Concern #1 with Asset Voting

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William Waugh

Dec 29, 2018, 8:33:18 PM12/29/18
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Bernie Sanders betrayed all his supporters by endorsing HRC.

parker friedland

Dec 29, 2018, 10:06:41 PM12/29/18
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Unfortunately, the reality in this country is that we have a FPTP 2 party duopoly. I'm not a fan of asset, but it is unquestionably better then FPTP and with asset he wouldn't of needed to endorse HRC.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax

Dec 30, 2018, 10:02:46 AM12/30/18
to The Center for Election Science

On Saturday, December 29, 2018 at 8:33:18 PM UTC-5, William Waugh wrote:
Bernie Sanders betrayed all his supporters by endorsing HRC.

This is classic. It assumes that, in Asset, the "supporters" know more and are better informed and wiser than the ones they have chosen to trust to represent them.

Notice that if it were true that Sanders "betrayed" his supporters, he could have done this with even more impact if he had been elected President.

This is not a concern about Asset Voting, it is a general mistrust of politicians, probably accompanied by a belief in direct democracy, where politicians are supposed to be rubber stamps for the voters. The kind of thinking that produced that marvel of modern democracy, the rubber-stamp Electoral College. The original College concept was close to Asset Voting, but without the full freedom to choose that would be present in a decent formal Asset system.

I have proposed that Asset be first adopted in NGOs, where members still retain more rights of direct participation and problems can be fixed, if they appear.

One of the features of a full Asset system would be open ballots (i.e., a return to original ballot systems where the ballot did not have any printed names on it.) (But those willing to serve as electors -- not necessarily in the office, because they could choose to elect someone else, would need to register. They become "public voters." That is essential to the system.

Asset is best for electing a proportional representation Assembly where representatives are freely and cooperatively chosen, not "elected by contests," which disenfranchises minorities. Thinking of it in single-winner elections, though it is theoretically possible, is probably greatly inferior where officer elections are handled by the representative assembly, not directly by the voters.

(And then the officer can easily be replaced. The American system elects a King for 4 years, effectively. That's the problem!)

In a real Asset system with open ballots, betrayal by a single elector, if it happens, would only affect that elector's primary votes. Because of how humans think and act, there would still be some electors with substantial primary voting power, but in an Asset assembly, nobody would be likely to have majority control. And minorities would still be represented.

This idea that Sanders betrayed his followers is pernicious, though. It's based on narrow ideological attachment, and not practical, real-world politics


I have no doubt that Sanders would have been better for the US than Trump! But the real question, in that election, would have been who could better win against the Republican candidate. While Clinton had her enemies, for sure, she was also more obviously centrist and thus more likely to win, given the election system as it is. She lost, in part because some Sanders followers did not take his advice. (And, in addition, the Electoral College!)

One of my kids claimed that he would never vote for Clinton. I understand his arguments, but, look at the result! Some have thought that this would demonstrate how corrupt the system is and this would lead to reform. But that same argument was made by Nader supporters in 2000.

As a result of this kind of thinking, we have long-term damage to the Supreme Court, a breakdown of Senate collegiality, and more, much more. The refusal of liberals and progressives to unite against the fascists in Germany led to what? Improvements? Maybe, but millions died before that effect took hold.

And this time global warming is involved. Maybe we need to be realistic! And making compromises, if it's to be intelligent, must be handled by those with high levels of information and attention. That, in fact, is why we have political parties, and, indeed a primitive form of representative democracy, there not being much practical, tested alternative.

We can do it all far better. But first, there are, in the way, entrenched ideas about democracy and how it works. Those were, themselves, advances over what came before, but they are not enough.

This is well-understood in political science, but almost totally absent from voting systems activism: deliberative democracy is what is superior to autocracy and direct democracy.

If those who deliberate are voluntarily chosen.

It's even superior with district representation, but vulnerable to the vagaries of district definitions.  Asset can create a nearly-ideal Assembly. Districts aren't needed if all voters are represented, and voters can choose to support someone local, or someone organization-wide.

