Re: [EM] Election-Methods Digest, Vol 199, Issue 10

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Re: [EM] Election-Methods Digest, Vol 199, Issue 10

Sam Weir

On Sun, Feb 14, 2021 at 4:02 PM <[hidden email]> wrote:
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Today's Topics:

   1. Re: Rank Codes (Richard Lung)
   2. Re: Rank Codes (Juho Laatu)


Message: 1
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2021 09:40:25 +0000
From: Richard Lung <[hidden email]>
To: Kristofer Munsterhjelm <[hidden email]>, Forest Simmons
        <[hidden email]>, EM <[hidden email]>
Subject: Re: [EM] Rank Codes
Message-ID: <[hidden email]>
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=utf-8; format=flowed

In 2007, STV was introduced to Scottish local elections, on the same day
as AMS for the Scottish Parliament, which had already been used in a
previous election. Despite these disadvantages to STV, its spoilage was
2%, whereas for AMS something like twice that spoilage. There was an
enquiry into the latter.

Enid Lakeman, in How Democracies Vote, goes into this issue of STV
spoilage, in considerable detail, to anyone concerned about it.

I think it was Mr Woodall, who investigated Meek STV to ensure it was
convergent. And this consideration applies to FAB STV. This is ensured
by the fact that it is a statistical count. It uses four averages, FA,
as the title says, and they all center the result to the most
representative candidates. I would like to point out, tho, that Binomial
STV is a different kind of count to the rest of the world of elections,
uninomial elections. With FAB STV, the last preferences count as much
against candidates, as first preferences count for them. This would
induce different voting behavior in an informed electorate of this
greater power to their vote.

Richard Lung.

On 13/02/2021 16:15, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 13/02/2021 03.29, Forest Simmons wrote:
>> It pains me to see all of the ranked ballot proposals that unnecessarily
>> limit preferences to three or four alternatives because of ignorance of
>> simple higher resolution ballots that can be easily marked and read (by
>> hand or by machine) without ambiguity or confusion from poorly formed
>> characters, stray marks, etc.
> I have an impression that the problem is not real, but imagined: that
> it's possible to do unlimited ranked ballots in practice without much
> difficulty. Otherwise, the jurisdictions that currently use STV would
> have encountered the problem and dealt with it already.
> So the problem is more one of perception: it seems obvious that unclear
> ballots are going to be hard to read, regardless of whether they
> actually will. And so, as a precautionary measure, the method gets
> limited to a few ranks.
> (There may also be technology-specific limitations, e.g. the
> jurisdiction in question uses mechanical voting machines that can't be
> adapted to more than this many ranks.)
>> A method that allows only three or four candidates to be ranked cannot
>> satisfy clone independence ... the only indispensable justification for
>> scrapping First Past the Post Plurality. And (beyond that) it
>> exacerbates the biggest IRV/STV/RCV defect, the high likelihood that
>> one's choices will be completely exhausted before the final rounds
>> unless you rank lesser evils at the expense of alternatives you like
>> better, because of ranking limitations that highlight the effect of
>> premature eliminations.
>> It is alleged that because of ambiguous handwriting and lack of room for
>> more than a few "bubbles," only a handful of distinct ranks can be allowed.
>> But what if each bubble has a different value?:
>> [8]? ?[4]? ?[2]? ?[1]
>> The rank of a candidate is the sum of its darkened bubble values ... a
>> number between zero and fifteen.
> I think these would confuse quite a few voters.
> I'd probably just go with ordinary numbers and be fairly confident it's
> going to work out. But if the problem is indeed one of perception, then
> just saying "don't sweat it" isn't going to convince anyone who's sure
> there will be problems.
> Perhaps a study on ballot rejection rates would help provide evidence
> that it works well most of the time? I seem to recall reading on
> Reddit's EndFPTP forum that ballot spoilage rates are about the same for
> FPTP and STV.
>> Suppose that there are to be 26 candidates, then instead of indicating
>> their relative ranks with mere numbers, you can order them with standard
>> alpha numeric code words ... Alpha1, Bravo2, Charlie3, Delta4, Echo5,
>> Foxtrot6, ... Victor22, Whiskey23, Xray24, Yankee25, Zulu26. So the
>> military already solved the ambiguity/ "noisy channel" commuunication
>> problem in the early days of Morse code.
>> These 26 code words cannot be confused with each other no matter how
>> illegible the hand writing.
> Of the two suggestions, I think I prefer this one. You could make this a
> minimal change by saying that a voter may use either ordinary numbers or
> codewords, so that voters who want to be extra sure that their ballots
> will be counted properly can use the codewords, while others may opt out
> if they think it's not worth the hassle.
>> These suggestions are intended for absentee and other mail-in ballots
>> ... electronic voting machines should allow in person voters to drag the
>> names into a list in any order, and then print out paper copies for
>> voter and precinct receipts.
> I'd prefer voting machines to be "Expensive Pencils" where the voter can
> input preferences and have a paper ballot printed out, and where that
> paper ballot is what gets counted. A voting machine is opaque; a
> printout is not.
> To mitigate chain voting, the machine could show the printout behind
> glass and deposit it directly into either the trash or the ballot box
> depending on the voter's choice. In addition, such a scheme would keep
> fingerprints and DNA off the ballot paper.
> ----
> Election-Methods mailing list - see for list info


