A Radically Different Approach To Score/Range Voting


#1

I began studying election methods during the 2004 pre-election season. I blogged on perhaps 50 sites, and may even have originated the term “spoiler effect.” My first attempt to cure the spoiler effect was “Consecutive Runoff Approval Voting”. See:
Consecutive Runoff Approval Voting

Some of my “criteria” include:

<> There must be simple hand counted paper ballots, with absolutely no casting or counting automation, and any election method must be simple enough to tabulate to enable this. Machines that most voters perceive to be operated via “black magic” can never be trusted. Any proper election method should be simple enough to enable this.

<> Any proposed election method should thoroughly disrupt the spoiler effect, and thus disrupt the “two-party-system,” which essentially becomes a “one-party-system.”

<> It is necessary to take account of the fact that elections are not primarily contests between opposing candidates, or even opposing ideals. Rather they are contests between the common voters and a ruthless ruling establishment. This causes election methods to become very complicated when the support of so-called “honest voters” is assumed as a criteria. Everything will become much simpler if voters are expected to vote strategically. After all, the ruling establishment will always act strategically.

: : : : :

I will shortly propose a simple score/range method that will satisfy these criteria. But I need to take a rest for now. I will describe a solution soon, but it may be useful to merely contemplate these criteria for now.

Thank you for your kind attention!


#2

Hi @rkjoyce!

Glad you’re interested in the subject. I’d recommend you check out rangevoting.org and approval.vote which both describe systems that meet the criteria you’ve outlined.

The Spoiler Effect, as a term, has been in use for a very long time. I certainly can sympathize with the feeling of uncovering something new when I found the implications of election science theory, but alas, it’s not undiscovered ground. A notable case of the spoiler effect is in 1912 presidential election where Taft was a spoiler.

The task now is to figure out how to turn our common agreed best methods (some form of range voting) and put it into practice. For example, https://reformfargo.org.


#3

I saw Approval Voting somewhere a long time ago but did not like having to fit all candidates into 2 categories. I used the term “range voting” to describe having more options.

My first ever view of IRV was from the same source in a negative light.


#4

As I said above, “It is necessary to take account of the fact that elections are not primarily contests between opposing candidates, or even opposing ideals. Rather they are contests between the common voters and a ruthless ruling establishment.” This really means that the common voters must win, and the small (hopefully former) ruling minority, which will always be lurking about, must lose.

Unfortunately, approval voting cannot thoroughly disrupt the spoiler effect, and so if it is adopted, it will likely fail, and thus the two-party-system with elite rule will likely survive. This would bring severe disappointment for voters who supported an alternative to the current single selection system. I regard the terms “plurality voting” and “first past the post” as pathetic terminology. In reality, all systems tend to produce “plurality” results. There is no “post” in “first past the post,” even metaphorically.

Approval voting, whereby voters can grant just one (1) vote to as many candidates as they approve of suffers from a “double bind quandary”. Suppose the voters using the approval method are presented with three candidates: two of whom are ruling establishment supported (presumably a Republican and a Democrat), and one of which is truly desired. The voters will face a quandary. Should they vote for both the desired and the lesser-evil ruling establishment candidate, or just for one or the other of these two, so as to contribute to the optimal, or at least lesser evil outcome? I presume that for most voters this is simply undecidable. Perhaps this should be called a “triple bind quandary”, and it could result in strongly desired, but non-ruling establishment candidates almost never becoming elected. A simple score/range method could effectively thwart this quandary.

Let us suppose that we have a very simple score/range system whereby voters can cast from one to ten votes for each of as many candidates as they desire (and could simply ignore strongly undesired candidates as if they did not exist). Since the voters could grant 10 votes to a desired candidate, but perhaps only 8 or 9 to a less desired ruling establishment candidate, the desired one would have a substantially improved chance of winning (this could be considered “strategic hedging”). With this, the double bind quandary would be profoundly mitigated, or even eliminated completely and strongly desired candidates could win.


Approval Voting on the Ballot in Fargo!
#5

So the way I win as an evil establishment candidate is simple. Run tons of utopian candidates that you’ll anchor as 10/10 then my rival candidate will be erroded down since they’re far less pure only 8,9/10 so my tactical nominations help me win.


#6

“So the I win as an evil establishment candidate is simple.”[???]

Both the phraseology and the logic here are totally opaque to me. How on earth does one win with this?


