[EM] The Problem with Score Voting and Approval Voting (was: High Resolution Inferred Approval version of ASM)

robert bristow-johnson rbj at audioimagination.com
Fri Jun 21 16:29:00 PDT 2019

i am not a member of the RangeVoting list so i do not think my response will post there.

John Moser reiterates the complaint that I have always had with Score Voting (i think that term is a better semantic than "Range"), which, perhaps surprizingly, is also the end complaint i have with Approval Voting, *even* *though* Score Voting requires too much information from voters and
Approval Voting collects too little information from voters (as does FPTP). 
Score voting requires more thought (and expertise, as if they are Olympic figure-skating judges) from voters for them to determine exactly how much they should score a particular candidate.  But the real
problem for the voter is that the voter is a partisan.  They know they wanna score their favorite candidate a "10".  They may like their second favorite, but they do not want their second choice to beat their first choice.  But they may hate any of the remaining candidates
and they sure-as-hell want either their first or second choice to beat any of the remaining candidates.  So their tactical burden in the voting booth is "How much do I score my second choice?"
And Approval Voting has the same problem, but for the opposite reason that Approval
Voting is less "expressive" than Ranked-Choice.  The voter has the same tactical decision to make regarding their second favorite candidate: "Do I approve my second choice or not?"
These tactical decisions would also be affected by how likely the voter believes (from
the pre-election polls) that the race will end up essentially between their first and second-choice candidates.  If the voter thinks that will be the case, the partisan voter is motivated to score his/her favorite a "10" and the second favorite a "0" (or approve the favorite
and not approve the second choice).
This really essentially comes down to a fundamental principle of voting and elections in a democracy, which is: "One person - one vote."  If I really really like Candidate A far better than Candidate B and you prefer Candidate B only slightly
more than your preference for Candidate A, then my vote for A>B should count no more (nor less) than your vote for B>A.  Even if your feelings about the candidates is not as strong as mine,  your franchise should be as strong as my franchise.  But Score Voting explicitly rejects
that notion and in doing so, will lead to a burden of tactical voting for regular voters.
Only the ordinal ranked-ballot extracts from voters the "right amount" of information.  If a voter ranks A>B>C, all that voter is saying is that if the election were held between A
and B, this voter is voting for A.  If the election is between A and C, this voter is voting for A.  And if the election ends up being between B and C, this voter votes for B.  That's **all** that this ballot says.  We should not read more into it and we should not expect more
information from the voter such as "How much more do you prefer A over C than your preference of A over B?"  It shouldn't matter.
my $0.02 .
r b-j

---------------------------- Original Message ----------------------------

Subject: Re: [EM] High Resolution Inferred Approval version of ASM

From: "John" <john.r.moser at gmail.com>

Date: Fri, June 21, 2019 2:14 pm

To: "Felix Sargent" <felix.sargent at gmail.com>

Cc: RangeVoting at yahoogroups.com

"Forest Simmons" <fsimmons at pcc.edu>

"EM" <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>


> Cardinal voting collects higher-resolution data, but not necessarily

> precise data.


> Let's say you score candidates:


> A: 1.0

> B: 0.5

> C: 0.25

> D: 0.1


> In reality, B is 90% as favored as A. C is 70% as favored as B. The real

> numbers would be:


> A: 1.0

> B: 0.9

> C: 0.63

> D: etc.


> How would this happen?


> Cardinal: I approve of A 90% as much as B.


> Natural and honest: I prefer A to win, and I am not just as happy with B

> winning, or close to it. I feel maybe half as good about that? B is

> between C and D and I don't like C, but I like D less.


> Strategic: even voting 0.5 for B means possibly helping B beat A, but what

> if C wins...


> The strategic nightmare is inherent to score and approval systems. When

> approvals aren't used to elect but only for data, people are not naturally

> inclined to analyze a score representing their actual approval.


> Why?


> Because people decide by simulation. Simulation of ordinal preference is

> easy: I like A over B. Even then, sometimes you can't seem to decide who

> is better.


> Working out precisely how much I approve of A versus B is harder. It takes

> a lot of effort and the basic simulation approach responds heavily to how

> good you feel about A losing to B, not about how much B satisfies you on a

> scale of 0 to A.


> Score and approval voting source a high-error, low-confidence sample. It's

> like recording climate data by licking your finger and holding it in the

> wind each day, then writing down what you think is the temperature.

> Someone will say, "it's more data than warmer/colder trends!" While

> ignoring that you are not Mercury in a graduated cylinder.



r b-j                         rbj at audioimagination.com

"Imagination is more important than knowledge."

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