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Re: Condorcet Voting and Supermajorities (Re: [CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT] Disambiguation of 4.1.5)

> > > > My point of view is that these two are essentially equivalent: in the
> > > > N+1 style of voting, a person who thinks that the option isn't the best
> > > > would vote for "further discussion".
> > > Well, they might do that, yes. Or else they might think to themselves, 
> > > "well, I'm never going to get my preferred choice, and this isn't bad, so 
> > > yeah, let's do that". I think that's a valid point of view to hold.

On Mon, Dec 04, 2000 at 11:20:15PM -0500, Raul Miller wrote:
> > Indeed, things could happen this way.  [Personally, I'm not sure I'd
> > say "Oh well" -- if "My First Preference" was important to me, I'd very
> > likely vote 1: further discussion, 2: yes, 3: no -- this wouldn't have a
> > substantially different effect, unless some of the people who had voted
> > the other way had second thoughts, or unless more people participated
> > in the second vote.]

On Tue, Dec 05, 2000 at 05:58:47PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> It'd have a substantial effect if a supermajority was required: if 60
> of 100 people preferred your second preference, and voted Yes/Further
> Discussion/No, while 40 people voted Further Discussion/Yes/No, the
> vote would fail, and you'd be back at the start again.
> Personally, I doubt this would do you any good: everyone's already
> likely to have decided on their preference, so you may as well take
> the compromise rather than trying again and again and again.

Depends on how I felt on the issue -- I rate things based on my
preferences, not based on some abstract expectation about other people's

> > > Similarly, in the counting scheme I proposed, you'd vote:
> > Er.. I've been trying to find your proposal.  
> Let me restate it, then.
> A single vote is called, with each alternative option in its full form
> as an option, along with a "Status-quo" option. Developers submit ballots
> with each option numbered according to their relative preferences.

First note: you don't attempt to distinguish between "this is worth
redoing" and "this is not worth redoing", in your "status quo".

> Votes are counted by first counting how many individual votes rank one
> option above another option, and a matrix is formed, where M[a,b] is the
> number of votes that rank option "a" over option "b", and M[b,a] is the
> number of votes that rank option "b" over option "a".

Second note: this mechanism won't work for STV (which you suggest using,

> An option has quorum if the number of individual ballots mentioning that
> option is greater than or equal to the quorum required.
> An option, a, meets a supermajority of N:1 if M[a,S] > M[S,a] * N, where
> S is the Status-Quo option.

Third note: this is something we're still debating.

> The vote is counted by first finding the Smith set, then eliminating
> all options from the Smith set that don't make quorum or their
> respective supermajority requirement. If no options remain, the
> default option, Status-quo wins. If many options remain, they're
> chosen amongst by using STV, or something similar.

It's interesting that you're throwing quorum into the middle of the
vote instead of at the begining or the end.  I'm curious: do you
have any describable reason for this choice?

> This isn't entirely ideal: it'll select the status-quo more often
> than is probably desirable, but otherwise it's fairly expressive, and
> doesn't weight any preferences any more than others wherever possible.

I presume, here, you're talking about the case where we're picking between
an option with a supermajority requirement and a case where we're not.
And, I presume that a bias towards options with supermajority requirements
is something that you don't really care about.

> Consider it more as an example of a way to conduct a single vote that
> has less flaws than yours, rather than one that's useful as is.

The chief "flaw" you seem to be addressing is this very point we're
debating: what should supermajority mean, when comparing options with
different supermajority requirements.

> > > No, your view of supermajority isn't good because it affects other
> > > options than the status-quo options, and raises the odds that they'll win.
> > > An alternative way of looking at it is that there's no way to express
> > > a preference towards a non-supermajority vote without that preference
> > > counting for three preferences the other way. What if I *don't* feel
> > > that strongly about it?
> > Well.. if supermajority decreases the chance that an option will win,
> > then, yes, that does tend to bias things in the direction of alternatives.
> It's also possible to simply bias the vote towards the status-quo, rather
> than simply biassing it away from some other option.

Unless we are contrasting with an unambiguous reference, bias is a
matter of what you're contrasting with.

> > To avoid this "bias", you seem to want to bias things away from the
> > alternatives, and in favor of the choice between the supermajority
> > option, and what you call the "status quo" option.
> No, I don't want to avoid bias entirely; if I did I'd be saying "let's
> do away with supermajorities and quorums and just use a straight out
> Condorcet method of some description".
> But I think the main benefit of a quorum and supermajority is to
> bias towards the status-quo, not to bias against that particular
> possibility.

Are you drawing some kind of distinction between choosing "status
quo" then choosing some alternative, as opposed to just choosing the
alternative?  If so, I don't get it.