#7

I’m a clever Republican who wants to beat a the Democrats. I give money to a green candidate so that the left wing of the democrats reduce their support from 10 to 9. Maybe the Democrat still wins but if it was a close race within 10% I could win with my confederate candidate running.


#8

If you bestow 10 votes to a candidate, you are granting them a 100% portion of your assertable support. If you bestow 8 votes to another candidate, you are granting them a 80% portion of your assertable support. Nice and simple, huh?

If Ralph Nader got 91% of all assertable support, and John Kerry got 82% of all assertable support, and George W. Bush got 92% of all assertable support, then George W. Bush would win. (Since electors can vote for more than one candidate the total of these percents can be greater than 100.)

So yeah it’s not perfect. But would George W. Bush ever get that 92%? I don’t think so.


#9

You are evidence why score voting will be easily exploited ty for your post best of luck.


#10

I was in a big hurry today, and thus totally screwed up with a hare-brained assertion above in the example featuring Nader, Kerry, and Bush.

I think the part:

/~~~~~~~~~~
If you bestow 10 votes to a candidate, you are granting them a 100% portion of your assertable support. If you bestow 8 votes to another candidate, you are granting them a 80% portion of your assertable support. Nice and simple, huh?
~~~~~~~~~~

– is perfectly okay. But sadly, the part:

/~~~~~~~~~~
If Ralph Nader got 91% of all assertable support, and John Kerry got 82% of all assertable support, and George W. Bush got 92% of all assertable support, then George W. Bush would win. (Since electors can vote for more than one candidate the total of these percents can be greater than 100.)

So yeah it’s not perfect. But would George W. Bush ever get that 92%? I don’t think so.
~~~~~~~~~~

– is hare-brained. Sorry.

At the end of the voting period, all of the votes are simply added up (the method is “summable”). So when the vote totals for all of the candidates are added together, the resulting number of votes is 100% (duh).

Let’s assert that the Republicans are the “bad guys”, the Democrats are the “the gray guys” and the Greens are the “good guys” (“strongly undesirable”, “moderately undesirable” and moderately desirable, let’s say). Then indeed if the Republicans finance the Greens’ campaign this might well result in some or even many voters casting 7, 8, or 9 instead of 10 votes for the Democrat, and this could possibly cause the Republican to win. But these voters who would sacrifice 10%, 20%, or even perhaps 30% of their assertable support for the Democrat would still be far from sacrificing 100% of that support (as they well might do with single selection voting). They would need to depend upon their own situational awareness to decide how much to sacrifice, but they would apply strategy (if they were sensible).

It seems quite likely that no election method that can truly meet my initial criteria can be 100% spoiler effect free. But strategic hedge comes very close indeed.

Most people like to play poker, or play the lottery, even. They tend to like to be in a position to make strategic decisions. And really, on the scale of 1 to 10, casting any number of votes less than, say five, would hardly be regarded as strategic. So we really only need a range of vote casting choices from about 5 to 10. This would also make the manual vote counting process significantly easier. So this could be a “win-win.”


#11

There’s a flaw in your plan. A few, in fact.

First, candidates that are willing to run aren’t something you can just pop down to the corner store to pick up. It’s not like people will decide to run at the drop of the hat because someone ideologically opposed to them suggests it.

But let’s say, for the sake of argument, that you did. Sure, now your opponents might use the new Utopian Candidate as their new 10… but your supporters will now use them as their new zero. Perhaps your opponents’ supporters would re-anchor them to only an 8 or a 9, but you also risk your own supporters re-anchoring, and putting your opponent at a 1 or a 2.

In other words, the edge you gain with your opponent’s supporters would be lost with your own.


#12

“There’s a flaw in your plan. A few, in fact.” – above

From my perspective, it would be an understatement to say that your “arguments” are incoherent. There does seem to be a malapropos agenda in these objections.

“First, candidates that are willing to run aren’t something you can just pop down to the corner store to pick up. It’s not like people will decide to run at the drop of the hat because someone ideologically opposed to them suggests it.” – above

What? Anyway, you have no idea what my ideals might be to begin with. And of course, if nobody runs for office then no election can take place (duh).

“Sure, now your opponents might use the new Utopian Candidate as their new 10… but your supporters will now use them as their new zero.” – above

Of course there is no “zero” vote. Please remember that I mostly speak of the ruling establishment’s candidates versus the common voter’s candidates. I have never heard of “Utopian Candidates”, or “anchoring.” Also, there has been no discussion about any supposed set of “my candidates.” My presumption is that (a sufficient number of) the electors will simply vote strategically in accord with their own concerns.

