[EM] Lomax: Approval

MIKE OSSIPOFF nkklrp at hotmail.com
Wed Mar 21 14:13:15 PDT 2012


I'd said:

>Certainly ordinary Approval should be the first proposal. And if 
>options are not
>later added to it, and ordinary Approval remains the method in use, 
>that would be fine.

You replied:

Well, not entirely "fine," but we don't need to go there at this 


Exactly. What might be even better than Approval, and how important it is to propose something
else later, are issues that needn't be addressed yet. 

Right now, the important thing is to achieve what can be achieved now. The
SodaHead discussion and poll is an example of what can be done as a start. If all
of us who want voting-system reform were to give our voting-system efforts to
this most immediately-feasible reform, then maybe things would start happening faster.

It's important to remind the SodaHead discussants that a lot rides on the voting system,
and that it would be best to consider the question carefully before posting, best to actually
listen to the arguments on both sides of the question.

Objection to Approval has to include a claim that it might be worse than Plurality.

So we should ask: "Ok then, how could it be worse than Plurality? What will Approval do wrong that
Plurality doesn't do wrong?"

I like the verb "support" instead of "vote for" (which carries the Plurality connotation). Better
yet, I like "Mark as acceptable". That doesn't mean that the candidates you don't mark are
entirely unacceptable. It is (as you spoke of) an action, not a feeling. I give a candidate acceptance,
an "acceptable" rating. Not "acceptable" in a psychological sense. "Acceptable" in a procedural
sense. I'm willing to accept that candidate, and I so indicate by marking that candidate on my ballot.

As someone pointed out, it's genuinely 1-person-1-vote (1p1v) in the matter of giving an acceptable
mark to some particular candidate.

Plurality is supposed to find out which candidate is favorite to the most. Plurality fails dismally at that.
In Plurality, people vote for a _guessed_ needed compromise, pretending that s/he is their favorite. For one thing
you don't really know what candidate is the best you can get by compromise. For another thing, it's necessary
to somehow come together on the same candidate. How can all the Republican-dislikers know which candidate
to combine votes on? Guess, that's how. It's been the Democrat for so long that people keep making that guess.

That's a serious problem of Plurality. 

Why not let people just mark candidates as "acceptable for compromise". Then you don't have to know the best
that you can get. Then you don't have to somehow know what candidate everyone is going to unite on.

The result? The election of the candidate marked as "acceptable" by the most. We could do a lot worse than that.

If you object to giving "acceptable" to a number of candidates instead of helping your favorite, then there's
nothing stopping you from only marking your favorite. You don't have to give an acceptable mark to compromises,
unless you think you might need one. 

There's something very wrong when millions of voters say that they have to hold their nose and vote
for someone that they don't really like or want, because it's the only way of defeating someone who is
even worse.

It's healthy for society when people can indicate what they really want. When they can support what/whom they
really want. When they can at least mark "acceptable" what/whom they really want.

Someone said Approval is complicated? Approval's strategy is the simplest there is. Plurality's strategy is
far more complicated (I made some errors when describing it yesterday--I will correct them).

Mark as acceptable your favorite and the candidates you might need for compromise (if any).

If some candidates are completely unacceptable, then mark the others (only).

If not, and if you have no predictive information, mark the above-average candidates.

If neither of the 2 above statements obtains, then mark the candidates who are better than what
you expect from the election.

You do so directly if you mark a candidate if you'd rather appoint hir to office instead of holding the election.

you mark a candidate if your feeling of hir threat to your more-liked is less than your feeling of hir
hope against less-liked.

You do so indirectly if you mark a candidate if your feeling of hir threat to your more-liked is less than your feeling of hir
hope against less-liked, of if you mark the better of your perceived frontrunners, and everyone better. But do 
not let anyone tell you who the frontrunners are. The frontrunner strategy encourages people to rely on
unreliable frontrunner information. I don't encourage it.

If that sounds complicated, then compare it to Plurality strategy. You only use one of those strategies,
depending on what your information or feeling is.

Approval's strategy is interesting, not prohibitively difficult like that of Plurality.

Approval's strategy is the easiest there is, in comparison to other methods.

In principle, why shouldn't voters be allowed to mark candidates "acceptable"?

The voters who are holding their nose and voting for someone whom they don't like or want--They're the
ones who will like Approval. There are millions of such voters. Some will read and like these arguments
for Approval.

Tell them that, with Approval, for the first time everyone will be able to support their favorite. No more
favorite burial. Plurality forces millions of voters to lie about which candidate they like best, and not
express what they want. How healthy for society can that be?

Mike Ossipoff

 Approval is simply Count All the Votes.

Years ago, I started calling this a "no-brainer."

If a voter wants to add multiple approvals, why not count them? I see 
no reason that survives examination, not in a deterministic election, 
non-ranked Approval.

There are issues when more than one candidate is being elected, I'm 
not going there at this point. Approval-at-Large isn't a great method 
... but still better than Plurality-at-Large.

The habit of vote-for-one came from deliberative process and standard 
elections under Robert's Rules, where a winner was required to gain a 
majority, and the election was *repeated* if nobody did. So the 
necessary compromise process took place outside the polling itself. 
Approval could make this more efficient, that's all (and, 
historically, approval was used this way for the election of popes, 
where a two-thirds majority was required to approve the election.)

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