Re: [EM] Election-Methods Digest, Vol 187, Issue 18

classic Classic list List threaded Threaded
1 message Options
Reply | Threaded
Open this post in threaded view

Re: [EM] Election-Methods Digest, Vol 187, Issue 18

Forest Simmons
Schwarzenegger was Condorcet winner; VPR and Candidate
      Withdrawal to simplify voter strategy (was Re: Arrow's theorem
      and cardinal voting systems) (Steve Eppley)


VPR has been mentioned from time to time in the context of what Warren Smith has dubbed "asset voting," and I used to call "candidate proxy."  It turns out that Charles Dodgson was way ahead of us on this.

Some version of VPR is what we need for these huge elections.  I think the recall election in California that elected Schwarznegger has to be the world record holder for the most number of candidates in a gubernatorial race (I wasn't trying to imply anything about the election results with the word "propelled.")

Best Regards,



Message: 1
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2020 21:45:42 -0500
From: Steve Eppley <[hidden email]>
To: [hidden email]
Subject: [EM] Schwarzenegger was Condorcet winner; VPR and Candidate
        Withdrawal to simplify voter strategy (was Re: Arrow's theorem and
        cardinal voting systems)
Message-ID: <[hidden email]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8

On 1/13/2020 6:32 PM, Forest Simmons wrote:
> It's not just Approval that requires some hard thinking in conjunction with filling out the ballots. Ranking many candidates (think about the number of candidates in the election that propelled Schwarznegger into office) may be just as burdensome as trying to decide exactly which candidates to mark as approved. In Australia you can get around this difficulty by copying "candidate cards" or by voting the party line.

During the week or so before Schwarzenegger was elected Governor of California (ousting Governor Gray Davis in a recall election), likely voters were surveyed by a team of grad students led by economics & political science professor Rod Kiwiet of Caltech.? The voters were asked the 6 pairwise preference questions regarding the 4 candidates judged by Kiwiet to be the top 4 (including Davis).? The survey result was that Schwarzenegger defeated the other 3 candidates pairwise.? A Condorcet winner.? So I don't agree that Schwarzenegger was "propelled into office by the (large) number of candidates" but perhaps I'm unaware of better evidence.

Regarding Australia's solution for their tedious lengthy STV PR ballot, a similar way to make strategy simpler for voters is to use a voting method in the Vote for a Published Ranking (VPR) family of methods:?

???? Before election day, each candidate publishes a ranking of
???? all the candidates (presumably with him/herself on top).?
???? Any candidate who doesn't publish is disqualified.
???? (Alternatively, any candidate who doesn't publish is treated
???? as if s/he'd published the ranking that has him/herself on top
???? and all other candidates tied at the bottom.)

???? On election day, each voter votes by selecting one candidate.

???? Each vote is tallied as if it were the ranking published by the
???? voter's selected candidate (using society's favorite algorithm
???? for aggregating voters' rankings).

Some potential advantages of VPR:
(1) Good candidates wouldn't need as much money to win, since they can win by persuading some "popular" candidates to rank them over worse candidates.? It might require only a few phone calls.?
(2) After the candidates publish their rankings, journalists & pundits would presumably scrutinize the rankings looking for unusual preferences, a possible sign of corruption.? Presumably many voters would learn about those oddities before election day, and reconsider who to vote for.
(3) It's relatively simple for the voters.? My hunch is that strategically-optimal votes would typically be votes for one's favorite candidate, even when there are many candidates.
(4) It solves problems related to "too many candidates" and "low information voters" -- in particular that the best candidates might be left unranked by a lot of voters.? It was this concern, expressed by Mike Alvarez of Caltech many years ago, which led me to propose VPR in an article published in 2007 in the Pasadena Weekly:? (In 2007, Rudy Giuliani was considered a frontrunner for the 2008 Republican presidential nomination, so his name appears in an example in the article.)

Two variants of VPR:
1. NGOs could publish rankings too, and be eligible for selection by voters on election day.
2. Given adequate technology in the voting booth... The voter begins by selecting one candidate.? The voting machine then displays that candidate's published ranking, and the voter may rearrange it. (A big time saver, yet the voter has maximal control over his/her ranking.)

Another way to simplify voter strategy is to allow candidates to withdraw from contention after election day, after the votes are published (in a summary format adequate to be tallied using the voting method).? A spoiler could choose to withdraw to help a compromise defeat a "greater evil."? The Candidate Withdrawal option would also make voting methods more compatible with the U.S. Electoral College, because candidates could withdraw to help a compromise candidate obtain a majority in the Electoral College.? A variant of Candidate Withdrawal is to allow candidates to withdraw from particular pairings while remaining in the other pairings (assuming a pairwise voting method).

Subscribers to Election-Methods may already be familiar with VPR and Candidate Withdrawal since they were discussed here many years ago.? I've read few messages in the last 10-ish years, so I have no clue about what current subscribers are familiar with.


Election-Methods mailing list - see for list info