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Comment Re:A far cry from instant runoff/ranked voting (Score 1) 416

Your quote of the Greens is spot on, but you will admit that it has nothing to do with the IRV system but rather, as I said earlier, a lack of education.

That is partly right and partly wrong. It is probably the case that most of them do it naively. However, even if they did have better education, they would still do it, because it's strategically advisable. It gives them a better expected value. That's a very cleary and obvious insight from simple statistical analysis, which I pointed out to you at:

Also the number of seats won by a minor party will always be low due to the size of the electorates. Major parties are obviously more likely to take seats. It isn't meant to be a proportional system, we have that for the upper house.

Yes, a minor party will win fewer seats than a major party. That's a tautology. The issue is, why do IRV governments tend to feature just two "major" parties. It's not a matter of not having PR. Most of the 27 or so countries that use Top-Two Runoff have three or more viable parties in their single-seat elections.

That was actually pointed out by Maurice Duverger, in what is known as "Duverger's Law", one of the most famous things in voting theory.

We also believe that the use of cardinal voting methods, Score Voting and Approval Voting, would plausibly lead to more than two parties, due to important tactical differences. For instance, if you prefer Green>Labor>others, and you tactically give Labor a 10, that in no way gives you an incentive not to also give Green a 10. That allows candidates to win if they have the sincere support, even if voters thought they had no chance.

Whereas if that voter tactically ranks the candidates Labor>Green>others, then that becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Trying to get the lesser evil there ensures that the voter's sincere favorite party will be unlikely to grow. (Nevertheless, the voter is still incentivized to rank Labor in first place, since it's more likely to help than hurt.) I made another attempt to explain that more visually, in this crude Youtube video.

One thing to consider is the "bundling" of issues. Right now, for every "binary" issue, one party generally takes one side. So if someone tells me he supports gay marriage, I can generally assume he's in favor of a public health care option. Why? Because the party that supports gay marriage is the Democrats, and they also generally support social programs, whereas the Republicans want (at least they say they want) lower taxes. But what if I want lower taxes and I think gays should marry. It's politically nearly impossible for that view to come about, even if it better represents the electorate, because both views virtually prevent you from winning the nomination of either major party. Why can't a party come about that speaks to different combinations of these issues? Surely there are more than two groups of combined issue-positions that people could roughly consider themselves a part of.

It happens because of tactical voting.

Also, your comments are about third party and minor party representation is still misleading. Take for example the Tasmanian Legislative Council. According to you, since they are elected via IRV, they should be mostly ALP or coalition. Yet when your look at the results [] you will see that 11 of the 15 seats are independents!

You may (or may not?) have noticed that we mentioned this at

We conclude that third parties are almost totally unsuccessful in Australian IRV seats (1 seat out of 564) but independents have won 33 seats (5%)... Lieberman and Jeffords [the USA's Congressional independents] both were major party members their whole political careers (Dem & Repub respectively) until, as Senators, they left their parties due to disputes. This did not prevent their re-election as Independents.

According to Australians who helped us, the Independents usually got there, just like in the USA, by having disputes with their major parties causing them to part ways. (And in many cases these divorces were only temporary.)

But it again seems that you're mixing up two distinct issues. One thing is the fact that a voter's best tactic with IRV is to top-rank the favorite of the perceived "frontrunners". That is, that a voter should do it. The other issue is how many voters actually do that, regardless of the underlying incentive.

That 95% of AU's IRV elections are won by one of the two major parties is not a refutation of anything I said. Approval Voting is massively better regarding two-party domination, mainly because:

1) It obeys Favorite Betrayal Criterion, meaning it doesn't give the incentive IRV does, to not cast maximum support for one's sincere favorite candidate.
2) Even if the previously described voter naively gives Labor an intended-to-be-tactical vote -- there's no reason that should cause that voter not to also cast a sincere maximum vote for Green.

You might have your little beef with FairVote whoever they are, but nothing stopping you putting your position up with citations on wikipedia.

I don't see any great value in that. We can create our own wiki site, and hold it to a vastly higher standard of scientific accuracy. I consider to be the best election methods information site in the world, and I don't particularly care to waste time doing research and pumping facts into a wiki page that will just be wiped out by some unscrupulous person with an agenda that has nothing to do with promoting the highest standards of scientific objectivity.

