1844: "Voting Systems"

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ShuRugal » Sat Jun 03, 2017 2:11 am UTC

orthogon wrote:. I'd love to see a bus driving around with "Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives" emblazoned on the side,

Sounds like a Special Circumstances ship.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Mabuse7 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 3:09 pm UTC

Eshru wrote:
rmsgrey wrote:I still think the most honest voting system is the "one dollar, one vote" - sure, you can literally buy an election under it, but it probably costs more than doing so under the current system - and the money spent ends up in the treasury rather than in private hands...

A scaling, maybe logarithmic version of this I could support. The one millionth vote cast by mr Rockefeller shouldn't be worth the same as a baseline vote for someone scraping by on minimum wage making Rockefeller richer.


Sounds like the Quadratic Voting system proposed by Glen Weyl and Eric Posner, the paper for which I'm not allowed to link to apparently.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Jun 03, 2017 4:18 pm UTC

Mabuse7 wrote:Sounds like the Quadratic Voting system proposed by Glen Weyl and Eric Posner, the paper for which I'm not allowed to link to apparently.

Post a bit (usefully, ideally, but if you sound like you might be useful... and there's an Intro Thread you might like to post in) and you can. Don't take it as a personal slight. The mods hate all n00bs. :P

For now, here's (almost) the first match I found on the usual search-engine's results, for the term. Looks like a jumping-off point for more info, maybe leading to the paper you mention.

Maybe delving deeper it'll explain to me how one person interested in buying a million votes can't buy half a million votes (at less than the half cost of the million) and pay someone else to buy another 0.5m votes (totalling less expense), or use the cost-of-a-million-block to pay for more through multiple personal allocations totalling more but costing the same, or any other attention-avoiding strategy.

But, problems to be solved/avoided aside, it sounds interesting. And if there's corruption, then the commissions earned by the stooges and proxies (and faithless (re)voters, if the sanctity of the virtual voting booth is msintained?) could form a trickle-down effect that would be an interesting side-economy...

I could see if that's covered, but then I thought that maybe this is a good reason to get you to make another post here, to explain things further and get closer to having made the necessary posts to be able to post your link! And welcome (on my behalf, at least) to the forum.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 03, 2017 6:00 pm UTC

For the record the automatic filtering of links from the first five posts no longer exists, so your very next post could link to the article.

It's just the first post, that has to be approved by a moderator, that generally can't have a link.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Mabuse7 » Sat Jun 03, 2017 8:54 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
Mabuse7 wrote:Sounds like the Quadratic Voting system proposed by Glen Weyl and Eric Posner, the paper for which I'm not allowed to link to apparently.

Post a bit (usefully, ideally, but if you sound like you might be useful... and there's an Intro Thread you might like to post in) and you can. Don't take it as a personal slight. The mods hate all n00bs. :P

For now, here's (almost) the first match I found on the usual search-engine's results, for the term. Looks like a jumping-off point for more info, maybe leading to the paper you mention.

Maybe delving deeper it'll explain to me how one person interested in buying a million votes can't buy half a million votes (at less than the half cost of the million) and pay someone else to buy another 0.5m votes (totalling less expense), or use the cost-of-a-million-block to pay for more through multiple personal allocations totalling more but costing the same, or any other attention-avoiding strategy.

But, problems to be solved/avoided aside, it sounds interesting. And if there's corruption, then the commissions earned by the stooges and proxies (and faithless (re)voters, if the sanctity of the virtual voting booth is msintained?) could form a trickle-down effect that would be an interesting side-economy...

I could see if that's covered, but then I thought that maybe this is a good reason to get you to make another post here, to explain things further and get closer to having made the necessary posts to be able to post your link! And welcome (on my behalf, at least) to the forum.


Well let me try this again, here is the original paper that introduced the idea: https://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2343956. It's not as mathematically rigorous as the latest paper that is linked in the article you cited, but it provides a good overview of how they envision the system to work. Unfortunately, in neither paper do they deal with the possibility of illicit vote buying outside of the system, from what I've read they generally consider it as likely as illicit vote buying under the current system, and so not worth talking about. They do deal with a general objection about Quadratic Voting favouring the rich, but their answer remains within the assumption that everybody is playing by the rules of the system.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Soupspoon » Sat Jun 03, 2017 9:33 pm UTC

Hmmm... One illicit supplier of a bulk load of votes, vs a bulk load of suppliers of a single illicit vote each... I think the relative dangers of each aren't easy to calculate, but shouldn't be dismissed entirely.

The logisitics would depend upon a number of things. Like what insurance you have that they (singular or plural) would behave as paid for. That the accomplice(s) wouldn't threaten to reveal their own complicity1 to gain power over you (or any intermediaries, adding other layers of trust and threat). That the pattern (and sizes) of votes so bought didn't trip any of the current/future guards against theses practices and render the result (at the very least) needing to be nullified and recontested.

But that's just my side-thoughts. There are plenty of competing systems that have their own problems.

(And I'll try to remember about the post limit going, gmalivuk. I must have seen it somewhere before, says a pinging neuron in the recesses of my brain, but the knowledge clearly hadn't been prominently stuck upon my mental fridge door...)


