[EM] High Resolution Inferred Approval version of ASM

John john.r.moser at gmail.com
Fri Jun 21 16:45:11 PDT 2019

The error comes when you make inferences.

The great purported benefit of score systems is that more voters can rank A
over B, yet due to the scores score can elect B:

A:1.0 B:0.9 C:0.1
C:1.0 A:0.5 B:0.4
B:1.0 A:0.2 C:0.1

A=1.7, B=2.3, C=2.2

Both B and C defeat A, despite A defeating both ranked.

If the first voter scores B as 0.7, C wins.

Whenever a system attempts to use score or its low-resolution Approval
variant, it is relying on this information.

So why does this matter?

The voters are 100% certain and precise that these are their votes:


We know A defeats B, A defeats C, and B defeats C.  A is the Condorcet

For score votes, 1.0 is always 1.0.  It's the first rank, the measure.
This is of course another source of information distortion in cardinal
systems: how is the information meaningful as a comparison between two

How do you know 10 voters voting A first at 1.0 aren't half as invested in
A as 6 voters voting B 1.0, this really A=5 B=6?

Ten of us prefer strawberry to peanut butter.


Score systems claim to represent this and capture this information, but
they can't.

(Notice I used the negative: that 1.0 vote is an expression of the damage
of their 0.0-scored alternative.)

Even setting that aside, however, you have a problem where an individual
might put down 0.7 or 0.9 or 0.5 for the SAME candidate in the SAME
election, solely based on how bad they are at creating a cardinal
comparison.  Humans are universally bad at cardinal comparison.

So now you can actually elect A, B, or C based on how well-rested people
are, how hungry they are, or anything else that impacts their mood and thus
the sharpness or softness by which they critically compare candidates.

It's a sort of random number generator.

Wrapping it in a better system and using that information to make auxiliary
decisions is still incorporating bad data.  Bad data is worse than no data.

On Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 7:27 PM Felix Sargent <felix.sargent at gmail.com> wrote:

