Alternate Voting Systems (Range, Condorcet etc)

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guenther
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Alternate Voting Systems (Range, Condorcet etc)

Postby guenther » Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:32 am UTC

I'm a big fan of Range Voting over our current system of Plurality Voting. Does anyone see any problems with it?

I have this theory that our current political system inevitably reduces to two main parties. If you don't vote for one of them, you're at best irrelevant and at worst a spoiler to someone you might support more. Furthermore, our the two main parties' candidates are chosen by their base in the primary. This accentuates the differences between the two and causes greater polarization.

As a result, we get this odd grouping of issues for the sides. Like why should abortion and taxes be so linked in our political system? Perhaps if some Conservatives compromised on abortion, we'd get a candidate that was more to the center, but quite financially conservative. But that candidate would never survive the Republican primary.

This is why I like range voting. You could have a wide variety of "Republican" candidates with different takes on certain issues. (I could have done a Democrat example, but this was at the top of my mind.) And the free market of ideas across the country would then align politics to what we want, rather than just the best (or often least worst) of two opposing views.

Another reason is that Conservatives hate the idea of compromising on their values. But with range voting, there's no compromise. You rank highest the candidate that most supports your views and successively lower for each person that doesn't support them.

I think this idea sounds great, but perhaps some people that understand voting theory better could let me know if there's something I'm missing. Also there's the problem of how do you change the system when it hurts both the main parties in power. But I'd like to discuss the theory before the practicality of the change.

Thanks!
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Re: Range voting

Postby wisnij » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:31 am UTC

I think it would be a great idea. Good luck actually implementing it, though, given how entrenched the current voting system is. :|
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Re: Range voting

Postby masher » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:35 am UTC

is that anything to do with the current Australian system?

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Re: Range voting

Postby xev » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:16 am UTC

I'd like something that allows for shades of gray in the results (very necessary!), but I am slightly confused about the benefits of Range Voting over proportional representation (specifically, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Party-list_proportional_representation]Party-list proportional representation) and also have a couple of practical concerns.

Okay, confusion first :P : I can understand that voters would be more likely to pick freely if they filled out the ballot completely--but what about those who aren't willing to put the time in? would range voting potentially be too confusing for them? for the uninformed voter, are there major differences between the results of range voting and party-list proportional representation? (or other proportional representation). I am somewhat concerned that with many candidates, Range Voting would become very unwieldy--how would you distribute sample ballots? I'm not sure that if I wasn't paying close attention, I would be able to handle a long list of candidates.

On the other hand, I guess we'd adapt to the new system and it's not as if everyone follows the elections religiously right now.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Carnildo » Tue Feb 24, 2009 10:39 am UTC

Range voting works when you've only got one seat to fill -- say, the President of the United States.

The problem with range voting is that most people don't like shades of grey -- they prefer simple yes-no choices.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Iv » Tue Feb 24, 2009 11:35 am UTC

The perfect method is known since the eighteenth century. Never implemented that I am aware of.
Carnildo wrote:The problem with range voting is that most people don't like shades of grey -- they prefer simple yes-no choices.

If so, then a weaker form of Condorcet voting is to simply allow multiple votes. Put in the envelop (or check the box, depending on your country) as many candidate that you would like to see elected. Of course it goes completely against big parties interests and will probably never be implemented : it allows small candidates to make huge scores.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Whimsical Eloquence » Tue Feb 24, 2009 3:49 pm UTC

I believe a system with even greater merit than porportional representation (though it is an off-shoot from it) and one of the few sane things about our electoral system in Ireland is Single-Transferable Vote (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote).

Essentially it is built on the solid base of the porportional representation system except adds in some extra, and more complex, changes. The system works for election to legislatures in multi-seat constituencies. First, a quota is calculated based on a simple formula (it's on the wikipeidia articel) that is the number of votes a candidtae must reach to win a seat. Voters mark the Candidates in order of preference (so Joseph Hedel might put candidate A as his second preference, and candidate C as his first preference and so on). All the first preference (id est all the "number ones") votes are counted and the scores tallied, as soon as any candidate gets enough votes to get through all the reamining first preference votes for him are not counted. Instead what happens is that all those candidates who got through have any excess votes for them not counted and instead the second preference of these excess votes are used and distributed to the remaining candidates. Also, if a candidate fails to make any of the quotas by a long shot, his first preference vote are distributed amongest those candidates who have a chance to meet the quota. This counting and re-counting of the decreasing preferences continues until all the seats have been filled.

