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  • Hello from Micah

    Hello, my name is Micah and I'm from Minneapolis. I'm excited about this forum, and about the potential for various alternative voting systems to facilitate more equitable collective decision making processes in all kinds of different contexts.

    For the record, I recently found myself joining the board for this forum, so that's exciting! Even so, I'm still very new to the forum. This is my first post!

    Stuff about myself: I'm a creative person and musician, I love to study math and I know a thing or two about computers. I tend to think poetically and love to look at the big picture and how things are connected. My most recent day job was as a software developer for an ed tech non-profit, but I recently left to work on the soundtrack for a friend's video game.

    I believe in my heart that everyone has the ability to understand "voting theory", and to realize the stakes. Sadly, a lot of the language involved is tricky and inaccessible. How can we open up conversations about voting systems, and how can we better communicate what's at stake?

    With regard to voting systems themselves... I'm especially excited about "cardinal voting systems". I'll share why in another post.

    Some misc. dreams and imaginations for what I might hopefully get to be a part of with you all on this forum:

    • coming up with new ways to tap into peoples' existing intuition, awareness, language, motivation and natural intelligence around collective decision making, translating voting theory into more accessible language
    • creating some interactive tools or games (digital and/or IRL) for understanding voting systems, their unique qualities and limitations
    • figuring out some more accessible, potent language for understanding and talking about voting systems, the stakes and the kinds of strategic manipulations involved
    • learning more about game theoretic analysis of voting systems
    • participating in AMAs with serious researchers!
    • learning about how hard different voting systems are to control... maybe from a computational complexity or dynamical systems perspective? Ever since hearing about Cambridge Analytica, I've been very curious about the kinds of math tools that are being used in attempts to control elections. What are the limits of these tools? I think there is some serious work being done around these kinds of questions in the realm of distributed systems (computer science), but I'm not sure to what extent political scientists have picked up on this.

    I'm starting to ramble so I'm gonna cut myself off. It's nice to be here! 🙂

    Let me know if any of the topics above also interest you and I'll make a new post.

    posted in Introduce yourself
  • RE: Least-bad Single-winner Ranking Method?

    @NevinBR Thank you for the Game Theory Voting link. I see that there is an assumption that when a Condorcet selection exists that it's the best choice. I think there are situations where that is NOT a correct assumption. I tried to modify the scenario that the authors, Rivest and Shen, used, but it wasn't working out very well, so I simplified one of the scenarios that I had previously come across, which was from using randomly generated numbers.

    Scenario: There are 4 candidates and 13, 138 voters. With FPTP, candidate B gets 3,900 votes, C 3,547, D 3,456 and A 2,325. B wins Condorcet buy 2 votes, 6570/6568, over each of the other candidates. At first blush, B seems to be clearly the best choice.

    I exaggerated the randomly generated numbers into a scenario where ALL of the voters that picked B as their first choice picked D as their second choice. So, in a head to head with B and D, B got 2 more votes than D, but D was the second choice of all 3,900 supporters of B. Conversely, only 639 of the 3,456 D supporters chose B as their second choice.

    It seems to me that candidate D is preferred by the most people to the greatest degree.

    I didn't try to understand all of the Game Theory details, but it seems to me that there is a way to modify it so that it considers this in the weighting and sets the probabilities accordingly.

    I'm wondering what people think of this. (Both of the assertion of D being the best choice, and the potential of Game Theory to account for this.)

    Here are the full numbers for the scenario:
    0:Option A
    819:Option A>Option B>Option C>Option D
    52:Option A>Option B>Option D>Option C
    141:Option A>Option C>Option B>Option D
    898:Option A>Option C>Option D>Option B
    116:Option A>Option D>Option B>Option C
    299:Option A>Option D>Option C>Option B
    0:Option B
    0:Option B>Option A>Option C>Option D
    0:Option B>Option A>Option D>Option C
    0:Option B>Option C>Option A>Option D
    0:Option B>Option C>Option D>Option A
    1800:Option B>Option D>Option A>Option C
    2100:Option B>Option D>Option C>Option A
    0:Option C
    988:Option C>Option A>Option B>Option D
    658:Option C>Option A>Option D>Option B
    3:Option C>Option B>Option A>Option D
    667:Option C>Option B>Option D>Option A
    473:Option C>Option D>Option A>Option B
    668:Option C>Option D>Option B>Option A
    0:Option D
    1044:Option D>Option A>Option B>Option C
    445:Option D>Option A>Option C>Option B
    382:Option D>Option B>Option A>Option C
    257:Option D>Option B>Option C>Option A
    635:Option D>Option C>Option A>Option B
    693:Option D>Option C>Option B>Option A

    posted in Single-winner
  • RE: What Arrow's Impossibility Theorem Really Means

    @tec Your programming skills are FAR beyond what I can do. I started exploring voting options about 7 months ago, and seeing that IRV sometimes selects an outcome that is clearly not the best choice, it occurred to me that looking at the second choice of the ballots of the runner up made sense. That led to a sort of double-elimination approach. Using a spreadsheet to lay out a few scenarios, it appeared that the approach had some promise. Unable to find anyone to help me, I managed to create some php webpages that can be used to evaluate scenarios. Testing with that I found some anomalies so progressed to a hybrid approach. So far, it's checking out just fine.

    I like the visual layout that you provided, and I haven't seen anything with the "indifference lines". It's similar to this:, which you're probably familiar with. I'd like to be able to start with ballot numbers and then have them displayed, rather than being limited to manipulating the image (which I think is fantastic too).

    I was wondering too if your program calculates the distance between the two other options and then sets the second choice as the closest one.

    Here's a link to the crude pages that I put together:

    I would definitely like to collaborate with you on an "evaluation framework".

    posted in Research
  • RE: What Arrow's Impossibility Theorem Really Means

    Is the program that you're using to analyze scenarios and display things available online?

    posted in Research
  • RE: Scenarios for Evaluating Methods

    Thanks Keith for commenting. I'd like to know in some detail how each of the 5 criteria are evaluated. In particular, "Accurate". How is the bull's eye, so to speak, determined for a particular scenario?

    posted in Single-winner
  • Scenarios for Evaluating Methods

    I think it would be useful to have a list of scenarios, which can be used to evaluate the performance of various methods of selecting a winner. For each scenario, there should be almost unanimous agreement on the best choice, and the methods will need to be able to make the correct selection. In some situations, there may be two or more outcomes that are pretty much equally desired by the voters.

    For example, in Alex Gendler's TED-Ed video,, it seems to me that everyone will agree that North base is the spaceport location that will result in the greatest amount of satisfaction for the greatest number of people.

    If I'm correct, about the nearly unanimous agreement, then methods can be compared based on how well they do with a variety of scenarios with an established best outcome consensus.

    If I'm wrong, and people cannot agree on what the best choice is, then it seems to me that our quest to find a method is striving to achieve the impossible.

    posted in Single-winner