Send a Tweet
Most Popular Choices
Share on Facebook 5 Share on Twitter Printer Friendly Page More Sharing
Exclusive to OpEdNews:
OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 7/9/19

Two Properties for Categorizing Voting Systems

By       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     (# of views)   3 comments, 2 series
Author 1890
Message Paul Cohen
- Advertisement -

Quite often I find that I have an email from some politician asking me to answer a few questions to help understand my opinions and concerns. But predictably, the final question on the poll is a multiple choice question asking how much money I will donate to fund the politician's campaign, with none of the available answers describing what is most often the case. Even on the fairly rare occasion when I recognize the politician's name, I quite often do not wish to contribute. But that answer is not on the list of possible responses. The available answers are simply incomplete.

That makes that last question in the politician's poll a good illustration of an absence of logical completeness. A logically complete multiple-choice question should list answers that, taken together, exhaust all of the possibilities. Generally this can be accomplished with the addition of something essentially like a "non of the above" option. On an informal and inconsequential questionnaire this failure at completeness can be forgiven, it is not at all forgivable for a question on an important ballot. Logical completeness is a vitally important characteristic for a ballot and for a voting system.

In an article in this series that I wrote several years ago, I described another desirable characteristic for voting systems that I called "balanced":

By allowing voters an equal opportunity to vote for or against a candidate, balanced voting takes a sound middle ground between positive voting and negative voting.

- Advertisement -

Unfortunately it is all too easy to read this without taking sufficient note of the very important qualifier, "equal". Without this qualification it could be argued that even the widely promoted ranked voting system called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) is, at least arguably, balanced. Much as with plurality voting with only two candidates, one might argue that a vote for all other candidates really amounts to a vote against one specific candidate. But using IRV IRV, all a voter needs to do in order to vote for a candidate is to prepare a list consisting of just a single candidate. But to vote against a specific candidate that voter must prepare a list every other candidates even if there are hundreds of them; even write-in candidates must be listed if write-ins are somehow allowed by the ballot.

Even if one is comfortable with the assertion that this is the same as voting against a candidate, it is clearly not an equal opportunity; even if there is no option to include write-in candidates, preparing the longer list is much more time consuming and mentally demanding and tedious task.

I cannot claim any serious knowledge of the history of ranked voting systems, but I suspect that an effort to formalize the notion of voting was the reason for its invention. I suspect that in that formalization, a voter was defined simply as an ordered list of candidates starting with the voter's favorite. It seems quite reasonable that someone might have done so based on the belief that, for the purpose of voting, that particular list encapsulates all that is important about a voter. What results is a simple theoretical model to describe and analyze different voting systems and quite likely that model gained some acceptance and popularity. With use, the model became accepted as the reality among the experts who studied voting and elections.

An Abstract Model
An Abstract Model
(Image by Wikipedia (commons.wikimedia.org))
  Details   DMCA
- Advertisement -

For these experts, whether the model fits real-world reality did not remain an issue; they were studying the abstract model, not the actual world. I'm not faulting anyone for this; in theoretical explorations it is necessary to abstract what seem to be the important features and ignore those that seem irrelevant. At the stage of applying results, however, the accuracy of the model really should be scrutinized carefully.

If a voter is understood to be simply an ordered list of preferences, surely the best voting system would be a ranked system that simply asks each voter for that all-important list. Given that train of thought, a ranked voting system collects all of the voters' preferences and surely some ranked voting system simply must be the best approach to voting. Arrow's Theorem certainly must have been a shock to students of this model. How is it possible that every voting system is so very flawed?

Early in these articles, however, I argued that the characterization of a voter as a ranked list of candidates did not match particularly well with real world voters; in fact it is generally quite difficult for an honest voter to produce such a list. The list in many if not most cases is grossly over-determined, specifying a relative ordering of candidates when no such ordering actually exists in the voter's mind. From this vantage point, the disappointment of Arrow's theorem is not really so surprising. It is not all voting systems that are proven flawed by Arrow's theorem, just the ranked ones which happen to force a voter to specify an order of preference when in reality the voter is unable to honestly formulate such an order.

None of the balanced voting systems introduced in this series are ranked systems and so none of these systems are subject to the dire warnings of Arrow's theorem. These balanced voting systems (with the exception of XMAV) are all logically complete as well. In the case of Balanced Approval Voting (BAV) that logical completeness is achieved by allowing the voter to remain neutral on a candidate as well as to approve or disapprove of that candidate. Denying the voter that third option results in either a system (viz. Approval Voting) that is not balanced or it results in a system, eXcluded Middle Approval Voting (XMAV) , that fails to be logically complete. The difference between AV and XMAV may merely be the way the available choices are described to the voter, but that is an important difference that changes how the voter understands the ballot and how the voter votes.

 

- Advertisement -

Rate It | View Ratings

Paul Cohen Social Media Pages: Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in       Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in       Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in       Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in

A concerned citizen and former mathematician/engineer now retired and living in rural Maine.
Go To Commenting
The views expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this website or its editors.
Writers Guidelines
Contact AuthorContact Author Contact EditorContact Editor Author PageView Authors' Articles
Support OpEdNews

OpEdNews depends upon can't survive without your help.

If you value this article and the work of OpEdNews, please either Donate or Purchase a premium membership.

