[EM] Democracy Chronicles, introductions

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Sat Apr 28 22:31:19 PDT 2012

Adrian, although I do not think that readers will misunderstand the 
words "mathematically equivalent," Kristofer has been insistent that he 
does not like that wording, so let's change the wording accordingly:

"... VoteFair popularity ranking, which virtually always identifies the 
same election winner as the Condorcet-Kemeny method, one of the methods 
supported by ..."

Eliminating the word "mathematical" should make Kristofer happy, based 
on what he says in a recent message.  And the word "virtually" will be 
recognized by anyone as a qualification of the word "always."  And 
referring to the winner without referring to the "results" -- which in 
the Condorcet-Kemeny method includes a full ranking of all choices -- 
will avoid an issue that is not worth explaining in this article.

Clarification for forum purposes: The full ranking from most popular, 
second-most popular, and so on down to least popular can differ between 
the Condorcet-Kemeny method and the VoteFair ranking software, and that 
accounts for the largest number of cases in which there is a difference. 
  Out of those cases a much smaller number of cases could involve a 
difference in who is declared the winner (the highest-ranked choice), 
but that can only happen if there are more than six candidates in the 
Smith set (although I have not yet had time to reply to Jameson 
regarding the proof of this point), which is covered by the word 
"election" before the word "winner" because real elections do not have 
that many candidates in the Smith set.  Non-election situations, such as 
the ranking of 100 songs, would have a reasonable (yet still unlikely) 
chance of having more than six choices in the Smith set.

Further clarification for forum purposes:  The statement in the revised 
wording for this Democracy Chronicles article refers to the VoteFair 
ranking software, which is not the same as saying that VoteFair 
popularity ranking does not intend to duplicate Condorcet-Kemeny results 
in all cases.  (First I want to characterize the cases in which they 
differ as being so convoluted in terms of voter preferences that the 
difference is not significant for the purposes of use in an election 
[remembering that there must be more than six candidates in the Smith 
set in order for the top-ranked-choice difference to occur].)

Adrian, very importantly, I recommend revising the article's words 
"diverse group of election experts" and "election reform advocate" to 
use the phrases "election-method experts" and "election-method reform 
advocate" because our topic ("election-method" reform) is a subset of 
"election reform," and we do not claim to be "election experts" -- which 
would offend people who study voter registration, voter turnout, and 
many other characteristics of real elections.

I approve the article if the phrase "election-method" is used.

The only other edit might be to hyphenate the phrase "round-off" in the 
words "... compensate for any round off errors ...".  Actually I think 
the correct spelling in an academic article might be "roundoff" as a 
single word (but I'm not sure), but that would be confusing to 
non-academic readers.

Thank you for your great work Adrian!  And especially thank you for your 
patience in dealing with those of us who choose our words so carefully 
as a result of discussing our mathematically rigorous topic.

As for an image, you have my permission to use the graphic in the upper 
left of the VoteFair.org home page:


(The same image appears on the BanSingleMarkBallots.org website, but 
that is not an official choice, just an image that fills the spot until 
something better is presented.)

Or, if you prefer to use the cover of my book, you have my permission to 
use it at [http://www.solutionscreative.com/ehu_cover.html], but please 
keep in mind that my goal for this article is to promote the 
VoteFair.org website, and secondarily mentioning (and linking to) my 
creative-problem-solving book as credibility for my problem-solving 
skills, so this article should not contain a link that (also) promotes 
my election-method-reform book unless you use that cover for your image 
(in which case for this article I prefer that you link to the Google 
Books version at [http://books.google.com/books?id=UOf86S4Lc-YC] where 
people can read some of it for free).

Speaking of images, if you are interested in the voting-related cartoons 
in "Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections," you are welcome to 
use them in a separate cartoon-only series.

Again, thank you Adrian for connecting us with people who can benefit 
from our deep understanding of election methods.

