[EM] Lomax reply, 3/14/12

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Wed Mar 14 22:50:46 PDT 2012

Abd: You are right that C will probably win the chicken dilemma Mike
stated, where C has 49%, under almost any system except SODA. That's why I
usually give a version of the dilemma where C has 40%, not 49%.

You are wrong that this is unrealistic. For instance, see Hawaii's 1st
congressional district special election,
I believe that chicken-like scenarios, while they will be a minority of
elections, are certainly common enough to be worth worrying about; clearly
more common, for instance, than honest Condorcet cycles.

In the end, I do not believe that AOC conditionality really fixes the
problem any more than Bucklin does. If C voters give conditional approvals
to A and B, then A and B voters are again tempted to seek a leg up on the
others by conditionally approving C, and again if both do so C wins. I
doubt they'd be so shortsightedly partisan, though, just as I doubt it with

There are only two ways I know of to truly fix this dilemma. One is as with
IRV, to make it impossible for B to beat A (without favorite-betraying C
votes). The problem is that this solution will always encourage such
favorite betrayal; and also, if, unlike IRV, the scenario is recognized
through A's second preferences instead of B's, such a solution would
motivate burial; that is, even if A voters don't actually prefer B, they
would pretend to to unfairly win the election.

The other way is delegation, as with Asset or SODA. This has the (arguable)
advantage that C can lose even with 49%.

Still, as I said above, half-solutions like AOC or Bucklin may be enough if
C has more like 40%; by merely making the slope down to a C win less
slippery, such systems may avoid that outcome.

Still, since AOC is not really better than Bucklin here, while it is
clearly more complex, I think there's no reason to waste our breath on it.


