Does Approval suffer from vote-splitting in elections without polling?


This is something that pops up a lot in arguments against Approval, that failing LNH makes people bullet vote. My best guess is that only low-stakes elections without polling have this issue, which would help refute FairVote’s arguments. Here’s their piece:
The relevant portion: The Dartmouth newspaper editorializedlast month that:

“As they are currently run, trustee elections can give an unfair advantage to candidates elected by petition, who have traditionally been supported by a vocal alumni minority. When the alumni electorate fails to take advantage of the approval voting process, the three required Alumni Council candidates tend to split the majority vote, giving petition candidates an advantage. By reducing the number of Alumni Council candidates, and instituting a more traditional one-person, one-vote system, trustee elections will become more democratic - and will more accurately reflect the desires of our alumni base.”

So essentially, people might not vote multiple in elections where they have little information on polling. Anyone know more?


Most of the major criticisms against cardinal systems (fails majority rule, later no harm) vanish with polling, especially cardinal-style polling, because voters will vote strategically to guarantee majoritarian, good outcomes while only “failing LNH” (read: compromising) where they’re comfortable doing so. The flip side of this is that in order for this counterargument to be successful, you must admit cardinal systems have issues in elections without polling, as there’s clear evidence that voters bullet vote unless they perceive a low chance of victory for their favorite, which can only be shown through polling. I think Score and STAR in particular have less of these problems though, so for private, low-stakes elections (organizations, student board) you guys should advocate for Score or STAR over Approval. If all of us did this, I think all organized opposition to cardinal systems should vanish.


If turnout is very low, then the bullet vote rates could be skewed by people who personally know one of the candidates and don’t have much interest in the race beyond that.