Confessions of an Election Methods Black Sheep

I have been intensely studying election methods since late 2004. I am very likely the originator of the term ‘spoiler effect’. I have severe motor dyspraxia, which makes it practically painful to write and type. I studied group theory, set theory, etc, but mostly higher order logic. But I don’t remember much from that these days, and I gravitated to new classical information theory, which naturally brought me into contention with mathematicians and linguistics professors (and even, superficially, physicists, due to their apparent need to rely upon Shannon information theory, and their default consensus conservation of information hypotheses. These, it turns out, are only expressible in terms of new classical information based formulas). When I first began studying election methods, there were only Warren D. Smith, the well-funded ‘IRV’ movement, a few historically distant philosophers, such as Condorcet, plus various college professors, involved. Then there was me. I of course was there to explain why every one else was mistaken.

My first task was to explain why election methods is not fundamentally a mathematical subject.

There is no such thing as ‘dishonest’ voting. When in the voting booth, the voters are always playing a game against the ruling class. The ‘candidates’ are never the true opponents – they are merely ‘contenders’, contending to become elected officials. the real contest is always between the commonalty and the war mongering, sadistic aristocrats. This is why it is crucial to recognize the defensory (or trustee) functions, versus the advocacy functions of elected officials. If you go to deposit money in a bank, would you prefer to trust the banker who opposes all of your ideals, but has a reputation for impeccable honesty, or one who supports all of your cherished notions, but yet has a reputation of being a flagrant fraud and shyster? The answer is obvious.

So I advocate strategic hedge simple score voting, which is where you cast from 1 to 10 votes for each and every candidate (including write-ins). You would give 10 votes for your most trusted candidates, and hedge that with perhaps 8 votes for lesser evil candidates. That way, very little of your electoral leverage is ever sacrificed when you give maximum leverage to your most-trusted ones. Ideally, you would be limited to casting between 6 to 10 votes, so as to simplify hand counted paper ballots, and much more importantly, simplify hand counted tabulation. It is always possible to distinguish the balloting system from the tabulation system. For example, approval voting ballots can be identical to single selection ballots, yet the ballot system is different because the rules for marking the individual ballots are completely different.

You do not have the option to utilize strategic hedge voting with approval voting. So it is always uncertain whether you will be able to defeat the sadistic ruling class players.

Ranked voting is making incredible progress in convincing local shallow thinkers, especially the ‘Green Party’ to adopt it. They seem to think it’s ‘hip’. But in reality, it will only (eventually) lead to the typical two-party lock-in (which often entails fake third parties that are joined at the hip to the two dominant ones). For vassals who are trapped in ‘IRV’/‘RCV’ we can offer ‘simple ranked voting’. They could simply choose it by marking their ballot to favor it – who could deny them that choice? With that, the voters in each election are provided with the option to have the votes tabulated by the simple ranked tabulation method. With this, there are no ‘IRV’/‘RCV’ ‘rounds’ at all. The twenty highest rank-places are assigned simple votes. The highest rank-place gets 100 votes, and down at the 20th rank-place, a candidate gets 80 votes. Then the votes are simply added up, and the one with the most votes wins. This is very simple.

Any election method that allows complicated tabulation methods (such as ‘IRV’/‘RCV’), for any reason, will necessarily allow more opportunities for election managers to manipulate the results by editing the individual ballots. And election managers always work for the sociopathic, warmongering ruling class, almost never for the common people.

Technically IRV and SRV can be combined. Treat an IRV voter as giving their 1st choice 100 votes and 0 votes to all others, and let the SRV voter give the votes in the way you suggested. Since you oppose “ballot editing”, you could just treat the SRV votes given as constant i.e. if I give my 2nd choice 99 votes and my 1st choice is eliminated, don’t change the 99 to 100. And if necessary, when a majority of voters choose SRV, then you can just transition the whole election to that.