Keeping up with FairVote is also difficult because of resources. They came about back in 1993, as "Citizens for Proportional Representation", and got funding, and then had time to grow and spread FUD.

The article I mentioned cites three references. "Collective Decisions and Voting" by Nicolaus Tideman, "Single transferable vote resists strategic voting"

The Tideman "strategy resistance" figure is severely flawed. It in no way counters, or even addresses, the statistical points I made about IRV. Instead, Tideman just picked 6 (as I recall) arbitrary election method criteria, and gave various voting methods points based on which ones they passed or failed. Warren Smith says:

This [Tideman's measure] is a magic way of assigning any voting method a number from 0 to 10 with greater numbers being "better." It incorporates statistics from 87 real ranked-ballot elections. Unfortunately I must criticize this as very flawed. It probably is a somewhat better measure of voting-system quality than a random number – but not by much.

My suspicions of this number were first stimulated when I observed that, according to Tideman's measure, the "strategy resistances" of Plurality, Range, and Approval voting were 6.3, 4.0, and 3.9 respectively (table p.237) where larger numbers are better. These three numbers are ordered exactly oppositely to what I would expect based on, e.g, the fact that Approval was the only voting method in that table explicitly designed to be strategy-resistant (albeit Tideman's measure, insanely, gives it the worst strategy-resistance score of all the 25 voting methods in table 13.1!)

If Tideman had any clue, he would have known better than to use (arbitrary) criteria to measure strategy resistance. Instead he would have looked at the impact on Bayesian Regret, the measure of a voting method's actual performance.

[] and "An investigation into the relative manipulability of four voting systems" [].

That article is about four systems: Borda, Coombs, Hare, and plurality. All of them are highly susceptible to tactical voting. One of my major points was that Score Voting and Approval Voting are simpler and vastly superior to IRV. But this article does not compare the relative merits of IRV and e.g. Approval.

Your argument is remains uncited and the amount of intellectual dishonesty coming from you does your argument no favours.

What do you mean "uncited"? The arguments I'm making are all either straightforward totally verifiable mathematical calculations, or computer simulations (the source code of which can be downloaded from our site), or they are just common knowledge that can be easily verified via a quick Google search. The examples of IRV disobeying monotonicity for instance. Those don't need to be "cited". They are just mathematical proofs. You can see for yourself that they are correct. Or like when I called the AU party offices -- I even cited the phone number I called.

There is absolutely no dishonesty. The entire purpose of our organization is to do research and education, and serve essentially as a for voting methods. I did make one honest mistake, when I typed "House of Representatives" and I actually was thinking of the entire set of IRV offices, which includes the House. But of course I acknowledged that when you brought it up, and it was absolutely not intentional.

Comment Re:A far cry from instant runoff/ranked voting (Score 1) 416

The coalition is effectively a single party, and we have independents in the US Congress even with Plurality/FPTP voting. IRV definitely has maintained two-party domination in Australia. That's not because of the nature of politics is dichotomous. It's not. In most of the 27 or so countries that use an ordinary delayed runoff, there are three or more viable parties, even in single-seat races (this is party of Duverger's Law). Plurality Voting and IRV seem to obviously maintain two-party domination because of tactical exaggeration. Here are some reasons why Top-Two Runoff may be different:

When I said this was an objective statistical fact, I was talking about the incentive to vote insincerely. There are two distinct issues here. One is whether IRV incentivizes sincere voting (whether a sincere vote is the best vote for a rational voter). The other is whether voters, regardless of whether they are aware of that, actually do strategically exaggerate.

The page I linked to was primarily about proving the former. That IRV encourages voters to rank their favorite major party candidate in first place (or favorite "frontrunner" in non-partisan races) is statistically sound.

As for whether voters actually do vote insincerely, I put more stock into the research we have done over the past for years at The Center for Election Science than in a wikipedia entry which most assuredly has been heavily tuned by FairVote, a highly dishonest pro-IRV organization.

