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...that she might be a sufficient reason for young Candide

and he for her


February 24th, 2004

Good article @ 05:27 pm

Current Mood: contemplative

I was just pointed to a very good article on election mechanisms.

If you care one way or the other what impact Nader might have in 2004, and why, read this article.
 
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From:grumbeld
Date:February 24th, 2004 06:49 pm (UTC)
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Wow, some interesting stuff there. I'm all over getting rid of plurality voting though, that's for sure. I mean from personal experience of choosing movies with friends, voting for just one movie is generally a waste of time and doesn't get us closer to the compromise we want. I'd say that the approval/disapproval method would be my preference simply because we would then be able to choose someone that we don't like. If it becomes Nader, Kerry, and Bush this year I only know that I wouldn't want Bush.
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From:hawk
Date:February 24th, 2004 08:58 pm (UTC)
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::nods:: This all came from inkbot's post and the subsequent discussion here. And yes, this is a strong piece of the argument for approval voting. It allows you to more flexibly decide what message you want to send. If you like Nader, and would rather have a lemon ground into yo...um...if you don't like the other options, you can just vote for Nader. If you loathe Kerry, and your mission in life is to see him burning in hell, you just vote for every single other candidate. Personally I like the Borda count because it accomplishes much the same thing and allows for the additional information that "I hate Bush, I'll accept anyone else, and I'd prefer Edwards to Kerry" or whatever. The approval method has the added advantage that it's straightforward to implement (you could even use the same equipment). But I figure if we're going to change the system, I'd just as soon go the extra mile. (note: there are many smart people who will tell you approval voting IS 'the extra mile'. Decide for yourself.)
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From:grumbeld
Date:February 24th, 2004 09:25 pm (UTC)
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Yeah, after the chad incident in Florida 2000 I don't put much truck in the voter's intelligence. Approval voting seems less complicated for them then the Borda count. I mean, it can be hard to make a top ten list.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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From:grumbeld
Date:February 26th, 2004 01:01 pm (UTC)

Re: Correction:

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So you moved now or what? Let me know if you want to hang out some time. If nothing else, I think that we have some movies that need to be watched.
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From:grumbeld
Date:May 18th, 2005 09:12 am (UTC)

Re: Correction:

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not to mention top 50 lists.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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From:grumbeld
Date:June 27th, 2006 11:19 pm (UTC)

Re: Correction:

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My God man! It took you a year to get around to that, didn't it?
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From:skamp
Date:February 25th, 2004 01:27 pm (UTC)
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Did you read the response letters at the bottom of the article? Many of the refer to the 'complexity' inherent in the Borda Count and the Approval method. I defy anyone to go out and take a random poll of the general population and find more than 1 in 5 voters that understand how our current system works. Or even what plurality means.

The ability to fine tune voter opinion is the type of pipe dream that won't see daylight, not because it isn't a viable, and argueably superior method of electing officials, but because the current system favors those that would be responsible for making any reforms. "This system supports me and my goals, why would I discard it for one that doesn't? Sure it better represents what the people want, but 'the people' very rarely know what is best for them. I see no reason to allow them a larger say in issues with which they have little or no understanding."

Chilling and perhaps cynical, but show me I'm wrong, please.
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From:hawk
Date:February 25th, 2004 04:46 pm (UTC)
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Well, all due respect, the first point is just crap. As you say, you'd be lucky to find 1 in 5 people who understand plurality voting (actually that's probably pessimistic, but the thought holds water). So what the fuck do we care if they understand BC or AV? All that matters is whether they'll be able to participate. And that boils down to interface design. (A trivial understanding of the BC makes it seem more difficult to participate in than it would actually be. It need not be substantially more difficult than AV.)

Your remaining concerns are more central to the problem, in my estimation. Whether people 'know what is best for them' is not really an issue at all, and to whatever extent it is, it has far more bearing on our system of representation than it does on our decision method.

The one thing you've said that I think actually withstands scrutiny within the context of decision mechanisms is the basic fact that the kind of paradoxical outcomes you expect from a plurality election tend to crush people who would get less than a plurality of the vote normally down close to zero. Anybody who understands the strategy of voting under plurlaity will vote for whichever of the top two candidates they prefer. People who either don't understand the math, or care less about the outcome than about their vote as their 'voice' will occasionally cast votes in other directions, but for most intents and purposes, the only way for a third party to matter would be if the population were somehow polarized heavily along at least two completely independent dimensions. Politics being what they are, this is pretty unlikely. The way it works is that the two primary candidates will tend to be very close together in the middle of the opinion space. Introducing candidates further away from the center can net you a lot of votes, but neither you nor the candidate on whos votes you infringe will have a shot at winning a plurality, much less a majority. It's like guessing numbers on a "whoever's closest" basis. 1-20, I guess 10, you guess 11, what should your mom guess? She can only claim 9/20 of the numbers, so she will still lose 10/19 of the time. She can screw somebody else, but whatever.
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From:hawk
Date:February 25th, 2004 04:47 pm (UTC)
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Anyway, I digress. The point there is that you need only to look at how people vote to see that at least on an intuitive basis people understand plurality voting all too well. People vote based on who they want to win and who is most likely to win.

So the question you imply, rightfully so, is what hope could there possibly be of pushing a good voting mechanism? Well, The last two elections have been decided by spoilers. Bush Sr. would have won without Perot, and Bush Jr. would have lost without Nader. The statistical data on these points is pretty clear. And note that this remains true under more or less all even remotely decent mechanisms.

What's my point? My point is that while it is correct that plurality favors those two guys standing back to back on the center of mass, it doesn't favor one OVER the other. And it doesn't make people who were going to get nearly none of the votes suddenly win. It just makes it a little more apparent that 10% of the population thought Nader didn't totally suck (or whatever). This gives me some hope that the sheer sensibility of the mechanism might have at least a little relevance to those in power.

What happens if we switch to a real voting system? All of a sudden things smooth out. People on the fringe can vote for Bush AND Buchannon, Nader AND Kerry. And it doesn't matter. And people in the middle can vote for Kerry AND Bush. Who does that favor? As far as I can tell it doesn't really favor anybody new. It just prevents spoilers from spoiling much of anything. People get to vote for the people they want. And whoever spends the most money on commercials will still win. And those people will always be the people in the middle, because you can only give your money to one person (per given dollar). Money is a vote, and by definition, it is a plurality vote. And you get a vote for EVERY DOLLAR.

So I say we fix the election mechanism, because it's stupid, and benefits nobody, and creates unnecessary confusion among voters. I think there's some hope of that.

Then we can talk about financial reforms for campaigning. THAT's where the people in power should get upset. Because THAT is a hardwired plurality where every buck votes, and every bum watches. That's where *I* get cynical. I don't see campaign finances changing in any real way. I mean what the hell would you do there? Tax everyone for campaign money, and then give everyone a $100 'vote' which they can distribute however they want, BEFORE the campaign? It gets stupid fast. And if we do nothing? Money talks. ::shrugs::

I'm not suggesting some kind of panacea for political woes. I just want my views and my vote to be at least passingly related.
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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From:hawk
Date:February 26th, 2004 01:13 am (UTC)

Re: Generic California Man!

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I am California Guy. Who says I didn't bleach my hair, anyway?
(no subject) - (Anonymous)
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From:hawk
Date:March 1st, 2004 01:07 pm (UTC)

When your mom disobeys a direct order.

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I was born here, bitch. But now that I'm done playing Devil's advocate, I will of course die an Oregonian. I'd have it no other way. But I like to think I can just claim the whole COAST as my own.

...that she might be a sufficient reason for young Candide

and he for her