Historically, systems that approached that were attacked precisely because they were truly representative, i.e., proportional representation in New York, because it elected some socialists and African-descent representatives. These were Dog-whistles to racists, knee-jerk voters, and politicians. Obviously BAD.

Ciaran Dougherty

Dec 31, 2018, 4:11:11 PM12/31/18
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It's worse than that.  Every IRV race that I've looked into seems to imply that unless the voters are all expressing their later preferences on the ballot in some fashion, it will be impossible for a Candidate to refrain from betraying some of them,

In Burlington, for example, Wright's supporters (who expressed later preferences) preferred Montroll to Kiss 3:1... but that's still a significant portion of the voters that would be betrayed regardless of how he transferred the votes he got.

...but if there is that sort of data, if the voters do express their later preferences... why the heck wouldn't you honor those preferences, rather than those of the candidate?

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax

Jan 1, 2019, 9:19:29 AM1/1/19
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The word "betray" here is strong. IRV satisfies "Later No Harm." An election systems expert, as I recall, reviewing the paper that defined that election criterion, say that he felt sick reading it. It sets up a system that does not allow compromise, because the vote for a less'favored candidate cannot "harm" the preferred candidate because the system takes him out back and shoots him. The voter's ballot is then interrogated. Now that your favorite is unfortunately deceased, whom do you choose?

Asset voting represents a shift is the question asked of the public. Instead of "Whom do you prefer for the office," it becomes "Whom do you prefer to choose the officer if you cannot do it yourself."

Asset provides, if properly designed, unrestricted range of choice. The ideal voting strategy is to vote for the person you most trust. If you don't trust anyone, you can still register as an elector and vote for yourself. It's just a bit more work. TANSTAAFL.

Asset was first proposed by Dodgson as a tweak on STV. It could still be used that way. I.e., any ballot that was exhausted provides the vote to the highest-ranked candidate. The ballot is exhausted. Without the Asset tweak, it's dead, useless.

It is possible to use a lower-ranked candidate, but why would one do this? We know from the voter the most-trusted candidate for the office. Why not use this vote to support choosing the winner?

Then, my question: amalgamating STV is procedurally expensive. STV has known flaws, mentioned. Asset eliminates the need for ranked lists, by simplifying the voting and voting strategy. No need for party lists. One vote for one person, who then unconditionally exercises the delegated function. 

Yes, it is their choice how they vote, not the voter's choice. But that would be the case if they win the office. Why would they be trusted for one and not the other.

In an Asset system, I predict, seats will be widely trusted by people who have access to them, who know them. The seat elections become an intelligent process, not knee-jerk reactive.

Asset is a radical reform, so radical that I suggest it first be implemented in NGOs, to create advisory assemblies. Step by step toward a synthesis of direct and representative democracy, a new paradigm, beyond anything done before on a large scale.

Or we can keep inventing and advocating better Band-Aids.

We are responsible for the future. What is our choice?


Jan 1, 2019, 11:12:16 PM1/1/19
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What is tanstaafl?

Rob Wilson

Jan 2, 2019, 2:41:20 PM1/2/19
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I would be for a form of asset voting for PR.  In particularly, I'd want candidates to have their own transfer list that is publicly available before voting and voting for candidate would be like voting for the list in an STV election.  I feel that this is strictly better than an NSTV open list PR or closed party list PR.  I also think it is better than STV because I don't think it is reasonable to expect voters to rank every single candidate or have the vote exhaust.

I'm sure there will be a problem with backroom deals that aren't reflective of the will of the voters, but In field of like 50 people, I'm sure anyone can find a candidate who has a transfer list that is a reasonable representation of the voter's preferences.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax

Jan 2, 2019, 8:29:03 PM1/2/19
to The Center for Election Science
Google apparently is not your friend.. TANSTAAFL.