I am not talking about some utopia here – I only want to have a system that meets the three simple criteria cited in the above original post.


#13

That’s assuming idealogical symetry that doesn’t have to exist. The machiavellian and devious can be immunized against manipulation and taught strategy while the naive and honest won’t be.

The GOP has no problem funding green candidates to spoil elections. I don’t even mean this is an insult they are playing the game by the rules and if we make exploitable rules that’s our fault not theirs.

Democracy is inherently conservative, take power and dilute it and weaken it by spreading it thin. It’s about assuming monarchs will love tyrants and that people will exploit and use power to perverse means. Approval voting plans for that. That people will bullet vote and that people will try and run tactical nominations which is why it safeguards against it with a high threshold for advancement. Approval isn’t rounding up a 6/10 score approval is orthagonal to scores it’s something deeper than that.


#14

Above quote – “That’s assuming idealogical[sic] symetry[sic] that doesn’t have to exist. The machiavellian and devious can be immunized against manipulation and taught strategy while the naive and honest won’t be.”

No. Anybody can use strategy. Fundamentally honest men and women use many strategies every day to avoid the attentions of perceivably unsuitable boyfriends and girlfriends. That does not cause them to become unprincipled or corrupt.

Above quote – “The GOP has no problem funding green candidates to spoil elections. I don’t even mean this is an insult they are playing the game by the rules and if we make exploitable rules that’s our fault not theirs.”

So? Strategic hedge simple score voting is intended to effectively neutralize the spoiler effect.

Above quote – “Approval voting plans for that. That people will bullet vote and that people will try and run tactical nominations which is why it safeguards against it with a high threshold for advancement. Approval isn’t rounding up a 6/10 score approval is orthagonal[sic] to scores it’s something deeper than that.”

As I said – Approval voting, whereby voters can grant just one vote to as many candidates as they approve of suffers from a “double bind quandary”. Therefor it doesn’t do much about the issue that “people will exploit and use power to perverse means.” What are “tactical nominations?” “Bullet voting” is obviously a profoundly impotent strategy (with most election methods). Regarding the statement “Approval isn’t rounding up a 6/10 score… ,” score/range voting does not involve rounding up anything. As I said, at the end of the voting period, all of the votes are simply added up (the method is “summable”).

These nit-picking objections could go on until the end of time. You may have noticed that very little in this world is 100% perfect.


#15

I don’t agree anyone can use strategy. The brutal meritocratic politics of the Roman empire couldn’t be played by anyone they selected for The hardened.

Score voting won’t be exploited by everyone it’ll be exploited by some and not others.


#16

@Bryce
Most voters already use strategy all the time. In the last presidential election, both Trump and Clinton got vote shares exceeding their levels of approval. How many people whose favorite candidates lost in the primary wrote them in for the general? How many people would like to vote 3rd party? How many people actually do it?
I’d imagine most voters wouldn’t scale their scores using their favorite and least favorite candidates, but rather their favorite and least favorite contenders. Everyone above or below the scale gets a 10 or 0, respectively. So the utopian candidates would get 10s, but so would your rival.


#17

But what if you have utopian, near utopian, kinda utopian, then finally someone who might win. Remember if primaries aren’t removed you might have 5 candidates from your utopian party.

The idea that there will be perfect comedy in explotation is not based on reality.


#18

Once the utopian becomes electable, it’s no longer safe for the conservative candidate to aid them. Doing so could cause the electable utopian to actually win, leading to (from the conservative’s perspective) a backfire effect much worse than had they just lost a two way race to the moderate liberal.

Actually, there might be a backfire effect even if the utopians cannot win themselves, because the utopians might turn out voters who would otherwise not be motivated to vote, and if all these pro-utopians vote Utopian:10, Liberal:1<X<9, Conservative:0, each voter turned out by the utopian side helps the liberal’s standing relative to the conservative. So the strategy you’re suggesting can’t be reliably expected to work as intended. In fact this effect might be stronger than the spoiler effect you’re concerned about. So it might actually be the liberal recruiting the utopians to run, relieving him of the burden of ‘appealing to the base’.


#19

The utopian candidate is never electable by definition. Utopia means no place if everyone wanted to vote for them they wouldn’t be nowhere they’d be the center.


#20

If the utopian isn’t electable, they have zero or negligible chance of winning. Which brings us back to the point I made in my first post (16), that voters are not going to use non-contenders to bound their scale.