Archive for March, 2010

Tactical Manipulation of IRV Using Voting Theory Mathematics (applying statistical analysis to others’ votes to choose one’s vote)

March 31, 2010

A letter to the National committee of the Green Party of the United States

Over the last 8 months, there has been much GPUS NC 'debate' which has conflated the issues of "tactical voting", 'gaming', lobbying, fraud, and 'secrecy' as they may apply to GPUS elections.
We should all endeavor to avoid discussion of Game Theory in this context, for there is a branch of math (which Game Theory has influenced greatly) known as Voting Theory, that deals with the specific issues at hand.

The issue being referred to as "gaming" is better known formally as "tactical voting", which is a "tactical manipulation" of "voting systems" by applying "Voting Theory" based statistical analysis to vote counting, prior to the close of balloting, to determine one's vote (admittedly this IS a form of gaming the system, but so are many other things).

Tactical voting is the reason many want to wait until after balloting to publish our votes, gaming the system in other ways, such as lobbying, elections fraud, and secrecy, are not part of this concern.

IRV is widely considered the system most resistant to tactical voting in general elections, partially precisely because modern democratic general elections are always conducted with a secret ballot.

This entire page is about "gaming the system" of IRV by tactical voting, no where does it mention 'open' or 'closed' ballots, it is assumed in every case to apply to general elections using secret ballots to protect voters from being coerced.

I have researched a great deal about the well developed field of "Voting Theory", after spending half a semester on it in a Contemporary Applications Math class, and have yet to find a single mention of 'debate' on this 'issue'.

No one mentions the need to keep such balloting closed until after results are tallied, because it is assumed everyone understands the need for a "secret ballot" in a general election, and it is assumed that any body designing a voting system for a representative body has responsibly studied the mathematical tactical considerations involved.

There are two main ways to solve this dilema when a representative body votes:
1). by voting simultaneously (as the UN always has),  
2). by revealing the votes only after the ballots have been counted (as the GPUS always has). 

No where in the body of Voting Theory literature have any of several NC delegates who have studied the field been able to find an explanation of the reason not to publish one's vote while others are still choosing their vote, presumably because it is considered so self evident.

If laypersons were often involved in this type of decision, there would be many references to this issue in Voting Theory literature, but there just isn't.

I will continue to query experts until i have found, or created, such a reference sufficient to GPUS NC needs.

Please henceforth refer to "tactical voting" and "Voting Theory" instead of the much more generalized "gaming" and "Game Theory", when it is the specific former cases one is referring to.

If the GPUS NC decides that our priority is that ballots must be published immediately as they are cast, we still have one other option besides PluralityThe Exhaustive Ballot, where the first past the post Plurality method is repeated until a majority of votes is cast for a single candidate. 

This would require a lot of voting to elect four people, we might be better off with the old standard Plurality method.

If we cannot, during this entire year, put this matter to rest, in this relatively educated body, i will be withdrawing my support for promotion of ranking voting to the general public.

monte letourneau 


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3/2/10 BRPP/Platcom Rules Proposal Hearing Very Reassuring 4 Me; my remaining platform process priorities

March 3, 2010

Personally, i was very much reassured by the conference call hearing this evening 

that all of my worst fears will not come to pass,

and that many of my fondest hopes quite well may.

More important, we have established a core group with a coherent common understanding 
of terms, issues, and a willingness to work together,
which we can collectively easily and reliably communicate to our peers.

On the other hand, my preference for small slow piecemeal proposed changes to our brpp's
has been overtaken by others' desires to make some fairly comprehensive and wordy proposals.

This is very much counterbalanced, for me, 
by the fact that the placement of these changes will be thoughtfully considered.


My take on the real priorities:

1). How many votes? 
The more platcom itself winnows, collates, or makes recommendations,
the more we recreate the former all or nothing dynamic; the more we do none of this,
the more the NC becomes buried in minutia 
(the proposal of only having one month to do it is still just a proposal?).

The solution here may best lie in BOTH advocating, and enabling, 
state to state collaboration towards collation of similar materials.

