[EM] [CES #8782] Upper-Bucklin naming (was: Median systems, branding....)

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sat Jun 15 15:45:37 PDT 2013

At 07:52 PM 6/14/2013, Jameson Quinn wrote:
>So. Abd and I now agree that a Bucklin system 
>which uses just the above-median votes to break 
>ties is probably the best first step towards median voting.

Let's stop saying it that way. It's true, but 
it's confusing. First of all, you are using "tie" 
in an nonstandard way. You mean that the median 
vote is the same. But when we say that an 
election is tied, we mean something *very different*.

The "tie" here is that both candidates have a 
majority approval. But the votes are not tied (unless they are, a rare thing.)

>  I'd like to get the details worked out, so we 
> can stop using different terms ("Bucklin", 
> "MJ", "GMJ") and settle on a single 
> clearly-defined proposal. I'd love to hear what 
> others feel about these issues (though this 
> isn't really the place for debating whether 
> some other class of voting system, such as 
> Score or Condorcet or whatever, is better or 
> worse than Bucklin/Median systems in general).

We should know. Remember I declared a reform 
path. I suspect that it ends with a hybrid system 
that uses a Range ballot. This is the real issue: 
outcomes can be improved by using a system that 
allows greater information input from the voters. 
That's practically a tautology. However, there is 
a cost to that. At some point, the incremental 
value is less than the incremental cost. Hence a 
particular reform path will terminate, probalby, 
short of a naive estimation of perfection, 
because a perfect system will *also be economical.*

I don't see going above Range 10. However, this 
is important. A rigid reform process must decide 
on the ultimate goal before there is adequate 
information to do so. That's not necessary. We 
can have some idea of the ultimate goal, we do 
*not* need to know details, we merely need to 
know enough to take the next step.

*Ultimately,* I don't see single-winner elections 
at all! So how much should be invested in making 
single-winner elections perfect? What I see as of 
long-term value is a recognition of the usage of 
Range methods for *polling* participants, making 
repeated ballot *more efficient*, settling 
faster. We may ultimately see, as experience 
justifies it, a creeping up of the "quota." I.e, 
from the Droop quota, toward the Hare. With 
binary elections, that means *toward unanimity.*

In small groups, this is possible, and this was a 
common experience in small groups in the 20th 
century. Now, how can we scale that up, *without* 
the massive inefficiency that often accompanied the seeking of full consensus?

Now, to the point here:

>1. How to best express the system? Two equivalent definitions:
>    * Top-down: "Count the votes at the highest 
> grade for each candidate. If any one candidate 
> has a majority, they win. If not, add in lower 
> grades, one at a time, until some candidate or 
> candidates get a majority. If two candidates 
> would reach a majority at the same grade level, 
> then whichever has the most votes above that 
> level wins. If there are no votes above that 
> level, the highest votes at or above that level wins."
First of all, "grade," sorry. It grates. It will 
mislead, possibly. These are *actually* category 
ranks, i.e, ranks with equal ranking allowed (and 
empty ranks being meaningful). Because it is 
"grading on the curve," it is actually 
accomplished by ranking, as a starting point, 
with, then, adjustments to more accurately show 
preference strength. The concept of "grade" 
confuses that, even though "grading on the curve" 
would, in fact, do the same thing. Bucklin used 
"ranks." Bucklin is Ranked Approval, that's been 
a common name for it. The ranks are "preference 
categories." To fit with voting systems 
tradition, I'd call them ranks. "Score" takes us back toward "Grade."

The name of "Range" referred to the entire range of possible fractional votes.

The original Bucklin ballot used "First Choice," 
"Second Choice," "Third Choice." And that's what 
the votes are: choices. "Choice Approval," what do you think?

The name "Definite Majority Choice" has already 
been used. 
says that it is also called "Ranked Approval 
Voting." Of course, we are talking about a ranked 
Approval method. It's really, as I've pointed out, a Range method.

