[EM] Best Single-Winner Method-IBIFA vs. MJ

steve bosworth stevebosworth at hotmail.com
Tue Jun 11 14:04:55 PDT 2019

Hi Chris,

Your concept of “irrelevant ballots” seems to be central to your IBIFA method of counting.  Do you also see this concept as conflicting with my own assumption that in a workable and ideal democracy, each citizen’s vote would count equally – one-person-one-vote?  No citizen’s vote would be needlessly wasted either quantitatively or qualitatively.  This also means that whenever possible, the single-winner in an election will have received at least 50% plus one of all the citizens’ votes cast.

If we do disagree, how to you justify IBIFA’s violations of the above democratic principles, especially when MJ provides a simpler and more meaningful method which guarantees that its elections conform to the above democratic principles?

In contrast to MJ, the trouble in my view with IBIFA is that it gives more weight to higher preferences than lower preferences, e.g. a citizen’s Top-rated vote for a candidate is given more weight than a citizen’s Middle-rated vote for a different candidate.  This leads to the demeaning identification of some citizens votes as being “irrelevant”. It also prompts dishonest voting (tactical voting) because a Top-rating counts more than a Middle-rating when using IBIFA.

In contrast to IBIFA, please note that MJ gives the same weight to each of the different grades that might be given to the its winner. Only one of the grades given by a voter can be added to the total which defines the winner’s majority.  An Excellent only has the priority of being looked for first.

What do you think of the following possible explanation of how you have been needlessly lead to adopt your idea of “irrelevant ballots”.  As I see it, perhaps this flaw in IBIFA stems from a Condorcet habit of minds which mistakenly assumes that the primary electoral concern is to find the candidate who is preferred, head to head, over each of the other candidates.  The voter is only to focus on comparing and ranking the particular candidates in the race.  These comparisons and rankings presumably proceed upon the qualities intuitively identified by the voter as needed for an ideal candidate for the office being sought.  Alternatively, it would proceed most rationally after the voter analyzes and clarifies the hierarchy of such ideal qualities.

In contrast, Balinski suggests that each candidate should, in the light of these qualities, be given one of the 6 grades regarding their suitability for office (Excellent, Very Good, Good, Acceptable, Poor, or Reject).  However, a follower of Condorcet does not grade the candidates but simply proceeds to ranking them.  Next he uses a Condorcet method to see if a Condorcet winner exists.  However, this is less than satisfactory because we all know that each Condorcet method sometimes fails to find such a winner, let alone a winner who has received an absolute majority of the preferences.

Given that MJ guarantees the election of the candidate who is judged to be most fit for the office by an absolute majority of the grades given to this winner, (i.e. grades equal to or higher than the highest median-grade given to any of the candidate), why does anyone continues to propose the less than satisfactory Condorcet methods?

Finally, you have also said that you do not understand MJ's procedure for breaking ties.   Please let me try to clarify this again:

In a single-office election, the Majority Judgment (MJ) winner is the one who has received grades from an absolute majority of all the voters that are equal to, or higher than, the highest median-grade given to any candidate. This median-grade is found as follows:

  *   Place all the grades, high to low, top to bottom, in side-by-side columns, the name of each candidate at the top of each of these columns.
  *   The median-grade for each candidate is the grade located half way down each column, i.e. in the middle if there is an odd number of voters, the lower middle if the number is even.

If more than one candidate has the same highest median-grade, the MJ winner is discovered by temporarily removing (one-by-one) any grades equal in value to the current highest median grade from each tied candidate’s total until only one of the previously tied candidates currently has the highest remaining median-grade.

What do you think?  What telling criticism of MJ can be made?

I look forward to the next step in our dialogue.


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