[Date Prev][Date Next] [Thread Prev][Thread Next] [Date Index] [Thread Index]

Re: Norman Petry and I (Ossipoff) recommended CSSD, but Schwartz Woodall is a better voting system for Debian

(With apologies to the non-Americans on -vote... :)

On Tue, May 14, 2013 at 11:56:49AM -0400, Michael Ossipoff wrote:
> One reason why I've been advocating Schwartz Woodal (along with
> Woodall and Benham) is because, in official public government
> elections, the chicken dilemma _would_ be a problem, or at least a
> serious nuisance that would demand special strategy, and would take
> away the freedom from strategy-need that Condorcet methods could
> ideally have.

I have seen this argument advanced by advocates of IRV, but I have not seen
any real proof.  Most IRV advocates seem to claim IRV is better than CSSD
because voters are too stupid to cast a ballot non-strategically, and
therefore we're better off with a system that gets closest to the Condorcet
winner given such broken inputs.  But while I don't hold the electorate in
particularly high esteem, I reject this particular premise: most voters
aren't going to grasp the *proof* of Condorcet, but they are certainly
capable of grasping the *principle* that their best strategy when voting is
to vote honestly.

> I consider official public government elections to be where we
> seriously need a better voting system. I believe that it would make
> all the difference.

> I realize that Debian is an international organization, and this this
> forum is for duscussing Debian voting matters, and so what follows in
> this post is off-topic. But I just want to explain why I consider it
> important to advocate better voting systems.

> The Green Party U.S. (GPUS) offers Instant Runoff (IRV) in its
> platform. I know that Debian is an international organization, but of
> course my main goal has been reforms in the U,.S.  It seems to me that
> any reform in the U.S. must start with the election of Greens to
> office.

I agree that it's important to have better voting systems for public
elections (in the US and elsewhere).  I believe that the combination of our
first-past-the-post voting and the nature of our non-parliamentary Congress
reinforces the polarizing, anti-consensus-seeking two-party setup that we
currently endure.

However, coming from a Debian background I find the flaws of IRV so much
worse than those of CSSD in terms of enacting the will of the people that I
consider endorsement of IRV a mark against the Green Party candidates in my

> IRV, like Woodall, Benham, and Schwartz Woodall, meets the Mutual
> Majority Criterion, and has no chicken dilemma. But of course IRV
> fails the Condorcet Criterion. IRV's failure to always elect the
> Condorcet winner compromise makes IRV too uncompromising and inimical
> for amicable organizations. It also makes IRV vulnerable to
> replacement by a dis-satisfied majority, when IRV is used in official
> public government elections.

> So, I feel that, if the GPUS were elected here, and IRV were
> established as the voting system, there might soon be majority wishes
> to replace IRV with a Condorcet-complying voting system. A good
> Condorcet-complying replacement would be Benham, Woodall, or Schwartz
> Woodall.

I think this significantly underestimates the power of inertia in such
matters.  It's difficult to mobilize people around something as esoteric as
voting systems; even with all the readily available evidence of how our
current system betrays the will of the electorate, changing the voting
system remains a fringe issue throughout the US.  Once IRV is adopted, this
problem will be compounded.  Voters will have a knee-jerk reaction to any
request to change the voting system again after they've already done so
recently; the practical advantages of Condorcet over IRV will be more
difficult to explain to the electorate; and there will be no history of
abuses / wrong election outcomes for advocates to point to in justifying the
need for a further change.

So I think we have (at most) one shot in our generation to fix the voting
system; and if we manage to get rid of FPTP only to settle for another
exploitable system, we'll be stuck with it for good.

> That gives me incentive to advocate Schwartz Woodall for
> organizations, because it's the kind of voting system that would
> likely be eventually adopted in a Green U.S.  So I'm just telling my
> motivation to advocate Schwartz Woodall, even to organizations that
> don't really have a chicken dilemma.

> Of course (at least if there's a chicken dilemma), Schwartz Woodall's
> combination of the Mutual Majority Criterion, no chicken dilemma, and
> the Condorcet Criterion would make it the a good choice (the best
> choice, I claim) for organizational voting.

> Of course obviously, if Debian doesn't have a chicken dilemma, there's
> no need for Debian to change its voting system from CSSD to Schwartz
> Woodall.

Given that Debian is my own standard example of Voting Done Right™, I think
it's worth evaluating how to improve Debian's system even if we're fixing
bugs that we think aren't practical problems in Debian - if they are
practical problems elsewhere.  I just have not been convinced that the
chicken dilemma is the practical problem that IRV advocates argue it is.

Steve Langasek                   Give me a lever long enough and a Free OS
Debian Developer                   to set it on, and I can move the world.
Ubuntu Developer                                    http://www.debian.org/
slangasek@ubuntu.com                                     vorlon@debian.org

Attachment: signature.asc
Description: Digital signature

Reply to: