. And that's not for lack of opportunity; I've invented many systems of
> my own. It's because I always wanted to back a system which had other
> supporters, because we're not going to accomplish anything each working
> alone.
>
> What's so great about SODA? I think it would entirely liberate voters from
> having to think about strategy. I know that it is the simplest possible task
> for the voter. And I expect that it would give great results. These are R
> B-J's three criteria, as I understand them, and I agree with them. I know
> that other people here might put them in a different order; for instance,
> the Range advocates would probably put results (that is, BR) first.
>
> SODA has problems, too. It's an obscure system invented yesterday. And it
> doesn't even really lend itself to publishable results; it's hard to prove
> anything about it or even do a monte-carlo simulation without making
> questionable assumptions about how much or how little voting blocs agree
> with their favored candidate. Finally, it cannot work unless the candidates
> are human beings; it can't evaluate options without attaching them to
> spokespeople. But those problems are can be addressed, one way or another,
> with enough time and effort.
>
> I'd still enthusiastically vote for almost any reform to Plurality -
> certainly any of the systems except Borda that I listed as having supported.
> But I have hope that EM researchers and advocates can start coming together
> as we never have before. I'm not saying that everyone will agree with me. I
> wouldn't even want for debate to stop. But I think that now is the time to
> start laying the first foundations of a new unity, and if you ask me right
> now, SODA has the strength to be the cornerstone.
>
> I hope this does not sound too arrogant. Certainly, I am humbled by the
> many tasks before us. And no matter how rousingly optimistic my rhetoric,
> experience reminds me that getting even two of us to agree on anything is
> always harder than you think.
>
> But still; I remain:
>
> Hopefully y'rs,
> Jameson Quinn
>
> 2011/8/4 robert bristow-johnson <rbj at audioimagination.com>
>
>>
>>  On Aug 4, 2011, at 3:20 AM, bob wrote:
>>>
>>>>
>>>> --- In RangeVoting at yahoogroups.com, "thenewthirdparty"
>>>> <thenewthirdparty at ...> wrote:
>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Guys and Gals,
>>>>> I now see Range Voting as a very important component to getting third
>>>>> parties elected.  But I don't see how the Range Voting group will ever
>>>>> change the minds of the public in order for it to be a reality.
>>>>>
>>>>
>> and they haven't changed my mind about it, even though i'm not opposed to
>> election policy reform nor of moving past FPP.  i fully recognize why the
>> simple vote-for-one ballot (either FPP or delayed-top-two-runoff)
>> disadvantages third-party and independent candidates.
>>
>> this was a point i brought up during in Burlington IRV debate:  one of the
>> vocal opponents to IRV was, 3 years previously, a minor candidate for mayor
>> in Burlington Vermont.  i would almost say a non-serious candidate, but he
>> got on the ballot (his name is Loyal Ploof).  now he lost to the Prog
>> candidate who was elected in 2006 and he was a sorta anti-establishment
>> rabble rouser (if he could get a rabble).
>>
>> now (i told them this), suppose i'm standing in the rabble and Loyal says
>> something that we all sorta know but the contending candidates aren't gonna
>> bring up and i hear it and i say "yeah, right!  Loyal's right!"  maybe even
>> he's a largely single-issue candidate, maybe not.  but i want to send a
>> message to city hall by voting for Loyal but the election between the real
>> contenders might be close and my two-party contingency candidate may need my
>> vote.  so Loyal doesn't get it, because even if i agree with him and *want*
>> to vote for him, i dare not.
>>
>> it's the typical Spoiler problem, that discourages voting for third-party
>> or independent candidates.  if they can never sufficient vote (because the
>> race between credible candidates may be close) third parties cannot get off
>> the ground and become contenders.  but i was surprized that this guy who
>> would directly benefit from a ranked ballot would be opposed to it.  (he
>> didn't like the Prog mayor and essentially jumped in the boat with the other
>> Prog-haters that believed, falsely, that IRV specifically favored the Progs
>> in Burlington.)
>>
>> that said, and to repeat that i also understand IRV to have *failed* in
>> Burlington in 2009, i am not at all impressed with Range or Score voting for
>> governmental elections (for certain Olympic sports, sure, but not for
>> governmental elections).  one of the complaints we have against both FPP and
>> IRV (as we found out in Burlington in 2009) is placing obvious burdens of
>> tactical voting on the electorate.  we don't *like* having to forsake our
>> favorite candidate in order to accomplish some other political imperative.
>>  FPP discourages the Nader voters from voting for their favorite candidate
>> in 2000 by punishing them when it became clear that their vote cause Bush to
>> be elected.  and IRV discourages the GOP Prog-haters in Burlington from
>> voting for their favorite candidate in 2009 when they discover that marking
>> their favorite as #1 on the ballot actually caused the Prog to win.
>>
>> now, it's not the ranked ballot that failed these voters, it was the
>> Hare-STV method of tabulating the vote. Condorcet would have taken the same
>> ballot data and elected the candidate that was preferred by the electorate
>> over any other specific candidate.  The GOP who lost the most in the
>> election would neither have gotten punished for their sincere 1st-choice
>> vote (if IRV had survived, in 2012 these guys would be saying to themselves
>> in the polls: "I gotta choose between Liberal and More-Liberal, because if I
>> vote for the guy I really like, More-Liberal gets elected"), they would have
>> been more satisfied with the Condorcet winner than with the IRV winner, who
>> was their least favorite.  And the Progs would have been more satisfied with
>> the Condorcet winner than with the apparent FPP winner (the GOP), but they
>> would be unhappy with the result due to rivalry the Progs and Dems have for
>> the common liberal voter in this town.