Keep in mind that when voters can near-maximally support multiple candidates in IRV, the candidate who is first to get a majority may not be the same as the one who wins when all but two are eliminated. Example:

45 A=C
35 B>A
20 C>B

Votes are 45 A, 35 B, 65 C. C has a majority, but eliminate B and A can get a larger majority of 80 votes.

=/ Treat an IRV voter as giving their 1st choice 100 votes and 0 votes to all others /=

That way, you have no hedge vote advantage. You lose to the aristocrats.

There can be no elimination without election manager interference.

Just add up all the votes.

Some people don’t need to hedge, though. They might actually support only one candidate strongly and not care much about the others.

There is a term for such people:


Do you want real democracy or not?
Do you want real freedom or not?
That is the only real question.

If I understood your proposal, it’s that a majority of voters need to ask for SRV to be the tabulation method, otherwise IRV is used instead. I’m suggesting that in addition to this, even when IRV is used, you can still allow voters who prefer SRV to cast their votes in that manner. Presumably this would provide evidence on whether SRV really is better, and so a majority of voters might be more quick to vote for SRV usage in the next election.

Well, in each case the voter’s choice (for ‘IRV’/‘RCV’ or simple ranked voting) (as marked on a majority of ballots) would pertain to the election of each elected official, or perhaps to the election of all the officials in each election. (This choice would be arbitrary.) However, for each elected official in each election, it has to go one way or the other. You cannot ‘mix up’ the two methods, since they are mutually incompatible.

It’s an oil and water situation.

Do you mean that philosophically? Because in terms of combining the ballots, that certainly can be done. Suppose the following 2 voters cast SRV-style ballots:

2 voters: A>B>C

So their votes are interpreted as 200 votes for A, 198 for B, and 196 for C.

Meanwhile, these 3 voters cast IRV-style ballots:

1 voter: C>B
1 voter: B>A
1 voter: B>C

So what you’d get is 100 votes for C and 200 for B from these voters.

This adds up to 200 for A, 398 for B, and 296 for C. A would then be eliminated, and we can focus on the IRV voters (since the SRV voters, in this implementation, are assumed to keep their votes constant):

1 voter: C>B
1 voter: B (not B>A)
1 voter: B>C

This is pretty much the same situation, so the vote totals are the same, so B wins 398 to C’s 296.

Note that if IRV had been applied to all 5 ballots, A and B would’ve tied in the first round (2 votes for A, 2 for B, and 1 for C). So that’s an advantage for SRV or the IRV+SRV hybrid method.

=/ Do you mean that philosophically? Because in terms of combining the ballots, that certainly can be done. /=

The ruling class cares nothing about philosophy. If you mix those two systems, you will mix a simple, simply add-it-up system with a very complicated system, which the election managers can easily subvert.

The results will not be simple.

I assume this discussion is in the single-winner context (the website doesn’t make it easy to see the category you put the post in).

Thank you for expressing an interesting and provocative viewpoint.

I agree with some of your points and will take exception to some others. Among the ones I agree with, I think that some demonstrate important insight that I recommend other readers take into account.

I agree.

Isn’t voting exactly an example of Game Theory, and isn’t that math?

That’s important.

This is one of the many spherical systems that have been advocated. In the same spirit in which astronomers call anything that is not H nor He “metals”, I am calling all balloting rules that are not cubic “spherical”. Cubic means you have full freedom to score the candidates independently of one another. One of the simplest-to-describe spherical systems is “vote for or against”. Consider an election with four candidates. For the moment, assume everyone is fully for or fully against each candidate and no one wants to hedge (I’ll return to that later). So some voters classify the four candidates into groups of three and one. These voters are sitting pretty in this system, because it lets them express their position (or what their strategic choice would be with full Approval), and it counts their vote exactly as they cast it. But those who want to classify the candidates into two groups of two are being cheated out of some of their rightful power, because the system won’t let them express their position. That’s why my intuition (and I know intuition can be wrong) says that the cubic system resists money more effectively than the spherical systems do.

