[EM] (3) APR Subject: Steve's 3rd dialogue with Richard Fobes

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Wed Nov 12 21:21:14 PST 2014

On 11/12/2014 5:22 AM, steve bosworth wrote:
 > ...
 > Thank you for your additional feedback.For this 3rd dialogue, my
 > responses simply start with S:
 > ...
 > I look forward to your replies.

It occurs to me that your APR method is a valid answer to the following 

"If we are stuck with the current selection of elected politicians and 
their current opponents (and clones), what voting method can maximize 
the representation of voters as measured by the influence that those 
elected politicians have on proposed laws?"

In contrast, I approach election-method reform with a different question:

"How can we change election methods so that voters can elect 
problem-solving leaders, instead of the current system in which the 
biggest campaign contributors elect special-interest puppets?"

The important difference is that I prefer to open up politics to 
problem-solving leaders who would step forward (typically from lower 
levels of government) and enter high-level elections.  Currently those 
wise problem-solving leaders choose not to enter higher-level elections 
because they cannot win those elections -- because of the way elections 
currently operate.  In other words, I am not willing to accept that we 
are stuck with politicians who are preselected according to their 
willingness to be puppets.

Your APR method is well-designed for the case in which the door is 
closed for more-representative leaders.

I prefer to open the door to all potential leaders, and then allow 
voters to fully determine which ones get elected.

Your approach is satisfying to people who would like to shift their vote 
to one of the "better" already-elected or typically-elected politicians.

I am hoping that this perspective answers several of your more specific 
questions.  If not, please ask again.

As another question, you ask about the importance of word choice. 
Notice that the two questions at the top of this message both seem to be 
useful goals.  Yet each leads to a different approach.  Yes, words are 
important, and they are the basis of communication, yet it is easy to 
play games with words.

As a simple example, consider a lawyer in a court asking the question 
"will you stop bullying this person?"  Lawyers know how to use words to 
justify whichever side of a conflict they are on.  I'm not a fan of lawyers.

And I'm not a fan of wordplay, except for entertainment purposes.

The closed-door-versus-open-door perspective came to me today as I read 
your questions below.  I had a moment in which to use voice-recognition 
software (Dragon Naturally Speaking) to write most of this reply, but 
I'm now out of time.

I'll continue to think about how I can better answer your question 
regarding why I believe that APR is susceptible to corrupt influence as 
a result of publicly revealing how much "weight" each elected politician 
gets when they vote within the parliament/legislature.