This means that in this system no one candidate can win by a lanslide, also if the candidate you voted for got through easily that dosn't mean your vote isn't wasted. This also allows people to support multiple candidates and partys. For instance, due to growing enviourmental awareness many people in Ireland have started giving the Green Party here second preference after their party of choice. The real merit to this system is in its ability to reflect the general consensus of people about who they would like as thier constituencie's seat-holders.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Sharlos » Wed Feb 25, 2009 10:18 am UTC

Whimsical Eloquence wrote:I believe a system with even greater merit than porportional representation (though it is an off-shoot from it) and one of the few sane things about our electoral system in Ireland is Single-Transferable Vote (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote).

Essentially it is built on the solid base of the porportional representation system except adds in some extra, and more complex, changes. The system works for election to legislatures in multi-seat constituencies. First, a quota is calculated based on a simple formula (it's on the wikipeidia articel) that is the number of votes a candidtae must reach to win a seat. Voters mark the Candidates in order of preference (so Joseph Hedel might put candidate A as his second preference, and candidate C as his first preference and so on). All the first preference (id est all the "number ones") votes are counted and the scores tallied, as soon as any candidate gets enough votes to get through all the reamining first preference votes for him are not counted. Instead what happens is that all those candidates who got through have any excess votes for them not counted and instead the second preference of these excess votes are used and distributed to the remaining candidates. Also, if a candidate fails to make any of the quotas by a long shot, his first preference vote are distributed amongest those candidates who have a chance to meet the quota. This counting and re-counting of the decreasing preferences continues until all the seats have been filled.

This means that in this system no one candidate can win by a lanslide, also if the candidate you voted for got through easily that dosn't mean your vote isn't wasted. This also allows people to support multiple candidates and partys. For instance, due to growing enviourmental awareness many people in Ireland have started giving the Green Party here second preference after their party of choice. The real merit to this system is in its ability to reflect the general consensus of people about who they would like as thier constituencie's seat-holders.


Yeah, that's the system Australia uses, and from what I can tell the most straight-forward (yet fair) system I have known.

Edit: I'll add that the range-voting system isn't that good for electing people to govern your country. What exactly does the range you're choosing mean? It only complicates voting even more than it already is.

The system outlined above also has the benefit of not leading to just two parties running for government.

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Re: Range voting

Postby guenther » Wed Feb 25, 2009 1:57 pm UTC

In my mind, range voting would be even simpler to explain than ranked voting. In fact, the simplest form, approval voting, is about as simple as it gets. The range is arbitrary, it doesn't have to mean anything. I liked the idea of 0 to 5, kind of like how we do movie ratings.

Initially when I started looking into alternative voting systems, I favored ranked voting, but was always worried it would be too complicated. But really my main motivation is to get away from the two party system. So in the end I would side with the system I believed could be implemented the best.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I wasn't aware of how Australia's system worked.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Silas » Wed Feb 25, 2009 6:45 pm UTC

guenther wrote:But really my main motivation is to get away from the two party system.

I don't think you can do away from two-party elections so easily. In any winner-take-all election, factions that know they aren't likely to win will get their bests results by putting their resources (money, volunteers, goodwill) toward whichever of the front-runners is the lesser of two evils. I don't think the Green party would have actually won more elections with IRV, STV, or range voting than they did under plurality.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Carnildo » Thu Feb 26, 2009 3:36 am UTC

The key to getting away from a two-party system is to have elections with multiple winners. For example, if California were to select its 53 representatives by an at-large election where the 53 top vote-getters were picked, it would be quite possible for third parties to pick up a seat or two.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Velict » Thu Feb 26, 2009 2:59 pm UTC

Carnildo wrote:The key to getting away from a two-party system is to have elections with multiple winners. For example, if California were to select its 53 representatives by an at-large Wrestlemania where the 53 top vote-getters were picked, it would be quite possible for third parties to pick up a seat or two.


