Loomio
Tue 9 May 2017

New Sightline article by Kristin Eberhard

CS
Clay Shentrup Public Seen by 405

This is a new post by Kristin Eberhard.

http://www.sightline.org/2017/05/09/sightlines-guide-to-voting-systems-for-electing-an-executive-officer/

I'll respond to some of it here.

> Political scientists and mathematicians have come up with many criteria by which to evaluate voting systems, resulting in complex tables like this one. But as Nobel prize winner Kenneth Arrow proved, no system can satisfy all criteria.

This is false. Arrow's Theorem says nothing about satisfying "all" criteria; it specifically refers to three specific criteria. And Arrow's Theorem only applies to ordinal (ranked) voting methods, so cardinal (rated) systems such as Score Voting and Approval Voting do in fact satisfy his criteria.

http://scorevoting.net/ArrowThm.html

> The Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance has a tool that translates criteria into priorities and selects the best voting systems for you based on your stated priorities.

This general way of thinking is fallacious. It's kind of like evaluating race cars by stating how much you value horsepower vs. drag vs. weight. What you care about is: How fast will this car complete a race? What voters really care about is: How satisfied will I be with the elected office holders with this system? It turns out we have an objective way to measure that, called Bayesian Regret. Thankfully this is briefly mentioned by the Wikipedia article Kristin linked to, but it is astonishing that she didn't mention it directly in a discussion about how to assess the quality of various systems.

Now that's not to say that "externalities" like cost or political viability (which aren't captured by Bayesian Regret) are irrelevant. But this kind of analysis needs to be grounded in science first and foremost. The same would be true of a complex topic like climate change. You start by understanding the science and the ideal policy, and then you incorporate practical considerations. If you don't get the ideal right, then the practical considerations are of much less importance. Who cares about the political viability of the wrong policy?

> Under Instant Runoff Voting, it is always safe to rank a weak third-party candidate like Nader.

This is simply false. Even a weak candidate can change the order of elimination, leading to a major change in the final outcome. E.g.

33% LePen > Macron
32% Macron > X
35% X > Macron

Macron is preferred to LePen by a huge 67% majority here, and preferred to X by a huge 65% majority. But thanks to vote splitting, Macron is the first eliminated.

LePen is the Condorcet loser—the weakest candidate. But if some LePen supporters insincerely rank Macron in first place, then he wins—which helps them get their 2nd choice instead of their 3rd.

And the bigger issue here is that you do not know ahead of time exactly what's going to happen. This is why Green supporters often vote Democrat under the present system, even if the Democrat ends up with a margin of victory that would have made it safe to vote sincerely. They did not know exactly what would happen. They just knew that a vote for Green was more likely to be a spoiler than to help them.

> For example, if you ranked Terry Tea Party first, Larry Libertarian second, and Ronald Republican third, your vote would count for the Tea Party candidate in the first round; if she was eliminated, your vote would transfer to the Libertarian;

Not if the Libertarian was eliminated before the Tea Party.

> In extremely rare cases—0.7 percent of Instant Runoff Elections in US cities—IRV creates a “center squeeze” situation

It doesn't matter that it's rare. You're failing to understand basic statistics here. It's also rare for a third party candidate to be a spoiler in our present system. But people vote strategically because of the relative probability of "Green is a spoiler" vs. "Green wins".

This is explained in great detail by a math PhD here if these relative probabilities aren't clear and obvious enough to you.

http://scorevoting.net/TarrIrv.html

> All of these systems suffer from a flaw voting experts call “Later-No-Harm”

Okay, this statement makes it clear Kristin is not acting as an objective researcher but more of a pro-IRV salesperson. Because there's a strong case that it's a flaw to satisfy Later-no-harm.

http://scorevoting.net/LNH.html

> When voters realize this, they often “bullet vote” (only score or vote for their favorite candidate among the perceived frontrunners).

"Among the perceived frontrunners"?! Are you telling me that a Green who votes Democrat and Green is "bullet voting" because the Green isn't one of the perceived frontrunners? Are you now suddenly redefining the term "bullet voting"?

In any case, this whole bullet voting argument is specious and deceptive based on empirical data.

http://scorevoting.net/BulletBugaboo.html

> Experience suggests that most voters using Approval and Score give their favorite candidate the maximum score or rank and all other candidates a minimal score or no vote.

That is an outright lie, as the previous link showed. Also...

http://scorevoting.net/Honesty.html
http://scorevoting.net/HonStrat.html

Great counterexample from a high stakes election. (A poll, but a heavily contested one.)
http://scorevoting.net/RLCstrawPoll2015.html

> Score Runoff Voting should, in theory, encourage voters to give a maximum score to their favorite and also a score to their second-favorite

Only your first and your second? This is simply false. You want to top-rate your favorite frontrunner, even if she's your 3rd, or 4th, or 5th (etc.) overall favorite. The runoff component of SRV makes this even more so, since distinguishing between the candidates is how you have influence in the second round.

> Different people have different ideas about who the “most right” winner is. The candidate whom a majority of voters support? The candidate whom most voters would choose over any other individual candidate in a head-to-head race? The candidate the fewest voters strongly object to (even if that also means that fewer voters strongly support him)? The candidate whom voters most strongly adore, even if many voters object?

This implies it's subjective, when in fact you can apply logic to this question and get an objectively correct answer.
http://scorevoting.net/UtilFoundns.html

> Score Voting would likely lead to even more negative campaigns than Plurality Voting.

Wow. Just, wow.

As far as I'm concerned, this goes beyond legitimate disagreement. This is outright anti-scientific Rovian FUD.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Wed 10 May 2017

Hi all,

I hope you’ll read the full article for yourselves. It describes some problems with the way we elect executives such as presidents, governors and mayors, and how different voting systems might solve those particular problems. I’d be happy to hear comments, questions, and criticisms.

Clay is a passionate proponent of his views, but I think most of his statements mischaracterize my observations and conclusions or overreach the evidence. To pick one example, he says my description of what happens with two major-party candidates and a weak third-party candidate like Nader is “false.” But his reasoning is based on an example of three strong candidates, a situation the article specifically addresses in the very next paragraph. How would he conclude that “weak third-party candidate like Nader” means someone who got 32% of the vote? That’s a strong candidate, an order of magnitude stronger than Nader, who received less than 3% of the vote.

Sightline and I are supportive of both IRV and SRV, and particularly passionate about Proportional Representation. Mostly we want to see reform. If people in the reform community spend energy tearing down those who are fighting for reform, the defenders of the status quo will keep laughing all the way to the bank.

CS

Clay Shentrup Thu 11 May 2017

Clay is a passionate proponent of his views

Meaning..I am biased?

he says my description of what happens with two major-party candidates and a weak third-party candidate like Nader is “false.” But his reasoning is based on an example of three strong candidates

Not true. LePen would lose by a 2/3 supermajority to either rival in my example. If that's not weak enough, just add a few more candidates and it becomes possible for an arbitrarily weak candidate to win with IRV due to vote splitting. Also, I suspect Nader would have done about this well had there been a runoff. The ANES exit poll from 2000 said that of professed Nader supporters, 90% claimed they voted for someone else—suggesting he actually did have about as much support as the LePen in my example.

Here's even a hypothetical worst case scenario where the IRV winner is the favorite of only two voters, and would lose by a head-to-head majority to all by one rival. Now of course the more extreme these examples get, the less realistic. But you didn't make any reasonable caveats. You said, "it is always safe to rank a weak third-party candidate like Nader." Speaking of "overreach the evidence".

If people in the reform community spend energy tearing down those who are fighting for reform, the defenders of the status quo will keep laughing all the way to the bank.

I'm not trying to "tear down" anyone for the sake of being negative or spiteful. But your piece contained multiple blatant inaccuracies. The one where you mischaracterized Arrow's Theorem in two different ways. The one where you cited Wikipedia (which claimed that Score Voting strategy is Approval Voting) and then made the drastically different assertion that it's like (sincere) Plurality Voting. I was particularly bothered by your un-nuanced bald assertion that the Bayesian Regret figures were based on unrealistic assumptions, when your supporting statements revealed that you don't understand the methodology.

I take voting reform as seriously as (perhaps more seriously than) climate change. I sometimes see well-intentioned people making specious and overly strong claims on that subject, and I feel a similar obligation to point that out to the extent my knowledge allows. When I do that, I don't expect to be harangued by other activists asserting that I should just let it go lest the infighting stifle progress. I mean, that's a horrifying notion. I think misinformation does more harm than any appearance of infighting.

TB

Terrill Bouricius Wed 10 May 2017

Also note that the real world "experience" with score or approval voting that Clay refers to is merely public opinion polls of voters about how the would score candidates, not actual voting behavior. In such non-binding surveys there is no voter concern about the crucial "Later-No-Harm" problem that indicating any score for a less preferred choice can hurt one's favorite choice, simply because none of these "votes" can actually help or hurt anyone --- they were not real votes. Also the voters were not subjected to campaign calls for bullet voting (as all competent campaign managers would have advocated). The only ACTUAL election data we have from the handful of nongovernmental organizations that have used Approval Voting is that the vast majority of voters do indeed bullet vote.

AW

Aaron Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

not actual voting behavior… crucial "Later-No-Harm" problem

You can't honestly have it both ways. Given the lack of robust real-world elections with score voting, the arguments that later-no-harm is a crucial problem are at least as weak as claims that score voting works out in great ways without problems.

CS

Clay Shentrup Thu 11 May 2017

real world "experience" with score or approval voting that Clay refers to is merely public opinion polls

Simply false. For instance, the 2015 Republican Liberty Caucus straw poll had significant political consequences. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul attended and bussed in supporters specifically to bullet vote for them. There have also been uses for real contentious elections within organizations.

The only ACTUAL election data we have from the handful of nongovernmental organizations that have used Approval Voting is that the vast majority of voters do indeed bullet vote.

Simply not true. From Dartmouth math professor emeritus Robert Z. Norman:

In 2007 there was a per voter average of voting for 1.81 candidates. Hence the proportion of bullet votes had to be fairly small (or else nearly everyone voted for one or all three candidates, but not two, which would seem crazy).
[Specifically, if all ballots approved either 1 or 2 candidates, there must have been 19% approve-1 and 81% approve-2 ballots. Norman in later email later hypothesized that actually there may have been a strategy of "either voting for the petition candidate or voting for all [3 opposing] nominated candidates." If that was the only thing going on then 60% of the votes would have been approve-1 and the remaining 40.5% approve-3s, but in this case approval voting was clearly showing its immense value by preventing an enormous "vote-split" among the 3. In any case the fraction of "approve≥2" ballots presumably had to be somewhere between 40.5% and 81%.]

And even the bullet voting we do see isn't necessarily a "problem". If your favorite candidate is a frontrunner, bullet voting is perfectly reasonable. Or if you prefer her so much over her rivals that it's a sincere expression—also not a problem.

The kind of scenario where bullet voting could be a problem is e.g. where a voter feels {Nader=5, Gore=4, Bush=1} but bullet votes for Nader, despite knowing the odds. It's neither strategic nor honest. I've seen no evidence this pattern happens in any substantial amount.

In such non-binding surveys there is no voter concern about the crucial "Later-No-Harm" problem that indicating any score for a less preferred choice can hurt one's favorite choice

I've seen no evidence that failure of Later-no-harm is a problem. My view is that satisfying it is a problem.
http://scorevoting.net/BulletBugaboo.html

Note that a ranked voting method cannot simultaneously satisfy Favorite Safe and Honest Second Safe. IRV satisfies neither.

Also the voters were not subjected to campaign calls for bullet voting (as all competent campaign managers would have advocated).

This is precisely the message voters get with Plurality Voting, and yet the dominant strategy is not "vote for your favorite candidate", but "vote for your favorite VIABLE candidate". If that's your third or fourth overall favorite, so be it. Score Voting allows voters to keep going up from there. It obviously don't change the strategy to bullet voting.

SW

Sara Wolf Wed 10 May 2017

"If people in the reform community spend energy tearing down those who are fighting for reform..."

Kristin, this gets to the heart of the problem. Reading your article and response to Clay's concerns shows that you are taking the feedback about IRV and these concerns personally. Please don't. Even though you've put a lot into supporting IRV in your career I think it's important to look at these systems objectively and not write scientific articles like this one from a defensive or outcome oriented perspective. On the flip side, reading this article feels like you are intentionally trying to mischaracterize SRV. As you know there is a scientific system that can measure voting systems relative accuracy across all criteria. This is called Bayesian Regret and the inverse, Voter Satisfaction Efficiency (VSE). Omitting this key information makes no sense in this context. Why do it? Condorcet and VSE are the two best tools we have for establishing measurable accuracy. Our most important criteria for a new voting system.

Saying that in SRV people would "bullet vote" and only score their top 2 makes no sense for tons of reasons and scenarios I'm sure you are aware of.

"Later No Harm" is a criteria that I disagree with because it directly prevents a voting system from electing a strong compromise candidate if there is no strong majority winner candidate. That is a negative outcome for the electorate and I believe we should revisit this criteria. The ideal here should be that a voter doesn't hurt the best possible outcome for the electorate as a whole by honestly rating or ranking the candidates. If voters honesty show that they would be okay with a candidate other than their favorite and show how much they would support that candidate and under which circumstances, that is a good thing. This is a key tenant of consensus decision making and is one of the reasons that SRV (Star Voting) is able to out preform IRV in situations where there is not a simple majority winner with just the first choice votes counted.

Many of us think the inverse of "Later no harm" is a better criteria and that it should be called something like "Compromise Criteria". That a voting system should allow and encourage voters to express themselves with enough detail to help find the winner that can make as many voters as happy with the outcome as possible. This is what SRV (Star Voting) offers and this is one reason that it outperforms IRV in Voter Satisfaction Efficiency (VSE).

The other reason SRV (Star Voting) outperforms IRV in VSE is that in IRV if your favorite is eliminated in later rounds your other preferences may not be looked at. Ignoring some of the voters preferences on the ballots directly causes less accurate results.

AW

Aaron Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

Note to Sara: Kristen's summary definitely mentioned explicitly the concern that IRV counts some voters' later choices while ignoring that of others (although I like to add emphasis that the voters who alternate choices were ignored include those whose first choice also loses).

It would be better to point out concrete concerns about exact things Kristen wrote, such as specific sentences that are invalid or wordings that should be improved (perhaps with suggestions). That would do a better job at helping everyone understand one another (which is sorta what Clay did, but he wrote in a way that was liable to lead Kristen to respond defensively and personally).

CS

Clay Shentrup Thu 11 May 2017

Clay wrote a lot of things that violate the rules, assume bad faith from Kristen,

She cited a Wikipedia article which said the ideal Score Voting strategy was Approval Voting, then she wrote that it was bullet voting. To me this is pretty egregious, and it makes it hard for me to see how it could be an honest mistake. It's also stated in a broader context that Sara aptly characterized like so:

reading this article feels like you are intentionally trying to mischaracterize SRV.

I have to give Kristin some credit for responding here at all, but if she's acting in good faith, why isn't she at least apologizing for the particularly blatant and objective errors in her piece?

If there's one thing that gives me some pause in this assessment, it's this:

I have not spent my career promoting IRV. I’ve spent my career fighting climate change. As it became clear that climate action, and other popular and broadly beneficial actions, were blocked by broken institutions of governance, I started working on democracy reform.

My wife procures renewables at the utility company, and I've worked on renewable energy portfolio management software. I feel a similar concern for the connection between climate change and voting systems. There's something very human and relatable here.

I also understand that voting methods are famously counterintuitive. So when Kristin says:

when electing a president or governor or mayor, I don’t think a small group who feels intensely should count more than other voters.

Clearly she's falling victim to a logical trap. She's unaware that it's logically proven that a group may prefer X to Y even if a majority of its members prefer Y to X.
https://sites.google.com/a/electology.org/www/utilitarian-majoritarian

If you don't understand the implications of that, it's kind of understandable that you'd mistakenly think this is just some subjective thing and "of course" majority rule is preferable.

I don't really know what else to say. But several objectively false claims were made and I think it's fair to expect some acknowledgement of that and even an apology.

AW

Aaron Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

The simplest way to put it is that you can at least offer benefit-of-the-doubt with wording like Sara's (which describes her impression without sounding conclusive about Kristen's actual intentions) or just follow Rapoport's Rules strictly as a challenge to practice. Those Rules are totally effective against opponents who are acting in bad faith still.

By expressing your opponents view so that they say they couldn't say it better, it shows everyone that you get them. Then by expressing what you've learned or where you agree, it shows your thoughtfulness and good faith. Then criticizing their points comes across as devastating in that it's someone so understanding and respectful who nevertheless has serious critiques.

AW

Aaron Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

Having read over the original article and Clay's points, let me please reiterate the importance of Rapoport's Rules:

  • Clay wrote a lot of things that violate the rules, assume bad faith from Kristen, and aren't likely to be taken well in leading to the best understanding in the end. That doesn't mean any of his points are otherwise technically less valid.

  • Kristen both here and in the article itself would do better to follow the first rule. In order to honestly avoid Clay's criticism (even if the conclusion is not in agreement), the descriptions of score and score runoff must live up to a situation where Clay would say "I don't agree with your judgments, but it's clear you understand my concerns/points." As is, Clay is left with the impression that Kristen either does not understand why he disagrees with her judgments or that she is being intentionally dishonest in order to promote a particular preconceived partisan position.

I don't think it would be fair for anyone to actually conclude that either party is right or wrong here or what. I think the conclusion is solid that both of you (and everyone else) need to review Rapoport's Rules and figure out how to do better in those regards (which is not a suggestion that no effort is made, I'm trying to be fair and I'm sure that if I put more thought into this very post it too could be better).

AW

Aaron Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

I hope this comes across well given that I focused all my efforts on helping positive communication in posting earlier…

I stand by my points that Clay didn't follow Rapoport's Rules in his initial complaints and that the style was liable to be taken in a way that wouldn't lead to optimal results and ideal communication about the issues… BUT…

I agree completely with Clay's post just now clarifying things.

But it's sorta like this:

  1. Clay brings up real objections but laced with somewhat personal criticisms and assertions of bad faith on Kristen's part
  2. Kristen responds defensively including wording that seems to dismiss Clay's concerns and suggest that solidarity means skipping internal criticism
  3. Clay replies emphasizing the fact that having a known view doesn't mean the view is wrong in any way and that criticism and clarification internal to a movement is essential and necessary rather than problematic.

In all this, there's still some talking-past-one-another. I'd love to see people rise beyond the rhetoric so far and try to figure out what the real disagreements are. I hope Kristen can engage constructively in checking that she truly understands Clay's concerns and Clay can work to express them using Rapoport's Rules or otherwise at least assuming good faith as far as he can.

Let's take Kristen's "tearing down" point and assume she means attacking the integrity and sincerity of others, i.e. assuming bad faith, including any ad hominem etc. So she may be completely open to criticism that remains on point and isn't made personal. Let's give the benefit of the doubt and try that and give her the chance to respond appropriately.

To do that, it will probably require either that Clay reword all his concerns and ask Kristen to respond freshly to that rewording or for Kristen to work at ignoring the personal stuff and refocus on the specific concerns (as long as she feels she can trust Clay to engage further in a respectful enough way).

AW

Aaron Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

A short version of what I just posted:

Someone's understanding of the truth is independent of whether they discuss it respectfully and clearly. If we care about success of the group's mission, we need to both insist on and practice healthy communication and yet never let miscommunication reduce our desire for understanding.

If a truly problematic jerk comes by here and says, in a toxic fashion, something completely true and important, I would hope that we speak up about the communication without ever using that concern to avoid learning the true point. A bad messenger can still have an important message. We need to work both on being good messengers and on hearing the important parts of messages even when they aren't expressed optimally.