Richard Fobes

On 11/12/2014 5:22 AM, steve bosworth wrote:
> Any reader wishing to receive Steve’s article fully explaining how APR
> works should email him: stevebosworth at hotmail.com
> <mailto:stevebosworth at hotmail.com>
> ++++++++++++++++
> Hi Richard,
> Thank you for your additional feedback.For this 3rd dialogue, my
> responses simply start with S:
> Also, I have preceded and followed the phrases or issues in your text
> about which I would still like to have a more complete clarification or
> explanation as follows, e.g. +++++prime value+++++.
> I look forward to your replies.
> Steve
>>  Date: Sat, 8 Nov 2014 18:11:14 -0800
>>  From: ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
>>  To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
>>  Subject: Re: [EM] Subject: Re: APR Steve's most recent response to
> Richard Fobes
>>  On 11/6/2014 6:12 AM, steve bosworth wrote:
>>  > ...
>>  >> >>2S:Yes, both types of primaries help the <the final results> to be
>>  > better. However, APR’s primary seems to have the advantage of
>>  > allowing citizen to encourage more attractive candidates to be available
>>  > to be ranked later in the general election.
> R: Your method is not the only one that would improve the quality of
> leaders entering and winning primary elections.
> If U.S. primary elections used better ballots, say approval ballots,
> then wise problem-solving leaders would enter the primary elections.
> Now, they know they can't win, so they don't enter.
> S: I don’t see how any electoral system, by itself, is more likely to
> elect ‘wise problem-solving leaders’.I see APR as simply more likely to
> guarantee the proportionate election of reps most trusted by their
> respective electors.I want this because, I agree with Sol Erdman’s
> evidence based conclusion that this makes it more likely that these reps
> will be able to negotiate compromises with their opponents, compromises
> that will hold because each is trusted by their own electors.Approval
> voting would seem to be less efficient both at identifying this degree
> of trust, and in the degree of focus on the one most trusted rep by each
> elector.
>>  >> >>2S:I understand this criticism of IRV and that using the
>>  > <Kemeny-Young method> as a corrective might even be practically possible
>>  > in single winner elections. However, am I correct in believing that this
>>  > method would be entirely impractical for the large multi-winner
>>  elections for which APR is designed...
> R: The calculations for proportional multi-winner elections are not
>>  excessively time-consuming, even when the Condorcet-Kemeny method is
>>  used for calculating the winner of each successive seat. The VoteFair
>>  ranking software does those calculations as part of calculating VoteFair
>>  representation ranking results, and even in unusual worst-case scenarios
>>  the calculation times are very practical for election purposes.
>>  As for a non-election scenario,
> S: What does this mean?
> R: …… if proportional calculations had to be
>>  done for every search-engine results page, then the calculation times
>>  would be an issue.
> S:Again, am I correct in therefore believing that using Condorcet-Kenny
> would be <an issue> for an APR countrywide count that allows many
> millions of citizens to rank thousands of candidates for many hundreds
> of seats by one unified process to elect reps with different weighted
> votes in the assembly?
> R: The people who claim that any method is slow are likely to be assuming
>>  that the only way to calculate the method is the same way the method is
>>  described. In the case of Condorcet-Kemeny calculations an algorithm
>>  that has some similarities to the "insertion sort" algorithm is much,
>>  much faster than the "brute-force" algorithm that calculates every
>>  sequence score (as if all the scores had to be known in order to find
>>  the highest score).
> S:For APR, ‘all the scores have to be recorded’ and counted.Do you see
> any reason to deny the following claim:APR’s combined use of modified
> STV and ‘Asset Voting’ would
>>  > seem to be the best practical method – best because it allows each
>>  > citizen to maximizes the chances that his or her vote will be added to
>>  > the ‘weighted vote’ in the legislature of the rep he or she trusts
>>  > most. APR seems to be practical both because it is technically possible
>>  > and is relatively easy for ordinary citizens to understand.
> F: I agree that APR -- Associational Proportional Representation -- is easy
>>  to understand compared to most PR (proportional representation) methods,
>>  and that is a big advantage.
>>  ………………..
> ++++++++++++
>>  >>
>>  >> >>2S:I don’t yet understand the answer you have given. Yes, the
>>  > <consultants/thugs> might pay a commission only if their candidate
>>  > wins. However, when their candidate loses, my point was that they would
>>  > find it more difficult, if not impossible, to discover whether this was
>>  > because their bribed voters failed to vote as promised or the other
>>  > voters who were not bribed but who were assumed to be supporters of
>>  > their candidate decided not to vote for that candidate.
> S: If you do not agree, please explain why you still believe APR would
> be more rather than less vulnerable to such corruption as I have
> suggested above.Also, I do not yet see that you have addressed the
> following counter argument from a previous dialogue:
> +++++++++++++++
> S:> > *>>S: I can see that people in such neighborhoods might be more likely
>>  >> > to agree to take such bribes but I do not yet see how APR makes
> it any
>>  >> > easier for a briber to enforce such agreements.*
>>  >>
> R: > >> The cross-district candidate voting, with resulting published
> numbers,
>>  >> is what makes it easier to measure the "success" of buying votes.
> S: > >> >>2S:Given that APR would allow voters an opportunity for many more
>>  > <cross-district> or cross-association rankings, I do not yet see how any
>>  > bribed citizen’s vote could be reliably inferred not to have been
> given as
>>  > promise.If bribes were offered, a citizen might take the bribe even
>>  > though he plans not to vote for the briber’s candidate.He might do this
>>  > believing that he has a chance of gaining any way, i.e. if the briber’s
>>  > candidate wins without his vote.
> +++++++++++++
> R: If APR were used for electing members of parliament, it has a much
>>  higher benefit for each dollar of influence…
> S: That might be true if APR could be shown to be more vulnerable than
> other systems.Again, please explain why you think it might be.
> R:……….., compared to most other methods (with the notable exceptions of
> plurality and Borda count).
>>  To understand this "influence-per-dollar" concept better, imagine that
>>  members of parliament (or Congress) are elected the same way as now, but
>>  then after the election each voter could do what your APR method allows,
>>  which is to let each voter decide which MP (member of parliament) "gets