Richard Fobes

On 4/28/2012 9:38 AM, Adrian Tawfik wrote:
> As long as everyone is somewhat comfortable with keeping the "mathematically equivalent"
> wording, I think we can move forward with the article.  I put together the more complete
> text of the article with the interview included and some additions to the introto remind
> readers of the group and the series of articles.  I am hoping we can finishdiscussion of
> the article and publish this week.Please make any suggestions for changes before
> mid-week and I will go ahead and publish.   Don't worry about formatting because I will
> clean the article up for publication.
> Mr. Fobes,
> If you have any images from Votefair I can use on the article or any other images, please
> let me know.  I have been reliant of Flickr and Wikipedia for the entire website.  Thanks.
> The
>   Fobes article:
> EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Election Reformer Speaks With Democracy Chronicles!
> Author and Activist Richard Fobes Discusses His Ideas For Election Reform in the US
> Over the course of a series of articles Democracy Chronicles is
> presenting the results of the fascinating interviews we have conducted with
> prominent signers of the group that published the 'Declaration of Election-Method
> Reform Advocates'.    The interviews will cover the opinions of a diverse group of
> election experts from around the world.      These interviews could not have been
> accomplished without the determined help of author and election reform advocate
> Richard Fobes.    In a small token of our appreciation for his efforts, we are
> publishing his interview here as the first of the series of interviews
> exclusively on Democracy Chronicles.
> Richard Fobes, who has a degree in physics, became involved with
> election-method reform when he
> realized, while writing his book titled "The Creative Problem Solver's
> Toolbox" [link], that most of the world's problems can be solved, but
> the current voting methods used throughout the world are so primitive
> that citizens are unable to elect the problem-solving leaders they want.
> That insight motivated him to spend time over the last two decades
> developing and writing open-source software for a system of
> voting methods that he calls "VoteFair ranking." The core of the system
> is VoteFair popularity ranking, which is mathematically equivalent to
> the Condorcet-Kemeny method, one of the methods supported by
> the "Declaration of Election-Method Reform Advocates."
> At his VoteFair.org [link] website, Fobes offers a free service of
> calculating VoteFair ranking results, and a number of organizations have
> used the service to elect their officers.
> At that site Fobes also hosts an American Idol poll that allows fans of
> the TV show to rank the show's singers according to who is their
> favorite, who is their second favorite, and so on down to who they like
> the least, and the calculations reveal the overall ranking. Based on the
> results, Fobes writes commentaries that anticipate and explain so-called
> "surprise" results in terms of important voting concepts, especially
> vote splitting, vote concentration, and strategic voting.
> Below, Mr. Fobes answers the questions of Democracy Chronicles' Adrian
> Tawfik who recently conducted the interview online:
> /Democracy Chronicles: Briefly explain what characteristics you think
> are most important for a voting method to have?/
> Richard Fobes: To produce fair results, a voting method should look
> deeply into the voter preferences.The current approach of voters only
> being allowed to mark a single choice, and then using an overly
> simplistic counting method (plurality), is a huge failure to look
> beneath the surface of voter preferences.In contrast, I think a voter
> should be allowed to rank all the candidates from most preferred to
> least preferred, and the counting method should fully rank all the
> choices from most popular and second-most popular down to least
> popular.If a method correctly identifies the least-popular choice, then
> voters can better trust that the method also correctly identifies who
> deserves to win.
> /Democracy Chronicles: What do you think is the most important election
> reform needed where you live (either locally or nationally)? Why is this
> reform important?/
> Richard Fobes: I believe that the election reform that is most needed in
> the United States is to ban the use of single-mark ballots in
> Congressional elections, including primary elections.This ban would
> allow us, the majority of voters, to fill Congress with problem-solving
> leaders instead of special-interest puppets.This reform is more
> important than reforming Presidential elections because the job of the
> President is to enforce the laws that Congress writes, and because it
> would dramatically weaken Congressional lobbyists (who have far more
> power than Presidential advisers).
> /Democracy Chronicles: What is your opinion on other aspects of election
> reform such as reforming money's role in politics or redistricting
> (particularly in the US but very interested as well concerning election
> reforms internationally)?/
> Richard Fobes: Banning single-mark ballots in Congressional elections
> would eliminate vote splitting, which is a weakness of plurality
> counting that the biggest campaign contributors have learned to exploit
> in ways that involve money.Using better ballots and better counting
> methods would enable a problem-solving leader to more easily win a
> Congressional (primary or general) election running against a
> money-backed incumbent, even if the money-backed incumbent greatly
> outspent the reform-minded candidate.
> I believe that the solution to the redistricting problem in the United
> States (and similarly in each state) is to slightly more than double the
> size of Congressional districts, and then fill each district's second
> seat with the candidate who is most popular among the voters who are not
> well-represented by the winner of the first seat, which is what
> "VoteFair representation ranking" deeply calculates.In a typical such
> district, one Republican and one Democrat would win that district's two
> seats, regardless of where the district boundaries are drawn.
> Additionally a few "proportional" seats would be filled based on the
> voters' party-preference information, with the candidate being selected
> by "VoteFair partial-proportional ranking."This adjustment would
> compensate for any round off errors that occur in filling the
> district-based seats, and would ensure that the majority of each state's
> Congressional representatives are from the same political party as the
> state's majority of voters.To the extent that the Republican Party and
> the Democratic Party continue to be excessively influenced by money
> instead of votes, third-party candidates would win the proportional
> seats, and that outcome would force the two main parties to adopt at
> least some of the reforms promoted by the most popular third parties.
> ----
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