Now, I'm done doing meta comments on this. Please do continue to discuss the issues at hand. The summaries by Kristen do contain misinformation and misrepresentation alongside what I see as a sincere attempt to summarize all the issues and views.

SW

Sara Wolf Thu 11 May 2017

These are super complex topics and getting every single point spot on without some expert consultation and feedback or editing is next to impossible. I've so far submitted stuff I've written here or sent it to specific people to look over who are more solid on the technical stuff than I am. It's helped a lot. I still find things that I want to change and improve each time I re-read my articles or speeches.

Maybe something constructive here would be to create a network of us that are available to read and proof each-others work before publication. There are a number of things that are debatable and matters of opinion, but this is a science and we would all benefit from more editing before publication so we can focus more on peer review and teamwork after.

Also, this is the internet age. This article wasn't carved into stone. I wonder if Kristin would be open to some editing on the more false or misleading statements in the article?

CS

Clay Shentrup Thu 11 May 2017

Okay, let me apologize to Kristin for seeing bad intentions and/or carelessness. I'll read Rapoport's Rules.

I do believe that the great majority of Kristin's objections are simple fallacies that I've encountered more times than I can count since the first months I got into election reform. Similar to how she must feel when she encounters climate myths like the "long tailpipe theory" or "Roman warm period" argument.

For example, the Later-no-harm argument feels superficially valid. It intuitively makes perfect sense. But the moment you go deeper into the game theory in a host of realistic situations, it's clear that it just doesn't hold water. When I encounter this argument with complete newcomers to the field, I have a lot of empathy. Because that was me when I first got into voting theory. But Kristin claims she's spent time researching the issue, and even said she read Gaming the Vote. So this tries my patience a bit. I will endeavor to be more patient.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Fri 12 May 2017

Thanks Aaron for encouraging productive dialogue. I appreciate you trying to enforce good conduct here, but note that outside Loomio, Clay is tweeting at my work colleagues that I am posting lies on Sightline's site, which affects how much I want to engage here.

I'm happy to correct errors in the article, and as I said in response to Clay's comments, I've already made some adjustments to the language.

But I want to note three things: first, the structure of the Glossary is "Critics Say," "Supporters Say," "More information about supporters' and critics' claims" and "Experience." The first two sections explain advocates' claims about the systems, without judgment of how true they are. For example, I said that IRV supporters say it eliminates the spoiler effect because that is what they say. So if something in those sections does not accurately describe what Critics or Supporters say please let me know. If something in the "More information" and "Experience" sections doesn't accurately describe experts' views or real-world experience, please let me know.

Second, feedback is constructive if you tell me, for example: "you said 'the best strategy is...' but it would be accurate to say 'one strategy is...' because ... " Saying, as Clay did, "this whole way of thinking is fallacious" is not constructive feedback, it is dismissal.

Third, I want the articles to be as accurate as possible, but I also have to allocate my time well. I have had voting experts review the article and engaging with their feedback was time well spent and improved the article's accuracy. They gave me feedback like the above example.

So far, my time engaging with Clay's feedback has not been well spent. For example, the article describes how voting for a "weak third party candidate like Nader" (Nader got <3% of the vote), and describes that the dynamic is different in a race like Burlington with three strong candidates (the Republican won 33% of the vote). Clay says the statement about Nader is "false" because of... example with a candidate who wins 33% of the vote, which I specifically distinguished in the article. When I point this out, he doubles down that the 33% candidate is "weak" because she would lose/ is the Condorcet loser. Well, yes, so was the Republican in Vermont. That's the definition of the potential problem with IRV and other runoff systems: the Condorcet Loser might be strong enough to make it to the runoff instead of the Condorcet Winner. The article distinguished the three strong candidate scenario from the weak third-party Nader spoiler scenario. Engaging with Clay here didn't help me improve the article.

Other example: Clay says it is "egregious" that the article says bullet voting is a strategy in Score. The article links to a wikipedia article that says strategic voting in Score is the same as Approval, which links to an article that says strategic voting in Approval is Bullet or Compromise. So... strategic score=strategic approval=bullet or compromise. Bullet voting is a strategy in score. How is that an egregious error? Maybe Clay meant to say (but didn't say) that it was wrong to say it was the "best" strategy? So I changed "best" to "one strategy," though I feel some ambivalence about how much that change improved accuracy, because this is under the "Critics say" section, and critics definitely say that Score voting will devolve to bullet voting. Lots of time spent; possibly a slight improvement to the article (or maybe not).

Final example: Clay says the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance's whole way of thinking about electoral methods is "fallacious." Look, if it is wrong for me to look to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance for information about electoral methods, well ... let's just say this comment didn't help me improve the article.

Anyway, I'm here in Oregon and want to see reform in Oregon, so I want to engage here (on Loomio) with activists who want to push for local reform. If I've made errors, I want to correct them. If Clay or others have constructive feedback, I want to take it into account. And maybe over beers is a good place to discuss philosophical differences of utilitarianism vs majoritarianism. But I can't spend time on Loomio arguing about differences of opinion that don't improve my articles.

AW

Aaron Wolf Sat 13 May 2017

Kristin, thanks for the notes

Clay is tweeting …

Part of the same toxic but common pattern of things, if he assumes bad faith from you, etc. vicious cycle. I'm sure both of you mean better than this, and either has the capacity to take the steps to break the cycle, as long as you recognize the pattern as the likely source of the problem and give each other benefit-of-the-doubt re: assuming good faith really.

the structure of the Glossary is "Critics Say," "Supporters Say," "More information about supporters' and critics' claims"

That sounds like the mythical "view from nowhere". Wikipedia has a NPOV neutral point of view but ideally does better than view-from-nowhere. It's fair to write things that acknowledge others' perspectives and tries not to be partisan. But we all need to take a stand for truth where we don't give credence to anything plainly wrong. When Trump says something that is just plainly false, it's not okay to simply report that "Trump says X" and "critics say Y". At some point you need to either ignore false statements or say "Trump says X, but that's false".

The responsibility of reporting includes some amount of checking the details and reporting the truth of anything that really can be concluded. But more important is the fact that presenting everything as though there are two equal sides is often unreasonable. There aren't two equal sides to global warming, for example. Any "side" that rejects the basic facts of the science doesn't deserve to be described as a potentially legitimate view.

So, just be careful not to hide behind some pretense of objective view-from-nowhere.

So far, my time engaging with Clay's feedback has not been well spent.

I hope (and see evidence already) that Clay takes this feedback well and switches to making sure to provide strictly constructive criticism. Many of us have been guilty of not always being constructive, so pushing back and then being open to the constructive criticism is about the most valuable thing to do here in building the health of the reform community overall. I hope you two will take these lessons and live up to them.

