[EM] [CES #8982] Two notes and a possibly interesting method from a friend

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Thu Jun 27 12:27:20 PDT 2013

At 11:58 AM 6/27/2013, Benjamin Grant wrote:
>Hi, first a quick note: I haven’t been 
>commenting because real life stuff, work, etc 
>has been keeping me busy, but I fully intend to 
>go back and answer any posts sent to me via the 
>list(s).  If just that my time and focus comes in bursts and droughts. ;)
>Second note, I continue to thank all who are 
>being helpful to me in the journey.
>Now, I asked my friend, who hasn’t read up on 
>election stuff to come up with a good method – I 
>was wondering what someone intelligent would 
>come up with, with no prior exposure to election science.
>Note: the thought experiment I asked of him had 
>many basic constraints, for example, the 
>requirement that a voter be able to go and vote 
>on a single day within ten minutes, and that 
>there would be ten candidates, among others.

Right away, you have created difficult conditions 
for the election. Crucial: the state of voter 
knowledge of those ten candidates. In many 
elections, voters will only know their favorite, 
or maybe top two. The same may be true of the "worst."

>This is the method he suggested:
>·         Present the people with the ballot of 
>10 candidates and ask them to pick their top three and their bottom three.
>·         Every time a candidate is picked in a 
>person's top three, the candidate gets a +1. 
>Every time a candidate is picked in a person's 
>bottom three, the candidate gets a -2.

So he's biasing in favor of eliminating 
candidates seen as "worst." Some people have that opinion or desire.

>  The four candidates the person did not pick 
> for either get +0.  (Sidebar: For N number of 
> candidates, you have MOD(N/3) positives, 
> MOD(N/3) negatives, and the rest are left neutral.)
>·         At the end of the night, we add up the 
>scores and the candidate with the highest score 
>wins--even if the score is negative.
>It’s very interesting, and I in my newness to 
>this all don’t immediately the warts, but since 
>every method has them, I assume this one does too?

Yup. It's range voting, all right, with some 
quite arbitrary restrictions. The maximum 
positive vote is half of the maximum negative.

So, simplified example. I'll only consider two candidates first, A and B.

66: A +1
34: A -2, B +1.

The rules seem to *require* a top three choice 
and a bottom three choice. So we can add the votes in this way:

The voters don't really care about the other 
candidates, maybe don't even know who they are, 
but to comply, they "donkey vote," as happens in 
Australia, where full ranking is mandatory. These 
votes are evenly distibuted among the remaining 
candidates, so that there are roughly equal 
numbers of positive and negative votes for each, 
except that one candidate is *unknown*, so nobody votes for or against Unknown.

Unknown wins, in spite of the fact that 
two-thirds of the voters prefer A. Or B could 
win, under easy-to-imagine conditions.

What the system does is to give extra power, not 
balanced power, to "dislike," and in a 
deterministic system, not one that repeats 
elections seeking a majority. A saner way to 
accomplish the purpose of that is to require a 
higher margin in a normal majority-seeking voting system.

What is commonly missed by naive students of 
voting systems is that voting systems are 
*simulations* or attempts to side-step normal 
deliberative process, which in democratic 
organizations *always* require majority consent 
for any decision. The common vote-for-one, repeat 
the election until a majority appears, has been 
used for many centuries. It works. We can make it 
more efficient with an advanced ballot, but we go 
down the Plurality road -- away from democracy -- 
if we don't require an explicit majority.

It is my sense that advanced ballots can find a 
true majority in two polls. The second poll is 
*informed* by the first, a point that Robert's 
Rules emphasizes in their discussion of the 
Instant Runoff Voting method -- and in their 
version of that method, they *require an absolute 
majority,* not the faux "last round majority" of 
IRV, where a majority of voters may easily have 
voted *against* the IRV winner. The Robert's 
Rules editors lament the loss of that informed 
election. Where majority failure still exists, 
with a decent polling system, it should stull 
usually be possible to predict, from the ballots, 
the likely optimal winner -- *or close enough in 
social utility that the difference isn't worth 
the trouble of an additional poll.*

I have just formally suggested EMAV, Evaluative 
Majority Approval Voting, a modified Bucklin 
system that uses the range ballot that drives 
Bucklin voting as a way to handle multiple 
majorities and majority failure. This comes out 
of almost a decade of considering these issues in detail.

It is not an *entirely new idea.* Bucklin voting 
in Oklahoma was proposed with fractional vote 
values. It was rejected by the Oklahoma Supreme 
Court, not for that reason, but because it 
required voters, under some conditions, to add 
additional preference votes. The idea is essentially Range.

I commonly have suggested that Range ballots show 
an explicit approval cutoff. Many devices have 
been proposed for that, but a simple one is to 
set the approval cutoff at midrange. That 
represents the election expected value. This is 
what a Bucklin ballot essentially does: Bucklin 
ballots are approval ballots, with the approvals 
being in ranked categories. Why would one want to 
approve a candidate who is below the election expectation?

(A point that you missed, Benjamin, in your 
discussions with Warren, is that "expected value" 
means "value" times "probability." So expectation 
already includes whatever information the voters 
have about the "strategic situation." It's normal 
human choice, we place our power into choices 
that we expect are realistic, generally.) 

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