>>
>> Ranked-choice voting requires less strategizing by the voter than Range
>> because it requires less information.  with a ranked ballot, all the voter
>> needs to decide is who, in every contingency that matters to the voter, who
>> he or she would vote for.  they don't need to decide how much *more* they
>> like Mother Teresa over Ghandi.  If they really want to bury a third
>> candidate, Stalin, they have to sacrifice their preference between the two
>> virtuous and the election might be decided between them.  Or maybe the
>> election will turn out to be a battle between Stalin and Satan and they
>> might rather live under Stalin than Satan, so they want to bump him up a
>> little (leave Satan with a score of 0).  but what if Satan wins because not
>> enough voters scored Stalin up enough?  or what if either Teresa or Ghandi
>> lose to Stalin because too many voters scored Stalin too high (for fear of
>> electing Satan)?
>>
>> what to do?  what to do?
>>
>> but a ranked ballot is easy:
>>
>>      Teresa > Ghandi > Stalin > Satan
>>
>> or, if you're more Hindu than Christian:
>>
>>      Ghandi > Teresa > Stalin > Satan
>>
>> no tactical thinking necessary for the ranked ballot when it decided by
>> Condorcet and a Condorcet winner exists.  and, if a CW exists, the result is
>> perfectly consistent, in every contingency, with the simple-majority, two
>> candidate, one-person-one-vote election that everyone is familiar with.
>>
>>
>>   Does someone have thoughts on how to get your Range Voting plan voted
>>>>> into action?  I would like to hear how Range Voting moves beyond more than
>>>>> just a good idea.
>>>>>
>>>>
>> how does it move beyond "good idea" when it hasn't advanced to that
>> square?  (sorry Warren, i *really* have a lot of respect for you and your
>> scholarship and your Burlington IRV page at your website, but you're still
>> not convincing regarding Range.  a little more convincing regarding
>> Approval, but i would still not support that for political office, maybe the
>> judiciary or some boards, but not executive nor legislative.)
>>
>> listen, everybody agrees with how a simple 2-candidate election should be
>> decided: person with the most votes wins and every voters vote is of equal
>> value.  "simple majority" and "one-person-one-vote".
>>
>> wouldn't it make a lot more sense, since IRV is discredited, and FPP is
>> clearly flawed, to put your energy into educating people about what goes
>> wrong and *has* gone wrong in those elections and present an alternative
>> with ballot no more complicated than with IRV and truer to the hypothetical
>> 2-person race, whether the spoiler runs or not?
>>
>>
>>  I think we need to start a PAC or even maybe a party that has the sole
>>>> objective of getting rid of plurality voting.
>>>>
>>>
>> doesn't one exist?  why not team up with FairVote?
>>
>>
>>   We need to be able to communicate that competitive elections in which
>>>> there is no vote splitting is the most important thing we can do to hold
>>>> politicians accountable.
>>>>
>>>
>> sure, and how does Condorcet cause vote splitting?  you don't need Range
>> to address the problem of splitting the majority vote.
>>
>>
>>   We also need to be willing to vote for candidates who support getting
>>>> rid of plurality regardless of what other positions that candidate holds.
>>>>
>>> oooh, i dunno if i can handle that.  weirder things have happened than
>> that of Michelle Bachmann supporting ranked-choice voting.  i wouldn't vote
>> for her even if she *loved* Condorcet.
>>
>>
>>  We need to communicate that once we get over this hump, we will no longer
>>>> have to worry about having to vote for the lesser of two evils ever again.
>>>>
>>>> Another thing we can do is email and tweet news hosts like Rachael
>>>> Maddow and ask them to do a segment on different voting systems.  If we
>>>> organize to tweet pundits at the same time, maybe they'll get the message.
>>>>
>>>
>> Matthews?
>>
>>
>>
>> On 8/4/11 9:16 PM, Dave Ketchum wrote:
>>
>>> Here I talk of moving up from FPP to Range or Condorcet.  I do not get
>>> into other single-winner elections or into multi-winner elections - while
>>> such deserve considering, they distract from my primary goal, which is to
>>> promote moving upward without getting buried in details.
>>>
>>> Voters should see advantages in moving up to a better method.
>>>
>>> To vote for one, as in FPP:
>>> .     In Range, assign your choice a maximum rating.
>>> .     In Condorcet, simply rank your choice.
>>>
>>>  which is simpler?
>>
>>
>>  Voting for two is using more power than FPP offers.  Often there is a
>>> major pair of candidates for which you prefer one, and one other that you
>>> also want to vote for:  For your second choice you could give the same rank
>>> or rating, or lower:
>>> .     In Range you assign first choice maximum rating.  Unrated share
>>> minimum.  The farther you rate second below max, the stronger your vote for
>>> max over second.  BUT, the nearer you rate second to unrated, the weaker you
>>> rate second over unrated.
>>> .     In Condorcet, rank your first choice higher than your second.
>>>
>>>  ditto.
>>
>>
>>  Voting for more is doable:
>>> .     In Range your difference in rating between any two is how much you
>>> prefer the higher over the lower, and the sum of these differences decides
>>> which wins their race.
>>> .     In Condorcet they count how many rank A>B vs how many rank B>A.
>>>
>> which meaning complies more with equal weighting of each voter's vote
>> (what we normally mean by "one-person-one-vote")?
>>
>>
>>  Politicians may hesitate in moving up to more powerful methods.  Range or
>>> Condorcet can cost more, but getting a truer reading as to voter choices can
>>> be worth the pain.
>>>
>>
>> i'm sorry, guys.  i'm really sorry, Warren, but between Condorcet and
>> Range, it just ain't close.
>>
>> --
>>
>> r b-j                  rbj at audioimagination.com
>>
>> "Imagination is more important than knowledge."
>
>
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