"Critics say" section, and critics definitely say that Score voting will devolve to bullet voting

This is one area where it's probably important to weigh in on the strength of the evidence. Critics do make this claim, but they make it based on several assumptions and hypotheses. It would be fairer to word it as "worry about the potential for score to devolve to bullet voting" because there's really no compelling evidence for any claim that it will do this.

I hope everyone involved will help with constructive pushback on the style of discourse here, as we all need practice continually. Feel free to ignore a comment's substance and ask for it to be EDITED to fix the respectful, constructive style, and THEN do address the substance when that's done. Don't use style to dismiss the substance forever.

CS

Clay Shentrup Tue 16 May 2017

How is that an egregious error?

Kristin,

I feel I've responded thoroughly to that question. I would appreciate some acknowledgement. Especially given this statement.

The best strategy is to give a maximum score to your favorite and minimum to everyone else, making Score Voting act like Plurality Voting

I regard this as being roughly on par with a claim like, "IRV incentivizes voters to rank the candidates in reverse order." It's just highly inaccurate and easily disproved.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Fri 12 May 2017

@clayshentrup - if you send me your email address, I would appreciate your review of my description of RRV for my next article, so I can improve it before publishing. Thanks!

CS

Clay Shentrup Sat 13 May 2017

AZ

Adam Zielinski Sat 13 May 2017

@kristineb

Thank you Kristin for all your hard work! I definitely appreciate your articles and perspective.

I think I have found an error in the graphic associated with the article:

In your article it says,
“Immune to spoilers, vote splitting, and clones: None
Resistant to spoilers, vote splitting, and clones: Approval, Score, Score Runoff, Top-Two Runoff, Instant Runoff
Vulnerable to spoilers, vote splitting, and clones: Plurality, Bucklin”

However then in the graphic, the icons indicate the opposite of the above.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 15 May 2017

Yikes! Thanks for the catch Adam - I'll get that graphic fixed right away.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Sat 13 May 2017

@kristineb

Regarding Later No Harm, I think it might be more accurate to give Score Runoff a label of either "Resistant" or "Vulnerable" rather than a complete "Fail."

One of the reasons for or result of the runoff step is to minimize the Later no Harm criterion.

It incentivizes all voters to score candidates more honestly to ensure their preferences are taken into account in the runoff. So in this way discourages bullet voting.

So SRV is better on the later no harm criterion than plain score or approval voting. So it should not be given a total "fail" like those systems. There is a meaningful difference.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 15 May 2017

@adamzielinski Thanks for the suggestion about the Later No Harm criterion.

However, SRV does fail Later No Harm, it just also provides a countervailing motivation for voters not to bullet vote. Later No Harm asks: could you hurt your more preferred candidate by giving a score to your less-preferred candidate? For Score the answer is yes--if your more-preferred were in first place, and your score bumped your less-preferred into first place instead. For SRV the answer is yes--if your more-preferred were in second place and could have won the runoff and your score bumped your less-preferred into second place instead (botting your favorite out of the runoff).

I take your point that SRV provides a separate consideration (having a say in the runoff) that pushes back against bullet voting, whereas Score does not have that separate consideration. So although they both fail LNH, voters are more likely to give additional scores in SRV than in Score if they weigh the risk of having no say in the runoff more strongly than the risk of harming their favorite. In other words, the criterion tells us that technically they both fail, but other considerations tell us that voter behavior will likely be different between the two systems. I know I explained this in the section about SRV, but I'll look back at the language in the criteria section and try to make that distinction between pass/fail on the criteria and resulting voter behavior more clear.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Thu 18 May 2017

@kristineb

Thanks, I agree that technically SRV still fails LNH even though the runoff is a countervailing motivation to score more than one candidate.

What I find interesting is that in the marketing of RCV/IRV, there is hardly any focus or promotion of how IRV passes LNH or how this is such a wonderful feature of IRV. Instead, most of the marketing is focused on how IRV reduces or eliminates favorite betrayal / spoiler effect, which it doesn't really. So SRV performs better on the main criterion that most people care about and what most of the marketing is all about.

In order for a significant percentage of the electorate to resort to bullet voting with SRV, they would all have to be true partisans who really thought that all other candidates besides their favorite were equally bad.

I've known people like this who truly think there is no meaningful difference between the Democrats and Republicans and think they are both equally bad. They are usually Greens or Libertarians! However being in minor parties, they know that for most elections, their candidate isn't the favorite, so it would behoove them to give a score to at least their preferred major party candidate.

I have also met some Democrats and Republicans who think their party is best and all others, including Libertarians and Greens, and equally bad, for different reasons. But they were party operatives or campaign managers - a very small percentage of the electorate.

The vast majority of voters do have actual preferences and think there is a difference between the parties. They are not partisan enough to be motivated or persuaded by partisan campaigns to bullet vote only for one candidate and not score any others, especially with the runoff motivation that is part of SRV.

But even if there were large numbers of partisan bullet voters, they would all tend to cancel each other out. There would not be a scenario where only one candidates' supporters bullet voted and the other candidates' supporters didn't, resulting in a worst case scenario LNH result. In order for the bullet voting strategy to actually work in real life, only you and your supporters can bullet vote, while all other supporters for other candidates don't bullet vote. If a significant percentage of all voters bullet vote but for different candidates, then they all defeat each others' strategy and the bullet voting strategy doesn't work or have any meaningful effect.

So for this reason I think that LNH is a second tier criteria that is not as important as Favorite Betrayal or the Spoiler effect.

So I would put a premium on voting systems that perform better according to the Favorite Betrayal / Anti-Spoiler criteria, and not as much to the LNH criteria especially with the countervailing motivation that SRV has with the instant runoff feature.

CS

Clay Shentrup Sat 13 May 2017

To Kristin,

Nader got <3% of the vote

I responded to this. Again, my example used only three candidates for simplicity. If you use more (e.g. think of the recent French election), you can indeed get a scenario where even an extremely weak candidate with 3% (or less) of the first-place votes acts a spoiler. This is a mathematical fact.

So when you say, "Engaging with Clay here didn't help me improve the article", I find that to be very disappointing. I showed you mathematical proof that your claim is inaccurate, and you're telling me that won't affect your article?

The article links to a wikipedia article that says strategic voting in Score is the same as Approval, which links to an article that says strategic voting in Approval is Bullet or Compromise. So... strategic score=strategic approval=bullet or compromise. Bullet voting is a strategy in score. How is that an egregious error?

Aside from touching on a few of your other comments briefly at the end, I'd like to primarily focus on this one comment for the remainder of this post, in order to go really deep instead of broad. You ask how this is an egregious error, so let me repeat precisely what you said before:

The best strategy is to give a maximum score to your favorite and minimum to everyone else, making Score Voting act like Plurality Voting

There are two things about this statement that are egregiously wrong.

