[EM] Condorcet Meeting: Narrowing the Field

Colin Champion colin.champion at routemaster.app
Sat Sep 2 00:05:21 PDT 2023

The sort of solution I had in mind was: reduce the 500 candidates to 36 
by administrative means; reduce the 36 to 6 by a primary; hold a 
Condorcet election with 6 andidates. The same answer applies if you 
replace 500 by 5 million; the problem is to devise an electoral system 
which doesn't start from a favourable assumption on the number of 
    If you sufficiently dislike administrative means, then you will need 
an ingenious scheme like Toby's; I view them as a necessary evil.

On 02/09/2023 08:48, Toby Pereira wrote:
> If we're talking about a field as large as 500, different voters could 
> be randomly given different ballot papers for the primary with not all 
> the candidates on. It could be, say, 10, on a ballot paper but there 
> wouldn't be just 50 types because you'd want the candidates to be 
> against different candidates on different ballots to make it fairer 
> (so there'd be more than 50). These ballots would be randomly 
> distributed to the voters (each candidate would appear on the same 
> number of ballots). If you made it approval voting, you could probably 
> just combine all the ballots together and use a proportional approval 
> method to determine the candidates that make the final election.
> Toby
> On Saturday, 2 September 2023 at 00:21:17 BST, Kristofer Munsterhjelm 
> <km_elmet at t-online.de> wrote:
> I think I'm more or less done with this subject, as I don't feel like
> I'm getting anywhere much. But I will reply to this:
> On 9/1/23 17:47, Colin Champion wrote:
> > It seems to me that the position is this. Condorcet voting works well
> > under certain assumptions, which include voters sincerely ranking all
> > candidates in order of preference. Strategic voting turns out to be 
> less
> > of a problem than one might fear, but drastic truncation is fatal.
> >     The merits of Condorcet voting lie partly in its not penalising
> > minor parties, so you'd expect it to lead to an explosion in the number
> > of candidates.
> >     So you're organising a presidential election, hoping to take
> > advantage of the merits of Condorcet voting, and you expect 500
> > candidates to put themselves forward. What do you do?
> >     One no-brain solution is to run a Condorcet election with 500
> > candidates. Another is to rely on administrative procedures, eg. only
> > the 5 candidates with most supporting signatures get onto the ballot.
> > This isn't a bad idea; something like it is widely practised. I think
> > the Virginia meeting is intentionally allowing it as an option. Can we
> > do better?
> I guess that with numbers around 500, nothing will really work well, and
> that we would bump against the, for lack of a better term, "aristocratic
> nature" of elections. That is, if we don't do anything to counteract it,
> such a field will naturally thin itself out by who's got the best
> marketing; by what candidates are able to amplify their voice and get
> their message out the most, and that undoing this bias will require a
> more thorough redesign than changing the way votes are tallied.
> If that's right, then it would seem the only option is to augment the
> electoral procedure itself. Do something like asset voting or have a
> representative sample dig deep into the candidates policies and pick the
> finalist set. For 500 candidates, the voters would otherwise face a
> burden just getting to know what they're about, no matter the voting
> system, and the 100:1 "compression ratio" down to a finalist set of 5 is
> so high that it's very difficult to get the right set if they skip on
> that burden. Any consistent bias will greatly shrink that 500-candidate
> set with time.
> If we suppose that all of the 500 have a chance to get into the finalist
> set, there has to be a considerable period before the general happens,
> so that finalist set can inform the electorate of their positions.
> The more we consider the possibility that anybody could be a good
> winner, the more elections, as a mechanism, is at a disadvantage from
> the start. My intuitive feeling is that at a 100:1 ratio, if you only
> choose centrists, then the non-centrists are disincentivized as you say.
> If you don't only choose centrists, then there's not enough room for the
> full variety of the 500 to be represented in a set of size 5 anyway. So
> something has to give.
> Even if I'm wrong, the contention about clone dependence suggests to me
> that we don't really know how to make a voting system that does what's
> asked of such a primary. In a sense, it's not just that we don't know
> how to solve the puzzle, but we're uncertain what kind of puzzle it is
> (what the desiderata and dynamics are). But you said in another post that
> > I posted some figures a while ago indicating that as the level of
> > truncation increased, some strange reversals set in just after the
> > half-way mark: the Borda count briefly gained in accuracy while
> > Condorcet methods started a headlong fall.
> This in turn suggests that you could at least determine if a particular
> suggestion would be good by simulating the two-stage process:
> - Lots of candidates present themselves
> - Voters vote in the primary according to the method to be tested
> (possibly with some noise)
> - Then the voters' hypothetical correct no-truncated ranking (of 500
> candidates!) is used as a basis for the general method, but after
> everybody but the finalist set is eliminated.
> - Now determine the VSE, strategic resistance, or other figure of
> interest wrt the winner of the general.
> Maybe by tinkering with this, it would be possible to get some idea of
> what works and what doesn't. But note that it doesn't incorporate the
> idea that getting acquainted with candidate positions is very expensive
> when there are 500 of them, unless the primary deliberately takes that
> into account.
> -km
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