STAY IN THE KNOW
If you've enjoyed this, sign up for our daily or weekly newsletter to get lots of great progressive content.
Daily Weekly     OpEdNews Newsletter
Name
Email
   (Opens new browser window)
 
Series: "Balanced Voting"

A Voter's Quandry (Article) (# of views) 12/10/2018
Opposites (Article) (# of views) 10/20/2018
A First Experience with Ranked Voting (Article) (# of views) 06/13/2018
View All 37 Articles in "Balanced Voting"
Total Views for the Series: 33728   

Series: "Ranked Voting"

A Voter's Quandry (Article) (# of views) 12/10/2018
A First Experience with Ranked Voting (Article) (# of views) 06/13/2018
Arrow's Theorem and Overstatements (Article) (# of views) 05/16/2018
View All 11 Articles in "Ranked Voting"
Total Views for the Series: 9173   

Most Popular Articles by this Author:     (View All Most Popular Articles by this Author)

Who Pays Taxes?

Liberate Yourself from the Mainstream Media

Who Pays Taxes II

Rethinking Which Voting System is Best

Conservatives Without Conscience

Can Less be Better?

Comments Image Post Article Comment and Rate This Article

These discussions are not moderated. We rely on users to police themselves, and flag inappropriate comments and behavior. In accordance with our Guidelines and Policies, we reserve the right to remove any post at any time for any reason, and will restrict access of registered users who repeatedly violate our terms.

  • OpEdNews welcomes lively, CIVIL discourse. Personal attacks and/or hate speech are not tolerated and may result in banning.
  • Comments should relate to the content above. Irrelevant, off-topic comments are a distraction, and will be removed.
  • By submitting this comment, you agree to all OpEdNews rules, guidelines and policies.
          

Comment Here:   



You can enter 2000 characters. To remove limit, please click here.
Please login or register. Afterwards, your comment will be published.
 
Username
Password

Forgot your password? Click here and we will send an email to the address you used when you registered.
First Name
Last Name

I am at least 16 years of age
(make sure username & password are filled in. Note that username must be an email address.)

2 people are discussing this page, with 3 comments  Post Comment


Paul Cohen

Become a Fan
Author 1890

(Member since Jun 15, 2006), 3 fans, 60 articles, 26 quicklinks, 1189 comments, 12 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

There will probably be a follow-on article to discuss at least one additional property of voting systems.

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 1:40:23 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

Josh Mitteldorf

Become a Fan Follow Me on Twitter
(Member since Sep 14, 2006), 44 fans, 573 articles, 368 quicklinks, 934 comments, 11 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


  New Content

There is a movement full of activists -- I am one -- who think that computerized voting is too easily corrupted and too opaque to recount to be an acceptable means of choosing leaders. Can the scheme you propose be implemented without computers?

Submitted on Tuesday, Jul 9, 2019 at 7:14:24 PM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
Indent

Paul Cohen

Become a Fan
Author 1890

(Member since Jun 15, 2006), 3 fans, 60 articles, 26 quicklinks, 1189 comments, 12 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Josh Mitteldorf:   New Content

I'm not proposing just one particular voting system. There are many possible forms of balanced voting, but there is nothing about any of the specific balanced voting systems I have proposed that prevent the use of paper ballots or hand counting. There would be variations in the difficulty in counting ballots of course but none of the proposed systems would present more difficulty than IRV does and, with the exception of IRBV, any of them would be much easier (compared to IRV) to implement with paper ballots.

The only balanced voting system that I have discussed (but not proposed) that would seem to require electronic voting machines is the pathological one, XMAV. I would oppose that system because it fails to be logically complete. In that system you can vote for or against each candidate but you are not allowed to abstain; but using paper ballots, many voters would fail to choose either of the permitted options. The only way I can imagine to enforce the rule of choosing either to support or oppose each candidate would be with electronic voting machines.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 1:23:54 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 
Indent

Paul Cohen

Become a Fan
Author 1890

(Member since Jun 15, 2006), 3 fans, 60 articles, 26 quicklinks, 1189 comments, 12 diaries
Facebook page url on login Profile not filled in Twitter page url on login Profile not filled in Linkedin page url on login Profile not filled in Instagram page url on login Profile not filled in


Add this Page to Facebook! Submit to Twitter Share on LinkedIn Submit to Reddit


Reply to Josh Mitteldorf:   New Content

I'm not proposing just one particular voting system. There are many possible forms of balanced voting, but there is nothing about any of the specific balanced voting systems I have proposed that prevent the use of paper ballots or hand counting. There would be variations in the difficulty in counting ballots of course but none of the proposed systems would present more difficulty than IRV does and, with the exception of IRBV, any of them would be much easier (compared to IRV) to implement with paper ballots.

The only balanced voting system that I have discussed (but not proposed) that would seem to require electronic voting machines is the pathological one, XMAV. I would oppose that system because it fails to be logically complete. In that system you can vote for or against each candidate but you are not allowed to abstain; but using paper ballots, many voters would fail to choose either of the permitted options. The only way I can imagine to enforce the rule of choosing either to support or oppose each candidate would be with electronic voting machines.

Submitted on Wednesday, Jul 10, 2019 at 1:24:45 AM

Author 0
Add New Comment
Share Comment
Reply To This   Recommend  (0+)
Help
 

 
Want to post your own comment on this Article? Post Comment