[EM] Lomax reply, 3/14/12

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 14 13:53:40 PDT 2012

>I admit that that is a mess--when my 
>optional-conditionality-by-mutuality algorithm definition
>is in three widely-separated postings. At least I should re-post the 
>corrected pseudocode in
>one posting. Should have already done that before now. Will within a few days.
While there may be value for this in terms of working on improved 
methods, as to theory, as to possible public implementations, not 
method that is so complex to explain has a prayer of seeing 
application outside of specialized societies where they are willing 
to tolerate that.


How many people have seen, or asked to see, the computer program for vote-counting
in our current elections? How many people in IRV jurisdictions have seen or asked to see,
or understood the count program for IRV?

People are told how IRV works, but they don't have to see the software. 

AOC conditionality can be described in terms of what it does for the voter.

A conditional approval isn't counted unless it is reciprocated.

It can be said in more detail, but a little more wordily:

Call a ballot's unconditionally-approved candidates its "favorites".

A ballot on which C is favorite is called a C-favorite ballot.

For each pair of candidates, C and D, the number of ballots on which D, but not C is favorite,
and which conditionally approve C must at least equal the number on which C, but not D is
favorite, and which conditionally approve D. Otherwise enough C-but-not-D-favorite ballots' conditional
approvals of D are ignored to achieve the above-described parity condition. 

But people will understand that, in examples like the one below, it's good if the voter can
make an approval conditional upon reciprocity:

(If you haven't been on the list lately, you might not have seen this "Approval bad-example":

Sincere preferences:

27: A>B
24: B>A
49: C

The A voters should approve B, and the B voters should approve A. But what if the A voters
approve B, and the B voters don't approve A? Then B will win, and the B voters will have
successfully taken advantage of the A voters' co-operativeness and sincerity.

That's the co-operation/defection problem, or the chicken dilemma.

If you're an A voter, you'd be glad to hear that you can give a conditional approval to B, an
approval that is conditional upon reciprocity.

So, what AOC does isn't complicated to tell. People would understand why they'd like it.

In any case, remember that I don't suggest AOC for a first proposal, partly because the simpler
plain Approval is simpler, and partly because AOC is to computation-intensive for an easy, convenient
handcount. At first, till a count-fraud-proof computer count can be guaranteed, only a handcount
is acceptable. The benefits of the best and most sophisticated method are nil if count-fraud
changes the result.

I don't know whether GMAT &/or MMT is suitable for handcounting.

By the way, though Bucklin was used with a handcount, ER-Bucklin, with the MMC-preserving delay that I spoke
of, is incomparably more computation-intensive than ordinary Bucklin, and therefore, almost surely unsuited to
a handcount. And, without that delay, you lose MMC compliance.

You asked about what I meant, regarding that delay:

Suppose that, at your 3rd rank position, you've ranked 5 candidates. Say that in round N, they get votes from your
ballot. The delay provision that I speak of (and which is in the electowiki definition of ER-Bucklin) says that
your votes to your 4th ranked candidates won't be given any sooner than they would be if you'd ranked your 5
rank-3 candidates in separate consecutive rank positions. In other words, in this example, your 4th ranked
candidates don't get their votes from you until round N+5.

If you'd ranked those candidates in consecutive rank positions, then one of them would get your vote in round N.
The 2nd would get a vote in round N+1....and the 5th would get your vote in round N+4. So only in round N+5
would your ballot then give to your next candidate. 

As I said, that preserves Mutual-Majority-Criterion compliance, but it greatly increases the labor of a handcount,
almost surely making handcount infeasible.

So then, when you rank 5 candidates at rank 3, receiving your votes in round
N,your 4th ranked candidates don't get votes from you until round N+5. At that time, all of your
4th-ranked candidates receive your votes.

So, of the Approval election vote-management options that I've proposed, the only ones suitable for a handcount
would be MTA, MCA (ordinary, non-conditional), and maybe GMAT &/or MMT (someone else might be able to answer whether
GMAT or MMT would be handcount-suitable). 

At least for now, a handcount is the only reliable way to avoid count-fraud.

Some people are very worried about fraud on the part of some voters. What we should really be worried about
is count-fraud.
>u/a election:
>u/a stands for unacceptable/acceptable. A u/a election is one in 
>which there is one or more completely unacceptable
>candidates who could win.
If write-ins are allowed, this is theoretically possible for all 
zero-knowledge elections. However, many elections, for many potential 
voters, do not fall into this category. 


Of course. It depends on the voter.