You're absolutely correct here. It's widely accepted by political scientists that elections with only a single winner - systems alternatively labeled as Single Member District (SMD) or First Past the Post (FPTP) systems - inevitably result in the creation of two large, catch-all political parties. If we want to accomplish what the OP attends - to eliminate the political domination of two parties - we need to adopt a non-SMD/FPTP system; a common (and effective) example would be proportional representation.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Sharlos » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:23 am UTC

While that's a good idea, if you were going by the top X number of people who were chosen, how do you decide what the cutoff point is? Presently in Australia each person elected is representing an electorate and the electorates are based on population.

Hypothetically, how would you choose the cutoff number for those who get in and those who don't?

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Re: Range voting

Postby Silas » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:17 am UTC

Well, for the US House of Representatives, it's already done: each state sends a fixed number (adjusted according the the Census) of Representatives, and two Senators (who are elected separately). California has 53, Texas has 32, Connecticut has five....

The drawback to an at-large election is that representatives lose their unique loyalty to their district. You'd go from having "the Congressman from the Virginia Fifth (Charlottesville, Lynchburg, Danville, and vicinity), who has a responsibility to an identifiable subset of Virginia, to having "one of the Congressmen from Virginia" (elected largely by disgruntled farmers), who doesn't have to keep any particular group of people happy with him.

Or, put another way, even if my candidate for Congress loses, I still have someone I can point to and say, "this is my representative." But if there'd been an at-large election, all I'd have would be a panel of legislators, none of whom have any obvious connection to me.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Philwelch » Fri Feb 27, 2009 5:40 pm UTC

guenther wrote:I have this theory that our current political system inevitably reduces to two main parties.


Yeah, you and Maurice Duverger.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Vaniver » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:38 pm UTC

Iv wrote:The perfect method is known since the eighteenth century.
Range voting is superior to rank voting, as it allows people to compare relative preferences.
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Re: Range voting

Postby scikidus » Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:18 am UTC

I'm a fan of IRV (rank voting), but I'm also interested by subconscious systems of voting/polling. For instance, if murals of the two candidates were drawn on a sidewalk, and a hidden camera was installed. One might be able to judge public opinion of the candidates based on how people react to the murals (walk over them, walk around them, etc.)
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Re: Range voting

Postby Philwelch » Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:54 am UTC

scikidus wrote:I'm a fan of IRV (rank voting), but I'm also interested by subconscious systems of voting/polling. For instance, if murals of the two candidates were drawn on a sidewalk, and a hidden camera was installed. One might be able to judge public opinion of the candidates based on how people react to the murals (walk over them, walk around them, etc.)


For all the corruption involved, at least vote-counters use a simple and understandable algorithm. I don't want to hand over elections to psychologists analyzing camera footage.

Plus, vote stacking is way easier under such a system. Just organize hundreds of people to go and piss on Obama in the middle of the night and he'd be defeated.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Carnildo » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:20 am UTC

Iv wrote:The perfect method is known since the eighteenth century.


Condorcet methods have one very fundamental flaw: they fail the participation criterion. This leads to the perverse situation where you can cause someone to lose the election by voting for them.

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Re: Range voting

Postby guenther » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:38 pm UTC

(NOTE: For this whole thread I've been thinking about single winner votes like President. The same goes here. I'll address multiple winner systems in another post.)

Philwelch wrote:
guenther wrote:I have this theory that our current political system inevitably reduces to two main parties.
Yeah, you and Maurice Duverger.

The part about Plurality causing a two-party system, I admit I stole that part. I hadn't heard of Duverger and I hadn't seen a formal representation of that, so thanks for the link!

It was the "Furthermore" part that I was trying to put forth as my theory.
guenther wrote:Furthermore, our the two main parties' candidates are chosen by their base in the primary. This accentuates the differences between the two and causes greater polarization.

If someone has this as a law as well, let me know. :)

Here's a graphic to illustrate my idea.
Image

Let's take two issues (say gay rights and taxes). Suppose we could precisely quantify every voter's position on each issue and graph it (the black dots above, assume it represents both where they stand on the issue and it's weight when deciding who to vote for). Then we take the potential candidates and plot their position on the same graph (blue squares are Democrats, red are Republicans, purple are other).

Now let's assume that each voter chooses a candidate that most represents his views. Graphically it would mean choosing the candidate that has the closest Euclidean distance. (I know this is a gross simplification, but I'm hoping my idea still holds given a more complicated set of voting criteria.)

