[EM] Median systems, branding, and activism strategy

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Jun 13 10:11:25 PDT 2013

At 06:24 PM 6/12/2013, Jameson Quinn wrote:

>Uh, Score systems can ba amagalamated as median or as average or as sum.
>This isn't the misunderstanding I was talking about, but by saying 
>"Score" with a capital "S" I was referring to a summed or averaged system.
>The latter fits most closely with democratic traditions, it is just 
>Count all the votes, i.e., Approval, plus the allowance of fractional voting.
>Median systems are introducing what appears to be, for public 
>choice, an *entirely new* concept. So, the obvious question, why?
>???? You are the one who likes Bucklin. Bucklin is a median system 
>that's nearly 100 years old. How is that "*entirely new*" ????

You can conceptualize Bucklin as a median system, because the first 
candidate to pass the majority post has the highest median vote. 
However, that's not how Bucklin was understood. It was seeking a 
majority, that's all. Explaining "median," and, particlarly, 
"graduated median," is a bit of a chore, as we have seen.

This is something that is missing from many voting systems that have 
been designed with non-inutitive amalgamation process. I can read a 
description of how to amalgamate, but what I want to know, and I 
suspect most people will want to know, is the *sense* behind the system.

>And, remember, we are talking about first reforms, not the *ideal*.
>But median systems have a problem. There are too many of them, and 
>even more names.
>Off the top of my head, I can think of the following names:
>    * Bucklin: A general class of median systems which are 
> implemented via a descending threshold. Also used to describe 
> various specific ranked or hybrid ranked/rated systems used during 
> the progressive era. For instance, some use "Bucklin" to mean 
> "median using full or truncated rankings, using the highest 
> majority as a tiebreaker"; others mean the Grand Junction system of 
> "median using 3+1 numbered rank/grades with skipping allowed and 
> ties allowed at the third grade only; highest majority tiebreaker".
>Bucklin is a median system, that's true, but that is not the *concept.*
>I don't even know what that means. In my book, making a distinction 
>between median systems on one hand and Bucklin systems on the other 
>is unsustainable. Any Bucklin system is a median system; and if you 
>want to define things so that there is a median system that isn't a 
>Bucklin system, that's a distinction without a difference.

Bucklin is a "median system," but only because "majority" *fits* with 
the median concept. That is, *majority approval.*

Bucklin only allowed approval votes, and that they were ranked was a 
refinement. I remember when we started discussing approval, and the 
common tope that approval voting had never been used in the U.S. It 
was repeated over and over. But Bucklin is a form of approval voting, 
and in many, probably most, elections, collapsed to straight 
approval, unlimited number of candidates may be approved.

It is the *obvious* next step beyond Approval. In a few places, it's 
possible that a system will go directly from Plurality to Bucklin.

>And any poor performance of Bucklin would come, quite likely, from 
>using median amalgamation. (I.e., a Bucklin ballot is really a Score 
>ballot, and a score ballot can be used for Bucklin amalgamation, it 
>is an obvious and simple extension.)
>I literally cannot parse this at all.

It's obvious, Jameson. The first sentence and the parenthetical 
comment are separate. Notice: I was here acknowledging, specifically, 
that Bucklin uses a kind of median amalgamation. Since the ballot 
*could be* the same as a Score ballot, the only difference being an 
explicit approval cutoff, what I consider a necessary tweak to Score 
(it can be handled simply by defining 50% Score as the approval 
cutoff, i.e., 50% or higher is "approved") then "poor performance," 
now meaning increased Bayesian Regret, would come from the 
amalgamation difference, "quite likely."

I do expect that the vast majority of Bucklin voters will vote 
sincerely, and real-world breakdowns will come from bullet voting, 
which is *unavoidable without requiring full ranking.* The 
"breakdown" simply means that a majority is not found. And that's 
*easy* to fix, and people all over the planet know how to fix it. 
It's called a "runoff." However, with the Arizona initiative, we have 
started looking at mandatory two-round systems, with the primary 
being a "special election," and the "runoff" being the general 
election. The primary then becomes a feeder to the general election, 
a nominating device.