1 Make it not illegal to be paid, but illegal to pay? The upwards pressure should make it unattractive, or at least more costly, for the vote-buyer and suppress the market without criminalising those who find it more convenient to sell. Like some prostitution laws.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby DanD » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:08 pm UTC

Soupspoon wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:This comic got me lost on Wikipedia reading about voting systems again, and I find myself wondering if anyone has ever come up with and named an idea I've rolled around in my head for a while now.

The idea is that every individual gets a vote on each decision made by an office, like in a direct democracy, but that each vote is delegable: any individual can say "this guy votes for me too" (and formally register that delegation somewhere of course), and then when that guy votes in the legislative body of the office in question, he votes with the power of two people. But that guy, in turn, can delegate his votes -- his own and all those delegated to him -- to someone else instead, who then can vote with the power of all those votes. But he can also delegate them all to someone else, etc. In the end you have a final legislative body of variable size, depending on how actively the electorate want to participate in decision-making and how divided they are, making the decisions of the office in question.


(Somehow missed this, and the first reply to it...)

I've had the idea, and seen it elsewhere (with it clear that neither me nor the other were cribbing from the counterpart). My method involved an optional delegation of trust, with those choosing to retain their trust-count being effectively leaders of political parties using their accumulations to calculate their representation level in government.

It would be dynamic, - if you don't like what your inheritor/inheritor's-inheritor/etc use of the vote you command is ending up pointing towards you could change things, possibly changing the whole balance if you're enough of a nexus yourself., So it needs an infrastructure to handle rapid reassignments/revocations for those bothered enough to keep abreast of things. Would also prevent or counteract accidental circularities of trust

I think the term "Dendrocracy" works for this, personally. Or possibly "Advocracy", maybe.


I've considered this, generally referring to it as proxy voting. I would suggest that the permanent legislature be made up of those who hold a certain (relatively low, maybe 100k?, 50k?) minimum number of proxies, that keeps it from being to wild. Theoretically, this leads to a much larger legislature, but in practice votes would tend to concentrate, so most legislators would hold more than the bare minimum. It also gets the numbers down low enough that each rep has at least some chance of knowing their constituents (honestly, under the current system I believe we should increase membership in the house for the same reason). Someone who dropped below that threshold would be permitted to retain their seat for some period of time before they are ejected, which gives them time to either get their numbers back up or for their constituents to transfer to another rep.

I don't believe it would be that difficult to track. Moving is less of an issue, since, at least on national elections, you can still be represented by the same proxy holder. There would have to be a formal process for revocation or transfer of proxy and ideally death notification. However, each rep('s office) would be required to check with all their constituents on some regular basis. Failure to make contact and confirm retention of proxy within, say, a year, would cause the loss of proxy. And falsifying a proxy would be a felony for anyone involved.

Ideally there would also be a way to do a "single vote" transfer of proxy, so if you generally like your rep, but disagree with them on one particular bill you can transfer your proxy for only that bill, which would reduce general volatility, but that's a little more complex to track.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Soupspoon » Wed Jun 07, 2017 3:27 pm UTC

I've actually seen another variant elsewhere, recently, that suggests that each layer of Proxying/whatever limits itself to Dunbar's Number (or a low multiple/simple fraction, depending on your aim). Or at most 149(?) people that you need to be in contact with because they give you their proxy, and then the 1 person who you (and at most 148? others) ask to be your Proxy.

Shouldn't need more than three or four layers (by best packing) to represent all Major Parties in their own proxy-trees. (I would make it a limit of "all those Proxying directly to you + all those who end up Proxying your vote(s) <= N". You ought to be happy to know where your personal cache of support ultimately goes, even if you're not expecting them to know you in return, amongst the potentially millions of other fellow "leaf and branch" supporters. Or maybe N=Dunbar/2,or similar, if you also ought to know who your fellow branches-to-your-Proxy are. But does rather do away with the idea of a secret ballot, even more than in the other versions of this.)

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:34 am UTC

The thing of it is, and I've said it elsewhere to wild indifference, that unless we know what we want, we shouldn't try to figure out how to get it.

One contrived example:

The population is 60% green, 40% yellow.

Green wants high (100% of the time), Yellow wants low (100% of the time).

There are five issues that come up each year, choosing between "high" and "low".

Indepenedent of the magic used to achieve the result, what best represents the will of the people?

A: High wins every time
B: High wins 60% of the time
C: 60% of the years, high wins all the time
D: Something else (tell me)

Yes, the example is contrived. That does not matter. If you cannot (or will not) answer the question, then trying to decide on a voting system is just partisan politics, designed to promote whatever agenda you have at the moment. And when deciding on voting systems becomes partisan politics, then voting itself is broken.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby arbiteroftruth » Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:37 am UTC

Essentially, B: high wins 60% of the time.

The legislature should be made up of 60% green and 40% yellow. In addition to that, the process of voting on laws within the legislature should maintain a 60/40 balance of power. Something along the lines of "proportional representation" in terms of laws being passed. Maybe you set it up so that 10 laws are voted on in each voting session, and you use IRV or something that generally lets green pass 6 of their preferred positions and lets yellow pass 4 of their preferred positions. The details would have to be much more subtle than that, but essentially that should be the goal. The balance of power in terms of political negotiation within the legislature should match the balance of views within the populace.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:55 am UTC

Yeah, all that really represents is the fact that "tyranny of the majority" is not limited to problems we can resolve by assigning and protecting individual rights. If time-share is the only available compromise, but somehow also has no switchover cost, great, we'll go with that.

