Discussion:
Gilmour: Approval
MIKE OSSIPOFF
2002-12-07 07:53:40 UTC
Permalink
Bart wrote (29 Nov)
Or the answer could be to adopt approval voting, especially if the only
practical alternative is IRV.
Mr. Gilmour replied:


But there are some other serious problems with Approval.


I reply:

When you're that unspecific, you're not very convincing. If you believed
that you could show a genuine problem for Approval, a problem-claim
that hasn't already been answered here, you'd have actually named
a problem.
If you acknowledge that voter rankings
will be utilized in such a haphazard way that you would prefer to keep
information about subsets of the vote secret, wouldn't it be better to
avoid collecting information you can't use reliably?
Gilmour replied:

I do not acknowledge that voter rankings will be utilised "in such a
haphazard
way"

I reply:

...unless those rankings are counted by IRV

Gilmour continued:

, unless "haphazard" means something very different your side of the pond.

I reply:

Pretty much the same, I'd expect. But many words have radically different
meanings in IRV-land.

There is nothing haphazard about the situation I described. Publishing
"results"
precinct by precinct is just totally irrelevant when all that matters is the
city-wide totals. It is not a question of keeping them secret. Rather the
question is why on earth would you want to publish such irrelevant
information?

I reply:

It's something that's regularly done here. People are intersted in which
nationwide or statewide candidate would have won if only their own
County's votes were counted. You see, they're curious about what kind
of people they're sharing a county with.

Gilmour continued:

I never recommend collecting such information. Of course, in a
non-preferential
voting system, it is possible to count the votes locally at each precinct
and
remit only the totals to the central "counting" station. That would be more
difficult with a preferential voting system

I reply:

Not at all. It's easy with Condorcet: Each precinct county could count
the pairwise votes of the ballots, and send them to a central national
location. But I agree with you that that couldn't be done in IRV, where
each of the 100,000,000 rankings would have to be stored and repeatedly
referred to during the count. Of course even if Condorcet rankings were
sent to a central national location for all of the counting job, looking
at the rankings would be a 1-time thing. IRV requires much more memory
usage and computation-time in a big national election. Also much more
opportunity for tampering. See the "Summability Criterion" discussion
at the technical evaluation page at http://www.electionmethods.org
In return,
approval ballots contain information not present in ranked ballots,
namely an indication of the voters' strength of preference.
Gilmour replied:

I don't buy that. In Approval each voter just sorts the candidates into two
sets - acceptable and not acceptable.

I reply:

You've got to study Approval strategy more before you make statements
like that. Yes, acceptable/unacceptable is the optimal strategy if
you believe that the election has completely unacceptable candidates who
are winnable. Personally I believe that to always be so in our public
political elections, but many or most would disagree with me on that.

Probably the most popular strategy will be to vote for whichver of the
expected frontrunners you like the best, and for everyone whom you
like better. That's the obvious extension of typical Plurality strategy
to Approval.

That could be refined by also voting for every candidate whose utility
to you is greater than PxUx+PyUy, where Px is the probability that if
only one of the 2 expected frontunners, X & Y, is in a tie or near-tie
for 1st place, it will be X. Ux is X's utility for you.

If you don't have any information or impression about the relative
magnitudes of Px & Py, then they're equal as far as you're concerned,
and they're each 1/2, so that PxUx+PyUy becomes the mean of Ux & Uy.

This refinement to the popular "best-frontrunner" strategy is derived
at http://www.barnsdle.demon.co.uk/vote/sing.html in one of the
Approval Strategy articles there.

Alternatively, one could just vote for each candidate whom one consideres so
good that one would rather have him/her in office instead
of holding the election. Both are good strategies.

Gilmour continued:

That seems to me to be LESS information
than on a typical ranked ballot.

I reply:

...but did Bart say that the Approval ballot contains more information
than a ranking, or merely that it contains information that the ranking
doesn't contain?

Gilmour continued:


If you really want information about "strength
of preference" you will have to introduce some system that allows each voter
to
weight his or her preferences as they wish.

I reply:

Incorrect. In a good rank method, one can just rank sincerely. Freedom
from need to do otherwise is a goal of rank-methods. With Approval,
where you must give a candidate 0 or 1 point, the matter of whether or
not you give a point to a candidate depends partly on how much you like
the candidate, in absolute terms rather than ordinally.

For instance, in the extreme case of 0-information, you vote for all
the candidates whose utility for you is above the mean. As someone else
has pointed out, that means that Approval, then, is maximizing the
number of people who consider the winner above-mean.

And the
acceptable/unacceptable strategy that you mentioned also is about
non-ordinal rating. If people are using that strategy, Approval maximizes
the number of people who consider the winner acceptable.


So in these instances the Approval ballot is based
on information that doesn't affect ballots in the better rank methods.