> I don't know how you can think that blurrier data would end up with a more
> precise result.
> No matter how you cut it, if you rank ABCD then it translates into a score
> of
> A: 1.0
> B: .75
> C: 0.5
> D: 0.25
> There's no way of describing differences between candidates beyond a
> straight line between first place and last place.
> Even if the voter is imprecise in the difference between A and B they will
> never make the error of rating B more than A, whereas the error between a
> voter's actual preferences and the preferences that are recorded with an
> ordinal ballot has the liability of being massive. Consider I like A and B
> but HATE C. ABC does not tell you that.
> That's not even going into what happens when a voter ranks an ordinal
> ballot strategically, placing "guaranteed losers" to 2nd and 3rd places in
> order to improve the chances of their first choice candidate (in IRV at
> least).
> Your analysis depends on the question of how intelligent you believe the
> average voter to be.
> If voters can use Amazon and Yelp star ratings, they can do score voting.
> Felix Sargent <https://felixsargent.com>
> On Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 2:14 PM John <john.r.moser at gmail.com> wrote:
>> 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.
>> On Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 3:10 PM Felix Sargent <felix.sargent at gmail.com>
>> wrote:
>>> Valuation can be ordinal, in that you can know that 3 is more than 2.
>>> There are two questions before us: Which voting method collects more
>>> data? Which tabulation method picks the best winner from that data?
>>> Which voting method collects more data?
>>> Cardinal voting collects higher resolution data than ordinal voting.
>>> Consider this thought experiment. If I give you a rating of A:5 B:2 C:1 D:3
>>> E:5 F:2 you should create an ordered list from that -- AEDFBC. If I gave
>>> you AEDFBC you couldn't convert that back into its cardinal data.
>>> Which tabulation picks a better winner from the data?
>>> Both Score and Approval voting pick the person with the highest votes.
>>> Summing ordinal data, on the other hand, is very complicated, as to
>>> avoid loops. Methods like Condorcet or IRV have been proposed to eliminate
>>> those but ultimately they're hacks for dealing with incomplete information.
>>> Felix Sargent <https://felixsargent.com>
>>> On Fri, Jun 21, 2019 at 5:23 AM John <john.r.moser at gmail.com> wrote:
>>>> Voters can't readily provide meaningful information as score voting.
>>>> It's highly-strategic and the comparison of cardinal values is not natural.
>>>> All valuation is ordinal.  Prices are based from cost; but what people
>>>> WILL pay, given no option to pay less, is based on ordinal comparison.
>>>> Is X worth 2 Y?
>>>> For the $1,000 iPhone I could have a OnePlus 6t and a Chromebook. The
>>>> 6t...I can get a cheaper smartphone, but I prefer the 6t to that phone plus
>>>> whatever else I buy.
>>>> I have a higher paying job, so each dollar is worth fewer hours, so the
>>>> ordinal value of a dollar to me is lower.  $600 of my dollars is fewer
>>>> hours than $600 minimum wage dollars.  I have access to my
>>>> most-preferred purchases and can buy way down into my less-preferred
>>>> purchases.
>>>> Information about this is difficult to pin down by voter.  Prices in
>>>> the stock market set by a constant, public auction among millions of buyers
>>>> and sellers.  A single buyer can hardly price one stock against another,
>>>> and prices against what they think their gains will be relative to current
>>>> price.
>>>> When pricing candidates, you'll see a lot like Mohs hardness: 2 is 200,
>>>> 3 is 500, 4 is 1,500; but we label things that are 250 or 450 as 2.5,
>>>> likewise between 500 and 1,500 is 3.5.  Being between X and Y is always
>>>> immediately HALFWAY between X and Y, most intuitively.
>>>> The rated system sucks even before you factor in strategic concerns
>>>> (which only matter if actually using a score-driven method).
>>>> Approval is just low-resolution (1 bit) score voting.
>>>> On Fri, Jun 21, 2019, 12:01 AM C.Benham <cbenham at adam.com.au> wrote:
>>>>> Forest,
>>>>> With paper and pencil ballots and the voters only writing in their
>>>>> numerical scores it probably isn't very practical for the Australian
>>>>> Electoral Commission
>>>>> hand vote-counters.
>>>>> But if it isn't compulsory to mark each candidate and the default
>>>>> score is zero, I'm sure the voters could quickly adapt.
>>>>> In the US I gather that there is at least one reform proposal to use
>>>>> these type of ballots. One of these, "Score Voting" aka "Range Voting",
>>>>> proposes to just use Average Ratings with I gather the default score
>>>>> being "no opinion"  rather than zero and some tweak to prevent an unknown
>>>>> candidate from winning.
>>>>> So it struck me that if we can collect such a large amount of detailed
>>>>> information from the voters then we could do a lot more with it, and if we
>>>>> want something that meets the Condorcet criterion this is my
>>>>> suggestion.
>>>>> Chris Benham
>>>>> https://rangevoting.org/
>>>>> *How score voting works:*
>>>>>    1. Each vote <https://rangevoting.org/MeaningOfVote.html> consists
>>>>>    of a numerical score within some range (say 0 to 99
>>>>>    <https://rangevoting.org/Why99.html>) for each candidate. Simpler
>>>>>    is 0 to 9 ("single digit score voting").
>>>>> On 21/06/2019 5:33 am, Forest Simmons wrote:
>>>>> Chris, I like it especially the part about naive voters voting
>>>>> sincerely being at no appreciable disadvantage while resisting burial and
>>>>> complying with  the CD criterion.
>>>>> From your experience in Australia where full rankings are required (as
>>>>> I understand it) what do you think about the practicality of rating on a
>>>>> scale of zero to 99, as compared with ranking a long list of candidates?
>>>>> Is it a big obstacle?
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>>>>> www.avg.com
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