2012/3/14 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com>

> At 03:53 PM 3/14/2012, MIKE OSSIPOFF wrote:
>  >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.
>> [endquote]
>> 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?
> Mike, that's irrelevant and you know it. People know how the vote will be
> used to determine winners, with Plurality or Top Two Runoff. They may not
> know every detail, but they would probably get it very close to correct.
> (i.e, what is the basis for majority? Some might not get this right.)
> IRV has been explained, and most people, again, understand it if they are
> paying attention. The rules can be simply stated.
> Some people don't care, for sure. But when a new voting system is
> proposed, people will want to at least think they understand. They
> certianly did not understand all the details when IRV was implemented in
> San Francisco, the voter imformation pamphlet lied to them. That's a
> different problem!
>  People are told how IRV works, but they don't have to see the software.
> I wasn't asking for the software, I was asking for the rules which would
> be used to create the software. The algorithm, if you will, and if an
> algorithm is complex, the various implications of it will be even more
> obscure. Mike, this is a political issue. Your method might be
> theoretically superior, but as a first reform, forget about it. If public
> process can be set up that, say, studies election method performance in
> simulations, and if the recommendations of the committee formed are
> trusted, maybe. But getting that is quite difficult, all by itself.
>  AOC conditionality can be described in terms of what it does for the
>> voter.
>> A conditional approval isn't counted unless it is reciprocated.
> What that means isn't obvious. But I assume you'll explain:
>  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.
> You have not defined "unconditionally approved." How is that shown on the
> ballot? I could guess, but I'd rather not!
>  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.
> Mike, most people's eyes will be glazed over at this point. I have a habit
> of reading stuff like this with "stupid eyes." I cannot immediately
> understand what you have written. Probably because it doesn't "make sense."
> That is, a series of facts about the method, all new, are being presented
> without the *significance* being known. This is about pedagogy, Mike, and
> polemic, the same thing, really.
> Now I'll put in some effort. Realize that most people will not. And they
> will dislike that the information is being presented this way, and they
> will not trust it.
> Okay, I think I get it. *If* the chicken dilemma is found to be damaging
> results, it might even be useful. I still find the *meaning* of this, i.e.,
> the actual effect it will have on voter behavior, obscure. It seems to me
> like the "conditional approvals" being counted are dependent upon the
> behavior of other voters. I find that highly suspect. My "conditional
> approvals" are being deprecated. It might be fair, because if I don't like
> that, I can fully approve. But I'd still want to be able to rank my
> approvals....
>  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":
> Probable.
>  Sincere preferences:
>> 27: A>B
>> 24: B>A
>> 49: C
>> The A voters should approve B, and the B voters should approve A.
> Why? Mike, *that depends on preference strength.* *You* may not have been
> following long-term discussions on these lists....
> Okay, let's assume that the B>C and A>C preference strengths are solid.
> First of all, this is a race where A and B would, in most situations,
> cooperate; one of them would drop out, it is a very close election and by
> both running they are risking the election of C.
> The scenario posits C who would win Plurality hands-down if this is the
> situation. A and B are close, relatively speaking.
> Mike, you are showing a situation which demonstrates the power of runoff
> voting. Runoff systems resolve this just fine. There is majority failure, C
> is way ahead of A and B, but the leader between A and B will go into the
> runoff with C. It works perfectly, in fact, this will be very likely to
> elect A.
> How about Bucklin/Runoff> You have presented a scenario where the C voters
> equally detest A and B. This kind of division of society, with this class
> of voter being *almost* a majority, is not something I've seen in real
> life. You have the A voters and B voters divided, with no specification of
> preference strength. This is the kind of voting system study that I've
> argued against for years. It has a value, but it is purely created to show
> a criterion failure or the like. Whether it is realistic or not isn't even
> addressed, often.
> IRV handles this situation, of course. IRV was *invented* to handle this,
> the problem is it breaks down badly elsewhere. Now, I've looked at a lot of
> IRV elections, and I've never seen one that looked like this. The problem
> of clones (and to some extent A and B are clones, as to the C voters' view)
> is not just in voting systems, it damages campaigns. A and B need to
> cooperate to beat C.
> If this is the "chicken dilemma," it's been made up. What this situation
> means (if we interpret it realistically) is that C is likely to win.
> Period. A whole lot of reality has been truncated. There will be write-in
> votes. There will be voters whose voting patterns don't make sense. C is
> within the noise of winning, whereas A and B voter behavior has to be about
> perfect.
> Do we know of any real-life example of the Chicken dilemma?
> How would Bucklin handle this? Do the A and B voters know the risk? If so,
> they would be likely to vote their preferences. C voters, would they be
> aware of the danger that A would win? After all, they also have a strong
> preference, as this is stated. In fact, some of them will prefer one of A
> or B. Voters are *not* identical, they resemble each other *statistically.*
> In any system that awards an election based on plurality, C will be almost
> certain to win. Even IRV, with real voters, C's awfully likely. Some A and
> B voters will truncate.
> I've never seen an IRV election that shifts preferences as drastically as
> required to accomplish the defeat of C. What is normal, in fact, is that
> the additional votes from eliminations have *no effect* on relative
> standing, in nonpartisan elections.
> And if this is a partisan election, it is *really, really weird* that A
> and B are duking it out!
> Runoff voting was designed to fix this. Vote splitting, among candidates
> where one of them could win if not for the presence of the other, will
> typically cause majority failure.
> If this were Bucklin runoff, it might well make sense for the A and B
> voters not to trade approvals. But they would be risking that C bumps over
> the majority line.
>  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.
> People are far more alike than you might realize. If A voters betray, B
> voters also betray, they betray equally, more or less. So C wins.
> That is why politicians try to avoid situations like this!
> Now, look at this election if the ballot is a Range ballot....
>  That's the co-operation/defection problem, or the chicken dilemma.
> A false dilemma, that assumes people are playing a game different from
> what they actually play, and that society is as neatly divisible into
> factions like this. Most people won't sweat this at all!
>  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.
> This is doing something with the election process, making it a goal in
> itself..... I'm not thrilled. I'd want to see how the method performs in
> simulations.
> But it can be difficult to model strategy. There is a cost here, the cost
> in canvassing complexity. I'm not convinced I'd approve it.
>  So, what AOC does isn't complicated to tell. People would understand why
>> they'd like it.
> I'm still not convinced I really understand it. I could probably explain
> it, though, i.e., how the counts are modified. What I don't get is why this
> is really necessary. It's obviously devaluing information from the voter,
> based on some assumption that... what? That voters have not been properly
> reciprocal? But that would seem to assume that the A>B and B>A preference
> strengths are the same. They will not be, in general!
> I think this algorithm could damage overall social utility. In fact, with
> sincere votes, it's obvious that it *will.*
> The question would be whether it balances out the damage from strategic
> voting (which, because the votes are not "maximally sincere," does damage
> S.U.) I'm pretty strongly suspecting, no, it causes further damage by
> removing a strategic voting effect that may not exist.
>  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.
> Well, fortunately, we agree on this. And, likely, it will be up to future
> generations.
>  I don't know whether GMAT &/or MMT is suitable for handcounting.
> I lose the abbreviations.
>  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.
> Not sure what you mean. ER-Bucklin can be hand-counted, and was (it was
> often ER in lower ranks than first). Your "delay" may well introduce
> problems. I don't know what you mean, in fact.
>  You asked about what I meant, regarding that delay:
> Glad I did!
>  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.
> Gosh, people can make things complicated. Just effing count the votes! How
> in the world did ER-Bucklin become so complex? I, naively, assumed that it
> was *Bucklin* with Equal Ranking allowed. Who tacked all this absolutely
> hopeless crap onto it?
>  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.
> I could probably actually understand this if I suspected it were
> worthwhile!
> This is utterly damaging to social utility, as I see it. I see Bucklin as
> practically using a Range ballot, with an analytical method that slides
> down the approval cutoff until there is a majority. If voters vote
> sincerely, it's obvious that messing with the counting messes with the
> basic principle. Now, maybe, somehow, this compensates for the problem with
> majority-seeking in general (social utility optimization can violate the
> majority criterion).
> But, you should know, I dislike overcoming a majority preference without
> the voters being explicity asked if it's okay! Or, at least, having
> expressed that, as by unconditionally approving, by a majority as well as a
> plurality, a candidate.
>  As I said, that preserves Mutual-Majority-Criterion compliance, but it
>> greatly increases the labor of a handcount,
>> almost surely making handcount infeasible.
> And it also makes the voters dizzy when they try to understand the effect
> of their vote....
>  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.
> I agree. That's why paper ballots should be used (even if they are printed
> by machine -- and the voters should have that printed ballot in their hands
> for inspection, before they deposit it in the ballot box).
> Sorry about not putting more effort into understanding MMC. I should, at
> least, understand the criterion itself. I'll look at that, thanks for your
> effort.
>  Some people are very worried about fraud on the part of some voters. What
>> we should really be worried about
>> is count-fraud.
> Indeed.
> (to be continued.)
> ----
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