If there are 2k or more voters, I disagree. Voters faced with Approval balloting can simulate a finer-grained range by voting probabilistically. If for example my strategic hedging vote in Range over the rational numbers in [0,1] would be Nader 1, Gore .99, I can just approve Nader with certainty and Gore with a probability of .99. If I represent a faction of many voters sharing my values, they will follow the same strategy, and as a result, .99 proportion of them will approve Gore, which has the same effect on his score as though we had fine-grained voting and all our faction had scored him .99. Other factions will have similar effects, based on their values, so the final total will be the same for Approval as it would have amounted to for finer-grained Range.

I had given thought to systems allowing more than one kind of ballot, to let the IRV advocates vote their preferred way, while we evaluative voters could vote our preferred way. But I based those systems on a belief that what IRV advocates like about IRV is its use of multiple stages of tallying. And I have come to reject all systems with such staging, prompted by a warning from another writer in this forum about a “festival” of some factions taking unfair advantage. I see a risk in any multistage system (whether the stages happen in a single tally of one balloting, or whether they are true runoffs, where the voters return to the polls) that the unfair advantage could be had by promoting from an earlier stage to a later stage one or more candidates that the cheaters think can’t win the later stage, for the purpose of squeezing out of the later stage, one or more candidates who could win it, that the cheaters don’t like.


=/ Isn’t voting exactly an example of Game Theory, and isn’t that math? /= – waugh, above

I think applying game theory to election systems is akin to applying high school algebra to differential equations.

=/ This is one of the many spherical systems that have been advocated. In the same spirit in which astronomers call anything that is not H nor He “metals”, I am calling all balloting rules that are not cubic “spherical”. Cubic means you have full freedom to score the candidates independently of one another. /= – waugh, above

I guess (with hesitation) that you are referring to what some people call a difference between ‘cardinal’ and ‘ordinal’ ballots. I usually call them ‘score’ and ‘ranked’ ballots. (Approval, and certain extremely limited ballots that might technically be called ‘score’ or ‘range’ have such limitations as to be qualitatively distinct.) One odd type of ballot is the ‘cumulative’ ballot of “cumulative voting”, whereby each voter is allotted a fixed number of points, say ten, and is permitted to distribute them among candidates in any way they please, and with the typical tabulation system, the candidate with the most points wins the election. The possible types of ballots are surprisingly limited.

=/ If there are 2k or more voters, I disagree [that hedge voting is possible with approval ballots]. Voters faced with Approval balloting can simulate a finer-grained range by voting probabilistically. /= – waugh, above

I find this proposal to be quite strange, and unlikely to ever see the light of day.

By the way, my suggestion to substitute ‘simple ranked voting’ in place of ‘IRV’/‘RCV’ whenever the majority of voters indicates a preference for the former tabulation method requires that the substitution be applied to every ballot, including those upon which a voter indicated a preference for ‘IRV’/‘RCV’. This is because the two tabulation methods are totally resistant to compatible tabulation. And again, simple ranked voting is vastly simpler than Borda count systems, where for example, the number of candidates must be factored in, etc.

Harking a bit back to my entry:

Geodetically Stable Linear Orthogonal Redistricting Revisited

I really think that ‘districting’ represents to only sufficiently beneficial form of ‘minority representation’, that is ‘proportional representation’, since the others tend to create cumbersome problems, and to be minimally beneficial. Perhaps the name is lousy, but the concept is simple. One decides to partition, the north-to-south (in parallel to lines of longitude), or alternatively the west-to-east (in parallel to lines of latitude) into ‘slices’ of equal population (this is the ‘primary’ partitioning). And then individually partition those slices in the orthogonal direction into smaller equal ‘quasi-rectangles’ (the earth being round) (this is the ‘secondary’ partitioning).

A solvable problem arises because the two choices of direction for the primary partitioning yield different patterns. I suggested utilizing both patterns simultaneously, but perhaps this choice could alternate sequentially between one election and the next. Perhaps it would be done in one way for a first senator, and the other way for the other senator, for the case of US elections.

I was serious about individual enthusiasts obtaining their own independent (yet inter-operative) websites. I think it would foster more diverse thinking.