I assume you understand that a score ballot can be used for Bucklin 
amalgamation, as you use a score ballot for median amalgamation.

So the "poor performance" would come from variation in utility sum 
caused by using the median rather than the mean. This is quite well 
known; i.e, "majority rule" is not utility-sum optimal. However, this 
is something that actually transcends utility sum: majority consent. 
An alleged utility-maximizing result, if majority consent is not 
present, is *minority rule.*

There are two solutions to this problem: a ratification or specific 
choice vote, now informed by the score poll, or a prior rule, with 
ongoing acceptance by the majority, to accept such "non-majority" 
results. We tend, in general, on matters like this, to go for "prior 
rule," wherein the past rules the future. It's certainly possible, 
then, because we do it all the time. But it's also limiting.

In the case of election results, standard deliberative process (which 
is a standard by which I generally judge voting systems as to 
accuracy of simulation of such process) *never* accepts a plurality 
result. Any motion or action without the explicit acceptance of a 
majority *fails*. It is as if it didn't exist, but, of course, the 
voting members have observed it and the process, and may then color 
their future actions accordingly.

Deliberative process is *interactive* and *intelligent.* It also 
takes time, that's the down side. It's always a trade-off as to 
whether or not a process is worth pursuing.

>    * Majority Choice Approval (MCA): I've seen this applied to 
> various 3-rank median systems, but I think the canonical one is: 
> "if there is a majority top-rank, then the highest such; otherwise, 
> the candidate with the most non-bottom rankings."
>    * Majority Judgment (MJ): as defined by Balinski and Laraki
>    * Graduated Majority Judgment (GMJ): as defined by me.
>There are also a number of possible descriptive "branding" terms for 
>a median / Bucklin system:
>    * Instant Runoff Approval
>I created that one, because that is exactly what it is, and it 
>simulates a series of descending cutoff Approval elections, hence a 
>way-cool implementation, as a primary and runoff method in a 
>two-round system, thus, if it has N approval grades, it simulates 
>2*N approval runoffs in the full two-election set. Jurisdictions 
>that want to ensure majority approval can probably reach that, even 
>with many candidates, in a two-round Bucklin system, and I've 
>suggested that if the Range ballot is a little deeper, i.e, includes 
>unapproved ranks, it can also, in the primary, be analysed for a 
>beats-Range top two (or beats-Bucklin top two) winner, using the 
>lower preferences, thus making the *system* Condorcet compliant, if 
>a Condorcet winner must always be in the runoff. If a majority is 
>found, depending on the wishes of the jurisdiction, the runoff may 
>not be necessary.
>Increasingly, though, I've become aware of systems that *always* go 
>to the general election. So the primary is just a unified primary, 
>as distinct from party primaries. And with a good runoff method, and 
>with write-ins allowed in the runoff, the electorate can still have 
>three choices on the ballot, if certain conditions are met, plus 
>write-ins that don't necessarily vote-split.
>What, I'd like to know, is not to like about this?
>Runoff systems are great, and the intelligent runoffs you often 
>propose are great. They're also not what we're talking about. Are 
>you saying that the term "instant runoff approval" is a bad one 
>because the system can be used in combination with a runoff?

Eh? Where would you get that? "Instant runoff approval" is a *great 
name.* However, I did turn to something else: a primary election as a 
nominating device, feeding as many as three candidates to the 
*general election*, which is no longer a "runoff." It's the election.

Notice the primary complaint about runoffs: low participation. Now, I 
have often pointed out that this may be complaining about a 
*feature*, because low-turnout does not equal low-performance. There 
is a general *assumption* that high participation is a sign of 
"improved democracy." It's not necessarily so, as to special 
elections. However, *this is a popular idea,* and a general election 
has the advantage of convenience for voters.

