[maemo-community] Election process referendum

From: Andrew Flegg andrew at bleb.org
Date: Tue Jan 27 15:19:49 EET 2009
On Tue, Jan 27, 2009 at 11:28 AM, Benson Mitchell
<benson.mitchell at gmail.com> wrote:
[big snip]
> First, though I'm apparently a "voice" rather than a "calm head", I agree on
> those three primary goals.

You're not really a "voice" - there had been some direct lobbying for
RRV - which, if truth be told, prejudiced me slightly against it.
Yours is definitely a "calm head" (IMHO), which has turned me on to
RRV a little more.

[range vs. preferential ballots]
> if, e.g, a voter has already ranked candidate A as 3rd, and then ranks
> candidate B as 3rd, is candidate A devoted, or pushed down to 4th?

This should be a validation error in the web front end, and the user
has to correct it. Presumably the same would apply to any range voting
where the number entered was outside the range (i.e -10 or 1000), or
any of these methods which are more complex than "just select your
most preferred candidate" which have direct number input.

> The counting method, and its implications on voter strategy, however, gives
> RRV a more significant edge. With STV, many situations arise where voting
> for your favored candidate may hurt his chances of election (versus voting
> against him or not voting at all);  the honest strategy can be seriously
> counterproductive. The voter _must_ try to predict the outcome to know if
> one of these situations is occurring, and alter their vote for maximum
> strategic effect. If they misjudge or disregard this, their honest
> participation may worsen the outcome.

I've heard this asserted, and seen pages on scorevoting.net which try
to prove it, but a quick analysis doesn't have me convinced.

Can you explain how this "hurt your preferred candidate(s)" situation occurs?

> 2) Ease of verification: This depends directly on the counting method.

Point taken.

> 3) Accuracy/optimality of results. (As I haven't heard any disagreement on
> this point, I won't spend much time here.)
> Range voting is, in my view, unambiguously superior in the single-winner
> case, both logically and empirically. While there's currently no accepted
> performance metric analogous to Bayesian regret for multi-winner elections,
> it stands to reason that as the logical multi-winner extension of range
> voting, RRV should be one of the best options available.

The maths behind Bayesian regret seems spot on. I'm not convinced that
it accurately models how people *feel*. An election method needs to be
more than just a mathematical model which is provably optimal.

> if an additional seat were to be created, it could be filled without a
> special election; calculation with existing ballots can be continued to
> obtain the next winner.

Some assumptions here: the original candidates still want to be involved ;-)

But it's an interesting idea, and certainly attractive.

> This kind of robustness is not as critical to a community organization as to
> a government, and AFAICT we currently have no rules for vacancies; it looks
> like if a council member vacates their seat, the council will operate with 4
> members until the next election, so this doesn't matter to us.

Indeed. It may be that the next council want to tidy up more of these
loopholes. The circumstances in which a council member could lose
their seat may need enumerating, which just opens up the possibility
of more holes.



Andrew Flegg -- mailto:andrew at bleb.org  |  http://www.bleb.org/
Maemo Community Council member

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