fsimmons at pcc.edu
Thu Nov 5 21:11:26 PST 2020
Most responders in this thread agree with me that the most difficult
aspect of Approval voting is voting strategy, whether zero info, perfect
info, dis-info, etc.
Most people agree that ranking is easier than rating ... after all you
cannot do high resolution ratings wthout implicitly ranking the candidates,
and the low resolution ratings are often thought of as the result of
rounding higher resolution ratings.
Charles Dodgson aka Lewis Carroll was the mathematician who invented
Dodgson's method, a Condorcet compliant method which in the absence of a
ballot CW finds (in ballot space) the nearest ballot set that does produce
a CW. Like Kemeny, of which it is reminiscent in some ways, it is
computationally intractable. Also like Kemeny It suffers from clone
dependence, a problem that is fixable by the right choice of metric in
This genius Dodgson considered every method based on rankings including his
own namesake method to be too voter hostile to be practical in public
elections. I'm sure that he would consider to be even more hostile to
voters, ballots requiring ratings, whether high resolution or low (as in
So what did this genius suggest?
He suggested what Warren Smith dubbed "Asset Voting," after discovering it
independently more than a century later. In the single winner version the
voters vote for one candidate only, the simplest voting rule imaginable.
But in this system if no candidate gets a majority, the candidates act as
proxies for their respective supporters in the deliberations that determine
the winner. As Steve Eppley pointed out in an article he wrote in 2007,
Roberts Rules of Order explicitly provide for this situation of group
decisions being carried out by proxies.
In that article Eppley proposed VPR, Vote for a Published Ranking, his
version of Dodgson's idea, of which he was unaware at the time. Around the
same time (also independently) I started playing around with an idea that I
called "Candidate Proxy" inspired by the candidate cards most Aussie voters
rely on to help them fill out their rankings for their single winner STV
elections. Eppley also took inspiration from that practice ... why not
remove the tedium?
So within a couple of years of each other Eppley, Smith, and I,
independently of Dodgson and each other realized the absolute priority of
voter friendly voting.
The first time it really hit me was while reading editorials against IRV in
the newspaper and in the voters pamphlet: nobody had any awareness
whatsoever of any of the method defects; every single objection was about
how ridiculous it was to expect voters to rank the candidates. and these
were only partial rankings! In Australia the voters are required to
completely rank the candidates, which is why the candidate cards are so
important there. This requirement makes more sense when we realize that
IRV/STV is advertised as a way of making sure that the winner is elected by
an absolute majority not merely a plurality; we already have a method that
elects by a plurality ... the Plurality FPP method.
In summary, to the common person, the biggest selling point of IRV/RCV is
that it achieves a 50+ majority without a physical runoff. And its biggest
defect is that it requires the voters to rank the candidates.
And here in the States we compromise the biggest selling point in order to
ameliorate the biggest defect. So we have to fall back on the second
biggest selling point which is resolution of the Duverger problem that
entrenches the two party dynamic. That's a good selling point for 3rd party
supporters but not easy to get typical voters excited about.
The good news is that Dodgson gives us a way to break the two party
stranglehold without the use of rankings, ratings, etc.
What I have tried to show with Yes/?/No, Voter Friendly Approval, and Earn
My Vote, is that even the most voter hostile method (Approval) can be tamed
and made voter friendly through Dodgson's basic insight.
It is much easier to tame ASM Approval Sorted Margins ... just use it in
Eppley's VPR where the published rankings include a virtual approval cutoff
candidate in the ranks.... a piece of cake!
Yesterday in the election news they were talking about an RCV mediated race
where nobody got 50% in the first round, so they said all the ballots had
to be rounded up so they could remove the first round loser from all the
ballots and go to the second round. ... not very efficient ... especially
in comparison with any efficiently summable by precinct method like ASM
even w/o its VPR implementation!
It is painful to watch ... very pathetic ... but you have to give them
credit for trying!
So how can we get this going before four more years go by?
I nominate a VPR implementation of ASM. Voters that feel motivated and
competent can submit their own rankings (with cutoffs) while the rest vote
for a published ballot of their choice.
Other ideas are needed!
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