As I've pointed out, that "convenience" has a cost: a less-informed 
electorate. My overall goal as to the political system would be 
*consensual delegation,* where voters create and delegate voting 
power to trusted individuals, who presumably become, with increased 
voting power, more informed. Hey, if you could *actually choose* your 
member of Congress, to represent you (and others who have trusted 
you), wouldn't you make sure to *meet* the possible candidates? And I 
don't mean a photo-op session where you smile like old friends when 
you really know almost nothing about each other.

"Actually choose." I.e., have enough voting power to clearly *make 
the difference* as to the election of a seat.

The *entire concept* of single-winner elections to office for a fixed 
term has a fundamental, unavoidable problem. It's the past binding the present.

But we proceed toward transformed systems one step at a time. It's 
hard to walk without taking steps, and running without steps will 
leave you face-down on the floor with a broken nose.

>    * Graded Instant Runoff
>    * Descending Threshold Approval
>    * Majority Threshold
>    * Grade Voting
>    * Majority-Based Grade Assignment
>Instant runoff Approval fully satisfies expectations. It is what the 
>name implies.
>... But now you're saying that Instant Runoff Approval is a good 
>term? I don't understand your larger point.

Start with "good" and "bad" not being in my vocabulary other than as 
banter. Like "Bad Idea." Nothing I'd written above implied that there 
was anything wrong with the term.

This is important for "instant runoff approval." The system must find 
a majority winner or *fail*, in which case there is a *real runoff.*

But a nomination system for Bucklin was actually used, in the last 
Bucklin implementations. As primary elections, they were just 
choosing a party candidate, so they were nonpartisan elections. And 
they experienced majority failure, often, apparently. However, that 
was *not* necessarily poor performance, but whenever such an election 
produced a result disliked by some powerful interest group, they 
would use it against the system, and the public has often tolerated 
severe manipulation around this. Majority failure is *inevitable* 
with non-coercive voting systems, as a possibility.

Suppose that IRV had been in use. We can predict majority failure, 
but the "instant runoff process" of IRV simulates a series of 
bottom-elimination runoffs. The winner may only have 30% of the vote. 
But because of the trick of calling the "last round majority" a 
"majority," and sometimes votes are reported that way, an 
*appearance* of majority is created. A party candidate with only 30% 
support might be fine, and he or she might be *awful*. If this is a 
major party, and the candidate is to the extreme, i.e., not toward 
the center, there goes the general election. Wasted.

No, a real majority is *highly advisable* if attainable. Bucklin 
would get closer, with fewer majority failures, but a primary is a 
tough nut to crack, because many voters will simply bullet vote, not 
for the reason FairVote asserts, but out of habit or ignorance or 
simply to express strong preference -- which does *not* mean that 
they would not support another candidate.

Hence the obvious solution: Bucklin primary for a party primary. 
Runoff if no majority found. It could also be a score primary with 
explicit approval cutoff. The voting decisions are a little simpler 
with Bucklin, that's all. The runoff, if it's Bucklin, can accomodate 
up to three candidates and still be likely to find a majority.

"Unified primaries" -- i.e., the "jungle primary," with *partisan 
elections* is a Bad Idea. But they make a great deal of sense with 
nonpartisan elections. What we saw in Arizona, with the LVW/FairVote 
interference, was a knee-jerk response to "jungle primaries," which 
have often been perceived as a Republican trick.

Notice the thinking: it is "good" for voters to have more choices in 
the general election. However, I'd submit, it's not so great if the 
multiplicity of candidates is such that vote-splitting leads to poor 
final choices. That's why the normal runoff ballot contingent is two 
candidates. By definition, these are *not* widely variant as to 
popularity, so variety of choice is reduced. Indeed, some voters may 
abstain from the runoff for a basic cause:

They don't care which of the candidates wins, and they don't expect a 
write-in victory. Notice: this does not mean they are displeased! It 
*could* mean that, or it could mean the opposite.