Systems of government do tend to be constructed with some reference to the real world, though.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby rmsgrey » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:20 am UTC

One thing that's overlooked in that model is that some issues will be of more interest to greens, while others will be more interesting to yellows, so votes on the latter will tend to have a high yellow turnout and a low green turnout, meaning the yellows will tend to get their way on those issues.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Flumble » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:46 am UTC

How can the population be either green or yellow? Those five issues that have (at least) 2 solutions each will generate 2^5=32 different groups of people, not 2.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Soupspoon » Thu Jun 08, 2017 1:25 pm UTC

The conceit is that the population is all either entirely green in outlook or entirely yellow in outlook.

(That there are 30 sets of voting intentions that represent zero voters.)

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Thu Jun 08, 2017 2:59 pm UTC

Flumble wrote:How can the population be either green or yellow? Those five issues that have (at least) 2 solutions each will generate 2^5=32 different groups of people, not 2.
This is not uncommon in a polarized but evenly split society. I could name a few but won't because that's a distraction. Yes, I've simplified, but a good voting system should deliver "the will of the people" in simple situations, and we should be able to identify "the will of the people" in simple situations such as this.

Whether time-share, individual referenda, single dictator, approval voting, or any other system actually delivers is a different question, but more importantly, has a different answer depending on what it is we consider "the will of the people" to actually be.

So far, it seems to be two votes for B...

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 08, 2017 3:11 pm UTC

I do think there's a difference between cases where it's considered a moral judgement and cases where it's a persistent structural difference of interests. In the latter case, there's almost always going to be a compromise position possible, and that's what people generally end up trying to seek out. In the former case, people seek consensus instead; the optimistic version would be to say that there are simply some issues that we've decided we really need to agree on as a society to get on.

In the US, we usually partition by space, not time, when we're unable to reconcile a difference of that kind. Had a war like that once, didn't go so well, but still have some issues of social mores devolved to state-level decisions for similar reasons.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:23 pm UTC

Copper Bezel wrote:In the latter case, there's almost always going to be a compromise position possible, and that's what people generally end up trying to seek out.
Compromise is sook when winning is unlikely, and it is done via voting (and politicking before the vote). Compromise is another way to achieve "the will of the people"; which is what I'm trying to elicit.

Partitioning by space tends to divide society. Partitioning by time feeds the idea of "taking turns" and living with each other. (Literally) Your distinction between moral and structural differences is well taken, but in either case, a decision needs to be made, and we all have to live with it. Given a bunch of decisions that need to be made, the question remains. What outcome best represents the will of the people? Only then can we figure out the best way to consistently achieve that outcome.

So far, two votes for B.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 08, 2017 5:33 pm UTC

ucim wrote:If you cannot (or will not) answer the question, then trying to decide on a voting system is just partisan politics, designed to promote whatever agenda you have at the moment.
No, because the reason I will not answer the question is that you've sucked out all of the relevant details and oversimplified to the point of having an absurdity.

If 60% of the population likes pineapple on pizza and 40% doesn't, then it seems fair to skip the pineapple 40% of the time so everyone remains mostly happy.

If 60% of the population favors same-sex marriage and 40% doesn't, then it doesn't seem fair to outlaw gay marriage 40% of the time.

If 60% of the population wants to exterminate the other party and 40% doesn't want to be exterminated, then it doesn't seem fair to ever allow the 60% to have its way.

Reducing all of these situations to separate votes of "high" and "low" is thus ridiculous. It's like reducing "should jaywalkers be executed" and "should known serial killers be prevented from legally obtaining firearms" to "should bad things happen to people who do bad things", and then stating that a "yes" or "no" answer to that question must apply equally to both of the original questions.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby madaco » Thu Jun 08, 2017 6:14 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
ucim wrote:If you cannot (or will not) answer the question, then trying to decide on a voting system is just partisan politics, designed to promote whatever agenda you have at the moment.
No, because the reason I will not answer the question is that you've sucked out all of the relevant details and oversimplified to the point of having an absurdity.

If 60% of the population likes pineapple on pizza and 40% doesn't, then it seems fair to skip the pineapple 40% of the time so everyone remains mostly happy.

If 60% of the population favors same-sex marriage and 40% doesn't, then it doesn't seem fair to outlaw gay marriage 40% of the time.

If 60% of the population wants to exterminate the other party and 40% doesn't want to be exterminated, then it doesn't seem fair to ever allow the 60% to have its way.

Reducing all of these situations to separate votes of "high" and "low" is thus ridiculous. It's like reducing "should jaywalkers be executed" and "should known serial killers be prevented from legally obtaining firearms" to "should bad things happen to people who do bad things", and then stating that a "yes" or "no" answer to that question must apply equally to both of the original questions.



This seems to be the "moral judgment vs. differing interests" thing (though, I think "different beliefs about what policies lead to what outcomes" might be a third option there)

As ucim pointed out though, if the issue is being decided by a voting system, well, it still has to be decided by a voting system, and so there must be a way that the voting system works. The quality of a voting system has to be determined by the way it works (because, that's what it is. Kind of tautological.).

If you are saying "what voting system is good depends on what will give a result I agree with", well, then you won't really come to agreement on people who also believe that, but disagree with you on what results are good.