The fact is, I live in a city that actually uses IRV, and smart people I talk to all seem to generally assume that exaggerating helps. They could easily understand IRV if I explained the elimination process to them, but they just haven't learned about it because they probably find it to be an incredibly boring subject.

Also, looking at ballot statistics, we see clear evidence of tactical distortion. The Princeton math Ph.D. who co-founded The Center for Range Voting puts it simply:

"For example, the Socialists won in Spain and were thought to be going to win (but did not) in France. Meanwhile in the USA and Australia they got epsilon. Are the French just 1000+ times more socialist in their hearts than the Americans etc? No. Maybe 2 or 3 times more. But the rest is just distortion of democracy.

You know, I am not talking about a minor hard to discern effect here. I am talking about a factor of 1000 distortion in democracy, right in front of your nose."

Lastly, I called up the Australian Green Party offices last June, and this is what I posted about the conversation on our group's discussion list:

Get this. I just called the Australian Green Party here:
02 6140-3217

The guy said one of the most common calls he gets is, "why should I vote for the Green Party, when that's just wasting my vote?"

Why would people ask such a bizarre question, since they have the preferential system (Instant Runoff Voting)?

He explains, there's widespread voter miseducation on the preferential system. And the two major parties are happy to help that along by doing whatever possible to keep it obfuscated.

People even are confused about the above-the-line voting. They ask the GP how they're "preferencing" in House elections. They explain, "YOU are making the choice on your ballot, not us -- it's not above-the-
line voting."

And they get these calls frequently. He explained it was one of the most common calls he gets.

There are 150 seats in the house. I meant to say, 564 seats in all AU IRV legislative bodies. Sorry for the mistake.

Australian House of Representatives 150 seats
New South Wales Legislative Assembly 93 seats
Queensland Legislative Assembly 89 seats
South Australian House of Assembly 47 seats
Tasmanian Legislative Council 15 seats
Victorian Legislative Assembly 88 seats
Western Australian Legislative Assembly 57 seats
Northern Territory Legislative Assembly 25 seats

Comment Re:A far cry from instant runoff/ranked voting (Score 1) 416

Out of 564 seats in the IRV-elected House of Representatives, ONE was won by a third party in the last AU election. Unless that starts to significantly change, Greens have NO incentive to vote Green. The extra funding, were it to help the Greens grow a bit, would be more likely to lead to a spoiler scenario (causing NatLib to win intead of Labor) than to cause a Green to win. I.e. more likely to hurt than help.

There's nothing to agree or disagree with here. This is just objective statistical fact.

Comment Re:I disapprove of Approval Voting (Score 1) 416

I see absolutely no basis for that claim. IRV is extremely susceptible to irrelevant alternatives.

IRV is essentially the worst alternative voting method:

Comment Re:Why choose approval voting though? (Score 1) 416

EVERY deterministic voting method is susceptible to tactical voting. That is mathematically proven. With Approval Voting however, voters NEVER have to fear supporting their sincere favorite candidate. It passes the Favorite Betrayal Criterion unlike virtually every ranked system. If you think it's bad for voters to have to ponder whether or not to support a SECOND favorite candidate, imagine how bad it is to have a system in which you are generally encouraged not to support your FAVORITE unless that candidate has a strong chance of winning. See

The analysis doesn't take into account the effect that the probability of regret will have on the level of tactical voting.

The general point here is, what about the case where there's more tactical voting with Approval Voting than with some other system. First of all, there's no evidence for that. For most ranked voting methods, voters generally use the Naive Exaggeration Strategy, meaning that tactical voting is used by something like 80-90% of voters. And that's actually, coincidentally, the generally correct strategy for ranked systems.

Here's a page in which we compared the performance of voting methods based on whether 100% or 50% of voters are sincere. Note that Approval Voting performs better with fully half of the voters being tactical than most other methods do with NO tactical voting whatsoever. This accounts for the differential tactical-ness you propose.

Lastly, there are two theorems that specifically describe how tactical voting with Approval Voting actually leads to mild (some would say, good) results.

