Re: Condorcet Voting and Supermajorities (Re: [CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT] Disambiguation of 4.1.5)
On Wed, Dec 06, 2000 at 09:42:09PM +1000, Anthony Towns wrote:
> Certainly, you can vote however you like. But be aware that other people
> might _not_ want to hinder their second preference just because they've
> got no chance of getting their first preference.
If they don't want to put their first preference first, then it's no
longer their first preference.
> > First note: you don't attempt to distinguish between "this is worth
> > redoing" and "this is not worth redoing", in your "status quo".
> As I've said, I don't see any benefit in doing it. Whichever's
> selected, as far as the constitution's concerned, you'll get the same
> result (ie nothing will change). As far as people are concerned, I
> don't believe it's appropriate to try to silence discussion by a vote.
> I'll also note we haven't consistently distinguished between "no" and
> "further discussion" in past votes.
[I'm deleting a paragraph I wrote here, about courtesy and understanding.]
If no wins, and a new vote is called, the minimum discussion period
must elapse before any further votes can be held. If further discussion
wins, a new vote can be held whenever.
> > > 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.
> Yes, and I'm using this scheme as an example of a single-ballot
> preferential system that has the properties of supermajority I
> describe. That's its whole point.
Well, except that you're squeezing in other concepts (for example,
you're tossing the further discussion option).
> > > 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?
> If you throw it in at the very end, you don't have an opportunity to
> select an alternative winner. If you put it at the start, I *believe*
> it tends to encourage insincere votes unnecessarily.
You really think that "winner doesn't have quorum, but some option it
beat does" is a worthwhile scenario? [You might be right -- I'm trying
to understand if there's a reason behind this viewpoint.]
> > > 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.
> _Huh_?! Where did that come from?
> The only biasses in the above are towards options that pairwise beat other
> options, and towards the status-quo options (in the event others don't
> meet their supermajority requirements).
Supermajority options which don't meet supermajority requirement but do
meet a lesser majority requirement will (by definition) pairwise beat
other options [which don't have that requirement].
> Let me try a different explanation for what a "bias" is.
> Suppose you had a vote amongst only two options, Foo and Bar, that went
> something like:
> 60 votes F over B
> 40 votes B over F
> then you would expect F to beat B, right? And if the vote went the other
> 60 votes B over F
> 40 votes F over B
> you'd expect B to win. That would be a completely unbiassed vote.
> If, instead, you had a "Yes" and a "No" vote, and "Yes" required 3:1
> supermajority to win, then clearly:
> 60 votes N over Y
> 40 votes Y over N
> would be a clear win for N, but then
> 60 votes Y over N
> 40 votes N over Y
> would also be a win for N. So any way of counting votes like this is
> biassed towards a "No" answer. Which is justifiable, because things
> like changing the constitution or the social contract shouldn't be
> done on a whim. Doing what we've always done is at least somewhat
> effective, you need to have a strong, convincing argument to take
> the risk and change. It's entirely fair and reasonable to be biassed
> towards what we're already doing, and to encode that into the way we
Ok, here you're defining the effect of supermajority as "bias".
> What you're also saying, though, is that given three options, A, B and
> Status-Quo, say, where A requires a 3:1 supermajority, but B doesn't, that
> if the vote went like:
> 60 votes B over A over S
> 40 votes A over B over S
> then B should clearly win (which I agree with), but also, if A and B were
> swapped, so that you had:
> 60 votes A over B over S
> 40 votes B over A over S
> that B should still win. That is, you're biassed towards accepting any
> option that doesn't require a supermajority over any that does.
Sure, this validates your underlying assumption: that a supermajority
requirement is a bias.
I can accept this definition, but using the terms in the way you've
indicated: I don't see that "taking the bias out of the voting" system
means anything other than "taking the effect of supermajority out of
the voting system".
> And while I can see the point of this for favouring the status-quo
> (either expressed as "No" or "Further Discussion" or "Status-quo")
> can't see any useful reason why we should be *that* scared of changing
> the constitution, that we should always favour *anything* else.
Ok, I understand this as saying: you'd like to see the effect of
> I would like some justification of choosing B over A, when most people
> prefer A. I can think of one when B means don't change *anything*, but
> not when it can involve, say, trashing the FTP site, forbidding any
> new maintainers to join, throwing out members randomly, or whatever
I guess I still don't see your problem with:
"A would modify the constitution", which has a supermajority requirement
[a required bias against that option], and
"B would not modify the constitution", which has a no supermajority
requirement [there is no bias against this option].
If less than a supermajority of people prefer option A (modify
constitution) to option B (don't modify), I don't see why A should win.
> If we had no choice about it -- if there were *no* method of handling
> a supermajority requirement without biassing towards B, say -- I
> could understand it, but we *do* have a choice. And yes, I'd like a
> justification beyond "Oh, thats how I read the constitution", at least
> in part because that's not even remotely how I read the constitution.
Which is yet another reason I think we should be focussing on how you
read the constitution.
> > > 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.
> > Ok.
> > > 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.
> A simplifying assumption, not an important one. I could instead have just
> listed a single amendment and the original proposal and there'd have been
> no question.
