[EM] "we only get one shot" (Re: RCV Challenge)

Forest Simmons forest.simmons21 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 31 00:03:20 PST 2021

Amen to everything Rob pointed out especially the kudos to Robert for his
yeoman's service in single handedly composing a persuasive and urgent
message to all stake holders in the Burlington, VT election method choice.

We all agree that simplicity is of utmost importance ... simplicity of the
method, simplicity and clarity of our explanations, etc.

Robert's proposal certainly passes the simplicity test ... elect the
candidate that has majority preference (among those weighing in) in every
head-to-head contest ... and in the vanishingly rare case that no candidate
satisfies that description, elect the candidate ranked first on the most

Yes, perfect for the general public, the politicians, and other voters ...
but an easy target for the usual FairVote detractors. ... too easy for them
to point out that unlike IRV, this method can elect the Universal Pairwise
Loser .... the majority Loser in every head-to-head contest.

But the fix is easy ... instead of  saying " ...elect the candidate ranked
first on the most ballots ..." just say "...elect the majority winner
between the top two vote getters .."

 [however you want to describe the instant top two runoff].

People are already used to the idea of top two runoff when there is no
majority winner ... and the pairwise information is already there for the
instant version ... no need for a separate poll!


El jue., 30 de dic. de 2021 5:52 p. m., Rob Lanphier <roblan at gmail.com>

> Hi Forest (and everyone else),
> I'm going to change the subject, in part because I've only been skimming
> this thread (so I want to start a new thread to talk about the tidbit I'm
> latching onto), and because I saw some praise from Forest, and I fear he
> buried the lede.  YES, IT'S ALL ABOUT ME!!!!!!   :-D
> More inline below...
> On Tue, Dec 28, 2021 at 6:55 PM Forest Simmons <forest.simmons21 at gmail.com>
> wrote:
> > I agree with Kristofer .... as he said, "... we only get one shot ..."
> >
> > So why take any unnecessary chances?
> Here's the subject that i'm here to address: I think we get more than one
> shot (mildly objecting to Forest and Kristofer here).  HOWEVER, as Robert
> Bristow-Johnson pointed out in his excellent paper summarizing the lessons
> learned from Burlington's mayoral elections since adopting
> RCV/IRV/HareRCV/whatever, the old "Texas sharpshooter"[1] fallacy comes
> into play whenever FairVote celebrates their successes with RCV.
> [1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Texas_sharpshooter_fallacy
> > And truly the risk is unnecessary, because there are many perfectly good
> manipulation resistant methods that are uniformly better and much simpler
> than the 2nd rate kluges that, out of ignorance, are routinely proposed.
> I agree.  I think we do need to respect and appreciate the need for
> end-to-end simplicity in voting methods.  As I recall (and I could be
> wrong), the problems that Pierce County (in Washington state) had back in
> 2005 through 2009 when they implemented IRV was that certifiable voting
> machines that implement ranked ballots were difficult to come by, and
> expensive.
> California is STILL having that problem.  Moreover, I can tell you (having
> lived in San Francisco for over a decade now) that all of this "choice"
> that RCV offers comes at a cost.  No one knows how to do proper polling for
> it, and it takes days (or even weeks) for us to know the results in a close
> election.  We have to trust that the centrally-tabulated paper ballots have
> been counted correctly, and that there isn't a whiff of corruption in the
> department of the San Francisco government.  While we love to talk about
> how small San Francisco is (geographically speaking), the city's revenues
> appear to have grown to over $12 billion (USD) per year:
> https://sfstandard.com/sfs-budget-in-4-charts-the-pandemic-effect-on-city-finances-and-the-prospects-for-recovery/
> A government managing that much money is inevitably going to get a little
> sloppy about a few things, and grifters will take advantage of some of that
> sloppiness.
> >
> > We need to educate the teachable, while advocating only for the best
> possible methods.
> >
> > Let the reactionary pooh-bahs defend their pet recycled 2nd rate methods
> ... leave to them the opportunity to reveal their own ignorance and
> arrogant disregard for what we has been learned in the last 25 years
> (thanks to Rob Lanphier's cultivation of nitty-gritty election science) ...
> about election methods in general and Condorcet methods in particular.
> I truly appreciate the praise.  Thank you.  I'm glad I've been able to
> provide a space for people with ideas that stand up to academic scrutiny.
> I've never been an "academic" myself, and was eager to get out of Idaho
> with my bachelors degree, but I've always appreciated learning from people
> who understand things better than I do.  And almost all y'all who regularly
> post to this mailing list understand the mathematics of voting systems
> better than I do.  I may understand the politics of them better than some