You continue:

As shown by the fact that 
they do not vote. Obviously, whatever is the result of the election, 
it doesn't make enough difference to them to vote. That's actually 
important. If you somehow entice these voters into participating in 
an election, without shifting something else, you will be adding 
noise, and noise probably biased by such factors as media exposure of 


If they aren't voting because they're uninformed, then it's better if they 
don't vote. But they've been misinformed by the media, and that misinformation
is a self-fulfilling prophecy, when it makes Plurality results that seem to confirm it.
With a better method, such as Approval, they wouldn't be deceived as they now are.

They aren't voting because they believe that it's a contest between Tweedele-Dee and
Tweedle-Dum. The media have told them that the Democrats and the Republicans are
"the two choices". Is it any wonder that half of the people don't vote?

That's the illusion that Approval vote results will dispel.
>In such an election, avoiding the election of an unacceptable is 
Sure. However, in situations where that election is reasonably 
likely, the voter is teetering on the edge of a falling-out with 
society itself.


I don't understand that conclusion. That voter will want to vote so as to
minimize the probability of an uncacceptable winning.

>  In a u/a election by ABucklin,
>it's definitely your best strategy to top-rank all the acceptables, 
>and not rank any unacceptables.
This is a black-and-white analysis. "Unacceptable" has been pushed to 
the maximum of unacceptability, i.e., if So-and-So is elected, I 
might as well commit suicide. 


I wouldn't say that. I'm speaking of the limiting case in which
the utility-differences among set A candidates are negligible compared to the
utility difference between set A and set B candidates (whose utility is lower).

As I said, in my own personal subjective opinion, we have such a situation. Or something
so close to it as to be effectively the same thing.

You continued:

Given that, if some truly horrible 
candidate is on the ballot, I'll definitely vote, and I'll vote in 
such a way as to defeat the candidate, that's the condition of the 


But you wouldn't necessarily vote unless there is a significant probability that that
truly horrible candidate might win. 

People (mistakenly) believe that the winner must surely be a Democrat or Republican.

Many people (correctly) feel that the difference between those two isn't worth voting on.

They don't vote. Who can blame them?

You continued:

If there is more than one such "totally unacceptable" 
candidates, each a possible winner, I might really wonder about the 
society itself.


But if one such might win, then you'll want to vote so as to minimize that

You continued:
Note that if I don't consider the unacceptable candidate a possible 
winner, the whole argument is false. 


Of course. That's why I made that a condition for a u/a election.

>  I consider our
>public political elections to be u/a. The Republocrats are the among 
>the unacceptables, though there are probably
>others too. That's just my opinion as a voter, judging by standards 
>such as dishonesty, corruption, bought-ness, etc.
That's your opinion


Yes, I emphasized that it's an individual subjective opinion.

You continued:

, to which you have a right, but you are rather 
obviously not typical. At all. 


I hope that I haven't seemed to imply otherwise.

But don't be so hard on the public. Don't entirely write-off their
judgement. They're misinformed, to the point of completely internalizing
what they've been told.

There was once a book entitled "I've been down so long, it seems like up to me."

That could be said by our voters. If you've accepted that the Democrat and the Republican
are indeed "the two choices", and so you conclude that the politicians are just all corrupt,
and if you've accepted that as fact, and have become completely resigned to it, then you
might call them "acceptable", because you believe that they're all that can be. Or maybe
you consider them unacceptable, because you know that the politicians are hopelessly corrupt,
but, since your tv has taught you that they're the only choices, that they and their corruption
are inevitable, simply a fact of life, you feel that there's no point trying to vote against them.

You continued:

And how you would vote is not 
particularly relevant, then, to the design of public systems.


Oh come on now. If I were designing voting systems for myself, I wouldn't give top billing to FBC.

I've recently said, for instance, that IRV would be perfectly ok if voters weren't committed to 
resigned lesser-of-2-evils giveaway.

FBC is for the public, not for me. They need it badly.

If everyone were more like me, it would be a completely different ballgame. Then, Beatpath would
be a perfectly good method. Even IRV would. They'd both have their own advantages. IRV fails Condorcet,
but meets MMC, and doesn't have the co-operation/defection problem. If everyone were more like me, maybe Beatpath
would be best. 

If people were sufficiently honest, in fact, maybe 0-100 RV would be best. I'd like RV, if everyone were as
honest as I. (My advocacy of strategic RV voting, and my comments about "sucker-voting" are only intended for existing conditions)

But we needn't concern ourselves with that.

We must recommend the best voting systems for the voting public_as they are_.

Approval meets FBC, and does so in the most obvious and transparent way. No one will think that
s/he needs to withold a vote from hir favorite in order to fully help hir compromise.

Approval is the simple, obvious and natural improvement on Plurality. Plurality done right.