>It seems to me that Median and Bucklin advocates should come to a 
>consensus on what specific system to promote, and what to call it. 
>That doesn't mean we should cease discussing the different systems 
>in fora like these; just that when promoting systems to the public, 
>we should be on the same page.
>Bucklin is widely known as Bucklin, the Grand Junction system, and 
>it was simply called "preferential voting" in many places. It was 
>also called "American Preferential Voting," to distinguish it from 
>"foreign" systems (i.e, STV methods).
>... and now the best term is "Bucklin"? Abd, I know you like to 
>think out loud. But we need to pick a term and stick with it.

Who is "we." I call the system Bucklin. If CES or other activist 
organization wants to fix on a name, like IRAV, instant runoff 
approval voting, I'd support it. However, I *do* want to clearly 
connect with history. So a page might say:

Instant Runoff Approval Voting
(Bucklin, Grand Junction System, American Preferential Voting.)

And then any variation from, say, the Grand Junction System -- which 
is a *very specific name* -- would be explained. I.e., ER in all 
ranks, no sequential dropping of minor candidates. (Why in the world 
did Bucklin do that? Later, it was realized it was useless, and if it 
ever *did* make a difference, i.e., a minor candidate later got a 
plurality and the amalgamation ended, *why* would they refuse the win?)

>Which system is best? I think the clear choices are MCA or GMJ, and 
>I'd personally favor GMJ. MCA is the simplest well-defined median 
>system. GMJ is good because:
>    * Unlike the specific systems called "Bucklin", it has no 
> vestige of ranked thinking, and thus requires no dishonest strategy.
>That's naive.
>I'm sorry, there's been a basic misunderstanding here, which has 
>repercussions throughout the rest of your reply below. When I said 
>"dishonest strategy", I didn't just mean "strategy"; I meant 
>actively preference-reversing strategy.

I'll stick with "naive."

>  In other words, "dishonest as opposed to semi-honest" strategy, 
> not "dishonest strategy as opposed to honest voting". The fact that 
> strictly ranked systems always require dishonest strategy, while 
> rated systems often don't, is a simple consequence of the 
> gibbard-saterthwaite theorem: in ranked systems, dishonest strategy 
> is the only kind that exists, so if there's always some strategy, 
> it must be dishonest.

Bucklin is *not* a "stricly ranked system." It is "category ranking." 
I.e., Score. I'm sure you realize that Score uses a ranked ballot, 
right? I.e,. the scores are ranks, and it is merely that equal 
ranking is allowed, as well as empty ranks.

>So I wasn't being naive, but I may have been being over-technical 
>and/or cryptic.

I'll stick with "naive," without denying the possible nature of the 
naivete. "over-technical" can be naive. I don't think you were 
cryptic, Jameson. You were *incorrect*. You collapsed "ranked 
thinking" with "ranked system." Ranked thinking is how I make 
choices, routinely. But I allow equal ranking, i.e., categorization. I.e.

*Favorite idea, my choice. I may not consider much beyond this, I 
might just *do it.* If it's been working for me, and if I sense it as possible.
*Ideas to be considered as alternatives.
*Forget about it.

If there is more than one Favorite, I simply pick one. I don't search 
for a "reason." It's part of my training, it's called the "Chocolate 
or Vanilla" exercise. The point is that if the choice depends on 
"reasons," it's not a choice, it's just machinery. The whole concept 
of "best choice" is a bit of an oxymoron. And, in reality, our 
"reasons" are mostly rationalizations, we discover. It's the past 
binding the present.

That *has* a function. But it's also highly limiting, and the search 
for the "best" solution can be *paralyzing.* Or guilt-producing if we "fail."

Ranked systems that allow equal ranking are *not* the ranked systems 
that have been extensively analyzed. If they allow and value skipped 
ranks, they are *fully* not ranked systems, they are cardinal 
systems, what Arrow recently called "category" systems. Bucklin was, 
apparently, analyzed in Bayesian Regret simulations as if it were a 
ranked system.