The final rule discourages multiple approvals in 
the first rank without prohibiting them. They 
make sense wherever the voter has little 
preference between favorite candidates. I would 
word it this way, as to what I think today:

Count the votes at 1st Choice for each candidate. 
If a single candidate has a majority, this 
canditate wins. If not, add in lower choices, one 
at a time, until a candidate or candidates gains 
a majority. If two or more candidates reach a 
majority at a stage, then whichever candidate has 
the most votes above that stage wins. If this is 
1st Choice, or if all the choices have been 
amalgamated, and no candidate has a majority, 
then the candidate with the most votes wins.

The last rule is necessary if the method is to complete with a single ballot.

>    * Bottom-up: "Count the votes at the lowest 
> grade against each candidate. If any candidates 
> have a majority against, eliminate them from 
> consideration. Continue adding in the 
> next-lowest grade, until there is just one or 
> zero candidates left. If there's one left, they 
> win. Otherwise, if the last few candidates are 
> eliminated together, choose whichever of that 
> group was eliminated by the smallest majority against."
Right away, what is a 'vote against." I don't 
know what "the lowest grade against the 
candidate" means. While this may be equivalent 
mathematically -- I have not checked that -- it 
is not equivalent as to easy access to the 
concept. The first description is immediately 
clear, and is consistent with how voting is 
normally done. It is sequential approval voting, 
no eliminations, repeated ballot, with voter-controlled additional approvals.

The difference between this and regular Bucklin 
is only in how multiple approvals are handled. 
The two methods will *usually* produce the same 
result. Awarding the win to the most votes 
*including the multiple approvals* fits with 
voting tradition on multiple conflicting ballot 
questions. That tradition, however, did not 
contemplate many-candidate situations, and this 
is a characteristic of sequential approval. In 
pure repeated ballot, no eliminations, people 
will not rush to add in approvals in the presence 
of strong preference. So when this happens in a 
3-rank ballot, that there are multiple approvals, 
and even if the lower-vote candidate might be a 
fair winner, we can suspect that the voters who 
first preferred the other candidate would not 
have added the extra approval if they had known.

This could cut both ways, and if we really wanted 
to be certain, we'd hold a runoff. I see 
selecting the most-approved at the higher level 
as being safer, somewhat, if we *must* decide 
now. There is a more complex option that 
considers the votes as range, and we might look at that.

I.e., if there is a multiple majority at a level, 
then the votes are valued at range value -- (0-4) 
or (0,2,3,4) --, are added, and the candidate 
with the highest total wins. That, then, does 
give precedence to the higher ranks, but also 
allows consideration of the lower.

I am not strongly attached to either approach, 
between the two pure approval approaches, i.e, 
highest votes at the majority-finding level, or 
highest votes at the level above.

But I don't want to see this described as bottom-up. It's totally confusing.

>2. How many rating/grade/rank levels should be 
>used, and how should they be labeled? I'd 
>suggest the following 5, along the lines of something Abd proposed:
>A: Unequivocal support
>B: Probable support (unless there's a candidate with majority "A" support)
>C: Neutral (support or oppose, depending on other candidates' results)
>D: Probable opposition (unless all other 
>candidates have majority "F" opposition)
>F: Unequivocal opposition

I'd prefer to give them the well-known Grade 
Point equivalents. That is, 4,3,2,1,0. I don't 
like the names given, what does "probable" mean? 
And I don't see we are quite ready to agree on 
the rating of 1. We need to be very clear about 
that rating. I consider it an unapproved rank. 
The rating of 2 *is* an approved rank. Calling it 
"neutral" is somewhat misleading. It is an 
*allowance,* sometimes called in group process a 
"stand-aside." You did reflect that in "depending 
on other candidate's results," but it is *not* an 
opposition. The explanations are *way* too complicated.