First, imagine I linked to a page that said the best way to make a toddler happy is to draw his favorite shape, which for some toddlers will happen to be a circle. And then imagine I claimed that the best way to make a toddler happy is to "draw a circle".

Do you see how that is a drastic misrepresentation? There is a crucial difference between a rule and the particular outcome produced by that rule in a specific situation.

Now, the rule for optimal Score Voting strategy is known with precise mathematical certainty. It is to "approve" (give the maximum score to) all candidates you prefer to the expected value of the winner, and "disapprove" (give the minimum score to) the others. The voter in the example from that link approves: Dodd, Gravel, Obama, Richardson, Kucinich. That is his best strategy.

Of course we don't actually expect most voters to do such precise calculations. A simple intuitive approximation of the optimal strategy would be to just "vote for your favorite frontrunner, plus everyone you like better". In which case that voter would start with Obama (since he and Clinton were the obvious frontrunners by the time period that polling data is based on) and then also approve Gravel and Dodd.

But what if your actual favorite happens to be one of the frontrunners? Then of course you bullet vote. In that particular election. But that doesn't mean bullet voting is the rule.

That ties in to the second egregious error in your statement, about "making Score Voting act like Plurality Voting". You didn't say it, but what you mean there is honest Plurality Voting, aka "bullet voting". But everyone (including IRV proponents) says that strategic Plurality Voting users are those who do not vote for their favorite. These two views are contradictory.

Going back to your other similar claim:

Experience suggests that most voters using Approval and Score give their favorite candidate the maximum score or rank and all other candidates a minimal score or no vote.

You linked to a couple of things in that statement. One of them was a post about YouTube abandoning its rating system, because "five" was almost the only rating used. But as I wrote back in 2010, this doesn't support your argument. Because for one, people aren't only rating a single video and ignoring all the others. At worst, you could say that this is Approval-style voting, not Plurality-style.

Second, this is not like an election, where you have a finite list of candidates and there is a risk of someone you don't like winning. So voters aren't motivated to rate all the videos (actually that would be impossible). The voters are self-selecting, typically those who feel strongly about a video in the first place. People who think a video is just mediocre are much less likely to weigh in.

Your other two links are from FairVote. I'll try not to go too far into the hominem attacks here, but FairVote has an astonishingly bad record of basic logical/mathematical illiteracy and just getting basic facts wrong. We have a rebuttal to every argument offered at those links, but that would take pages and pages. Let me just pick out a couple of examples.

Speaking of the repeal of Approval Voting at Dartmouth, FairVote says:

Many backers of the petition candidates were more strategic, however. They were more likely to bullet vote, reflecting the passion that led to getting that petition candidate on the ballot in the first place.

Robert Z. Norman, a Dartmouth professor emeritus of mathematics, responded:

In 2007 there was a per voter average of voting for 1.81 candidates. Hence the proportion of bullet votes had to be fairly small (or else nearly everyone voted for one or all three candidates, but not two, which would seem crazy).

Warren Smith continued:

Specifically, if all ballots approved either 1 or 2 candidates, there must have been 19% approve-1 and 81% approve-2 ballots. Norman in later email later hypothesized that actually there may have been a strategy of "either voting for the petition candidate or voting for all [3 opposing] nominated candidates." If that was the only thing going on then 60% of the votes would have been approve-1 and the remaining 40.5% approve-3s, but in this case approval voting was clearly showing its immense value by preventing an enormous "vote-split" among the 3. In any case the fraction of "approve≥2" ballots presumably had to be somewhere between 40.5% and 81%.

I could go into depth on any of the arguments offered by FairVote, and they basically all suffer from the same class of errors.

maybe over beers is a good place to discuss philosophical differences of utilitarianism vs majoritarianism.

This statement implies that it's a subjective difference that two reasonable people can "agree to disagree" about. What I'm trying to tell you is that no, if you actually break it down into axiomatic logic, it can be objectively mathematically proved that majoritarianism is incorrect. A group can actually prefer X to Y even though a majority of its members prefers Y to X. It intuitively seems impossible but it isn't.

Here's another thought experiment, proposed by me. You can have a majority of voters in support of Proposition X, and a majority in favor of Proposition Y—while at the same time having a majority who would prefer that neither proposition pass to having both pass. This is literally possible in real life! In that case, what does majority rule even mean?

On a more practical level, let me get to your concern about a scenario where X wins even though Y is the favorite of a majority of voters. Even if you cannot accept axiomatic logic, you have to accept that all voting methods can produce wrong-seeming outcomes in some cases. For instance, here's an insanely wrong IRV worst case scenario.

Given that, it should simply be about the frequency of such anomalies, multiplied by their negative impact. That seems to me an unassailable position. But for some reason you seem to espouse a hard line position that Score Voting is a non-starter because this particular bad outcome is theoretically possible at all—even if extremely rare. I don't think that position is defensible.

Clay

AW

Aaron Wolf Sat 13 May 2017

Regarding Clay's more recent points above: I don't think they are all described in a fashion everyone will like, but it's an improvement to the earlier style.

It's fair to conclude that Clay doesn't just disagree with FairVote et al but thinks their arguments are entirely specious. Without expressing my view, it's possible for this sort of perspective to be true. That's why we can't just do he-said-she-said reporting. Flat-earthers are wrong, and it's totally right to go beyond disagreement and actually say that the flat-earthers have zero credibility. We need to check whether this sort of thing applies in other cases too, although that may be hard. The main point is not to automatically reject Clay as being extreme in the same way you don't reject defenders of global-earth as being extreme.

But to weigh in with my views: I think Clay is guilty of sometimes mischaracterizing and exaggerating the views of others. I think he's right about his conclusions on the voting systems largely, but for example: majoritarianism can be a view people support for social and practical reasons rather than for mathematical ones (even though I personally disagree with it regardless). I can sympathize with Clay's reactions when he sees repetition of the same arguments that really don't hold up to scrutiny and aren't presented with careful qualifications…

CS

Clay Shentrup Sun 14 May 2017

This is one area where it's probably important to weigh in on the strength of the evidence. Critics do make this claim, but they make it based on several assumptions and hypotheses. It would be fairer to word it as "worry about the potential for score to devolve to bullet voting" because there's really no compelling evidence for any claim that it will do this.

Exactly.

Regarding Clay's more recent points above: I don't think they are all described in a fashion everyone will like, but it's an improvement to the earlier style.

I dialed the "cool, calm and objective" knob up to an 11, so if there's still something that concerns you, I'd really appreciate it if you could go into some detail. We may just have different perspectives on this.