With our system, the primaries will put forward one blue square and one red square. These are chosen by their respective bases. Then the final election will be between that red square and that blue square. So each round of voting, we're stuck with someone much more polarized than the public might really want. My theory is that this creates the polarization and causes the constant back and forth struggle for power (the Team game mentality).

A better system would be if we could vote for some of the purple (or even some of the eliminated red and blue) squares. These might represent a better balance of what people want and a better direction for the country. I think a lot of the polarization is artificial created by the main two parties. Some of the correlation between certain issues might go away if we open the field to more candidates. (They might correlate in a different way, but that would be a natural polarization.)

Plurality causes two-party system. Two-party system causes Team game mentality. Team game mentality causes us to lose the ability to rationally think about issues. That's my theory. I want a system where it can be about issues, not teams. (I don't mind teams if teams follow the issues rather than issues following the teams.)
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Re: Range voting

Postby guenther » Sun Mar 01, 2009 3:25 pm UTC

So when I started this I was thinking of single winner elections, I suppose because the President gets a lot of attention. I probably should have been clearer.

For Congress, it sounds like the proportional representation would be a state-wide election where we vote for party, and each party gets a number of representatives bases on their parties votes. I know this is implemented in various places, and if it works, than perhaps it's a good thing.

Personally I'm a little wary of voting for a party rather than a person. I want to move away from the team game mentality. I want to see issues discussed, not teams. Currently I feel we have a case where the teams shape the issues rather than issues shaping the teams. If these real examples of proportional voting have shown this to not be the case, then I'd be more receptive to it.

For the President, governor, mayor, etc, we'd still need something else.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Xanthir » Tue Mar 03, 2009 1:54 am UTC

Approval voting is by far the simplest decent voting system, and also the hardest to game. Anything involving ranking is flawed in multiple ways; it's complex, arbitrary, and, as noted by Carnildo, fails the participation criterion.

You get a ballot, you put an X on the candidates you wouldn't mind winning, you turn in your ballot. Easy as pie. Doesn't require any significant retooling of our vote-counting mechanisms, either - they just have to count *all* the punched candidates, rather than invalidating ballots with more than one candidate punched.
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Re: Range voting

Postby Carnildo » Tue Mar 03, 2009 3:27 am UTC

Xanthir wrote:Doesn't require any significant retooling of our vote-counting mechanisms, either - they just have to count *all* the punched candidates, rather than invalidating ballots with more than one candidate punched.


It will require some re-tooling: for example, with the local mail-in ballot system, if you accidentally mark the wrong candidate, you X-out the incorrect mark and fill in the oval for the candidate you want. When your ballot gets run through the machine, it comes up as an overvote and redirects the ballot to be counted by hand. With approval voting, they'd need to deal with some other way of handling this.

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Re: Range voting

Postby psychaotix » Wed Mar 04, 2009 10:23 am UTC

As a side note, It should be mentioned that Australia also has Compulsury voting, both for in country and out of country citizens. Every single citizen over the age of 18 must be registered with the Australian Electoral Comission, and there is a fine if you dont vote. This ensures that every adult has a vote in any state or federal election.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Weezer » Thu Mar 05, 2009 1:15 am UTC

psychaotix wrote:As a side note, It should be mentioned that Australia also has Compulsury voting, both for in country and out of country citizens. Every single citizen over the age of 18 must be registered with the Australian Electoral Comission, and there is a fine if you dont vote. This ensures that every adult has a vote in any state or federal election.


I disagree with this idea. I think that while voting is a responsibility and duty of every citizen living in a democracy of any type, no one should be forced to vote. What if you honestly oppose all of the candidates for good reasons, for instance if you believe that they are all extremely corrupt, then should you be forced to vote for someone you believe to be a criminal? I think not.
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Re: Range voting

Postby IIAOPSW » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:05 am UTC

uh, maybe the two party system is a result of an underlying principal of people and has nothing to do with the voting system. i'm just saying that people who have a "right" opinion on 1 issue tend to have "right" opinions on other issues. like any data set, there are outliers but wouldn't it make sense that large sums of people that fall into general groups (middle class, evangelical...) should have similar opinions on matters important to their day to day life. and also i had an idea so that more people are represented more of the time.

what if you could vote on every and any issue however if you choose to not vote, your vote defaults to the left or right depending on which party you register with. if you disagree with your party on something just vote as you believe. obviously, every issue up for vote would have to be publicized and a few leaders would have to be elected to represent us abroad, propose new laws to us, administer government organizations/institutions, make decisions that require secrecy and do all other acts and things that free and independent states may of right do.