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax

Jan 2, 2019, 9:01:33 PM1/2/19
to The Center for Election Science
This is so common in voting systems discussions. Some people claim that better voting systems will transform politics, but few realiize how much transformation is possible. It's clear that the concept held here is of a few candidates in a large jurisdiction. The voters do not know the candidates personally. So then we want the voting system to take care of everything. And instead of choosing people we trust ... nobody trusts "politicians" ....  we want to see a list, which, then, with our vast personal knowledge, we will then support or not. making all so complex that nobody will do it, but meanwhile, out of fear of "back room deals," we will continue to support systems that practically make them necessary.

We are responsible for the world the way it is, and especially for where it goes from here

The method described is "candidate list," a form of STV that seems better but that completely ignores the reason why Dodgson proposed asset.

What I realized, a decade ago, was that Asset could create a large number of electors, unless the rules were designed to strictly limit them. And even if there were ballot access rules, which is a very bad idea for Asset, my opinion is that Asset ballots should not have names on them, but there would be a booklet available at polling places with a list of registered electors, those willing to serve as public voters.

I assume a secret ballot election for the "priimary," let's call it. Everything after that point of legal consequence is public. Sure, the elector you vote for may sell his vote for a pot of message, or something like that. A beer or a dancing girl. And then you know this person, if you have half a brain, and you can yell at them in person.

Oh, you voted for someone you don't know because they promised to vote a certain way? TANSTAAFL., or Why The Hell Did You Do That?

We created (or tolerated and continue to tolerate) systems that do not encourage and develop trust, systems that leave us utterly at the mercy of media and money, and then we blame everyone else for how office-seekers behave, whcih is set up and required by the system.

I don't want a representative who will vote the way he or she thinks I prefer, but rather, who stands for public welfare (including mine), who will use whatever resources are available and their best understanding to make choices. I want someone I can trust with difficult decisions, and I want someone who will listen to me (personally!) if I have a concern to express or information to provide. I don't want a rubber stamp pandering to every idea of mine.

That kind of communication is very difficult for current elected representatives, they represent far too many people. What Asset could create is a directed graph (like delegable proxy), where the voter chooses someone they can communicate with (if they are smart ... or, alternatively, don't care), and then that person chooses another, until this leads to an elected seat. An elected seat will almost certainly listen to a person known to have delivered votes to them.

This replaces Money Talks. At least it's possible.

Electors could make a statement of whom they will choose for a seat, or they could refrain from this, and it can be and should be up to the voter to accept or reject this, either way. What I've seen is a continual effort to create systems that coerce voters and candidates to do things the "best" way. Now, it is possible that a promise could be binding, rather than a mere statement of intention, and we could create rules for that, but it could also vastly complicate the system. I definitely would not require such promises be made, and it seems that Rob wants this.

What would Rob have? Rules that voters cannot vote for an elector who did not provide a fully-ranked list? Or maybe a first-vote promise? If the most that would be done is making promises binding legally, not a big problem, because registered electors ("registered candidates," though they might not actually be seeking the office), could simply not make promises, and then it would be my choice as a voter to allow this or not vote for the person.

There is one rule that I have considered that might be similar to this. On registration, electors could designate a specific person, to carry their vote if they are unable to participate, in their absence. That may or may not be public. I dislike setting up complex fixed rules in advance of more extensive experience with Asset, and what I've seen with the only Asset election I am aware of was that the body of electors can make decisions ad hoc, as needed, on behalf of the public. The Electoral College does fully represent the voting electorate, and a majority of electors could agree to elect enough members of the Assembly to create what would be majority decisions there even if all the other seats are filled.

(Few voting systems theorists are familiar with standard democratic process. An absolute majority of the membership of an organization can make just about whatever decision they choose. It doesn't happen much because more normally it's impossible to get together an absolute majority, but instead major changes are proposed with notice, etc., and then only a majority of a quorum is required at a noticed meeting. Large organizations often have a relatively small quorum.)
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