Tends to elect Condorcet winners when they exist:

Maximizes the number of pleasantly surprised voters:

Comment Re:I'm just thinking (Score 1) 416

No, Range Voting is not "broken". Perhaps 90% of voters will vote "approval style" with it, but the 10% who get more satisfaction out of a more expressive honest vote will be happier, PLUS they will in the process cede some power to the 90% who were strategic, causing those 90% to ALSO have a better expected satisfaction. So the average voter, across the entire electorate, will be better off with Range Voting. Range Voting is also increasingly known as Score Voting.

Score Voting is superior to all ranked voting methods, even ones which have never been invented.

Comment Re:Doubt it would make any difference (Score 1) 416

IRV (what you use in the Australian House) is pretty lousy, and maintains two-party domination (save for the rare case where you recently got a single Green elected out of 564 seats).

And that's in spite of having proportional representation in your Senate, in which Greens win a significant number of seats.

A comprehensive rundown of the MASSIVE superiority of Approval Voting is here:

Comment Re:A far cry from instant runoff/ranked voting (Score 1) 416

For example, if you are for the Tea Party, and are a Republican, by approving of both the TP and mainstream candidate (who is presumably more towards the center), you are going to disadvantage your preferred candidate.

IRV is much worse in that regard. With Approval Voting, you would be strategically advised to vote for the Republican. But then you could still safely vote for the Tea Party candidate. And if it turns out enough people preferred the TP candidate, then he can win even if voters like you thought he had no chance.

But with IRV, your best tactic would be to insincerely rank the Republican in first place. And with a ranked ballot, most voters naively do that anyway, as we can tell from decades of use of IRV in e.g. Australia. That means if you don't think the TP candidate can win, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. This is why Approval Voting is far far more fair to minor party and independent candidates than any ranked system.

Comment Re:Move over (Score 1) 416

Two reasons this doesn't hold.

First, the current system is susceptible to eliminating votes by spoiling them. Say you're a crooked poll worker in a largely black neighborhood in Florida. Just take some ballots for Gore and also mark Nader. Now they are spoiled, and must not be counted. With Approval Voting, that wouldn't be possible. You could also cast a vote for e.g. Bush in that case, but that would be a red flag compared to a ballot which marked e.g. Gore AND Nader.

Another major consideration is relative importance of these things. Approval Voting roughly doubles the quality of democracy, as measured via extensive Bayesian Regret calculations. On average, that's a much bigger benefit than typical fraud levels are a detriment.

Put another way, look at Gore/Nader/Bush in 2000. Even with all the fraud that happened, Gore was a mere 537 votes behind Bush in Florida. But 97,488 people voted for Nader. If even a tiny fraction of them would have also voted for Gore, given Approval Voting, then Gore would have won.

Bad voting methods have a statistically much greater effect on elections than fraud. Of course, if fraud is bad enough it doesn't matter WHAT voting method you use. But various factors tend to limit how extensive fraud can be.

Here is a page where Warren D. Smith, the Princeton math Ph.D. who authored most of the material at, tries to get a ballpark estimate of the relative importance of various election reforms.

Comment Re:Unequal? (Score 1) 416

Absolutely not. Say there are 3 candidates: X, Y, and Z, all tied.

You vote for X while I vote for Y and Z. Now they are all still tied. Our ballots had an equal but opposite effect there.

Mathematically speaking, every voter is approving or disapproving of every candidate. It's MORE equal than our current system in that sense.

More here:

Comment Re:Proportional Representation (Score 1) 416

Proportional representation is only possible in multi-seat elections. When you're talking about single-seat elections (e.g. senator, mayor, president), Score Voting is essentially the best you can do. Approval Voting is the simplest form of Score Voting. Also, you have to be political realistic here. Even this mild change to the ballot rules, to enact Approval Voting, will be extremely difficult to pass. You want to sell a state largely ruled by Republicans on a system like Single Transferable Vote, with complex re-weighting rules? You need to start small and be pragmatic. That's what the bill's author is trying to do. Moreover, PR is extremely difficult to enact (nearly impossible) in a political climate dominated by two parties. Many feel that you won't get PR unless you first end the duopoly as a prerequisite. Ranked methods appear impotent in that regard, whereas Score/Approval Voting seem conducive to (eventually) allowing for more than two parties. So if you eventually want PR, getting Approval Voting ought to be your #1 priority.

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