If you're merely voting for whichever of the 2 expected frontrunners that
you prefer to the other, then of course your ballot doesn't use
any cardinal rating information.
In computer models conducted by Merrill and others, approval voting
produced results more in line with Condorcet's method than did IRV,
especially when there are many candidates.
Gilmour replied:

Maybe, but that does not remove the serious defect in Approval. One person,
one
vote is violated.

I reply:

Are you aware that that objection was answered during the last few
days on EM? On EM, we customarily reply to messages that claim to refute
something that was said, before we go on repeating the refuted
statement.

1) 1-person-1-vote is intended to mean that each person gets one ballot,
with the same voting opportunities, and counted by the same rules,
rules that are invariable with respect to the name of the voter.
Approval meets that criterion.

2) In Approval or Plurality, your ballot affects the outcome if
you've voted for X and notfor Y, and, when all the ballots but yours
are counted, either X & Y are equal, or Y is one ahead of X.

So your ballot has effect because you've voted between X & Y.
In Approval, if you vote for 1 candidate, and I vote for all but 1,
we're both voting between the same number of pairs of candidates.

We're both giving a point assignment to all the candidates: You're
giving "high" to one and "low" to the rest, and I'm giving "low" to
one and "low" to the rest.


3) It's been recently shown here that Plurality allows voting power to
vary by a much larger factor than Approval does.

4) Approval doesn't let anyone give more than 1 vote to a candidate.

5) In Approval, any voter can cancel-out any other voter.

6) If, in Approval, more people voted Smith over Jones than vice-versa,
of what relevance is it if some of those voting Smith over Jones
also voted for John Doe? That doesn't change the fact that they
voted preference for Smith over Jones, and that Smith is obviously
preferred to Jones in terms of voted preferences.

What do you mean by 1-person-1-vote?


Mike Ossipoff


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Adam Tarr
2002-12-07 08:55:30 UTC
Permalink
Recently, there have been a few people on the list making the erroneous
claim that approval voting violates the principle of "one person, one
vote". I just wanted to share what I consider the simplest argument to
refute this:

*** You can only vote at most once for the winning candidate. ***

That's really it. Once you internalize that fact, you will realize that
claiming approval violates 1P1V is just smoke in mirrors.

To elaborate, here's a thought experiment: imagine everyone else has
already voted, and you're the last person in the booth. You can either
vote for the frontrunner and not vote for the closest comeptitor, vote for
the closest competitor and not vote for the frontrunner, vote for both, or
vote for neither. If you do either of the first two, you have the same
power as you would have if you had voted in plurality. If you do either of
the last two, you have the same voting power as someone who casts a vote
for a third party candidate does in current plurality elections.

The beauty of approval voting is that it makes it more likely that you will
have a chance to cast a vote in the deciding contest of the race, even if
you feel strongly about other candidates. Approval actually brings us
CLOSER to 1P1V, where plurality often effectively leaves you with 1P0V (one
person, zero votes).

-Adam


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Alex Small
2002-12-07 18:45:08 UTC
Permalink
Post by Adam Tarr
*** You can only vote at most once for the winning candidate. ***
As much as I applaud this excellent defense of approval, there's one basic
problem: The phrase "one person/one vote" means different things to
different people. Even the most lucid argument will not convince a person
that "Method X satisfies property Y" when the person making the argument
and the person hearing the argument have different definitions for Y.

The only worthwhile argument is over which criterion going by the name
"1p1v" is more socially desirable. It's like an election with two
candidates named John Smith: There's no point arguing over "Who is John
Smith?" because they both are. The only question is which John Smith will
make a better elected official.

A funnier analogy is this: In college, I once told somebody "My cousin is
a slut." Another student overheard this and said "No she's not!" I said
"What do you mean? You don't know her." The other student said "Just
because your cousin <deleted because this is a family list> doesn't mean
she's a slut."

Finally, after ten minutes of intense debate (I was procrastinating from
writing a term paper) I discovered that my fellow student had a different
definition of the word "slut" that restricted the term to prostitutes. My
cousin has many flaws, but prostitution isn't one of them. So, the
argument ended.

The moral of the story is this: Arguments over which definition is
correct are pointless. The only valid arguments are (1) which one defines
something more relevant? and (2) My cousin is definitely a slut ;)



Alex


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Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
2002-12-09 05:06:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by Adam Tarr
Recently, there have been a few people on the list making the erroneous
claim that approval voting violates the principle of "one person, one
vote". I just wanted to share what I consider the simplest argument to
*** You can only vote at most once for the winning candidate. ***
A good thing and this is why I prefer ranking methods to grading methods.
Yet, 1P1V should be ***You can only vote at most once for any candidate at any
time*** with the generalization of splitting your vote in fractions that sum up
to one.
But approval has other benefits...