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Re: Range voting

Postby phlip » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:37 am UTC

Weezer wrote:I disagree with this idea. I think that while voting is a responsibility and duty of every citizen living in a democracy of any type, no one should be forced to vote. What if you honestly oppose all of the candidates for good reasons, for instance if you believe that they are all extremely corrupt, then should you be forced to vote for someone you believe to be a criminal? I think not.

The Australian system doesn't force you to actually vote for someone... just that you show up on voting day. You can intentionally submit an invalid vote, which won't be counted, and not get fined. All you have to do to avoid the fine is show up, get your name marked off, get ballot, do something in voting booth, put ballot in box. If that "do something" happens to include "fill out ballot correctly with your preferences" then you've successfully voted, but that isn't mandatory.

On-topic: I could get behind Range voting. IRV (what we have in Australia) is pretty good... much better than plurality, anyway... but it has its flaws. In particular, if a candidate is very popular, but is rarely chosen as the first preference (but is a common second), then they could lose, despite being a good compromise. I imagine this might happen occasionally with independents and third-party candidates... people put their preferred of the two major parties first, then the independent or third-party second... I would like to see some stats, if there are any, of how often this actually happens, though. How hard is it to get one's hands on the votes from past elections? And I don't mean the results, but the actual votes (10 people voted A>B>C, 15 people voted A>C>B, etc)...
It could be hard for people to figure out how to vote... but I can't see it being significantly harder than the preferential voting we already have. I mean, if they just made it a Strongly Agree/Agree/Disagree/Strongly Disagree/Unknown for each candidate... who hasn't filled out a survey with that structure at some point?

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Re: Range voting

Postby phonon266737 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:42 am UTC

People would have to adjust to ::gasp:: putting what they actually WANT down on the balot, versus using their ballot to try and manipulate the system to ensure the system doesn't spit out who they DON'T WANT

This... could be difficult.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Carnildo » Thu Mar 05, 2009 3:40 am UTC

IIAOPSW wrote:uh, maybe the two party system is a result of an underlying principal of people and has nothing to do with the voting system.[Citation needed]


It's fairly well-established among people who study elections that any time you've got multiple people competing for a single position in an election, you'll evolve a two-party system -- except in the cases where you get a one-party system. Further, the two parties will evolve over time to be simliar to each other as each tries to take voters from each other and gain formerly-uncommitted voters.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Comic JK » Thu Mar 05, 2009 4:45 am UTC

IIAOPSW wrote:uh, maybe the two party system is a result of an underlying principal of people and has nothing to do with the voting system.[Citation needed]

In that case it would be hard to explain why countries with parliamentary democracies almost never have two-party systems, while countries with winner-take-all democracies like that of the US almost never deviate from two-party systems.

Are English and American people fundamentally different in some way that makes a significant third party impossible in the US, yet a standard feature of English politics?
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Re: Range voting

Postby ManaUser » Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:30 am UTC

I like the sound of ranked voting more than range voting because it's easier to understand and harder to "game".

Range voting, except for the special case of approval voting, is unnecessarily confusing I think. And it only works if people vote their conscience, which they don't. First of all there is virtually no motivation for a voter to assign other than the highest or lowest score. So realistically most people will give their favorite candidate the highest score, whether that's "approve", 5, 99 or whatever... and then what? I think they would want to vote strategically on the remaining candidates too. So it looks to me like they would probably give everyone else the lowest score, unless they don't think their preferred candidate could actually win. So basically we're left with almost the same situation as plurality voting.

With "Instant-runoff" ranked voting, all that is eliminated. You simply pick your favorite candidate, your second-favorite, etc. If your preferred candidate doesn't win, your vote is not wasted as long as you marked an second choice and so on. Just as importantly, selecting a second choice does not dilute your first vote, so there's no incentive to "cheat" by putting them in any order other than your real preference.