In order to have a useful discussion about what voting systems are good at resolving these things, and not just advantageous, I think we have to abstract away somewhat from our particular beliefs about object level things of the sort that you bring up.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 08, 2017 7:42 pm UTC

But how we interpret the "will of the people" really does seem to vary depending on the nature of the question being asked.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:13 pm UTC

I think this matter can be broken down into two different questions:

- What decisions about what matters should be up to whom? (E.g. who has sex with whom is up to the people having sex and nobody else; what toppings go on a pizza is up to the people sharing the pizza and nobody else; what the country as a whole spends tax money on should be up to the citizens of that country as a whole; etc). [Side note: I'd argue that this question is equivalent to "who owns what?", because ownership of something just is having the right to make decisions regarding that thing].

- What exactly constitutes the collective will of a group of people who are not in unanimous agreement? (E.g. given that these five people are splitting a pizza and so collectively get to decide the matter of what goes on the pizza, if three want pineapple and two don't, what exactly is their collective will?)

That second is the question ucim seems to be wanting to ask. I'll note that things like the Condorcet criteria seem to be attempts to answer it.

Then, given that that is answered, we can ask the question of what voting method best tabulates the collective will of a group of people.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:37 pm UTC

Yes, Pfhorrest has it right.

gmalivuk wrote:If 60% of the population favors same-sex marriage and 40% doesn't, then it doesn't seem fair to outlaw gay marriage 40% of the time.
No, but abstract it a bit. Consider several different issues (I'll even make them "moral-type" issues) that have the same 60-40 split. One is gay marriage, one is abortion, one is illegal immigration, one is drug abuse, and one is murder. "High" and "low" do not necessarily mean zero and infinity.

Each time one of these bills comes up, 60% want high, 40% want low.

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins on 60% of these bills? That is option B.

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins (because of the 60% majority in each case) on all of the bills? That is option A.

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins all of the bills in 60% of the years these things come up? That is option C (and would be a likely result of Green being the (absolute) ruling party 60% of the time).

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins whenever you think it's a serious issue and also agree with high? That seems to be closer to what you are proposing. It's a valid proposal; it is an example of option D.

gmalivuk wrote: It's like reducing "should jaywalkers be executed" and "should known serial killers be prevented from legally obtaining firearms" to "should bad things happen to people who do bad things"...
No, it's like reducing the question of how we decide whether jaywalkers should be executed (etc) to how we decide whether bad things should happen to people who do bad things. Sure, any given case will have different outcomes, but if we can't decide how to decide, then we make m*stard out of the idea of deciding in the first place.

As madaco says, we have to separate "advantageous" from "good at resolving".

Copper Bezel wrote:But how we interpret the "will of the people" really does seem to vary depending on the nature of the question being asked.
That is useful insight if it turns out to be true. But to see if it turns out to be true, we need to actually address it in abstraction. And it might not be true; it might be only that depending on the nature of the question, we want to interpret "will of the people" in the manner most advantageous to ourselves. That is an invalid way to decide how to decide, unless we all agree on which questions belong in which this-decision-method-is-best category.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 08, 2017 8:51 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:If 60% of the population favors same-sex marriage and 40% doesn't, then it doesn't seem fair to outlaw gay marriage 40% of the time.
No, but abstract it a bit. Consider several different issues (I'll even make them "moral-type" issues) that have the same 60-40 split. One is gay marriage, one is abortion, one is illegal immigration, one is drug abuse, and one is murder. "High" and "low" do not necessarily mean zero and infinity.

Each time one of these bills comes up, 60% want high, 40% want low.

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins on 60% of these bills? That is option B.

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins (because of the 60% majority in each case) on all of the bills? That is option A.

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins all of the bills in 60% of the years these things come up? That is option C (and would be a likely result of Green being the (absolute) ruling party 60% of the time).

Would it best represent the will of the people that high wins whenever you think it's a serious issue and also agree with high? That seems to be closer to what you are proposing. It's a valid proposal; it is an example of option D.

I should note that this very question presumes an answer to my first type of question (who gets to decide about what?), and that disagreements likely to ensue from here are likely largely disagreements about that. E.g. that it shouldn't be up to a national vote who gets to marry, or abort, or use drugs, or whatever, but that it should be up to the people getting married, being pregnant, using drugs, etc. So asking what represents the will of the people (of the nation as a whole) about such matters is a non-sequitur to those who assert that such matters are simply not up to the people (of the nation as a whole) to decide in the first place.

ETA: I guess that really just pushes the question back further to how do we decide who gets to make decisions about what, and who gets to make that decision about who gets to make decisions about what?
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby gmalivuk » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:54 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
The population is 60% green, 40% yellow.

Green wants high (100% of the time), Yellow wants low (100% of the time).

There are five issues that come up each year, choosing between "high" and "low".

Indepenedent of the magic used to achieve the result, what best represents the will of the people?

A: High wins every time
B: High wins 60% of the time
C: 60% of the years, high wins all the time
D: Something else (tell me)
D: "The will of the people" cannot be determined from the information given.

Two other pieces of information that would be necessary come readily to mind:
1) For each vote, how important is it to each voter that their preferred option win? "The will of the people" depends somewhat on how strong the will of each individual person is. (If you and me and one other person are voting on the question, "Should we murder ucim?" then presumably a "no" outcome is more important to you than a "yes" outcome might be to either of us.)
2) For each vote, is a compromise position possible? If it is, that represents the will of the people better than an all-or-nothing outcome.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Copper Bezel » Thu Jun 08, 2017 10:55 pm UTC

ucim wrote:And it might not be true; it might be only that depending on the nature of the question, we want to interpret "will of the people" in the manner most advantageous to ourselves.

