[EM] Sincere Range and Approval

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at t-online.de
Sat Nov 1 03:09:04 PDT 2014

On 10/31/2014 03:35 AM, Forest Simmons wrote:
> I have written before about how to convert sincere ratings into sincere
> approval ballots.This time I want to step back and explain a way to
> compute sincere ratings: when the meanings of the sincere ratings are
> more evident, then the sincere approvals take on additional meaning, too.
> Suppose that by examining the voting record of candidate X you see that
> on a random issue of interest to you there is a probability p that she
> would vote the same way you would vote if you had the opportunity to
> vote in the representative body, i.e. there is a probability p that she
> would correctly represent your wishes if she were your representative.
> I will now explain why I consider this probability p to be a natural
> choice for your sincere rating of candidate X.
> In fact, if every voter V rated candidate X according to the
> voter’ssubjective (if not calculated) probability of X correctly
> representing V on a random issue of interest, then the sum of these
> ratings would be the expected number of voters that would be correctly
> represented by X on a random issue of interest.
> So with this definition of sincere ratings, the candidate with the
> highest sum of ratings is by definition the candidate expected to
> correctly represent the greatest number of voters on a random issue of
> interest:i.e. the Range Winner maximizes the expected number of
> correctly represented voters (as long as ratings are sincere).

It's an interesting definition, but by its definition, I think that many 
voters would not be voting sincerely since they might take the quality 
or experience of the candidate into account.

Say there's an election for a general body. Voter X is considering 
either voting for (i.e. giving a high score to) A or B. A is very close 
to X but doesn't know the political apparatus all that well, or doesn't 
know how to implement the policies in question. On the other hand, B is 
somewhat further away but knows the political arena very well. Then the 
voter might rate A and B equal even though B represents X's views less 

Obviously, there's a limit to this. A left-wing voter would rather have 
an inexperienced left-wing candidate than an experienced right-wing one. 
He might in fact prefer an inexperienced right-wing candidate to an 
experienced one.

I suppose you could integrate this into the rating, and say something 
like: A's sincere rating, from X's point of view, is the degree to which 
electing A would help X get the society that he prefers. But that may be 
objected against in similar ways to how one might criticize 
utilitarianism: that X most likely doesn't have the extreme calculating 
capacity or the full information to make this judgement, so with high 
probability, any rating will differ from the sincere one.

Also, an interesting implication of this is that advertising, etc, would 
turn voters' votes less sincere by indirect effect, unless you consider 
such campaigns to actually alter the voter's opinion on policy rather 
than on which candidates are closest to him.

This is not to say that your definition is bad. By using this 
definition, it should be possible to reason about rated methods and how 
to elect candidates properly under various settings (e.g. 
affine-transformed ratings). But it isn't complete.

It would perhaps be more accurate for an electoral equivalent of the 
"advisory" system one could imagine happening under sortition: that is, 
when the representatives are randomly selected, their knowledge of 
implementing things will probably vary quite a lot, and so they would 
make use of advisors or advisory bodies to help them. In such a system, 
representation is the important thing, because quality or experience 
variance is dealt with by using advisory bodies. If an electoral body 
worked the same way, then the important matter to a voter would be 
whether the candidate represented him, not how much experience he had, 
and then your definition would work very well.

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