The only problem I see with IRV is a technical one. It does require somewhat more complicated ballots than approval voting or plurality voting.

P.S. Nice job attaching a plurality vote to this topic. Was that intended to be ironic? You could have done an approval vote instead.

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Re: Range voting

Postby psychaotix » Thu Mar 05, 2009 2:03 pm UTC

I believe we have an "instant run-off" Vote slip here, where you fill out your prefered candidate as number one, and then work down from there to your least preferred. This applies for the House of Representatives. The Senate vote is different in that you can either number a party vote, or individually number your senators.

The forms themselves are not complex, since they are only sheets of paper with 5-6 names on them for the house of representatives.


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Re: Range voting

Postby guenther » Thu Mar 05, 2009 6:28 pm UTC

ManaUser wrote:I like the sound of ranked voting more than range voting because it's easier to understand and harder to "game".

Why do you think this? In terms of understanding, I think just the opposite. For ranged voting (assuming something more complicated than approval), just make sure you have a number in range next to each candidate (blank would mean zero). Ranked voting has more restrictions: rank the candidates, no duplicate numbers, etc. Ranked voting seems harder by definition. Perhaps you mean in terms of explaining the concept rather than the actual process, but I don't see why range would be any harder there. In fact, my perceived complexity of ranked voting is what drew me to range voting.

In terms of "gaming", I'd like to understand how it is done. I tried to follow the link to the paper on ruining approval elections, but all I got was the abstract. I'm fully open to the possibility that range voting has some serious flaws if people aren't voting honestly, but I'd like to see examples so I can understand it.

Range voting, except for the special case of approval voting, is unnecessarily confusing I think. And it only works if people vote their conscience, which they don't. First of all there is virtually no motivation for a voter to assign other than the highest or lowest score. So realistically most people will give their favorite candidate the highest score, whether that's "approve", 5, 99 or whatever... and then what? I think they would want to vote strategically on the remaining candidates too. So it looks to me like they would probably give everyone else the lowest score, unless they don't think their preferred candidate could actually win. So basically we're left with almost the same situation as plurality voting.

Actually if everyone either votes "high" or "low" it will just reduce to approval voting, not plurality. In my head I imagine people will vote their favorite candidate (e.g. the Ronpaul) at max and perhaps a palpable but more popular candidate (e.g. John McCain) at max-1. And then vote everyone else a 0.

I don't see a problem. And what's the worst someone can do by tactically voting? I can't see the "gaming" problem. (I don't see it for ranked voting either.)

With "Instant-runoff" ranked voting, all that is eliminated. You simply pick your favorite candidate, your second-favorite, etc. If your preferred candidate doesn't win, your vote is not wasted as long as you marked an second choice and so on. Just as importantly, selecting a second choice does not dilute your first vote, so there's no incentive to "cheat" by putting them in any order other than your real preference.

I like Instant-runoff too. But I was worried about the complexity. There's more ways to spoil a ballot since you could rank two candidates the same.

The only problem I see with IRV is a technical one. It does require somewhat more complicated ballots than approval voting or plurality voting.

This is what sold me off of IRV. As I mentioned, there's more ways to spoil a ballot.

P.S. Nice job attaching a plurality vote to this topic. Was that intended to be ironic? You could have done an approval vote instead.

I didn't notice the irony until you pointed it out. :)
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Re: Range voting

Postby Indon » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:29 pm UTC

Iv wrote:The perfect method is known since the eighteenth century. Never implemented that I am aware of.


Doesn't this method encourage even more middle-of-the-road compromising than the existing plurality system (since 2'nd pref. for all voters would be likely to win over anyone with an agenda, who would be 1'st pref for some and near the bottom for others)?

Personally, my ideal policy-decision system would involve voting on issues - a legislative function's duty would then be to create laws from such results. And, well, it doesn't matter nearly as much how the actual legislators are selected in such a system.
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Re: Range voting

Postby One Mans Trash » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:17 pm UTC

It's important to distinguish between parliamentary systems and the system the US has established. I am assuming the end goal is to preserve the rights of the minority or, more eloquently to 'prevent the tyranny of the majority.'