I don't agree with Pfhorrest that we can assume any predefined space of individual rights that are off the legislative table. I do agree with him that some space for such rights as a class is inherent to democracy as we know it.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Pfhorrest » Thu Jun 08, 2017 11:44 pm UTC

I didn't say specifically that there is any predefined space of individual rights that are off the legislative table, just that before we ask what any group of people collectively want about some matter, we should first determine whether what they want is even relevant, as it may or may not be their decision to make in the first place. E.g. we shouldn't be worrying about how best to represent the will of the mainland Chinese people on matters regarding Taiwan, before we determine whether or not the mainland Chinese people have any say at all on matters regarding Taiwan; maybe it's no more their business than American politics is the Russian people's business (or maybe it is, but determining that question either way comes first).

The same principle does apply to matters of individual rights, precisely because it's not predetermined that everything is up for a public vote (any more than it's predetermined that anything is not), but I'm making a broader point than just that, that we first have to answer whose opinions matter before figuring out what constitutes those people's collective opinion.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Jun 09, 2017 12:19 am UTC

Ah, fair enough.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:44 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:I should note that this very question presumes an answer to my first type of question (who gets to decide about what?)...
I suppose; the answer being "for this exercise, the voters get to decide on these issues". Your first question is still an important one, and we'd need to identify "the will of the people" about that question; placing that decision squarely into the second category (or accepting infinite regress). And yes, there are disagreements about who should decide who should marry (etc). Those disagreements come down to either a vote (democracy) or fiat (dictatorship), one way or another.

gmalivuk wrote:D: "The will of the people" cannot be determined from the information given.
Fair enough. But still, a decision has to be made. Attempting to incorporate the "importance" of a person's position could be part of the voting system. For the purpose of this exercise, assume that everyone ascribes equal importance to the outcome. As to whether a compromise position is possible, well, that's what I'm kind of getting at. Some people won't compromise (abortion is {ok|murder}, anchovies are {wondeful|sickmaking}). Ideally (well, actually this is just my opinion), the political system should steer towards compromise where it is possible, and the voting system definitely influences how the political system works, and what we consider "the will of the people" will influence the voting system. But for this exercise, assume that each of the issues being decided are each black and white. Brexit means brexit. There are just lots of issues. You win some, you lose some. Or maybe, you win them all.

A related question (which I'm not taking up right now, but it's at the same level of abstraction) is, given a bunch of candidates, which one is "better": The one that most people love, or the one that fewest people hate? Voting systems can be set up to favor one or the other; both are democratic, but the differences between them can be seaish.

responding to Copper Bezel, Pfhorrest wrote:...we should first determine whether what they want is even relevant...
(note: Copper Bezel - did you get a notice that you were quoted here? Enquiring minds want to know!)

Determining what is relevant is of course up to... who? There's no sharp line. Gays may feel that their sexual practices are not the business of right wing Christians, but those same right wing Christians may feel that the moral fiber of their country is very much their business. In a democracy, who has standing is decided by... a vote, which is supposed to represent "the will of the people". Which is what I'm getting at.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Eternal Density » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:46 am UTC

gmalivuk wrote:
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Seasons should never end on cliffhangers, for reasons Sense8 most recently illustrated.
Agreed, though I didn't watch season 2. One was enough. Interesting concept but I didn't really enjoy or care about most of the characters.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Copper Bezel » Fri Jun 09, 2017 1:52 am UTC

I don't know, I'm probably disqualified from really fully taking a position in this question, as I don't really think democracy bootstrapping more democracy is an ideal way to set up a society in the first place.

ucim wrote:(note: Copper Bezel - did you get a notice that you were quoted here? Enquiring minds want to know!)

I didn't get a notification, no, the latest one in my list is the previous time I was quoted.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby Pfhorrest » Fri Jun 09, 2017 2:58 am UTC

ucim wrote:Those disagreements come down to either a vote (democracy) or fiat (dictatorship), one way or another.


This seems like a false dichotomy to me. It comes back again to the earlier question that I suggested is tantamount to the question of ownership, but on a larger scale might be called a question of jurisdiction. On an international scale, say, how do we decide, right now, what level of global income tax to levy to fund the building of something like an international Mars base? Do we vote on that or does someone just dictate it by fiat? Neither, because we don't really have a comprehensive global jurisdiction; there is neither a global democratic legislature, nor a global dictator. There are a bunch of independently sovereign countries, and sometimes one way or another in a complicated variety of ways a de facto consensus manages to evolve between them on truly global issues, but every single one of them maintains that it alone gets to make decisions about itself, and that what the rest of the planet thinks it should do is irrelevant, because the rest of the planet doesn't get a say in its own internal affairs.

There is no difference in principle between things working that way at that scale and things working the same way at a smaller scale, all the way down to every individual telling the rest of the world to fuck off when it comes to matters internal to that individual; there's only the practical difference that it's a lot harder for any individual to get away with it than it is for a big country to get away with it, since while no power has yet managed to subdue the entirety of the world to its will, basically every part of it today is subjugated by some power or another.