Approval has the most easily-implemented balloting of any method other than Plurality. Its ballot
is identical to the Plurality ballot, except that, instead of "Vote for 1", it says "Vote for 1 or more".
That's it. Two additional words on the ballot.

Approval is the most easily handcounted method except for Plurality.

Can there be any question about what the voting system reform proposal should be?

You continued:

 I would 
argue that public systems should allow you to express your 
preferences fairly. If you want to vote by categorizing candidates 
into two classes, acceptable and unacceptable, voting only for the 
acceptable candidates, with maximum strength, you should be free to 
do so, because you are, by definition, willing to accept the loss of 
choice between the acceptable ones.


Yes. A lot of methods allow that. Probably Approval and Bucklin allow
the most power to 2-level voting.

You continued:

I think, Mike, that you may want your cake and to eat it too. You 
want to be able to get the "unacceptables" out of the way, first, 
then you can choose.


Wouldn't that be nice. We'd all like to have that cake and eat it too,
were it possible.

But I never said it was possible. I said that, in an ABucklin election,
I, along with others who feel as I do, would top-rank all of the acceptables,
and not rank any of the unacceptables. But I've always emphasized that we'd do
that at the cost of being able to distinguish between the (relatively identical)
merits of the the acceptables.

If, in ABucklin, you vote other than at top-rank, then either 1) You don't consider
it a u/a election, as I've defined that term; or 2) You want to vote expressively,
adventurously, gamblingly, though it's contrary to your best interest.

You continued

Mike, I'll repeat this: most voters will not be thinking like you.

[end quote]

Of course not. That's why I claim that FBC is absolutely essential.

Maybe others wouldn't vote as I would in ABucklin. ABucklin has the flexibility
to allow quite different kinds of voting, and that's why it's worth considering (if
count-fraud can ever be reliably prevented in computer-counts--because MMC-preserving
ABucklin is probably not handcountable).

I don't claim that everyone agrees with me that our elections are u/a.

Those who don't think so won't regard Approval strategy (as I do) as a matter of just voting
for the acceptables and for no one else. They'll use one of the other implementations of the
better-than-expectation strategy. Or maybe they'll use the direct implementation of that strategy,
by voting for everyone whom they'd rather appoint to office instead of holding the election.

I emphasize that even the u/a Approval strategy is one of the implementations of the 
better-than-expectation strategy. 

The better-than-expectation strategy has various different implementations, according to what kind 
of information the voter has.

With no predictive information whatsoever, when you approve all of the above-mean candidates,
you're still using an implementation of the better-than-expectation strategy.

...as you also are if you use a strategy based in information about the two frontrunners, etc.

You continued:

We all support voting systems which will allow you to, at least, act 
clearly to prevent unacceptable results. With Count All the Votes, 
you know how to vote, and it's simple and easy to understand. I'm 
merely suggesting that with some better knowledge of the 
probabilities, you may be able to maximize your expected return.



You continued:

black-and-white understanding of what is acceptable leads you to the 
black-and-white voting. 


Of course.

You continued:

It reduces your real effectiveness in the 



It maximizes the effectiveness of my vote. It maximizes my expectation in
the election.

...in terms of my candidate-utilities, but maybe not in terms of your candidate-utilities.

You continued:
>The Republocrats are a set, effectively a party, consisting of two 
>nearly identical subsets called
>Democrats and Republicans. Gore Vidal said that we don't have a 
>two-party system--We have one party with two right wings.
Must be true if Gore Vidal said it.

Did I say that it was true because Gore Vidal said it? 

There was a time when people didn't attribute the ideas that they quoted.

Now it's considered dishonest to quote someone without attribution. That's why
I named Gore Vidal. I didn't want to imply that I was the
originator of that statement.

I didn't name him to prove that the statement is correct.

You continued:

No, if he was actually making sense, we have one party with a right 
and a left wing.


No, he said "...two right wings", and there's no reason to believe that he
meant otherwise.

Sort of. So we have a one-party system. We are 
accustomed to thinking of that as a bad thing. Is it? I'm not sure at 
all. We have one government, and that is really "one party." Imagine 
the communist regimes, where the Party nominates the candidates, for 
unopposed elections. Is this undemocratic? Not necessarily. It 
depends on the Party's nomination process, and whether or not the 
Party truly represents the people, as it claims. The problem was that 
it didn't. Or doesn't, as the case may be.


I'd say that a 1-party system is undemocratic, based on the etymology of "democracy".

If there's only one party, one policy platform, for voters to choose among, then the voters don't have a choice,
and there's no meaningful sense in which they're governing.

