[EM] Kristofer: The Approval poll

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Thu Mar 22 13:09:33 PDT 2012

On 03/22/2012 07:57 PM, MIKE OSSIPOFF wrote:
> There are plenty of voters who report having to "hold their nose" and
> vote only for someone they don't like. They'd all like to be able to
> vote for better candidates to, including their favorites. Even if one
> only counts the Democrat voters who say that they're strategically forced
> to vote only for someone they don't really like, amounts to a lot of
> people who'd see the improvement brought by Approval.
> Especially since it would no longer be necessary to try to guess who
> one's necessary compromise is (because you can vote for all the candidates
> you might need as compromise). No more split vote, since it isn't necessary
> for candidate Worst's opponents to all vote for the same candidates--They'd
> easily be able to vote for the same _set_ of candidates, without all agreeing
> on one candidate to unite on. These things answer the complaint of someone who
> says that they had to hold their nose to vote for the Democrat. With Approval
> they can approve the Democrat if they think they need to, and also everyone
> better, including their favorite. Such voters will no longer be resigned to pure
> giveaway.

Yes, that could work for Democrats and those who don't want to vote for 
the lesser evil. The poll does seem to have a rather large number of 
people who go "this is a liberal plot to swindle the election from us", 
though. Could a primary argument work as a response? Something like... 
"okay, you feel free to watch your party use oodles of money to find out 
who's most electable in the primary, when they could have used Approval 
and saved that money to use against the Democrats in the general 
election"? I'm not very familiar with what Jameson calls "tribal 
counting coup" as politics here is a lot more issue-based than American 
politics, so I don't know if it'd work.

> Then there are method centric arguments. Some are just confused about
> what the thing means, as one can see by the "oh, and let the voters vote
> for a single candidate many times" type of posts. Others think it
> violates one-man one-vote. How can we clear that up? Perhaps by
> rephrasing it in terms of thumbs-up/thumbs-down? If each voter gets ten
> options to either do thumbs-up (approve) or not (don't approve), then
> the voting power is the same for each.
> [endquote]
> Yes, if you give thumbs-down to nearly all of the candidates, you're giving just
> as many ratings as the person who gives thumbs-up to nearly all of the candidates.
> S/he doesn't have more voting power than you do. As I said, you can cancel out
> any other voter, by an opposite ballot, no matter how many candidates s/he gives
> thumbs-up to.
> With N candidates, each voter has the power to rate N candidates, up or down.

True. I know that, you know that. How do we easily show the people that? 
I think it's a matter of framing. If cast in terms of being "you can 
give as many votes as there are candidates", then Approval feels like it 
violates OMOV. If cast in terms of "for each candidate, you determine if 
you approve/not" or "if your thumbs will be up or down", then it's more 
clear that it doesn't, because every voter has that choice for every 

My preference for what to call approval is entirely pragmatic. The term 
"approval" has precedence (it's called Approval voting after all). The 
term "thumbs-up vs thumbs-down" might be easier to understand for 
someone who's never heard of Approval before. I don't know which 
phrasing would be stronger.

("In better set" vs "in worse set", is probably not it :-) )

> You continued:
>   I do note that there are very few arguments about chicken dilemma
> situations. If there are barriers to Approval being adopted, that isn't
> it - at least not yet. Though one could of course say that the reason
> nobody objects using the chicken dilemma is that they haven't studied
> the thing enough to know there actually *is* a chicken dilemma problem.
> [endquote]
> The chicken dilemma isn't, and can't be, an objection to switching from Plurality
> to Approval, because Plurality has it, at least as bad. "We won't vote for your candidate,
> so you'd better vote for ours if you want one of {yours,ours} to win." That chicken
> dilemma is worse than Approval's, because, to co-operate requires actually abandoning
> your favorite, and not even acknowledging that s/he is acceptable. It requires voting the
> other candidate over yours, and saying, in your ballot that s/he is better than yours.

Again, that's true. I suppose I just expected the "tribalist counting 
coup" guys who are going "okay, I know Approval is a Democrat plot, now 
what can I say to discredit Approval" to at least refer to it. But 
perhaps "my tribe doesn't like it" is good enough to a tribalist, so 
they don't see the reason in investigating further.

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