[EM] Propose plain Approval first. Option enhancements can be later proposals.

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Mon Jan 30 01:21:45 PST 2012

On 30.1.2012, at 8.46, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:

> We know that if some method X passes all criteria Y does and then some, we can suppose that X is better than Y.

I don't think criteria are black and white in that sense. It is quite possible that a method that meets all but one of the "important" criteria that we have chosen is worse than a method that does not meet any of those criteria. The reason is that some vulnerabilities are not meaningful in practical elections while some can make the method totally unusable.

I'd thus measure how well certain method meets some criterion rather than if it meeths that criterion absolutely in every theoretically possible sittuation.

In cryptography the overall strength of a system is quite typically as strong as the strenght of the weakest link. In the same way the overall vulnerability level of an election method is typically close to the vulnerability level of the most problematic vulnerability of it. That means that the key target is to improve the worst vulnerabilities, not to try to reduce the number of vulnerabilities against some chosen list of criteria, nor to agree on which criteria must be abolutely met fully (unless there are some criteria where every theoretical vulnerability is automatically also a serious problem also in practical elections).

> (At this point, some people try to get around methods failing certain criteria by saying "sure, it fails, but it doesn't fail where it counts".

"Doesn't fail where it counts" or "the vulnerability is not too bad".

> But it can easily lead to a lot of back-and-forth about what "where it counts" really means and what one really wants of an election method.

Yes, unfortunately so. My approach is to look at the environment where one wants to use some particular method, and then see the level of damage that the vulnerabilities cause in that particular environment.

(There is no universally best election method. Different methods are good for different needs. That's why one can not determine the best method without knowing what the method is used for and in what kind of an environment.)

> Pass/fail, in contrast, is completely unambiguous. Either a method passes or it doesn't, and if a method passes a criterion everywhere, then obviously it passes it "where it counts", no matter where that might be.)

Yes, full comptibility is full compatibiliy everywhere, but using only on/off criteria does not give as accurate results as measuring criterion compatibility using some richer scale. For example some "black" results may be actually "white" in real life situations (i.e. vulnerable in theory but not in practice).

All interesting methods fail at least one criterion that sounds important and that is also important in the sense that some bad violations of it are in some methods also very bad in practice. That however doesn't mean that all methods would be useless or bad. One needs a balanced approach to all criteria in the spirit of making the overall vulnerability of a method small. This may sometimes mean allowing minor vulnerabilities somewhere in order to 1) make some other vulnerabilities less serious, or to 2) make the positive properties of the method better (e.g. to pick the best winner instead of resorting to some less good alternative, maybe as a result of optimizing the strategy resistance of the method too far).


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