Given your interpretation -- that a person could be against the original
proposal but for the amendment, I'd still have a serious question.
> > 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.
> No, section A.3(1) sets out the options to be included on the initial
> ballot, that is all sensible combinations of amendments and options,
> and an option Further Discussion. If people want to vote "No", they have
> to do so in the final vote (A.3(2)), not the initial vote/s.
This, I suspect, is the core of our disagreement.
If you have the following potential ballots:
Original proposal would have yes/no/discuss
Amendment proposal would have amend/don't/discuss
One way of conducting the vote would be:
* vote on whether to introduce amendment, then
* final vote on whether to accept proposal
Each of the above ballots would have three options.
However, if they're combined into a single final ballot, it
makes sense to have the following options:
o Original proposal, unamended
o Amended proposal
Now, as I understand it, your feelings about this ballot are:
 It's unconstitutional, unless I allow each of the
first two options to have preferences marked for the
ballots which this ballot replaces.
 In addition, "Neither" and "Discuss" are equivalent
and should be merged. [Never mind that "Neither" would
require a minimum discussion period to elapse before
any further voting could occur.]
Have I misstated your position?
> > > 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.
> > Yes.
> > > 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
> > resolution.
> > I believe the case you're talking about is where the amendment
> > ballot(s) are combined with the final ballot.
> What it says is that the ballots may be `held using a single voting
> message', not that the ballots can be combined into a single ballot.
> It further requires that the voter must be able to express a different
> vote in the final ballot for each of the possible forms of the final
> draft resolution.
So why are you adding, onto the ballot, mechanisms to express things
that would never show up on the final ballot?
> That is, they must first be able to rank the various options for how
> the final form of the resolution may look, and then, depending on the
> result of that vote, must be able to choose their ordering of Yes, No
> and Further Discussion on the final vote.
The constitution says:
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
You're talking about creating a final ballot for rating each of a set of
possible *ballots*. You're supposed to be creating a ballot for rating
each of the possible *resolutions*.
You do understand the difference, I hope?
> > > 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
> > > [ A ] [_B_] Original proposal
> > > [ _ ] [_C_] First amendment
> > > [ _ ] [_D_] Second amendment
> > > [ _ ] [_E_] Third amendment
> > > [ _ ] Further discussion
> (identifiers A,B,C,D,E added)
> This form of ballot achieves that by allowing you to first consider the
> preferences stated by each voter in the A vote, then, depending on which
> option won, counting the votes made in only one of the B,C,D or E options.
So how do I rate "Original proposal + first and third amendment" higher
than "Original proposal + second and third amendment"?
[Oh, wait, you said that your assumption that this wouldn't be an issue
wasn't an important assumption.]
Ok... ... I want to focus on what you feel are the important issues. But,
I've deleted a bunch of text where you reiterate your above point about
how you think an A.3(3) ballot should look. I don't think that you raised
any new points in that text. But, if you'd like me to go over that stuff
point by point tell me, and I'll reiterate my points in that context.
[much deleted here]
> > > 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.
> Well, of course not.
> I have no idea what you would consider a valid basis for
> interpretation of the constitution.
I guess I'd think that the english language would be a valid basis
for interpretation of the constitution.
Also: I think a valid interpretation should:
1. Be consistent with the language of the constitution,
This means, among other things, that interpretations
which are consistent with the consensus of the developers
2. Be consistent with itself
Nonsense doesn't cut it. [Fair and reasonable does.]
> You seem to be quite happy to say things like "Well sure, it doesn't
> say you can combine separate votes in a single ballot, but it doesn't
> say you can't, so why not?",
I've never said anything like that.
> and it doesn't seem much of a step from that to "Well sure, it doesn't
> say you can count the votes like this, but it doesn't say you can't,
> so why not?", which seems like it essentially means anything you do
> with the votes would be valid.
Nor have I said anything like that.
> I'm sure you don't go so far as to think that, but I can't tell where
> you'd draw the line, and I don't see how I could possibly guess.
Well, for starters, let's see if we can distinguish between a "ballot"
and a "resolution"...
> I could just ask you, but if I'm going to do that, I might as well
> just accept you as an Oracle, and take your word as gospel anyway. And
> there is, at least, constitutional support for doing _that_.
Not at present there isn't.
> So I don't really see the point of this digression, but you did ask.
I am trying to understand the basis for what you're saying. This..
helps.... sort of.
I guess I was hoping that you were arguing from some kind of reasonable
and objective viewpoint.
> > 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.]
> Considering we've already attempted to have a vote that (was deemed
> to) require a supermajority, and had two options on a single ballot
> with different supermajority requirements, yet we've never had a
> single ballot with independent alternatives, I'm inclined to disagree
> with your assertion as to what's more fundamental.
I meant fundamental to understanding. See above for what I consider as
important in a constitutional interpretation.
> I suspect deciding fairly amongst a number of independent options will
> probably be as difficult to understand as the stuff we've discussed so
> far, so I'm inclined against wandering into that fray and having to
> come back and start this all over again.
I suspect that the reason this discussion has been so prolonged has more
to do with my lack of understanding of your unstated assumptions. [And,
to be fair: your lack of understanding of my unstated assumptions.]