>At 04:04 PM 3/5/2012, MIKE OSSIPOFF wrote:
>You said that achievability, getting from here to there, is more 
>important than optimality, for
>a voting system proposal. Yes, and that's why strongly suggest that 
>Approval should be the first
>proposal. In later proposals, vote-management options could be 
>added. They include:
You continued:

Count All the Votes. Terminally simple, clear improvement, only bogus 
arguments against it.
Not Perfect. So?
Count All the Votes. When it's is presented as Approval, hosts of 
distracting questions are raised


Isn't Count All the Votes another name for Approval?

I think that when we speak of "voting for" several candidates, we encourage
the fallacious "one-person-one-vote" objection.

We indicate which candidates are acceptable. Or we indicate which candidates we approve of.
And the method elects the candidate approved by the most, or acceptable to the most.

That's a difficult thing to criticize.

Or maybe first talk about 0-10 RV, and then offer 0-1 RV, to show that Approval is a points
system, no less than is 0-10 RV.

I think that I understand what you're suggesting with Count All The Votes. You're
referring to a Plurality election in which overvotes are counted. The trouble with that
is that it encourages the objection that Approval is legitimizing and accommodating something that
is currently considered not valid. I think that that invites the criticisms that Approval gets.

We count all the votes because we want to elect the approved-by-most or acceptable-to-most candidate.
It's a whole different basis of what the election is. It's necessary to explicitly confront and reject
Plurality's assumptons for what we want to do, replacing them with the above introductions.

Ok, sometimes people will be voting strategically, rather than by "Whom do I approve?" or 
"Who is acceptable?". In a non-u/a election, strategy doesn't ask about acceptability.

But it would be difficult to criticize each voter's right to rate each candidate, to vote up/down on each
candidate. Whatever strategy the voter might be using, it's hir vote, to use as s/he wishes.

For each candidate, it really is one-person-one-vote. Just as it is in any other point-system.
You continued:

Voting is better understood as adding weight to a balance, rather 
than as a "sincere expression of an opinion," though we can design 
systems that make the adding of the weight relatively easy to deduce 
from the opinion. But, always, it's an action, not a sentiment. 


Quite so. 

>Approval, though entirely adequate as a destination method, is also 
>the best route to ABucklin or
>SODA or maybe RV.
>Or, alternatively, RV could be the first proposal:
In NGO elections, quite possibly. In public elections, I'm obviously 
not opposed, but ... understand that Range can badly fail, because of 
utility normalization problems. I'm a whole lot happier with Range as 
an element in a runoff system.


In our electorate, RV will be like Approval, but with suckers who
are taken advantage of by Approval-strategy voters. I prefer Approval,
but I also recognize that RV is Approval. One just must try to make
sure that the suckers aren't one's co-factionalists. 

So I don't oppose RV, and would welcome it, because it's Approval.

You continued:
Range polling of course, is drastically superior to any other kind. A 
Range ballot is maximally expressive, with one exception. It doesn't 
express approval, which is a separate decision. We need either a 
voter-determined approval cutoff, which is complicated, or we need to 
predefine the ratings, classifying them into approved and 
not-approved. We may not need so many unapproved ratings as we do 
approved ones, so the proposal of using mid-range with a linear range 
ballot is certainly not the only one.


I assume you're referring to a popularity contest.

Nothing to add to what you've said there.  

Of course public political elections are the 
important thing. 

And you can't be sure that people won't strategize
in a populiarity contest. Maybe you want someone to win the
popularity contest. Might you not falsify some rating-feelings
to that end? If people are inclined to do that, then Approval would
be a more sincere method for a popularity contest.

>Of course it goes without saying that Approval voting is 
>automatically a way of voting in RV (you
>top-rate your approved candidates and bottom-rate everyone else). 
>Then, all of the abovementioned
>Approval vote-management options could be proposed too.
Which is how you would vote in the u/a scenario, right?

Correct. I'd vote Approval-style. Only at 1st rank position.
>Approval elects the candidate who is acceptable to the most voters.
Not exactly, but close. It elects the candidates who were given the 
most votes.


Ok, sure, I was just interpreting it in that way. Above, in this post,
I talked about justification/interpretation that doesn't assume that.

>...But the runoff would complicate the proposal. You could propose 
>it later, though.
>But when you complicate or elaborate a method, FBC-failure tends to sneak in.
Maybe. But if the existing method is top-two runoff, you could be 
making things worse by, say, going to raw Approval, which often 
reduces to plurality.


No way. Approval is entirely different from Plurality. In Approval, if you
only vote for one candidate, that's because s/he's your genuine favorite.

People voting for one candidate in Approval isn't a failure of the method. There can be
good reasons for voting only for one in Approval.

Of course, people who vote for only one in Approvalwould do fine in a Plurality election.To be continued...

Mike Ossipoff

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