>    * It's more expressive than MCA.
>    * Unlike MJ, GMJ can easily be expressed in terms of a 
> Bucklin-like descending threshold, a single algebraic formula, or a 
> graphing procedure. (As far as I know, MJ can only be expressed in 
> one way). GMJ is also easier to "program" into a spreadsheet in my experience.
>    * Unlike MJ, GMJ results can be succinctly and unambiguously 
> expressed as a single number for each candidate.
>    * Unlike MJ, the GMJ winner for a given honestly-voted utility 
> profile tend to be stable as the number of evenly-spaced grading 
> categories varies, even in moderately "pathological" examples (such 
> as a single-peaked versus a two-peaked candidate).
>    * However, the actual results will agree with other median 
> systems in almost all realistic cases.
>What should we call it? GMJ isn't a horrible name, but if people 
>prefer to use one of the above "branding" terms or something 
>similar, I'd be open to discussing it.
>I *very much* dislike the use of letter grades that imply absolute 
>ratings. It is essentially suggesting to the voter that they 
>disempower themselves.
>The only thing that disempowers a voter in a Bucklin system is if 
>they vote both of the top two distinct options on the same side of 
>both the first and second place medians. (I say "distinct options" 
>to allow for the case where the voter intentionally supported or 
>opposed two near-clones.) I do not think that grades encourage that 
>any more than numbered categories. In fact, because the range 
>containing the top two grades would be more stable from election to 
>election with letter grades (or other non-comparative categories, 
>such as words), it would actually be less likely.

What grades encourage is placing the candidates in absolute 
categories rather than relative ones. If the voter votes the highest 
category and the lowest, the voter is voting full power.

What Jameson describes above is *not* the general case. I.e,. the 
voter, voting, does not know where the medians will lie, so voting 
the favorite, say, at lower than the top rating, *may* disempower the 
voter. Likewise at the other end, though the effect there is less 
obvious. The low end can make a difference if a majority is required, 
under some rules.

>The whole discussion about "dishonest strategy" is contaminated with 
>judgment against the normal think we do with choices, our internal 
>ratings are highly dependent on expectations *in the particular 
>case*, and people who don't do that tend to be unhappy.
>Again, this stems from the misunderstanding of what I meant to say above.

I don't think so, yet.

>But I think it's important for us to join our voices in better 
>harmony on this. Abd, in particular: why do you continue to talk 
>about "Bucklin" (ie, the grand junction system) when there are 
>better-designed, more-clearly-defined Bucklin systems available today?
>The Grand Junction System is adequately defined, but the system I'd 
>recommend now is Bucklin-ER, to start. Three ranks.
>All three ranks are approved ranks. In *some* elections, two ranks 
>might be used.
>So, you favor "Bucklin-ER" as a system over GMJ? Is that simply 
>because of the letter grades?

Perhaps. I have not *thoroughly analyzed GMJ.* Explain the difference.

The *meaning* of a vote in a voting system is the effect it has. Any 
"name" for the vote is potentially misleading. Indeed, Approval 
voting is often criticized based on an assumed meaning of "I approve 
of this candidate," when the candidate may be a mere 
least-of-two-evils. The vote is an *action* of approval, not a 
sentiment or absolute judgment.

It's more like "permit." I will *permit* this candidate to be elected.

And in a runoff system, this takes on a very specific indication, 
that voters should understand. Voting for a candidate in the first 
round of such a system has the effect of preferring the election of 
the candidate to the inconvenience or other expected cost of a runoff 
election. If the voter would rather see the runoff than have that 
candidate win, they are unwise to "approve" the candidate.

That creates an *absolute utility test.* That is, in fact, likely to 
improve results.

