[Slightly OT] Re: Voting (was Re: PEP 318

John Roth newsgroups at jhrothjr.com
Wed Mar 24 15:41:01 CET 2004

"Joe Mason" <joe at notcharles.ca> wrote in message
news:slrnc631sn.32m.joe at gate.notcharles.ca...
> In article <1060m0593q1uo0d at news.supernews.com>, John Roth wrote:
> > I'd support the "Majority Rules" algorithm. See the article in
> > Scientific American (March, 2004 edition) If you run the
> There's no free version of the article online, but the authors are given
> as Partha Dasgupta and Eric Maskin, and googling on the latter led me to
> http://www.sss.ias.edu/papers/papereleven.pdf.

Thanks for the reference. A large part of the SA article is
a revised version of this, with the recent French election added
as another example, and with a few relatively minor changes. The
section on why the Concordet Paradox is of relatively minor
concern is new. Since it involves the effects of ideology and passion,
it might be worth looking at from a theoretical standpoint.

> I've only skimmed it, but I'm a little confused by his terms in that
> paper.  He first starts, it seems, by defining "plurality/majority rule"
> as simply allowing everybody to cast a vote for one candidate, and "a
> candidate wins if he or she garners, respectively, a plurality or
> majority of all votes cast" - in other words, the obvious way.  But
> later on he says, "in true majority rule the winner is the candidate who
> beats everyone else in a pairwise comparison", which is Condorcet's
> Method.

> So I'll assume the "Majority Rules" algorithm is yet another dumbed-down
> name for Pairwise Voting aka Condorcet's Method, and say that I like it,
> but there's not much point using it for a yes/no vote.  If you're saying
> let people vote on several alternate syntaxes plus "reject outright" -
> perfect.

That's the way I understand it.

If it's a yes/no vote on one syntax, I agree, there's not much point.
My concern was not getting into another PEP 308 mess due to
a poor choice of voting method.

> > Cycles are, of course, a problem with that method; you just
> > have to do something else to break the tie. Almost anything will
> > do if you filter the ballots to just include the issues/candidates
> > involved in the tie.
> There's a fair amount of analysis on the best method, actually.  In this
> case, "Guido's choice" is probably a good one.  (Normally it's done by
> counting the relative magnitude of each pairwise win and things like
> that.  I'm not clear on whether the existance of a cycle means everyone
> in the cycle is really a tossup or if it's fuzzier.)

Your comments indicate you're probably much more in touch with
voting method theory than I am! My take on it is that it needs to be
done using availible data - that is, the original votes.

I don't know if the original data on PEP 308 is still availible. It would
be interesting (although it might just be throwing fuel on a fire that
be allowed to die down) to reanalyze it (and I don't know if I'm
to do it or not!)

John Roth
> Joe

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