“The lackluster improvement over simpler methods is not especially surprising given the method’s origin. A look at existing research such as the French studies referenced earlier—which existed before STAR was developed—would have also given this insight. These kinds of obstacles are inevitable to those outside of a technical field who do not do the requisite research before going all in.”
Hi Aaron and CES,
I saw the new article and am commenting below as I read though. Before diving in I want to say thank you for covering STAR. It’s been a long time coming and it means a lot to us.
A few things I loved:
- Nice to see CES referencing and citing VSE.
A few suggestions: (CES quotes in italic)
The intro line is confusing. Can we reword this please?: “Score candidates, a top-two runoff is simulated through comparing these candidates’ paired scores to determine the winner”
Suggestion: “Score candidates from 0-5, the two highest scoring candidates advance to an automatic runoff where the winner is the finalist preferred by more voters.”
“Inventing one’s own voting method has become popular as it’s so easy to share ideas online.” Line one of the STAR section comes across as an insult. Do we really need to say this?
Could we have a section just on STAR? I think it deserves it. A 7th special mention section could also be included to talk over other hybrid methods like 321 etc that don’t have political traction but deserve special mention, or there could be a paragraph or so mentioning this at the end of the STAR section. Mixing these methods together breaks the format of your article and is just confusing.
“The stated premise was to create a voting method where votes were able to equally cancel each other out—though virtually every cardinal method already does this.” No. The test of balance (described above) is the stated core tenant of the Equal Vote Coalition, which was founded to fight for equality in the vote and which ran the first statewide initiative for a Unified Primary with Approval Voting in 2014, (just like CES is doing in St. Lous now.)
There were many reasons why STAR was invented. The goal was a voting method which delivered on the best features of both scoring and ranking methods while addressing legitimate criticisms with both.
“[Scoring] takes more concentration for the voter to assign each candidate a score. This is also information that voters aren’t used to seeing on other election ballots.” This is a subjective opinion. Many people find Scoring easier as it’s nuanced enough to actually just express the opinions they already have. Millions of people have used 5 star ratings and it’s likely the most familiar system for expressing a nuanced opinion.
If you are concerned with the complexity and voter understanding why use novel terminology to explain it, such as “simulated runoff component.”
“To the degree that normal range voting voters are more tactical, STAR could make up for that with a tiny improvement.” It’s not just about voter behavior, it’s about making it safe and smart (and possible) to vote one’s conscience. STAR Voting’s runoff makes it safe to honestly score candidates, even if you don’t like any of the font-runners. And the outcome is notably better for minority voters because of it. Even if none of your favorites can win, with STAR, your (runoff) vote helps prevent your worst case scenario.
“The additional complexity added by STAR still appears to add only trivial if any real improvement both according to Quinn’s simulation shown earlier and separate independent analysis.” No, this is incorrect. Quinn’s study (graphic 2 on strategy) clearly shows that STAR significantly outperforms Score, Approval, and RCV in terms of incentivizing strategic voting. In fact, it’s one of the only cardinal methods that does not incentivize it. (See ratio of when strategy works vs backfires in attachment graphic.)
“The lackluster improvement over simpler methods is not especially surprising given the method’s origin. A look at existing research such as the French studies referenced earlier—which existed before STAR was developed—would have also given this insight. These kinds of obstacles are inevitable to those outside of a technical field who do not do the requisite research before going all in.” Burn! Is this an opinion piece? A revenge piece? We’ve bent over backwards to speak well of CES despite numerous issues. You are the CENTER FOR ELECTION SCIENCE. People come to you for facts and data analysis. This reads like personal drama. Friendly competition and disagreements on strategy or priorities are understandable but there is NO reason for this.
“Range voting, as a base in itself, performs excellently. STAR should perform no worse than this.” All studies to date show it does better. It’s hard work to be this negative in the accuracy section about a method that topped the charts.
“STAR voting’s largest issue is that it quests to move an inch nearer to ideal winner selection at any cost to complexity or practicality—despite easier alternatives being available that perform nearly identically” This ignores the political reality that Score Voting’s strategic voting incentives are widely regarded as a deal-breaker. Agree or disagree all you like. (I like Score a lot myself.) It’s a political reality that is supported by the data.
“A separate ballot initiative for STAR voting also failed to gather enough signatures.” False. We’ve proved twice over that enough signatures were submitted. How about some solidarity? Campaigning without huge grants is hard. Seriously. This chunk serves no purpose other than being mean.
Framing. This piece juxtaposes STAR with Choose-One and Approval, nether of which are even contenders out west. The piece also ignores the fact that STAR’s meaningful competition is IRV. CES clearly sees NO value in bridge building or compromise, but we do see value in reaching out to other reformers and working to deliver on their goals. Preference voting with majority preferred winners is the dominant trend in voting reform. Is it really a bad thing to offer a cardinal system that can do that too, but better?
To the CES Board of Directors. Is the hit piece quoted above representative of the way you all feel? Did the board approve or even read this article before it went live? Do you want us to write and publish a scathing and spiteful article about Approval like this? We could… but we do not think that furthers the movement, and it would go directly against the mission statement of the Equal Vote Coalition, which values solidarity and collaboration to build a movement that can win for generations.
Director of Campaigns- STAR Voting for Eugene and Lane County
Executive Director - Equal Vote Coalition