[EM] Scoring (was Re: OpenSTV 2.1.0 released)

Michael Ossipoff email9648742 at gmail.com
Sat Sep 22 12:06:18 PDT 2012

Just a few words about the matter of whether chicken dilemma is a
genuine problem for Approval. Let's put this in perspective:

Though I'll again post about it later, I've described strong
mitigations and natural deterrents that exist in actual public
elections, and I've described strategic defection-deterrents that are
easily available, such as SFR and Tit-For-Tat. Sure, chicken dilemma
could be a nuisance to deal with. But we should distinguish between a
nuisance and a real problem.

If you want a problem, then I'd recommend having the millions who
share your preference vote someone whom neither you nor they like,
over everyone else, and electing that unliked candidate.

...Or maybe you'd like an election result that is the result of count-fraud.

_Those_ are problems.

I suggest that Approval's chicken dilemma "problem" would be pretty
nice to have as the worst "problem".

And remember that unimproved Condorcet doesn't get rid of chicken
dilemma, though lCT and Symmetrical ICT do get rid of it.

>> Unimproved Condorcet refers to what "Condorcet" meant before Improved
>> Condorcet was proposed by Kevin Venzke. In other words, unimproved
> >Condorcet is Condorcet that isn't Improved Condorcet.
>> Later, I proposed a modification of ICT that did the same improvement
>> at bottom end too. I call that Symmetrical ICT. It could be
>> abbreviated SITC.
> I might consider some of these methods if there were some real problems with
> strategic voting and some fixes would be needed to make the elections work
> properly. But as long as I can trust that most voters will vote sincerely,
> I'd focus on picking a method that picks the best winner with sincere votes.

1. If Finland, or Europe in general, were looking for a single-winner
method, then I'd defer to your judgement about what the voters there
need, and what is right for them. You might very well not have any
favorite-burial problem. However, people in England do speak of that
problem existing in England, and what they say sounds quite familiar.

2. Your statement above implies that Symmetrical ICT doesn't choose as
well as [...what?] when
people rank sincerely. That statement requires specification of what
method(s) choose(s) better than SITC under sincere voting, and why
that is so.

> Some properties of methods that I don't like very much are: 1) truncation
> based approval, since that encourages voters not to take position on which
> one of the non-approved candidates should be elected (works against the
> basic idea of ranked methods of collecting the sincere preferences),

Sure, you're expressing the ideal goal of rank-balloting. But surely
you know that that goal is unattainable. You can't wish strategy and
strategy-need away. It's there in all rank methods.

> 2) use
> of ties (more than what is sincere), for similar reasons.

My answer is same as above. What rank method doesn't require any
strategy? What rank method doesn't call for the strategy of equally
top-ranking the acceptables in a u/a election? As I said, that is
needed in unimproved Condorcet too, though it's also risky and costly.
You know what's worse than known strategy? Unknown strategy. In
unimproved Condorcet, as I said, you won't know what to do, even in a
u/a election.

Ok, you said that you don't support unimproved Condorcet, but I
mentioned it because it's a method where equal-top-ranking isn't a
clear best u/a strategy--but not because it isn't needed just as much.
Only because it brings another problem, one that doesn't exist with

Understandably you'd like a rank method without strategy incentive or
need. Unattainable.

But remember that my question was: Ok, then what method chooses better
than SITC under completely sincere ranking? And why do you say that it

> Doctors have similar problems. Many medicines are far from harmless. Doctors
> have to compare the risks of the disease and risks of the medicine. If the
> medicine is likely to make more harm than help, it should not be used. This
> means that one should deviate from the method that picks the best winner
> with sincere votes...

...which is _what_ method?

>...only if one is certain that otherwise the method would
> give even worse results because of strategic voting.

..even worse than what?? You haven't said what are the bad results of
SITC and ITC that we need to avoid.

> Obviously you believe
> that basic [unimproved] Condorcet methods would attract certain strategies to the extent
> that those methods must be fixed. And I believe that in most societies it is
> more likely that strategic voting will be marginal.

It may very well be, in most societies. I'm not recommending specific
voting system reforms for most societies. I'm recommending specific
voting system reforms for the United States.

"Most" means "more than half". You're saying that the probability is
greater than 1/2 that, in more than 1/2 of societies, strategic voting
would be minimal (with the use of some unspecified method other than
Approval, Score, ITC or SITC--how about specifying your method?).
Because I don't know what method you're referring to, of course
there's no way to answer your expression of belief.

...aside from the fact that I make no claim to know what's true about
more than 1/2 of all societies.

> Btw, here are some links to old proposals that address problems that are
> close to this case. Just FYI.

> http://lists.electorama.com/htdig.cgi/election-methods-electorama.com/2005-April/015788.html
> => ability to cancel the risk of startegis if there is a risk, but no
> changes needed if there are no risks

> http://lists.electorama.com/htdig.cgi/election-methods-electorama.com/2006-October/018710.html
> => a complex approach that allows also weak preferences, so you don't need
> to use flat ties

> http://lists.electorama.com/htdig.cgi/election-methods-electorama.com/2006-October/018711.html
> Also Condorcet elections that have a second round if the first round has a
> top loop were discussed around the same time.

> But my basic attitude thus is that all these may be "too much medicine"
> unless there really are serious problems with strategic voting.

Yes, I wouldn't discourage people from looking for better solutions,
and that could include looking for them in early EM postings too.