I think I kinda got lost on a tangent there, but the point is, saying that the rest of the country don't get to vote on (say) who you have sex with, does not entail that anyone is dictating anything to the whole country. I guess you could say you are "dictating" things about yourself, but that kinda strains the definition of "dictating" rather painfully, and you could just as well say (straining a different definition just as painfully) that you are putting the matter to a vote by the affected population, namely yourself (and I guess the person you're having sex with, for this example).
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby madaco » Fri Jun 09, 2017 8:24 pm UTC

One idea which I had, which I assume is entirely impractical, but which I think might be good if it could be implemented in practice, is

Assume that each person/voter has a vNM utility for each candidate. Normalize each voter's utility function such that their first choice has a utility of 1, and their last choice has a utility of 0.

Assign each voter 1 vote, but one which can be arbitrarily subdivisible, or at least can be split into, say, 1 billion parts. Each vote starts out "undifferentiated"/"unrestricted", but if one controls a (portion of a) vote, one can add to the restrictions on it whatever conditions on who it goes to that you want (basically, you can take any subset of who it already is restricted to, and make it so it is restricted to not go to anyone outside of that subset)

a (portion of a) vote can be transferred from one person to another as part of an exchange.

Then a bunch of trading happens, possibly done automatically based on people specifying what utilities they assign to the different candidates.

Once the trading is done, and all the (parts of) votes are assigned to specific candidates (rather than sets of candidates), the total amount of vote for each candidate is totaled up, and a candidate is selected at random, with the probabilities being proportional to the amount of vote each candidate got.

Each trade should increase the expected utility for each trader involved (e.g. I'll trade bob 0.2 of a vote for candidate A in exchange for 0.3 of a vote for {either candidate B or candidate C}), and if there were no transfers it would just be random ballot voting, which seems reasonable fair already, and I think this would, theoretically, improve on it.

However, one issue is the variance of outcomes. Many of the issues/"issues" of random ballot voting are present here, such as "a person with very low support merely has very low chance of winning, not zero".

Also, it doesn't take risk into account. People may assign, not only an expected utility for each candidate, but a variance of utility, and they may have different appetites for risk. I don't think this method would handle the varying appetites for risk super great, but I don't know. I don't know how pricing risk works.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Sat Jun 10, 2017 1:25 am UTC

ucim wrote:Indepenedent of the magic used to achieve the result, what best represents the will of the people?

A: High wins every time
B: High wins 60% of the time
C: 60% of the years, high wins all the time
D: Something else (tell me)
D Green gets 60% (and yellow 40%) of their way for each topic on average with a bias favouring the electorate directly affected by the topic at hand.

Also, I find it hard to believe any society is really that divided in two extreme groups that are unanimous over any case, even if their political landscape is. Because of this I think any election for a council using a party system should have at least 3 realistic contestants in such a way that no single party would make a realistic chance of achieving an absolute majority in said council.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 10, 2017 2:16 am UTC

Pfhorrest wrote:This seems like a false dichotomy to me.
It is. I was abbreviating.

Yes, the question of "ownership" (your words) is important; for the moment I"m considering questions for which ownership has already been decided and belongs to the voters. (In a democracy, "ownership" issues are also subject to voting; it's a given that we all "own" the idea of deciding "ownership".)

btw, did you get a notification that you were quoted in the post that had: "responding to Copper Bezel, Pfhorrest wrote:"

PinkShinyRose wrote:D Green gets 60% (and yellow 40%) of their way for each topic on average with a bias favouring the electorate directly affected by the topic at hand.
How would this work? For an issue like:
"It shall be unlawful to sell, purchase, or use {substance} within the borders of {town}"
[_] YES
[_] NO

with 60% of the people in favor of the ban, and 40% opposed...

Irrespective of the decision/voting method, what would be the outcome that fits "getting 60% (or 40%) of their way"? Banned on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? (This is a serious question, not a snark).

PinkShinyRose wrote:Also, I find it hard to believe any society is really that divided in two extreme groups that are unanimous over any case...
Of course - reality is messy. But we need to understand "what we want" in a clean case before we can apply it to messy cases and not be partisan about it. But in any case, the United States has just demonstrated that society can really be that divided, or can be made to appear (through the voting/political system) to be that divided. And it promotes extremist candidates, which further divides society, in real life. But I don't want to discuss actual politics because that becomes partisan. I want to discuss, and hopefully gain enlightenment about, what "the will of the people" amounts to, so that I (we) can then use this to actually achieve this. It can only be done without knowing beforehand what side you're on, because it has to work for both sides.

madaco wrote:One idea which I had, which I assume is entirely impractical...[...]...and a candidate is selected at random, with the probabilities being proportional to the amount of vote each candidate got."
Note: The following comment (on practicality) is independent of the theoretical discussion I've been encouraging. In the theoretical discussion I allowed magic, which in this case would include a trusted ping pong ball lottery machine of whatever type would be necessary.)

Except for the trading around part, this is actually quite practical. Take the simpler case: Each person gets one vote, each vote is a (virtual) ping pong ball in a huge lottery machine, and at the end of voting, one ping pong ball is chosen at random to be the winner. The probability of being the winner is proportional to the vote. Since there are probably too many votes to be considered using an actual ping pong ball lottery machine, it will probably be done with software. Written by somebody you don't know, audited by nobody you trust, and closed source to boot. The populace would be handed a result, and be told to trust that it's fair.

In a practical sense, that is very problematical.

In a theoretical sense, does it actually reflect the "will of the people"?