AW

Aaron Wolf Sun 14 May 2017

if there's still something that concerns you, I'd really appreciate it if you could go into some detail

If all along, you'd worded things like you did recently, it would be basically fine. There's both skill and hard work / extra time that goes into making the ultimate expression for maximum good reception. I rarely ever achieve it myself (but welcome push and feedback that way).

Two things that would likely come across even better:

  • avoid words like "egregious" (which isn't a personal attack and may accurately describe your judgment but just isn't likely to be taken well by anyone with any tendency toward defensiveness).
  • literally follow Rapoport's Rules by taking the time to fairly express those core things about understanding the other person, agreeing with them, looking for ways you like or have learned from their points…

I'm not saying that these are requirements or that less than this is bad. I think your recent posts were all around positive and fair. I'm just saying this is the sort of thing that goes from good to exceptional. Thanks for working hard to be tactful, it does show, and I think it's only fair for @kristineb to recognize the effort and reply constructively.

CS

Clay Shentrup Tue 16 May 2017

Regarding the Later-no-harm section:

All of these systems are flawed because they do not support what voting experts call “Later-No-Harm”

You assert that this is a flaw, but don't provide supporting evidence. I think that's a really big problem given that this is such an oft-touted claim with so much emphasis put on it. And given that rigorous mathematical analysis says LNH is not a good measure of quality.

If voters know which candidates are viable and which are not, they might vote for their favorite of the viable candidates and also any other candidates they like, so long as they are sure those other can’t beat their favorite.

There are two claims here, both in error.

First, it's incorrect that voters need to know which candidates are viable. If you don't know, then all can be considered equally viable in your expected value calculus. Say I feel Sanders=5, Clinton=4, Trump=0 and have no reliable polling data. Then my expected value is 3, so I want to "approve" Sanders and Clinton. If that causes Clinton to defeat Sanders, I'm only a little less happy. The math should be clear here: If not voting Clinton causes Trump to win, I'll be way less happy.

Second, you're saying they'll only vote for other "non-front-runners" if those can't beat their favorite. For example, if you feel Kucinich=5, Gravel=4, Obama=3, Clinton=0 (partially invoking the 2008 primary), you certainly don't want to approve only Kucinich and Obama (your favorite and your favorite frontrunner, respectively). If you believe Obama's a frontrunner, then you want to approve everyone you prefer to him, including Gravel. You aren't going to worry that it helps Gravel to defeat Kucinich, because it's already unlikely that Kucinich is going to perform well in the first place.

The underlying statistical calculations here are very straightforward and this shouldn't be controversial.

you can harm your favorite candidate by giving any other candidate a score or vote. When voters realize this, they often “bullet vote” (only score or vote for one candidate).

Presumably this is meant to be the evidence that LNH is a problem. But it's a non-sequitur.

First simply consider this equally valid logic: You can harm your 2nd favorite candidate by giving any lesser liked candidate a score or vote. When voters realize this, they often "double vote" (only score or vote for their top two candidates).

You can replace 2nd with 3rd or 4th or what have you and it's the same argument. Yet those who invoke LNH seem to always focus purely on the "1st" case.

To say that again a slightly different way, suppose I prefer X over Y over Z. If the argument is that I'm going to have an incentive to bullet vote for X because I'm afraid of Y beating X, then the same logic says I should approve Y because I'm afraid of Z beating Y.

This is particularly glaring if I have preferences like: X=5, Y=4, Z=0

So there is nothing special about "bullet voting". For some voters, the best strategy will be to bullet vote. For others, it will be to vote for their top two, or top three, etc.

And of course we know this, because we frequently see people betray their favorite and vote for someone "electable" with Plurality Voting. IRV proponents themselves make this argument all the time.

And beyond all this theory, we just have so much empirical data.

So in my view, this Later-no-harm boogey man has got to die. It's just not particularly useful, and there are numerous more important criteria that we should be focusing on, like Favorite Betrayal, precinct summability, transparent sum-based tallies, ballot spoilage rates, voting machine concerns, propensity to escape two-party domination, etc.

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 17 May 2017

I must say: I concur with what Clay just now posted. This is the crux of the biscuit.

But let's be clear: in principle, there's nothing desirable about reducing your 1st choice's chances when you increase your 2nd choice's chances. It's just a mathematical fact that if you completely divorce those two, you necessarily create other interactions, namely that supporting your 1st choice can increase the chances for your least favorite.

If looking at this you continue to assert that LNH is worth talking about, you're making an unfounded claim that tying favorite-support to 2nd-choice is worse than tying favorite-support to last-choice. At the least, there's some responsibility to justify this idea.

I can think of one type of voter where LNH is desirable: the sort of voter who is inclined to bullet-vote for their favorite, period (i.e. they aren't willing to do anything to compromise their first choice even if that compromise actually resulted in a preferable outcome). E.g. in 2000, true Gore supporters who think both Nader and Bush are awful but might vote for Nader over Bush if they even bothered to turn out and vote without Gore being an option (not sure such voters existed though), or Nader supporters who truly oppose both Gore and Bush but would grudgingly admit a Gore over Bush preference.

For that sort of bullet-voting voter, many will bullet vote in any system, no matter what. But if you have a system that obeys LNH, you could convince those voters to express a 2nd choice, thus hopefully at least showing the existence of their later preferences and maybe leading to something like Gore winning over Bush.

I'm sure some of the LNH-supporters indeed see it this way. They are trying to convince people who know their first choice and don't give a damn otherwise to at least move to marking later choices at all.

But for all the rest of the voters who actually have more mixed views, all the Nader supporters who felt Gore was enough better than Bush to betray Nader, the fact that LNH is tied to risking your least-favorite winning, any system that obeys LNH is worse.

So, if you knew that most voters were inclined to bullet, you might want LNH (even though various circumstances can still result in tragically unaccurate outcomes). If, on the other hand, you knew that voters cared more about stopping the candidates they most oppose, then you would certainly not want LNH.

Now we can ask the question: what sort of voters are there, and which trade-offs are more acceptable? From my perspective, there's very little evidence in favor of the LNH arguments.

@kristineb summary of all of this: you can't reasonably say LNH is good and actually apply it to judging voting systems without acknowledging the context.

An analogy: There's a fundamental trade-off between three factors you can't have all of in a place where people live: Low-density, Low-price, Quality-of-life. You can have 2 of 3, but not all. It's correct to say that we may want all of them. But if you evaluate a development plan based on those 3 values, the only way to honestly present it is to admit the inherent connections.

LNH is like low-density in that it is not only tied to the other factors inextricably, it is also something of debatable value in that some people don't even want it as a value in itself.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Thu 18 May 2017

@wolftune

In consulting and contracting, there is a saying: "Good, Cheap, Fast. Pick Two."

If you want it Good and Cheap, you are going to have to wait until we are really slow and don't have other customers to take care of first. It might be a while.