And if you find that better solution (maybe in an early EM posting),
then be sure to let us know, and describe that solution here, and tell
why it's a better solution.


> It should be enough if you can record (digitally) the content of the ballots
> in a reliable way. >Computations should not lead to fraud since they can be
> easily double checked.

>> By whom :-)

> I think I already said that the computations (from digitized ballot content
> to results) could be checked either by anyone or by some nominated entities
> (if ballot content is not published to protect privacy).

Sure, but how would you guarantee the accuracy and honesty of the
digitization? ...The process that occurs between the time that the
voter casts hir ballot, and the time when we have that digitized
record of which you speak.

> If the content of the ballots is made public, checking is really easy.
> [endquote]
> Nonsense. How do you make public thousands or millions of rankings?
> You can already now download (huge) movie files from the net. There wouldn't
> be as many people interested in downloading election data. Downloading data
> from Burlington (one city) was not a problem.

Again, making the ballot records available to anyone who wants them
isn't the problem. The problem is guaranteeing the accuracy and
honesty of the process that converts each voters voting to that
digitized record.

> You could give copies to representatives of the parties (who trust the
> copying process). But, for that matter, they also have to trust the
> machine balloting and the process that made the rankings-record.
> There are paper rankings store somewhere?

How were they made? Did the voter hirself make out a paper ballot? Or
was it made electronically by a voting machine (presumably, but not
necessarily based on the voter's voting)?

And, if the voter made out the paper ballot, then you've got millions
of paper ballots, distributed around the country (our large country).
How do you propose to show them to anyone who wants to look at them?
Presumably you'd digitize them, with the honesty problem that I spoke
of above.

And are we supposed to believe in the security with which you'd store
all of those paper ballots, at many locations around the country, in
every state?

>> There isn't much information available about that, as yet. There have
>> been Internet polls, but how are we to know who is favorite-burying,
>> if we don't know who everyone's favorite is.
> We can ask people. The results are not exact, but very informative. Or if
> there are groups that recommend some strategies, someone will hear about
> them.

Fair enough. But it isn't certain that people will vote sincerely just
because someone says to.

And, as I asked before, why do you want to be guessing and hoping,
when it's possible to simply be rid of favorite-burial incentive?

...and (if we were to use a rank-method--as I would use for
informational polling) rid of the chicken dilemma too, via SITC, with
the additional gain of LNHe compliance.

You say it's because there are (unspecified by you) methods that (for
unspecified reasons) would give better results, under sincere voting,
than SITC or ITC would give. That isn't saying a whole lot, is it.

>Some strategies can be visible in the ballots.

Great. And when we've enacted and set up that (unspecified) other
method that you're suggesting, and it turns out to show a problem,
we'll tell people, "Guess what, the method that we persuaded you to
adopt isn't working after all, and now you're going to have to enact
yet another one."

Or maybe you're suggesting a large-scale test-election, or (better) a
whole series of test elections. You must think that the importance of
the (unspecified by you) bad results of SITC and ITC under sincere
voting is so great, and that the benefits of the (unspecified by you)
other method are so great as to justify the expense and
proposal-difficult of those big test elections.   --when we could
instead simply be sure that favorite-burial incentive simply doesn't
exist, by the choice of a method that gets rid of that easily-avoided

...Likewise for chicken dilemma, if we're limiting the discussion to
choice among rank methods.

> I know at least one person that is inclined to bury and probably would bury

Then you know that the problem is genuine.

> :-).

> Because the method was Approval, I could show her that. I wouldn't
> have been able to reassure her about unimproved Condorcet, because the
> reassurance would be a lie.
> Maybe you told her that in Condorcet elections it is in her interest to
> always bury :-).

No, I didn't tell that the the unimproved Condorcet favorite-burier. I
hoped that she'd rank sincerely It didn't occur to me that she might
not. I was surprised when she favorite-buried.

But I couldn't tell her that she shouldn't favorite-bury (given her
beliefs and assumptions), because it wouldn't be true.

>> Look: Favorite-burial incentive, and the chicken dilemma, are so
>> easily avoided--why would you want to keep them (and then hope that
>> they wouldn't be a problem). It can be guaranteed that they won't be a
>> problem if they don't exist.
> True, except that there are also irrational voters. But don't take medicine
> that harms you more than the disease.

Ok, so then tell us how ICT and Symmetrical ICT would do harm.

And tell us your proposal for a method that wouldn't.

> My understanding is that Condorcet criterion or favourite burial or any
> other (method internal) strategic concerns didn't play any major role in the
> minds of the voters when IRV was thrown out. Probably most of the voters
> know very little about the strategic properties of different methods.

They certainly knew about what IRV can do, when not strategically
prevented (by favorite-burial) from doing so. That's why they threw
IRV out.
> Suppose they hadn't been allowed to throw IRV out. Do you think that
> people wouldn't be shown the advantage of favorite-burial, from their
> Burlington experience?
> How would you expect them to vote in the next IRV election? (you can assume
> reasonably similar candidates)

The Republican leaders, and probably most Republican voters too, would say:

"Look what happened! You ranked sincerely, and thereby you let the
Democrat be eliminated immediately, giving the win to the Progressive.
That was your reward for sincere ranking.

"Next time, don't let that happen. Next time, rank the Democrat in 1st
place, because otherwise the Progressive will win again."

Mike Ossipoff

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