I can see that if this were one of many elections, each of which is mostly inconsequential, it would tend to lead to a legislature that reflects the populace's desires. But with a once-off, such as a presidential election, I suspect that most people would find the chance that {dingbat} would get elected to be unacceptable.

Some would say that that's already happened.

Jose
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby gmalivuk » Sat Jun 10, 2017 12:29 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
Pfhorrest wrote:This seems like a false dichotomy to me.
It is. I was abbreviating.

Yes, the question of "ownership" (your words) is important; for the moment I"m considering questions for which ownership has already been decided and belongs to the voters. (In a democracy, "ownership" issues are also subject to voting; it's a given that we all "own" the idea of deciding "ownership".)

btw, did you get a notification that you were quoted in the post that had: "responding to Copper Bezel, Pfhorrest wrote:"
No one but "responding to Copper Bezel, Pfhorrest" would have gotten a notification for that post.
PinkShinyRose wrote:D Green gets 60% (and yellow 40%) of their way for each topic on average with a bias favouring the electorate directly affected by the topic at hand.
How would this work? For an issue like:
"It shall be unlawful to sell, purchase, or use {substance} within the borders of {town}"
[_] YES
[_] NO

with 60% of the people in favor of the ban, and 40% opposed...

Irrespective of the decision/voting method, what would be the outcome that fits "getting 60% (or 40%) of their way"? Banned on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? (This is a serious question, not a snark).
Hence my question about whether a compromise position is possible. Sometimes it's not, which makes a difference to the outcome.

PinkShinyRose wrote:Also, I find it hard to believe any society is really that divided in two extreme groups that are unanimous over any case...
Of course - reality is messy. But we need to understand "what we want" in a clean case before we can apply it to messy cases and not be partisan about it. But in any case, the United States has just demonstrated that society can really be that divided, or can be made to appear (through the voting/political system) to be that divided. And it promotes extremist candidates, which further divides society, in real life. But I don't want to discuss actual politics because that becomes partisan. I want to discuss, and hopefully gain enlightenment about, what "the will of the people" amounts to, so that I (we) can then use this to actually achieve this. It can only be done without knowing beforehand what side you're on, because it has to work for both sides.

madaco wrote:One idea which I had, which I assume is entirely impractical...[...]...and a candidate is selected at random, with the probabilities being proportional to the amount of vote each candidate got."
Except for the trading around part, this is actually quite practical. Take the simpler case: Each person gets one vote, each vote is a (virtual) ping pong ball in a huge lottery machine, and at the end of voting, one ping pong ball is chosen at random to be the winner. The probability of being the winner is proportional to the vote. Since there are probably too many votes to be considered using an actual ping pong ball lottery machine, it will probably be done with software. Written by somebody you don't know, audited by nobody you trust, and closed source to boot. The populace would be handed a result, and be told to trust that it's fair.

In a practical sense, that is very problematical.

In a theoretical sense, does it actually reflect the "will of the people"?

I can see that if this were one of many elections, each of which is mostly inconsequential, it would tend to lead to a legislature that reflects the populace's desires. But with a once-off, such as a presidential election, I suspect that most people would find the chance that {dingbat} would get elected to be unacceptable.

Some would say that that's already happened.

Jose
So you're against your option B?
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Sat Jun 10, 2017 2:38 pm UTC

gmalivuk wrote: No one but "responding to Copper Bezel, Pfhorrest" would have gotten a notification for that post.
Yeah, that makes sense. Why didn't I realize that? (Don't tell me!)

gmalivuk wrote:Hence my question about whether a compromise position is possible. Sometimes it's not, which makes a difference to the outcome.
Fair enough. Compromise is negotiated however; it wouldn't make it to the ballot box except as a possible choice to vote for. What I'm exploring is more like "automatic compromises" as the result of a vote. So, while a compromise might be possible, it's not one of the choices. (One possible result of our cogitation might lead to a voting system that encourages compromises to be presented at the ballot box rather than merely extremist positions. This thought process helps us figure out whether that's a good thing to pursue or not.)

gmalivuk wrote:So you're against your option B?
I'm not for or against any option. (That is, I may have a preconceived notion, but I'm trying to not contaminate the discussion with it.) Option B has its flaws; so do the other ones. It might not be possible to implement the option that best represents the will of the people, but it's important to figure out what that would be, so that the voting system encourages that option as a possible choice.

That's my main thrust here.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby PinkShinyRose » Sun Jun 11, 2017 4:33 pm UTC

ucim wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:D Green gets 60% (and yellow 40%) of their way for each topic on average with a bias favouring the electorate directly affected by the topic at hand.
How would this work? For an issue like:
"It shall be unlawful to sell, purchase, or use {substance} within the borders of {town}"
[_] YES
[_] NO

with 60% of the people in favor of the ban, and 40% opposed...

Irrespective of the decision/voting method, what would be the outcome that fits "getting 60% (or 40%) of their way"? Banned on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday? (This is a serious question, not a snark).

An excise tax, or license requirements to own something.