2). Regardless of how we address 1)., irreconcilable divergence between state proposals will some day arise.
The more states that submit large chunks of material independently, the more often it will happen,
and the harder it will be to notice and flag such contradictions. How do we resolve differences the states cannot?

Slice away just the conflicting parts and rank (by NC vote).

3). Shall platcom have the power to resection, or compile, proposals,
to obtain reasonable sized pieces of material to make a decision upon?

Yes, as little as possible. 
First let's determine a likely reasonable number of such decisions and then size them to that?

4). Shall platcom have the power to edit facts, style, grammar, or syntax?

No, but we should definitely compile a list of meaningful criteria, publicize it, 
help the states know when they have not conformed to it, and help the delegates know this in turn, as well.
This list would have to drafted on a provisional basis during this cycle, 
and only afterwards be proposed to the NC for exposure and publicity.
To ensure it's own continued understanding by the NC, consensual nature, 
and ongoing development, such a list of criteria should be amended for re-approval, when beginning each cycle.

5). Committee submission and/vs platcom's advisory needs? 
Why can't committees submit? 'cuz they are not members! but members appointed committees 
to deal with major concerns covered by our platform, shall they NOT be involved?!

If the committees are busy submitting amendments, when will they advise upon the states' proposals?
Would it not be easier for the states and the committees, and have more coherent results, 
to just allow committees to submit such proposals as they desire and may have expertise in?

Would the committees simply competing with the states in their areas of expertise 
be less effort all around than their trying to collaborate with all members?
Would committee competition with state parties have the effect of exclusion or inclusion 
for members of state parties who are not committee members?

Many will initially say "committees are not members" and feel that is all there is to say, as i have.
I now consider that we should allow (indeed, require!) committees to have direct oversight of subject matter 
they have been formed to be vested with having expertise in, and/or to draft proposals of their own.

This could help reduce the number of NC decisions, facilitate, ensure, and vet, the work of the states, 
and the platcom, and give more "neutral", "factual", or well reasoned, solutions to conflicts,
depending on the processes we use for dealing with other diverse core issues.

The only committees currently asking for the right to submit proposals seems to be eco action and international,
these are also the only two that come to mind as being relevant to large sections of our platform
(though i could see Ballot Access, Campaigns, Diversity, GPAX, & PCSC, at least, having the ability, 
and/or desire to fullfill such functions. Consideration of such reaffirms my increased willingness 
to support committee submissions if they are reasonably limited to their own fields of concern).

Excluding the committees from work on the platform, heart and soul of the party, 
begs the question then of what are committees for?
If a committee sees such responsibility as distracting from more important work, 
then they must have the right to decide for themselves, 
but we are not being efficient, democratic, nor wise, 
if we leave only the current rules for the Platcom's standard committee right,
for one committee to request another committee to appoint an advisor,
as the only formally allowed direct link between committees and the Platform.

On the other hand, committees can always ask a state to submit for them, 
maybe we first need to explore why this is not enough for some?

6) I believe Nan, and the rest of BRPP, have demonstrated enough concern with proper placement of changes,
sufficient flexibility with wording, deference to experience, and information, which the platcom has not yet achieved,
and plenty of concern with platcom's preferences, concerns, and needs,
to assure me that many of platcom members' worst fears are no longer important.

On the other hand, i hear a stated willingness, and actual desire, to wait for platcom's deliberations
to at least advise on the platcom side of the (the internal) process,
even while there is a definite push to get the NC's responsibilities and processes expedited as quickly as is feasible.

It is the BRPP's responsibility to ensure the NC is covered, not really ours, as some have said all along.
It is our responsibility to cover internal concerns, and the BRPP has expressed a reluctance to make it theirs,
as some have said before.

If we do not address internal concerns eventually, BRPP will feel they need to do so.
As i've intimated before, this is as i feel it must be.

I fully support Bruce's call for a working group to explore past, current, and future needs for Platcom process,
and how our process will dovetail in concert with the NC, and, soon, the PNC.

I volunteer for that committee, and am seeking some feedback from any who may be uncomfortable with that.


All is largely as it should be, in this delegate's arrogant opinion,
monte letourneau 

The people most likely to need unemployment want to fix the world by getting rid of it.

March 3, 2010

Historically, such people cannot be followed enough!