>ps. None of this message should be read as an attempt to abandon the 
>common effort to promote approval voting as a first step.
>This is very simple. Approval first. The obvious first and most 
>significant objection to Approval, then, is addressed with ranked 
>approval. There is a method, approval-IRV, that has the LnH behavior 
>of IRV, if the voter wants that protection. But I actually think it 
>harms voter behavior to encourage excessive fear of LnH.
>Look at the arguments for GMJ above. They will mostly be 
>unintelligible to ordinary citizens who are not specialists in voting systems.
>I've expressed them in technical terms, yes, because in this forum 
>those terms are understood. But I could explain most of them in 
>simpler terms if need be.

Start there. I've seen numerous attempts to explain GMJ, and they are 
are guaranteed, my sense, to lose most readers. Could be a problem 
with expression, but I'm suspecting that it's worse than that. Do not 
start, my advice, with tie-breaking. Start with what is simple and 
likely. Add tie-breaking rules later.

But a tie in median grade is not based on "graduated median," and 
such ties are quite likely. This is very much a problem created by 
the use of median rather than sum-of-votes or average. And average 
creates a problem with what will be very common: unrated candidates.

There is no such problem in Majority. Which is sum-of-votes, not 
"average vote." Someone who abstains by not voting for a candidate is 
treated as if they voted No. (In a real abstention, they do not vote 
in the election.) Nor is a blank in Majority treated as mid-rating. 
It is, quite simply, *not a consent to the election of that 
candidate.* And classical systems are looking for *explicit majority consent.*

>Anyway, the question isn't whether they're intelligible, it's 
>whether they're important. Please engage with them one by one.
>So, I see this as one reform path.
>1. Approval.
>2. Bucklin-ER, 3-rank. (Traditional Grand Junction system plus equal 
>ranking *allowed* in all ranks.)
>OK, stop here. We don't have to agree on steps 3-5. I largely do, 
>but I started this thread to talk about what specific system and 
>terms to use for step 2.


>I can't understand exactly what you're saying about terms. But 
>that's OK, because which system is best is the first question.

No. This is an implementation path, and such paths only rarely *begin 
with* the "best."

>  The differences between my proposal (GMJ with letter grades) and 
> your proposal (3 rank ER-Bucklin, using the highest majority as a 
> tiebreaker) are:
>1. 5 levels versus 4. I think we'd both agree that this is relatively trivial.

This is what I place as a later tweak, i.e., I go to five levels, 
i.e,. Range 4. There are then two unapproved categories and three 
approved ones.

>2. Letter grades versus numbered "ranks". I think letter grades are 
>clearly better, and I've said a little bit about why above. I'd like 
>to hear your argument.

I've given it above. I would not *oppose* a letter-grade 
implementation, but would worry that it could lead to a backlash. 
It's not been tried in any public elections, and, as I've stated, it 
will, I expect, encourage relatively disempowered votes. But voters 
might wise up to that.

>3. Different tiebreaker. Advantages on either side:
>ER-Bucklin: Simpler to explain.

You do understand, I hope, that this is a *huge* advantage. The 
improvement in performance had better be major to justify this.

>GMJ: More congruent with the Bucklin process. Slightly better 
>chicken dilemma resistance and strategy resistance in general. 
>Easier to give the results as numbers. Closer to MJ, which has a book about it.

"Better chicken dilemma resistance"? It's essentially the same 
system, but grading *conceals* the choice to some extent. It's right 
out in the open and obvious with Bucklin. The only "strategy" that 
makes much sense with Bucklin is rank-skipping, which has a clear 
effect: it expresses preference strength.

Bucklin was a "preponderance of the votes" system, seeking a 
majority. Without a runoff process, it's a Plurality system, then. 
That is, after the amalgamation process is complete, the winner is 
the candidate with the most votes. That is *terminally simple,* and 
is very easily understood.

With GMJ, there is the median vote, which will relatively often tie. 
Hence the G in GMJ. GMJ substitutes a graduated median for sum of 
votes. Thus each vote affects the "graduated median." So ties become rare.