Is a vote a support or not? I don't see how that 
would depend on what others have voted. Please, 
don't explain it to me. I could figure out an 
explanation. These descriptions should be 
self-contained and self-evident. If they need 
extra explanation, they aren't there yet.

>(I've relabeled the categories to help clarify 
>their strategic meaning; for instance, I changed "strong" to "unequivocal")

Full. This is the definite meaning: this 
candidate is the favorite, or close enough to also get full support.

>I would also be open to having blank votes count 
>as "E" rather than "F", but I think that's 
>probably an unnecessary complication to begin with.

If we are not going to use F, we lose the grade 
analogy, but, as you know "*I don't want that.* 
This is tossing weights in a series of buckets, 
until they lift the "Majority bucket" on the 
other side of the balance. If it's most votes 
with a multiple majority, then whichever bucket 
weighs the most. If it's most votes at the stage 
before, then we have to have colored weights and 
pull out the last added. I am *not* sure that this is best.

What are we trying to avoid? We are trying to 
avoid completing with a multiple majority. But 
why? To avoid accusations of violating the majority criterion?

I actually think that strategic questions like 
this should first be well-defined as questions, 
i.e, what are our various choices here? Then we 
need to do *actual research* as to how people 
will understand these definitions and procedures. 
Focus groups. It's about time that we start 
approaching these matters professionally, or with professional quality.

>3. What should we call this system? Abd seemed 
>happy with "Instant Runoff Approval Voting". I'd 
>be fine with that too, but before we settle on 
>that, we should look at the downsides:

It's probably a good name.

>    * FairVote has been moving away from 
> "Instant Runoff / IRV" and towards "ranked 
> choice/ RCV" in recent years. I don't know all 
> of their reasons, but I suspect it is partially 
> to do with the legalism of ballot initiative 
> language. That is, IRV is technically neither 
> instant nor a runoff, though it is certainly close on both counts.

They went to Ranked Choice Voting, as I recall, 
in San Francisco, because of a limit to three 
choices on the ballot. Btu there may have been 
other reasons. I don't think the "legal" argument 
about names is valid. They could call a snail, 
instant, and if the voters pass it, a snail is 
instant. "Bad name" is not a valid legal argument.

>    * It could lead to confusion between IRAV 
> and IRV. That has its upsides — piggybacking on 
> FairVote's existing publicity — but at also its 
> downsides — as we know, IRV is actually a pretty flawed sysstem.
It was missing the A. We are supplying that. 
Count All the Votes. (And I'm not totally content 
that what we are describing is an optimal second 
step. I am not actually thrilled with only 
counting the ranks to a certain level. Ahem. Range.)

>So I think we should have a poll with various 
>options (using the system itself to rate the 
>options, of course). I'll start out with some proposals and my votes:
>-Descending Approval Threshold (DAT) Voting: A
>-Descending Approval Threshold Adjudgment (DATA voting): B
>-Majority Approval Threshold (MAT; note that the 
>M could also be backronymmed to "Median"): A
>-Bucklin: F (not that we shouldn't say that this 
>system is a Bucklin system, just that that shouldn't be our only name for it)
>-Bucklin-ER or ER-Bucklin: D (has already been 
>used for other systems, not a descriptive name)
>-Graded Approval Threshold (GAT): C (Not bad, but not great)
>-Majority Assignment of Grades (MAG): C (ditto)
>-Graded Majority Approval (GMA): B (this one seems simple and descriptive)

Bucklin: B

>Note that all of the above names could, in 
>principle, apply to almost any Bucklin system; 
>but whichever one we pick, we'll arbitrarily 
>define it as being this system in particular.
>Abd and anyone else who has an opinion: please vote among the above options.

Of the others: Bucklin-ER is also accurate. This 
doesn't describe the amalganation tweak. C because it's geek-speak.

DAT is accurate, on the theory of it.  B-. You 
meant "Adjustment"? Too many words. D

Default F 

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