It also depends on why people want something to be legal/illegal. If it's a danger to the surroundings restrictions could be put in place to protect the surroundings i.e. only to be used in a fireresistant room or only to be used under professional supervision. If it just smells, it's public use could be restricted. If people are afraid they're given a substance without their knowledge it could either be required warnings on a box or strict supervision during transport and use.

ucim wrote:
PinkShinyRose wrote:Also, I find it hard to believe any society is really that divided in two extreme groups that are unanimous over any case...
Of course - reality is messy. But we need to understand "what we want" in a clean case before we can apply it to messy cases and not be partisan about it. But in any case, the United States has just demonstrated that society can really be that divided, or can be made to appear (through the voting/political system) to be that divided. And it promotes extremist candidates, which further divides society, in real life. But I don't want to discuss actual politics because that becomes partisan. I want to discuss, and hopefully gain enlightenment about, what "the will of the people" amounts to, so that I (we) can then use this to actually achieve this. It can only be done without knowing beforehand what side you're on, because it has to work for both sides.

Your example is effectively a two party state, so people are presented a false (although true from the voters perspective) dichotomy every election. Which is why I support a system that provides real choice.

ucim wrote:
gmalivuk wrote:Hence my question about whether a compromise position is possible. Sometimes it's not, which makes a difference to the outcome.
Fair enough. Compromise is negotiated however; it wouldn't make it to the ballot box except as a possible choice to vote for. What I'm exploring is more like "automatic compromises" as the result of a vote. So, while a compromise might be possible, it's not one of the choices. (One possible result of our cogitation might lead to a voting system that encourages compromises to be presented at the ballot box rather than merely extremist positions. This thought process helps us figure out whether that's a good thing to pursue or not.)

What if you make a rule that if they cannot come up with something garnering the support of 90% of members the council will default to using the lottery scheme macado proposed within said council. That should make them scramble to come up with a compromise (especially if the outlook for the lottery would be an approximately 50% chance of the worst possible outcome as in a highly polarised political system). I don't think you can make compromises on a population level without a small pool of representatives to negotiate.

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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby ucim » Sun Jun 11, 2017 8:21 pm UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:It also depends on why people want something to be legal/illegal.
Yes indeed, for any specific issue. "{Substance/activity} should be illegal in {town} because it destroys the fabric of society." is hard to compromise with. But in any case, let's assume we can come up with some compromise, that now needs to be approved (or defeated). The new measure on the ballot is:

"It shall be unlawful to sell, purchase, or use {substance} within the borders of {town}, except under {conditions}."
[_] YES
[_] NO

So,
1: We still have to vote on it, and
2: Whatever caused us to come up with the compromise idea in the first place is probably a good thing, and should be encouraged by the balloting process. Right? (Again, my opinion is an elephant; it's the collective will of the people that counts... and that's what I'm trying to define; even if it doesn't exist, in a democracy we have to pretend it does, and the manner of our pretense has big consequences.)

PinkShinyRose wrote:Your example is effectively a two party state...
Such a thing is not uncommon, especially in the US. Nonetheless it is at least a simple example, and should therefore be easily analyzed for insight. Everyone wants a system that provides "real choice", but choice is only a tool to get to the end result, which is an ongoing set of decisions that we can all live with, that we support overall, and for which our input is actually meaningful. What I'm driving at is what this set of decisions would look like, and from there, figure out how to best achieve it.

PinkShinyRose wrote:What if you make a rule that if they cannot come up with something garnering the support of 90% of members the council will default to using the lottery scheme macado proposed within said council.
Interesting. Worth a think.

Jose
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby jules.LT » Mon Jun 12, 2017 9:59 am UTC

PinkShinyRose wrote:What if you make a rule that if they cannot come up with something garnering the support of 90% of members the council will default to using the lottery scheme macado proposed within said council. That should make them scramble to come up with a compromise (especially if the outlook for the lottery would be an approximately 50% chance of the worst possible outcome as in a highly polarised political system). I don't think you can make compromises on a population level without a small pool of representatives to negotiate.

While randomness is really not satisfactory, "get a compromise OR ELSE..." sounds like a good way to make policies with broad support happen.
One frequent problem is that the *opposition* has little incentive to compromise, as their interest is to show that the current administration needs to be replaced. So the "or else" must affect them too.
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Re: 1844: "Voting Systems"

Postby orthogon » Mon Jun 12, 2017 10:33 am UTC

ucim wrote: it's the collective will of the people that counts... and that's what I'm trying to define; even if it doesn't exist, in a democracy we have to pretend it does, and the manner of our pretense has big consequences.

This is excellent.

Regarding compromise and whether it belongs on the ballot paper, I'm reminded of the Scottish Independence referendum where there was a lot of talk of "devo-max": a compromise between the current devolution arrangement and full independence. The UK government worked very hard (and succeeded) to prevent that being on the ballot paper. I guess the feeling was that people like going for the middle option and it so it would probably win. And then there's the issue of salami slicing: devolution was itself an earlier compromise but then becomes one of the "extreme" positions relative to which devo-max is a compromise.

Again it depends on the issue. For some issues, iterative compromise can lead to the right result by a process of Interval Bisection: present a succession of ever closer compromises. Arguably this is what the main parties did in the UK from the late 90s until the mid-2010s. Issues like Scottish Independence and Brexit are more of a ratchet, though: unlike, say, the level of public spending, it's difficult to turn it back a notch if you've gone too far. You have to try to approach gingerly from one side.

In the end though, you hit the nail on the head by saying that there might be no such thing as the collective will. Certainly I see Brexit that way. And in that case any compromise is likely to mean we get the worst of both worlds.
xtifr wrote:... and orthogon merely sounds undecided.


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