Both systems, as practical systems, would need to have rules for true 

>Do you agree that it's worth trying to come to an agreement, and 
>that both of us should be ready to cede if necessary? How would you 
>like to do this; do you think third opinions would be good?
>If we settle this question, we can move on to talking about names.

The appropriate agreement will certainly be wider, as happened with 
Approval as a first step. What I think is needed is a recognition that:

1. Bucklin uses a Range ballot.
2. Bucklin provides *limited* later-no-harm protection.
3. Same as above, Bucklin allows clean and vote-splitting-harmless 
expression of true favorite.

I am *not* proposing Bucklin as an "ideal" or "perfect" voting 
system, though, for some contexts, it might be "good enough." If 
Bucklin uses a full range ballot (i.e., Range 4 or higher, say), the 
data is there to collect information on expressed relative utilities. Hence:

4. Bucklin will allow the collection of Range data. All this takes is 
counting all the votes, which, in my view, is a courtesy to voters as 
well as providing much better information to candidates and their supporters.
5. Thus, Bucklin will foster the "nursery effect," often cited by 
Range supporters as a characteristic of Range voting.

As to names, the name should not be misleading. Bucklin is not 
misleading. It's the name of a family of systems, though. IRAV might 
work. Bucklin *does* simulate a series of approval elections without 
eliminations but with voters being able to control the introduction 
of additional approvals. Bucklin-ER is what I generally have in mind, 
but I would not be opposed to an ordinary Bucklin system 
implementation, ER merely makes the system, under some conditions, a 
little more efficient. Non-ER Bucklin will result in the rejection of 
overvotes, and conflicts with Count All the Votes, which is my own 
fun name for Approval, that reduces it to what is actually done. No 
judgment, no sentiment about 'approval,' just the *facts.*

Your vote will be counted. Period.


Jameson signed here, but went on to make some more comments.

>      [I went on to discuss three more stages in a possible reform 
> path, leading to full runoff range.]
>3. Full range ballot for Bucklin [adds . (*Range reporting starts, 
>and Condorcet analysis becomes more complete*)
>4. Runoff with pairwise leader included if different. Runoff if 
>majority not found. Or unconditional runoff.
>5. Range amalgamation substitutes for Bucklin amalgamation. 
>Resolution may be increased if needed. Approval information is 
>always collected.
>All of this works with runoff voting. We should *not* attempt to 
>kill runoff voting as an *easy target*, and we should oppose 
>FairVote attempts to do this, there is basic information about this 
>to be included, and providing information for intelligent decisions is our job.
>(If it were practical, approval voting with repeated Bucklin ballots 
>until a majority is found is a *highly sophisticated system*.)
>We don't know the Bayesian Regret performance of Bucklin, because 
>the testing that was done, AFAIK, did not understand a Bucklin 
>ballot as being a Range ballot, but treated it as a ranked ballot.
>Warren did test a continuous median system. That is probably a 
>better approximation of rated Bucklin systems than what's called 
>"Bucklin" in his tests.

And the results?

>The Bucklin ballot I'd see at the 3rd step could even have letters 
>attached, it's really a Range 4 ballot, just as the step 2 ballot is 
>that ballot without the elevated but unapproved rating of "1: 
>included. So A is 4.0, as people expect. But I'd want to see the 
>method in actual use *first*, to avoid misleading voters. If you 
>really want to give all politicians a bad rating, then you should 
>totally realize that you are disempowering yourself, not casting a 
>full vote, to *make a choice.*
>Oh, right. You're worried that people will rate everyone badly?

I'm not "worried" about this, because *it will happen.* The *concern* 
is that some voters will do this without understanding that they are, 
thereby, disempowering themselves. The expression must be allowed. 
However, voters will have the option, at least in the U.S., to vote 
for a write-in candidate. If they want to bullet vote for the 
write-in, great. It is their choice.

>I can understand why people might have that impulse, but I think 
>anybody who did that would intuitively realize that they are giving 
>up some voting power.