> of you, but Forest, you and Kristofer and Kevi Venzke and Steve Eppley and
> Mike Ossipoff all understand the math better.  I trust Robert
> Bristow-Johnson to understand the politics of Burlington, Vermont better
> than I do (since he's lived there a little while), but I'm going to guess
> we both have political advice to offer each other.  (Robert: you and I
> should work on a YouTube video associated with your paper; let me know if
> you'd like to try that).
> Regardless, you're absolutely correct about one thing, Forest: we need to
> "educate the teachable".  I think one thing that the participants of this
> mailing list from the academic sector sometimes forget is that we don't get
> to say "listen carefully; this will be on the test."
> I think a New Year's Resolution for all of us to consider is to hone our
> respective elevator pitches for electoral reform.  I'm going to refer folks
> to the "elevator pitch" Wikipedia article:
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elevator_pitch
> In particular, it says it should be in "the time span of an elevator ride,
> or approximately thirty seconds to two minutes".  I would like to add that
> we need to make sure that the recipient doesn't feel trapped on the
> elevator with us as we berate them for two minutes without allowing for
> questions, but instead make eye contact, and gauge receptiveness by being
> ready to answer questions (and make them feel like their questions are
> smart questions, rather than questions we've had to answer five million
> times, even though.... they probably are asking questions that we've had to
> answer five million times by now).  We should have our 30-second answers
> for five to ten frequently asked questions memorized, and hone them so that
> we don't bore the recipient to tears getting around to the point we feel we
> need to make.
> That'll certainly be my New Year's resolution.  The whole point of the
> "elevator pitch" metaphor is that sometimes, you only get one shot to be
> standing alone in an elevator with a key investor, and you only have
> 30-seconds to convince them that your loopy idea for a company is worth
> investing in.  My explanations for electoral reform have never been crisp
> enough, and I think I'd like to change that.  I hope all y'all can help me
> out with that.
> Rob
> >
> > El mar., 28 de dic. de 2021 1:55 a. m., Kristofer Munsterhjelm <
> km_elmet at t-online.de> escribió:
> >>
> >> On 28.12.2021 06:56, Forest Simmons wrote:
> >> > Robert,
> >> >
> >> > You wrote ...
> >> >
> >> > "I'm just a Condorcet guy.  How cycles get resolved is less motivating
> >> > to me than insuring that the Condorcet winner is always elected"
> >> >
> >> > But "how cycles get resolved" has a big influence on whether or not
> they
> >> > come into existence.  And when these cycles are created, the sincere
> >> > Condorcet Winner goes out the window ... no longer showing up as a
> >> > "beats-all" candidate on the ballot set. Can the cycle resolution
> method
> >> > reconstruct the lost CW? All bets are off.
> >> >
> >> > The easier it is to game the cycle resolution method, the more
> incentive
> >> > for the gamers to create the cycles.
> >> >
> >> > It seems that most Condorcet cycles are artificially created.
> >> >
> >> > For example, one way to create a cycle is by an insincere rank
> reversal
> >> > technique called "burial".
> >> >
> >>
> >> > If the cycle resolution method has no built in disincentive/negative
> >> > feedback for this (or any other) kind of cycle creation, over time the
> >> > gamers find out that they can manipulate elections to their advantage
> >> > with impunity, so that artificially created cycles become more and
> more
> >> > common, giving the false impression that cycles are a normal fact of
> nature.
> >>
> >> There's still a question of just how much coordinated strategy will
> >> happen. If the voters are mostly honest, then insisting on strategic
> >> resistance will only be giving up honest performance for nothing
> >> important in return. On the other hand, something like Borda obviously
> >> collapses because it can't handle *any* kind of strategy.
> >>
> >> I suspect that the initial amount of strategy depends on the voters -
> >> that some voters are more inclined to strategize than others. Probably
> >> voters who are used to FPTP would be more strategically inclined,
> >> although I don't have any proof of this (it just seems intuitive). But
> >> Debian used Schulze however many years without having any trouble with
> >> burial (that they could detect, at least), and most places that use STV
> >> nowadays don't seem to have much of a problem with vote management even
> >> though it was pretty common in New York and some Canadian elections that
> >> used to use STV.
> >>
> >> In the face of this uncertainty, it's reasonable to want to have a
> >> method that resists strategy well so that it doesn't get repealed after
> >> a disastrous result. But that doesn't mean that it's strictly necessary
> >> - only that we can't tell if it is, and we only get one shot.
> >>
> >> -km
> >
> > ----
> > Election-Methods mailing list - see https://electorama.com/em for list
> info
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