I considered that. In my implementation of the method (before hearing it already had a name), my goal was to extend upon STAR while making the fewest changes as possible. STAR maximizes the strength of each ballot after eliminating candidates, so I do the same. I think doing so is the core selling point of STAR. I.e. “don’t worry if your favorite candidate isn’t going to be a front runner, if that happens, we’ll do the right thing for you.”
I just do it in a series of steps rather than one big step, but of course if there are only three candidates, my implementation behaves identically to STAR.
I don’t know why someone would give the scores as 3,2,1, that’s kind of a psychology question. Personally, I’d consider it an error, since I assume that since someone spent the effort to go to the polls, you’d think they’d want their vote to count for as much as allowed. Maybe they are OCD and they really want candidate B to be right in the middle between A and C, but in that case they could at least do 5,3,1 to get a bit more milage out of their ballot.
I understand that not everyone thinks as strategically as I do, but my general philosophy is to design the system as if everyone did. Because my observation – in politics and everywhere else – is that things tend to converge on “maximum strategy” over time. (i.e. people often “play nice” initially, but when they get tired of feeling like a sucker, they get more wiley) This is the whole concept that game theory is based upon, where you talk about equilibriums and such. A scenario where voters submit ballots that don’t use the full range is not an equilibrium.
My solution is a compromise between extremes. One extreme is to normalize even the first round. The other extreme is to infer that if their initial ballot is diluted, that they wish for the tabulation method to use a similarly diluted ballot on subsequent rounds. Honestly the only reason I care between the 3 options is in terms of making it easiest to explain, easiest to compare to STAR, and therefore easiest to sell.