> > > Well, again, my reading explicitly requires a vote with Yes/No/Further
> > > Discussion as the only options, and only applies supermajority and quorum
> > > to those options.
> > Oh?
> > The only way I see to get that interpretation requires I either:
> > [A] Completely ignore A.3(3), or
> > [B] imagine that A.6(7) somehow says that X stands for only "no" or
> > "further discussion"
> > What have I missed?
> Okay, let me flesh out how I'd conduct a vote that has multiple related
> alternatives that should be decided on at once.
> First, since the constitution doesn't say anything about merging distinct
> votes, I'd require the later alternatives to be phrased as amendments to
> the first alternative presented, even if this essentially implies ignoring
> the original proposal and rewriting it from scratch.


> Once all the alternatives are assembled, and the proposers/sponsors have
> called for a vote, I'd first form a ballot under A.3(1) that looked like
> 	[ _ ] Original proposal
> 	[ _ ] First amendment
> 	[ _ ] Second amendment
> 	[ _ ] Third amendment
> 	[ _ ] Further discussion
> (assuming there aren't any sensible combinations of two or more amendments).

An important assumption.  

Also, if you're talking a constitutional ballot, I think you need an
explicit "no" option, for people who don't want the original proposal
with or without any amendments, and don't want to discuss it further.

> Under A.3(2), I'd be required to issue a ballot that allowed people to choose
> amongst:
> 	[ _ ] Yes
> 	[ _ ] No
> 	[ _ ] Further discussion
> to whichever of the above won.


> Under A.3(3) I'd be permitted to issue these ballots in a single
> message, as long as each voter could choose a different final vote no
> matter which original option won.

A.3(3) says: 

    3. The vote taker (if there is one) or the voters (if voting is done
       by public pronouncement) may arrange for these ballots to be held
       simultaneously, even (for example) using a single voting message.
       If amendment ballot(s) and the final ballot are combined in this
       way then it must be possible for a voter to vote differently in
       the final ballot for each of the possible forms of the final draft

I believe the case you're talking about is where the amendment
ballot(s) are combined with the final ballot.  Near as I can tell,
you've satisfied this requirement by allowing voters to rank "unamended"
as a different preference from "amended by option B" [and the various
other possibilities].

> I'd this make a message that
> looked like:
>       ,-- Preference for this option to win
>      |     ,-- Preference for "Yes" in the final ballot if this option wins
>      |    | ,--- Preference for "No" ...
>      |    || ,---- Preference for "Further Discussion" ...
>      V    VVV
>    [ _ ] [___] Original proposal
>    [ _ ] [___] First amendment
>    [ _ ] [___] Second amendment
>    [ _ ] [___] Third amendment
>    [ _ ]       Further discussion
> Which I'd then issue. When counting, I'd first use the preferences in
> the first column, then depending on which option won, the preferences
> in the second column to work out the outcome of the two simultaneously
> held votes.

I don't see that this "secondary preference" info is meaningful.

If it's reasonable to vote:

> (A valid vote would be something like:
>    [ 3 ] [213] Original proposal
>    [ 5 ] [312] First amendment
>    [ 1 ] [132] Second amendment
>    [ 2 ] [132] Third amendment
>    [ 4 ]       Further discussion
> )

This doesn't even make sense. What does it mean to rank "no on the
unammended proposal" as your third choice, and "yes on the proposal
amended by the second amendment" as the first choice?  Where in the
constitution do you get your idea of asking the voters for unrelated

> That's how I would interpret A.3(1..3) anyway.

But.. uh.. I don't see that you've pointed out anything in the 
constitution that favors your interpretation above mine.

Yours does have the advantage of making a complete mish-mash of the
concept of independent choice of independent options.  At least, I
suppose, that's a good thing to back up your position if you want to argue
in favor of a wholesale replacement of the constitution's voting system.

> > > > > That is, given two options, A and B, both of which pass quorum,
> > > > > both of which are acceptable to their respective supermajorities,
> > > > > then the one that's picked should be the one that's preferred by
> > > > > more people, simple as that.
> > > > Do you agree that "preferred by more people" really means "preferred
> > > > by a majority of relevant votes"?
> > > Sure. If people want their preferences to count, they have to vote.
> > > If they choose not to, we have to assume the votes we do get are
> > > representative (unless we miss quorum).
> > Good enough.  Second question: is there some reason to imagine that the
> > second preference should override the first preference in cases where
> > the first preference clearly favors one of the options?
> Well, consider a vote like:
> 	60 favour A, B, Status-Quo
> 	30 favour B, A, Status-Quo
> where A requires a 3:1 supermajority but B doesn't. By scaling the
> preferences for A over B down to 20, you end up overriding the first
> preferences of 60 people by choosing B, rather than overriding the first
> preferences of of only 30 people by choosing A.
> But I still don't see any reason why the first preference is more crucial
> than any other preference.

I think we need to talk about what it means to have distinct options on
the ballot.  [I recognize, from your "Status-Quo" option, that you're
not talking about the constitutional mechanism, but are talking about
some hypothetical mechanism.  But, from your explanation of how you
understand the constitution, I think we need to talk a bit more about
the difference between independent alternatives and distinct choices.
Wait until we've agreed on the more fundamental concepts before you
teach me about your view of supermajorities.]



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