Steph.


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Adam Tarr
2002-12-09 19:40:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
Post by Adam Tarr
*** You can only vote at most once for the winning candidate. ***
A good thing and this is why I prefer ranking methods to grading methods.
You can use graded ballots in ranking methods, too. Forest advocates this
on the grounds that people are familiar with it and it prevents the
confusion about whether 1 is the lowest or the highest ranking.
Post by Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
Yet, 1P1V should be ***You can only vote at most once for any candidate at any
time*** with the generalization of splitting your vote in fractions that
sum up
to one.
That sort of strikes me as a perversion of the phrase for the benefit of
IRV. Or perhaps, for the denigration of Approval. I mean, who cares (for
the purposes of the spirit of 1P1V) how the electoral system cranks through
all the names on a ranked ballot or on a list of approved candidates? All
that matters is that, at the end of the election, I don't have a way of
making my vote more powerful than someone else's.

How about this phrasing:

***A voter can have at most one vote that contributes to the election of a
candidate.***

By the way I wrote it, IRV, plurality, and Approval clearly pass, and Borda
clearly fails. Condorcet is a funny case because there are many (n
squared, minus n, divided by two) contests going on at once, but clearly
1P1V is maintained in each one.

-Adam


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Markus Schulze
2002-12-07 22:21:49 UTC
Permalink
Dear Mike,
Post by MIKE OSSIPOFF
In Approval, any voter can cancel-out any other voter.
What does "cancelling-out" mean? Could you explain this
term in such manner that it can also be applied to ranking
methods?

Markus Schulze

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Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
2002-12-08 17:06:16 UTC
Permalink
I suppose Mike means that if someone voted ABDEFH,
is vote can be cancelled by someone else voting CG
thus the combined effect of those two votes has no
effect on the outcome of the vote (except in the case of a tie
and a mathematically systematical tie-breaker).

Steph.
Post by Markus Schulze
Dear Mike,
Post by MIKE OSSIPOFF
In Approval, any voter can cancel-out any other voter.
What does "cancelling-out" mean? Could you explain this
term in such manner that it can also be applied to ranking
methods?
Markus Schulze
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Markus Schulze
2002-12-08 20:46:03 UTC
Permalink
Dear Steph,
Post by Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
I suppose Mike means that if someone voted ABDEFH,
is vote can be cancelled by someone else voting CG
thus the combined effect of those two votes has no
effect on the outcome of the vote (except in the case
of a tie and a mathematically systematical tie-breaker).
I suppose that Mike means something like Donald G. Saari's
"Reversal Symmetry Criterion" which says that adding a
vote and its reversal shouldn't change the outcome.
However, this criterion is a rather strong criterion
(especially when one promotes "winning votes").

Markus Schulze

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Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
2002-12-09 04:39:18 UTC
Permalink
From my point of view, the ability to deny someone else
representation is not a good thing. But it has no impact on single
seat elections where with only one winner, some voters are going
to be without representation at the end of the process.
I suppose that is why Mike says my views fit for multiple-winners
elections. And I tend to see single winner methods as a particular case of
multiple-winners elections... Maybe I should not.
Dear Steph,
Post by Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
I suppose Mike means that if someone voted ABDEFH,
is vote can be cancelled by someone else voting CG
thus the combined effect of those two votes has no
effect on the outcome of the vote (except in the case
of a tie and a mathematically systematical tie-breaker).
I suppose that Mike means something like Donald G. Saari's
"Reversal Symmetry Criterion" which says that adding a
vote and its reversal shouldn't change the outcome.
However, this criterion is a rather strong criterion
(especially when one promotes "winning votes").
Markus Schulze
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Elisabeth Varin/Stephane Rouillon
2002-12-09 04:58:57 UTC
Permalink
First let me suggest again mixes of approval and preferential ballots
that I use for the single-winner methods explained on the
Electoral_systems_designers
site:
1) the universal ballot uses a preferential ballot ended by the approval
cut-off;
1) demorep's ballot (message #5 on this archive) uses the same and keeps
the ranks of the undesired candidates after the cut-off. This information
can help a voter participate in solving the "lesser-of-two-evils" problem
without actually approving any of the unacceptable candidates. Thus a voter
cannot
DIRECTLY (Thanks Mike) give the victory to the less evil...
Post by MIKE OSSIPOFF
Maybe, but that does not remove the serious defect in Approval. One person,
one
vote is violated.
Are you aware that that objection was answered during the last few
days on EM? On EM, we customarily reply to messages that claim to refute
something that was said, before we go on repeating the refuted
statement.
1) 1-person-1-vote is intended to mean that each person gets one ballot,
with the same voting opportunities, and counted by the same rules,
rules that are invariable with respect to the name of the voter.
Approval meets that criterion.
I define that as fairness between voters.

Steph.

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