Some yes2av links

As you might have noticed by now, I’m quite strongly pro voting yes to AV in this referendum. Here are some links about that:

Dan Snow’s Alternative is a very simple and compelling explanation of how AV works and why that’s a good thing.

Politics in the Animal Kindom goes into more depth, including some of the problems with the current first past the post system and why AV avoids them.

For a more light-hearted video about AV, watch Is your Cat confused about the referendum on the voting system on the 5th May?. As well as being a hilarious cat video it’s also a good explanation.

In Is AV better than FPTP?, Timothy Gowers writes about the issues around the two systems. It’s very very long, but an extremely good breakdown. It starts out trying to be unbiased, but finishes with “I have largely failed in my aim to adopt a neutral tone. However, that is because most of the arguments put forward by opponents to AV have been clearly wrong”.

Well, yes. Indeed they are

I’ll update this post as I find good links. Feel free to suggest any in the comments / on twitter / etc.

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2 thoughts on “Some yes2av links

  1. Clay Shentrup


    Your advocacy of Random Ballot, in the recent New Scientist article, is most concerning.

    First, you’re arbitrarily choosing Arrow’s Theorem as the problem you want to focus on avoiding (as compared to e.g. the Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem, or the Favorite Betrayal Criterion).

    Next, you’re ignoring that Score Voting, the simplest form of which is Approval Voting, *also* avoids Arrow’s Theorem.

    Additionally, you seem to have completely ignored any mention of Bayesian Regret, which is the “one right metric” of voting method performance. Had you looked at the world’s best BR figures, you would have seen that RandomBallot performs quite terribly, whereas Score Voting is better than all commonly proposed alternatives.

    Sure, it would have a statistical tendency toward proportionality, but that alone does ensure good governance. For any given two people you can find who subscribe to a very similar ideological platform, it is possible (even likely) for them to vary greatly in the intelligence, personal skills, and general leadership ability. If you use a better voting system (particularly one which is deterministic), you can get both proportionality AND representativeness of the voters’ assessment of the candidates’ value.

    1. david Post author

      Hi Clay,

      More accurately, the article claiming I was advocating random ballot when I was merely putting it forward as a neat idea (with big fat disclaimers saying “There are problems with this system and I’m not sure I’d support it in practice!”) and then not approving my clarifying comment on the post was quite concerning.

      I disagree strongly that approval voting is a better system. It’s a better system if all of the candidates are real people, but it’s equivalent giving people a ranked vote where one of the options is RON (Reopen Nominations – aka “I don’t like any of the candidates. Try harder.”) and throwing away all their actual preferences and just using “above or below RON” as the marker. Given that, actually taking into account those preferences should clearly be desirable.

      If you want to argue that adding RON to an election is a good idea, yes, absolutely. It’s 100% a good idea. 110%. I’m totally with you. But asking me to give my approval to a set of candidates is extremely unsatisfying, because it forces me to make the same decisions I currently do: I have to vote for the candidate I hate the least out of those likely to get in, and that automatically beats out the possibly less popular candidate I’d actually rather support.

      (also I don’t agree that BR is The One Right Metric. When you’re merely considering the results of a single-winner election it is, but when you’re considering the results of electing more than one candidate there are fairness considerations – it may make more people happier if you ignore a minority voice, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you should)

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