Were the US to weaken the presidency AND introduce a proportional representation scheme, that would be one thing. As it stands, it's important for a small number of parties to have lots of power assuming your goal is to limit the amount of power any single branch of the government can have. Proportional representation dilutes the power of the minority (and majority) under our current system, creating a further imbalance between the legislative and the executive. The current voting system for members of the legislative body is not without it's problems, but reforming that without significantly reducing the power of the executive and reforming the rules in the house (not so much the senate), could lead to bigger problems. Even if the leader of the executive was selected in some other manner than first past the post.

Furthermore, the representative republic was set up clearly to reduce the impact of changing beliefs among voters. So a voting system that selects candidates who generally agree with the plurality on any given position may therefore select candidates who agree most on a single issue. When guns are popular among the collective electorate, gun ideologues who are moderate on all other issues are most likely to be voted as a majority (on that issue.) A shrewd politician will still find the wedges and operate on them. Essentially we'd be legislating by referendum, and it's harder to protect minorities (of all types and ideologies) when you do so.

Under a parliamentary system where the parliament chooses a PM and a vote of no confidence exists (far easier than impeachment), the proposed ideas work much better, imo.



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Re: Range voting

Postby ManaUser » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:59 am UTC

guenther wrote:Why do you think this? In terms of understanding, I think just the opposite. For ranged voting (assuming something more complicated than approval), just make sure you have a number in range next to each candidate (blank would mean zero). Ranked voting has more restrictions: rank the candidates, no duplicate numbers, etc. Ranked voting seems harder by definition. Perhaps you mean in terms of explaining the concept rather than the actual process, but I don't see why range would be any harder there. In fact, my perceived complexity of ranked voting is what drew me to range voting.

Yes, that's more what I meant. I think the concept would be alien and confusing to alot of people. I can just imagine thousands of little old ladies (sorry to stereotype but...) going "What? I have to rate them now? How do I know what to put?" Whereas the concept of ranking seems fairly easy to grasp.

guenther wrote:In terms of "gaming", I'd like to understand how it is done. I tried to follow the link to the paper on ruining approval elections, but all I got was the abstract. I'm fully open to the possibility that range voting has some serious flaws if people aren't voting honestly, but I'd like to see examples so I can understand it.

I didn't read the paper so I can't comment on that, but what I'm talking about is simple enough. Let me use a real example of what I mean. Bush/Gore/Nader (I'll just ignore the other minor parties).

Republicans would approve Bush only.
Democrats would approve Gore, and possibly Nader.
Greens would approve Nader, and probably Gore even if they only see him as the lesser of two evils.

So far so good, the spoiler effect is eliminated. But if Nader had had a realistic chance of winning this would change. Democrats would no longer give him an "approve" (even if they really did approve), fearing they would be helping him beat their preferred candidate. Likewise, Greens would be disinclined to approve Gore. So it looks to me like there's still a barrier to minor parties ever becoming "major".

guenther wrote:Actually if everyone either votes "high" or "low" it will just reduce to approval voting, not plurality.

Right. It's the other part (explained above) that makes it "almost the same" as plurality voting. I admit it's still somewhat better, though.

guenther wrote:In my head I imagine people will vote their favorite candidate (e.g. the Ronpaul) at max and perhaps a palpable but more popular candidate (e.g. John McCain) at max-1. And then vote everyone else a 0.

Okay, then. Why would they do that?

guenther wrote:This is what sold me off of IRV. As I mentioned, there's more ways to spoil a ballot.

Well this is a whole 'nother can of worms, but it occurs to me that ranked voting would be a good match for a touch-screen "ballot".

Another possible solution would be to change the rules slightly so ranking two candidates the same is not incorrect. I haven't fully thought this through, but perhaps there could be kind of a hybred IRV/Approval system. Suppose I voted like so:

1. Ron Paul (Get out of my keyboard, Randall.)
2. Barack Obama
2. Ralph Nader
3. John McCain

That would mean that as long as Paul is in the running, I approve him. If he's eliminated, I approve Obama and Nader. If one of them is eliminated, I approve the other. If they're both eliminated approve McCain.

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Re: Range voting

Postby Carnildo » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:01 am UTC

ManaUser wrote:
guenther wrote:In terms of "gaming", I'd like to understand how it is done. I tried to follow the link to the paper on ruining approval elections, but all I got was the abstract. I'm fully open to the possibility that range voting has some serious flaws if people aren't voting honestly, but I'd like to see examples so I can understand it.