>>  their vote" for the purpose of weighted voting on proposed laws.
>>  In this arrangement, news-media owners would promote celebrity MPs, and
>>  hide the scandals of those MPs. In contrast, they would highlight the
>>  scandals of MPs who have "opposition" opinions. Under that media
>>  influence huge numbers of voters would give their votes to those
>>  celebrity MPs. Of course those promoted MPs would be the ones who would
>>  vote the way the news-media owners want. And remember that big
>>  corporations own TV networks specifically for the purpose of keeping the
>>  media silent about the scandals in those businesses.
> S: To neutralize the power of these <news-media owners> and their
> <puppet celebrities>, the establishment of a properly funded public
> service media like the BBC and limiting election campaign funding might
> be more important than simply changing the electoral system.
> With regard to your above hypothetical “influence-per-dollar” example,
> even if you were to assume that the voters would only secretly vote to
> give these already elected MPs their weighted votes, APR is importantly
> different both because it determines the weighted votes during, rather
> than after, the general election (making it more difficult for the media
> to shape the vote because it would have to focus on many more
> candidates), and the important help that I see APR would give to
> reducing the power of the rich media, etc.:APR’s <associational> element
> as determined via its Primary election would help to reduce the power of
> celebrity and of these media owners.This is because APR’s Primary allows
> each citizen instead to channel their vote through the civil society
> organization (and it candidates) he or she sees as most consistently
> working to promote and protect their own abiding interests and values.
> This would make mass media, celebrity, and money somewhat less important
> in determining how people will vote.Many civil society organizations
> (associations) also have powers of communication and mobilization quite
> independent of “the rich”, the media, or celebrity.
> What do you think?
> …………………….
>>  >> >>2S:As I see it, this would not at all be clear.If <lots of voters in
>>  > lots of districts (associations) vote for a specific … politician> that
>>  > might simply mean that he is trust by many people nationwide, i.e. that
>>  > he is their most trusted rep.
> R: When Ronald Reagan was running for president, some voters were asked for
>>  their opinions about political issues, and even when they had very
>>  different political positions compared to Reagan, many of those people
>>  enthusiastically said they were going to vote for Reagan -- as if their
>>  choice was based on personality rather than principles.
> S:Again, APR’s <associational> element allows their official electors to
> vote for candidates made more familiar as a result of their daily
> activities throughout the year (profession, work, volunteer groups,
> etc.) as recalled above.This would thus seem also to reduce the
> influence of <personality> in this sense.
>>  ...
> R:In other words, the more carefully someone has to word the measure by
>>  >> which their method is best, the less likely it will achieve the real,
>>  >> underlying goals.
>>  >
> S: >> >>2S:I would like to understand the point you are making here. You
> seem
>>  > to be saying that <careful> wording is always dangerous because it
>>  > conceals rather than reveals reality. In contrast, I see careful wording
>>  > as the only way one has a chance of describing reality.
>>  >
> R: In your case, your words:
>>  >>
>>  >> > ..." their vote will proportionately increase the voting power of a
>>  >> > representative" …
>>  >
> S:> >> >>2S: Which of these words or their combination do you see as
>>  > concealing reality?
> R: Your words "the voting power of a representative" are the most troubling
>>  words, for the reasons just explained.
> S: I still do not understand.With APR, each reps “voting power” is
> determined by his “weighted vote”.Presumably, you also want each of your
> reps to have some “voting power”.If you are still “troubled” only
> because of the use of “weighted votes” in APR, I need you to explain why
> you reject the above suggestions that APR would be less vulnerable both
> to bribery and to the anti-democratic influences of media owners,
> celebrity, and money.
> Also, perhaps I will understand your position better if you would answer
> the following hypothetical question:If you could be assured that APR is
> no more vulnerable to the above anti-democratic influences, would you
> then welcome APR’s weighted votes as a contribution to democracy, i.e.
> because these votes help to guarantee that every citizens’ vote will be
> positive, that no vote need be wasted?
> R: Yes, careful wordings are important, but not if they are used to hide
>>  significant disadvantages.
>>  I'll put it this way: When you look up a completely unfamiliar word in a
>>  dictionary, does the definition always clarify its meaning? Of course
> not. That's why it's important for people to use the word in a sentence
>>  in order to better understand it (or as a test to verify that someone
>>  understands its meaning.)
>>  >> Experience is the ultimate judge.
>>  >
>>  >> >>2S:I would prefer to say, <ultimately>, <experience> and rational
>>  > thought can only provide us with provisional truths.
> R: OK, I agree that a combination of experience and rational thought is a
>>  better combination, provided that "rational thought" is not limited to
>>  words.
> S:We can only communicate using “words” here.What I need is for you to
> explain more completely which of my words you felt were “used to hide
> significant disadvantages”.I still want to understand your reasons for
> believe that there are the “significant disadvantages” you claim.
>>  ...
>>  >> >>2S:Do you think APR would be <a great method> for electing the French
>>  > National Assembly, the British House of Commons, or the US House of
> Reps?
> R: I think APR would be a fine method to try within an organization where
>>  the stakes are not high. But at a national level the method is
>>  vulnerable to the easy influence of money.
> S:Again, I would appreciate it if you could address more fully my
> several arguments above countering your idea that APR is more vulnerable
> to these disadvantages as you claim.I have marked some of them, e.g.
> +++++++++
> S:> >> >>2S: I would like to consider your <definition> or the
>>  > prime value that currently motivates your favoured system.Would you not
>>  > want an electoral system that would enable you to guarantee that your
>>  > vote would be added to the rep you trust most?
> ++++++++++++
> S:I would also appreciate an answer to the above queston.
>>  ………………….
> R: I think that covers your latest questions. Thanks for your interest in
>>  my opinions.
>>  Richard Fobes

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