Message: 2
Date: Sun, 14 Feb 2021 14:42:52 +0200
From: Juho Laatu <[hidden email]>
To: EM <[hidden email]>
Subject: Re: [EM] Rank Codes
Message-ID: <[hidden email]>
Content-Type: text/plain;       charset=us-ascii

I think I'm pretty much a pragmatist in your terms. In typical large elections it doesn't really matter if instead of voting A=B there would be a 50% chance that the vote will be read by computer as A>B, and 50% chance for A<B. In practical terms that is the same as voting A=B (comparable to flipping a coin). However from a pragmatic point of view it could be a problem if people would get irritated because of their inability to vote exactly A=B.

There might be ways to go around this "irritation", like drawing an X at one of the "smaller boxes" separetad by the light lines that I mentioned. That X would be interpreted as an exact value (unlike other marks). But this sounds already too complicated to be worth it. If people want to use exact ties, it might be better to split the long boxes into 100 small narrow (2 mm) boxes that would then correspond to some exact rankings/ratings. With these ballots you might at some point run out of ability to rank A>B, and be forced to rank A=B. So (from pragmatic point of view) there will be tradeoffs, of one or another kind.

My pragmatism gives also leeway in handling the various criteria (e.g. strategy related). Since I have learned that no method is strategy free, it doesn't make sense to me to meet some important criteria 100%, and then ignore some others that are not met 100%. I see all these criteria as pragmatic criteria in the sense that it is enough to eliminate each major risk in practice, but not necessarily 100% in theory. The best method might be one that intentionally does not meet any of the important criteria 100%. That could make it possible to meet as many important criteria as possible well enough, and thereby weaken the worst remaining vulnerability as much as possible.

BR, Juho

> On 14. Feb 2021, at 11.31, Kristofer Munsterhjelm <[hidden email]> wrote:
> On 14/02/2021 10.20, Juho Laatu wrote:
>> Just a thought.
>> One simple technique that allows voters to use almost infinite number
>> of different ranks would be to use one long box next to the name of
>> each candidate. Voters would draw a mark in the box (or leave it
>> unmarked). Marks towards the left side of the long box would be
>> considered "good", and marks towards the right side of the box "less
>> good". The ballots would be read by computers that would seek for a
>> mark in each box, and assign a numeric preference value depending on
>> the position of the mark in the box. There would be some additional
>> perpendicular light lines across the boxes to help making the order
>> of the candidates accurate.
> I've been thinking about such an interface for an Expensive Pencil too;
> it would make it very easy to gather rated information. It would be more
> noisy than a deliberate ratings system because it's hard to get a
> pixel-perfect line going, but if there are enough voters, then perhaps
> there's some rated analog of the Condorcet Jury theorem that would imply
> that the effect of that noise goes to zero as the number of voters
> approaches infinity.
> However, there's one problem: the voters can't easily equal-rank under
> such a scheme. Therefore, no method passes FBC unless it also passes
> Strong FBC, which is an extremely hard criterion to pass. Pragmatists
> may not care (e.g. Schulze has very low favorite-betrayal rates under
> the impartial culture distribution anyway), but it's annoying if you'd
> like your method to unambiguously pass.
> -km


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