I didn't read the paper so I can't comment on that, but what I'm talking about is simple enough. Let me use a real example of what I mean. Bush/Gore/Nader (I'll just ignore the other minor parties).

Republicans would approve Bush only.
Democrats would approve Gore, and possibly Nader.
Greens would approve Nader, and probably Gore even if they only see him as the lesser of two evils.

So far so good, the spoiler effect is eliminated. But if Nader had had a realistic chance of winning this would change. Democrats would no longer give him an "approve" (even if they really did approve), fearing they would be helping him beat their preferred candidate. Likewise, Greens would be disinclined to approve Gore. So it looks to me like there's still a barrier to minor parties ever becoming "major".


That's a problem with every voting system when you're selecting a single seat-warmer. If, on the other hand, this was an election for Ohio's two senators:

Republicans would approve Bush, and maybe Gore to keep Nader out.
Democrats would approve Gore and probably Nader to keep Bush out.
Greens would approve Nader, and probably Gore to keep Bush out.

Net result: Gore gets to keep a chair warm for six years while it's a tossup between Nader and Bush for the second spot.

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Re: Range voting

Postby ManaUser » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:57 am UTC

Carnildo wrote:
ManaUser wrote:So far so good, the spoiler effect is eliminated. But if Nader had had a realistic chance of winning this would change. Democrats would no longer give him an "approve" (even if they really did approve), fearing they would be helping him beat their preferred candidate. Likewise, Greens would be disinclined to approve Gore. So it looks to me like there's still a barrier to minor parties ever becoming "major".

That's a problem with every voting system when you're selecting a single seat-warmer.

No, you're mistaken. That's what I like about IRV. You lose absolutely nothing by selecting a second choice.

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Re: Range voting

Postby wisnij » Fri Mar 06, 2009 11:53 pm UTC

ManaUser wrote:No, you're mistaken. That's what I like about IRV. You lose absolutely nothing by selecting a second choice.

IRV is non-monotonic, though, and that seems counter-intuitive.

I'd be cool with approval voting, or a Condorcet method like Schulze, but I think a simple plurality vote is a really bad idea in practice. Once a two-party system gets entrenched it's hard to get out of, because each voter only has one vote to "spend".
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Re: Range voting

Postby BrainMagMo » Fri Mar 13, 2009 5:47 am UTC

ManaUser wrote:I like the sound of ranked voting more than range voting because it's easier to understand and harder to "game".

Range voting, except for the special case of approval voting, is unnecessarily confusing I think. And it only works if people vote their conscience, which they don't. First of all there is virtually no motivation for a voter to assign other than the highest or lowest score. So realistically most people will give their favorite candidate the highest score, whether that's "approve", 5, 99 or whatever... and then what? I think they would want to vote strategically on the remaining candidates too. So it looks to me like they would probably give everyone else the lowest score, unless they don't think their preferred candidate could actually win. So basically we're left with almost the same situation as plurality voting.
That's simplified voting, not tactical voting.

With "Instant-runoff" ranked voting, all that is eliminated. You simply pick your favorite candidate, your second-favorite, etc. If your preferred candidate doesn't win, your vote is not wasted as long as you marked an second choice and so on. Just as importantly, selecting a second choice does not dilute your first vote, so there's no incentive to "cheat" by putting them in any order other than your real preference.
However, if 70% like candidate A, but only a second to their main choice, the best candidate doesn't get elected.
That wouldn't happen in RV.

The only problem I see with IRV is a technical one. It does require somewhat more complicated ballots than approval voting or plurality voting.

P.S. Nice job attaching a plurality vote to this topic. Was that intended to be ironic? You could have done an approval vote instead.

The choices in the poll are mutually exclusive, such that one cannot like more than one choice, so what are you talking about?

Also, you should read articles that you link to.

"Approval voting

Steven Brams and Dudley R. Herschbach argued in a paper in Science magazine in 2001 that approval voting was the system least amenable to tactical perturbations. Authors of a 2004 paper in Public Choice disagreed, saying, "AV is one of the most susceptible systems to manipulation by small groups of voters (for example, small, maverick groups could determine the AV outcome.)"[2]"

Add a quorum requirement, such that at least 50% vote/rank someone, and RV gets the least tactical.


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