[EM] Why I prefer ranked-choice voting to approval voting

Michael Ossipoff email9648742 at gmail.com
Sat Oct 15 11:32:35 PDT 2016


My reply was mostly to your justification of your lesser-evil voting.

As for IRV, it can be said more simply:

IRV was repealed in Burlington because it violated majority wishes. The
Democrat it eliminated was someone who was majority-preferred to everyone

A majority consisting of Democrats & Republicans wanted the Democrat
instead of the Progressive.

That's what the Republicans thought that they were ensuring when they
ranked the Democrat in 2nd place:

...the Republican, but, if not him, then at least the Democrat.

IRV quite disregarded their voted 2nd choice, and elected someone over whom
a majority preferred the Democrat (and had voted that preference).

So, was it any surprise when a dis-satisfied majority repealed IRV?

That problem was something that a lot of people had been explaining to Rob
Ritchie, for about 30 years.

No doubt Richie, &/or his FairVote organization, had assured Burlington
that "it will never happen".

The voters in Burlington realized that a dishonest salesman bad sold them

The candidate whom the electorate collectively prefers to each of the
others is called the " sincere Condorcet winner ". We can abbreviate that
as " CWs".

Sorry if that sounds technical.

No voting-system can guarantee that the CWs will always win.

But the better methods, like Approval, Score & Bucklin, gjve hir a better
chance than IRV did in Burlington.

IRV gave the win elsewhere in a way that the people  in Burlington rightly
perceived as arbitrary.

For one thing, Approval, Score,      & Bucklin allow the CWs's preferrers a
better chance to protect hir win, to not give it away.

For another thing, the Republicans' support for the Democrat would have
been counted, where IRV ignored it.

IRV in Burlington left the Democrats helpless in that regard. And, without
ranking the Democrat in 1st place, over their favorite, the Republicans
couldn't save him either.

FairVote are promoters. People convinced by them become uncritical

Neither are helpful.

Leave voting-system recommendation to people who are willing to consider
the possibilities, as opposed to people committed to one organization's

If you're the latter, please don't help.

Michael Ossipoff

On Oct 15, 2016 5:42 AM, "Jeff O'Neill" <jeff.oneill at opavote.com> wrote:

> Hi Jameson, Ralph, Robert, and Michael,
> I'm responding to all of your emails together though most of my comments
> are responding to Jameson.
> Second: I'm sorry, but I really can't bear the name "RCV" in a voting
>> methods discussion. I know that's what IRV is frequently called in actual
>> laws, but to me "ranked choice voting" is obviously the correct term for
>> the whole class of voting methods which includes Condorcet, Borda, and IRV;
>> not just for IRV alone.
> I agree that the terminology is difficult and that RCV could and perhaps
> should apply to any method where votes are ranked.
> But there's an important, and predictable, class of election scenarios
>> where it's strategically crucial NOT to rank your favorite first: center
>> squeeze scenarios. If you have two candidates at ideological opposite
>> points, with a third candidate in the middle near the median voter, it is
>> actually quite common for the center to have the lowest first-choice
>> support and get prematurely eliminated. This kind of thing happened in
>> Burlington 2009; in multiple recent French elections; tragically, in Egypt
>> 2011; and would have happened in the US 2000 if Nader had gotten over 25%.
>> In this case, the correct strategy for one group of voters is to rank their
>> true first choice in second place. Understanding this, and correctly seeing
>> when it applies, is a HUGE cognitive burden for IRV voters.
> When you say that "it is actually quite common for the center to have the
> lowest first-choice support and get prematurely eliminated," we need to
> clarify "quite common."  If you mean 5-10% of the time, then I could
> believe that, but if you mean 50% of the time, then I would disagree.  It
> would be really interesting if a statistician could collect the data and
> present results.
> I can't comment on Burlington or Egypt.  For the French elections, the
> center candidate is generally in the top three of 10-15 candidates
> (depending on the year).  Candidates that came later than that top 5 have
> very little support.
> My main point here, however, is that, except in rare situations, voters
> are not capable of voting strategically to account for a center candidate
> out of the top two (and by this I mean normal voters, not the people on
> this list).  First, it isn't clear how often the center candidate is out of
> the top two.  Second, voters would need to think deeply about how the
> voting system works.  third, you need precise polling information.  Fourth,
> if you are too successful in your strategic plan, it backfires.  There is
> this middle ground where enough voters have to vote strategically to get
> their desired result but not so many that you overshoot and still elect the
> wrong candidate.  A few people (like the people on this list) may consider
> such a scenario when voting, but I think it is far too complicated for any
> significant subset of voters to consider it.
> Second, IRV requires strict ranking. That's a nontrivial cognitive burden
>> when there are more than a handful of candidates. If there were 15
>> candidates in a race, how should a voter decide exactly which of them to
>> give 8th preference? It's much easier to use absolute grades, as in
>> Majority Judgment. (Behavioural research bears this out; strict ranking is
>> harder than rating, for anything more than 3 or 4 options.)
> This makes sense, but I don't think it matters so much.  For most RCV
> elections, nearly all ballots end up at one of their top 3 or 4 choices.
> Rankings after this don't matter much.  Also, if a person has trouble
> deciding who to rank 7th and 8th, then perhaps the person doesn't have a
> strong preference between them and would be equally happy (or more likely
> equally unhappy) with either.
>> On the other hand: is the strategic burden for approval voters actually
>> that high? I think not. Consider the rule used by Ka-Ping Yee in his voting
>> system visualizations <http://zesty.ca/voting/sim/>: a randomly-assigned
>> strict threshold. This requires no strategic doublethink, yet leads to
>> near-ideal outcomes under his assumptions. My point is that under approval
>> sophisticated strategy is not nearly as important as under IRV.
> Thanks for recommending this.  I'll have to check this out.
> But still, I think you have a point. Approval does have a cognitive
>> burden, and we should account for that. That's precisely why I've been
>> working on MAS (majority acceptable score) as an option: it's a simple
>> 3-level voting system with an absolute minimum of cognitive burden. I
>> believe that under MAS, in basically all everyday voting scenarios, a naive
>> sincere ballot will be strategically optimal, or close enough to it that
>> most voters wouldn't care.
> I'll check that out too
>> ps. You mention Condorcet, and argue that the strategic cognitive burden
>> is higher than IRV. I disagree; but since Condorcet comes with a higher
>> cognitive burden in just figuring out why a given candidate won, I agree
>> that Condorcet methods are probably not best for large-scale elections.
> I actually wrote "Condorcet voting has the same cognitive burden as
> ranked-choice voting".  So we agree on this, and I also agree with your
> second point.
> A quick response to Ralph: I agree that approval is great and even
> preferable to RCV for some things, such as informal meetings.  Even for
> city council though, I would prefer a ranked vote.
> Ralph and Robert also made comments about the cognitive burden of
> understanding how the votes were counted.  That is a different topic so I
> don't want to get distracted from the main point I was trying to make.
> Michael, sorry, but I couldn't follow most of your comments.  I'm not a
> regular reader of this email list, so I don't think I have the necessary
> background.
> ----
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