If you want it Good and Fast, it's not going to be cheap.

If you want it Cheap and Fast, it's not going to be good.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Thu 18 May 2017

@kristineb

I'd really like to see an analysis of Single Transferable Vote vs Re-weighted Range Voting vs the SRV version of RRV with runoffs. For multi winner / proportional representation elections.

TB

Terrill Bouricius Sun 21 May 2017

One reason Later-No-Harm matters so much is that the resulting strategy is so self-evident that it will be widely adopted by campaigns and voters -- reproducing plurality voting failures. If there are a few viable candidates, each of their campaign managers will realize that it is essential that their supporters not give any support to the other contenders. The simple message that ALL of these campaigns will promote is to bullet vote. Even if there are only two viable candidates they will want to discourage their supporters giving a vote to their main opponent, and so will likely still use the bullet vote message. While the supporters of a fringe candidate may ignore this advice, it is also likely that some will angrily react by bullet voting to maximize the percentage for their third party choice .... just as in any plurality election. In short... until we see how campaigns and voters behave in a high-stakes score or score runoff environment we can't be certain how well they would work... but I suspect the most obvious strategy offered by the Later-No-Harm failure will dominate.

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 22 May 2017

the resulting strategy is so self-evident that it will be widely adopted by campaigns and voters

This sentence misses the "I suspect" sort of qualifications for this claim that has nowhere near enough evidence to be conclusive. It's fine to have worries, discuss how likely they are, how bad the worst-case could be etc. It's fine to discuss the fact that LNH is something that voting orgs like FairVote currently talk about. We cannot say that bullet-voting will be widely adopted by voters without providing preponderance of evidence for such claims.

Sure, some people could make these sorts of arguments, but how widely? How much will voters listen? How much will arguments against this FUD be effective versus the FUD winning out?

but I suspect the most obvious strategy offered by the Later-No-Harm failure will dominate.

Thank you! That type of language needs to be used more in general and in the part above.

But this is the whole issue of STAR voting (aka SRV) over plain score. The runoff does enough to address the LNH arguments that it makes the continued LNH points into true FUD. The FUD itself amounts to picking the worst-case scenario for STAR voting and ignoring how extremely rare it may be (perhaps never even arise) and just focus on that as a problem while ignoring how it compares to the worst-case of IRV (which is more likely too).

How about this: FUD is a real issue and should not be ignored. If a system is especially susceptible or likey to be attacked with FUD propaganda, then that is itself a real weakness. Even if LNH arguments do not hold up to scrutiny, the FUD around it is clearly a serious problem. I am not sure how likely it is for the FUD to really damage everything, but that is the main thing to discuss.

Which is all to say that @terrillbouricius , you are right that it's more about the impressions people have, accurate or not, than about the underlying mathematical facts about systems.

CS

Clay Shentrup Mon 22 May 2017

Terry,

We already have high stakes elections and we know how strategy works. People tend to support their favorite frontrunner. E.g. the Green who votes Democrat. So the question is what happens if the voters are then allowed to keep going and vote for more candidates.

Our theory is, they keep that strategic vote and continue to vote for any more-liked candidates. The Green casts a strategic vote for Democrat and an honest vote for Green. (And maybe for Bernie too!)

Your theory seems to be that the ability to vote for multiple candidates causes that voter to instead switch from a tactical vote to a non-tactical vote: Democrat to Green. This makes absolutely no sense and is not supported by any empirical or psychological evidence I've seen in the 11 years I've been studying this issue. An extraordinary claim like this requires extraordinary evidence. Please. Cite. Evidence.

until we see how campaigns and voters behave in a high-stakes score or score runoff environment we can't be certain how well they would work

We have seen numerous cardinal voting elections with something at stake. For instance:
http://scorevoting.net/RLCstrawPoll2015.html

But why are you talking about "high stakes" elections? High stakes imply strategic voting. But what you're talking about is the opposite of strategic voting. If voters only bullet vote when it makes strategic sense, our position is totally fine. The problem you're getting at is if people bullet vote even when it doesn't make strategic sense. In which case there's nothing special about a "high stakes" election.

SW

Sara Wolf Tue 23 May 2017

A lot has been said here and I'm happy to see in depth dialogue. I'm happy to get together in person to talk about any of this any time. First round on me.

Other's have provided detail and supporting arguments above, but here are the major problems in summary:

Later-No-Harm is a problematic and bad criteria that should NOT be used as a pass-fail metric. It is a useful idea to take into account, but L.N.H. in some cases is in direct conflict with ideal representative and accurate outcomes. Most of the time we don't have to choose between an individuals representation and fair representation for the whole, but when the two are mutually exclusive a voting system MUST strive to be as representative, fair and accurate as possible overall!

Bullet Voting is a destructive and misleading argument against Score Voting and ESPECIALLY factually incorrect in regard to SRV/Star Voting. This argument is beyond false and and needs to not be spread around by experts in the field! I think the heated nature of this debate comes from the real negative consequences of this kind of confusing of the issues and misinformation. We all care about democracy and we agree on our core goals here so we need to avoid perpetuating tactics that are destructive to the cause at all costs.

Making nuanced issues black and white. Your pass/fail metric seems to be a gross oversimplification. 100% perfection seems to be required to pass in some cases, and you give fail ratings to systems that would pass the criteria in almost all cases. This is why in my Comparing Voting Systems Report Card I used letter grades to show nuance. I tried to estimate that if a system passed 90% of the time it would get an A. A+ meant 100% perfection. It also seems like you were measuring different voting systems to different standards and it honestly looked like playing favorites to me. I hope I'm wrong. I'd have to look again to give details but I'm happy to talk more about this if you want.

The pen is mightier than the sword. Kristin, you have a powerful platform at Sightline and the ear of people that will make a difference in this effort, for better or for worse. Please make sure your articles help people come to sound conclusions. There are a few ways that journalism can backfire and hurt a cause. Misinformation is the most obvious. Confusing the issues is also a big deal. Cluttering key info and criteria we can all agree about with other more debatable info is harmful. (Preventing favorite betrayal and the spoiler effect while striving for equal weighted votes and representative outcomes are important to all and shouldn't be put side by side with debatable criteria and mud slinging as if they are on the same level.)

Thanks for taking the time to read this and take it into consideration for edits and future writing.

CS

Clay Shentrup Wed 24 May 2017

And as I expected, Terry has no response or evidence to offer.

WW

William WAUGH Mon 26 Jun 2017

As I commented on the piece, I claim a civil right to a vote that counts as strongly as yours, and IRV does not respect this right, but all Score systems (including Approval and Score Runoff Voting) do. The proof for the Score systems is that for every vote that you can cast, I can cast a vote that undoes the effect of your vote. IRV advocates have not brought a proof of the same property for IRV.