Do understand that this objection is essentially raised by *experts*. 
The classic Saari objection to Range Voting is based on an example 
where 99% of voters do that. The Saari objection is based on an idea 
that voters are supposed to make a choice. He's correct, but doesn't 
seem to understand that voters may choose to *strongly approve* of 
all candidates. Give them all an A! However, will these voters later 
have regret? When they see the results, will they be kicking themselves?

These are *questions*, not declarations of Truth (TM).

>  Also, it would be good to educate people that they're "grading on 
> a historical curve". Someone who thinks (say) that Obama is 
> objectively horrible but also in the top 15% of presidents 
> historically, would be perfectly justified in giving him an A on 
> that latter basis.

No. "Historical curve" is a disempowering standard. The "curve" is 
the present candidate set, and if we want to be even more specific 
about it, it is the "expected set of possible winners." Someone who 
thinks that Obama is "objectively horrible" is only going to give him 
an A if he thinks that Obama is the *best* of all the possible 
winners. And even then it will grate.

"A" has an ordinary meaning to people. Above, it's acknowledged by 
Jameson that, in the voting system, it does not *actually mean that.* 
So why use it? Why not just label the category with the effect?

4. Maximum support.
3. Middle support.
2. Minimum support.
1. No support.
0. Maximum opposition.

In fact, those could be labelled with the letters *as long as the 
meaning is clear.*

A. Max
B. Med
C. Min
D. No Pass
F. Fail.

I even used "fail" there. How's that? There should be no way for a 
candidate with majority (D or F) to pass, i.e., to win the election. 
An F is a maximum action toward including the candidate in a runoff. 
A D might provide some effect toward that.

>Bucklin could be reported, by the way, as a net grade point average 
>for candidates, the values averaged would be the numbers of 0 plus 
>2-4. If the additional unapproved level of 1 is included on the 
>ballot, it's then a complete Range set. And candidates can be given 
>that single "grade" that Jameson wants. Voting is *choice*, not 
>absolute rating.
>????? what? You're suggesting running Score but calling it 
>"Bucklin"? Obviously not, but I'm confused.

Jameson, then you have not been paying attention, and you are not 
using independent thinking. I.e, you are being "ordinary." I'm 
expecting more from you. How about it?

Take a Range ballot. Amalgamate it as Bucklin, i.e., amalgamate the 
first rank votes. Majority? Done. Multiple majority, candidate with 
the most votes. If not done, step down through the ranks, adding in 
votes as additional approvals. Done when a majority found, if more 
than one has a majority, candidate with the most votes.

This is *obviously* a Bucklin method, simply with more ranks. I would 
not call it "Score," except to say that it uses a Score ballot. The 
amalgamation and decision method is that of Bucklin. If it is Range 
4, with rating of 1 missing, it *is* Bucklin-ER.

>I think I'll stop responding now because you're moving beyond 
>Bucklin systems to even more ideal options. That's fine and I agree 
>with a lot of what you say but it's not the topic I wanted to talk about here.

Fine. Next step beyond Approval. I say, "ranked Approval," which is 
well-known and widely tested as "Bucklin." The U.S. lost a great deal 
when Bucklin was dropped, almost entirely for narrow partisan 
reasons. The runoff voting reform was more popular, and people simply 
did not realize that a hybrid was possible. Bucklin would avoid 
runoffs in many elections. Approval would avoid fewer.

Partisan primaries are *also* an advanced system, we simply haven't 
thought of them that way. Open primaries are somewhat advanced, but 
with vote-for-one, they suffer from obvious problems. Approval will 
help, Bucklin will help *much more*, still allowing sincere first 
preference votes without harm. And if there is still majority 
failure, as can be expected in nonpartisan elections with many 
candidates on the ballot, then there are runoffs. -- or there is a 
general election with intelligent selection of candidates for the 
ballot from the primary results. (It is then not the first round in a 
runoff system, but a nomination device for the general election, and, 
in the U.S., we would always allow write-ins in the general election 
as well as in the primary, so possible problems can be fixed by the 

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