[EM] [CES #8790] Upper-Bucklin naming (was: Median systems, branding....)

Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Sat Jun 15 19:57:09 PDT 2013

2013/6/15 Abd ul-Rahman Lomax <abd at lomaxdesign.com>

> 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.

I'd be happy to. What do you propose, in 8 words or less?

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.)
> ...
 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.

You're just telling me what to think, not why. I happen to think the
opposite. Once you have more than about 3 options, it is easier to evaluate
them on an absolute scale than to rank them. It also leads to higher social
utility if voters are thinking in an absolute mode; that's why range has a
better BR than honest Borda.

Of course, if you're using a Bucklin system, it's important that voters
calibrate to a basically similar global distribution, unless they are
deliberately sacrificing voting power for expressivity (essentially, voting
NOTA). That's another advantage of the word "grade": it's understood to be
arbitrary. The same work might be an "A" in elementary school but an "F" in

> 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."

"Rank" is a poor word here. Ranked voting systems are subject to Arrow's
theorem. Ranking is essentially comparing, which when dealing with over 3
options, is harder than necessary.

> 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?

There are several problems with that.
1. "First Choice" will inevitably be abbreviated as "1". Numbers invite
addition and averaging; which is fine if the system is in fact Score
voting, but misleading if it isn't.
2. "First Choice" implies that ties are not allowed. Yes, you can clarify
it with the instructions, but wouldn't it be better to use a word that
required no clarification?

> The name "Definite Majority Choice" has already been used.
> http://wiki.electorama.com/**wiki/Definite_Majority_Choice<http://wiki.electorama.com/wiki/Definite_Majority_Choice>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.

That sounds good. Thank you.

>     * Bottom-up: ...
> ...

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

OK, we agree.

>  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.

Yuck. Again, if you use numbers, people will assume the system is Score.
That's fine if they're right about that, but here they're not. I believe,
though I do not yet have evidence (I'm researching this), that that will
lead to more exaggeration strategy, and thus a lower-utility result on

> 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.

You seem to be talking about how we should refer to rating 1 in a system
which includes runoffs. The fact is, in this system, a vote of 1 could in
principle count as support, if only one candidate had a median above 0.

> 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.

How about:
A: Support over all other candidates.
B: Support against all candidates with a "C" or below.
C: Support against all candidates with a "D" or "F"
D: Oppose against all candidates except ones with an "F"
F: Oppose against all candidates

> ...
> 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.
I am in fact doing actual research on these questions.

> ... some votes ...

So far, IRAV leads, DAT is a close second, and Bucklin-ER is a distant
third. Who else wants to vote?

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