Voting Rules for
 Accurate
Democracy

Different uses for voting need different types of voting.

Ballots for fair-share funding votes

Options in Voting
to Fund Projects

Fair-share funding tally.
Unequal voters
Two of a kind
Conditional item votes
Protect higher choices
Budgeting labor
Strategies for sponsors
Some of these voting options are complex and some involve subtle distinctions.  Understanding them requires following several steps during a tally.  Please, always keep in mind that the act of voting is easy: Simply grade most of the proposals , period.  Voters do not need to know details of the tally rule or its foundations in theory and research.  They should judge it by its results, comparing it with alternatives just as they judge most social or technical tools.

The Loring Allocation Rule (LAR) makes comparison of results routine by taking a vote to pick the final set of winning projects from 4 or 5 sets.

Unequal Voters

Ballots can start with unequal weights.  A council may want to give greater weight to members with some particular expertise, need, or interest in the decision.

Two of a Kind

MMV is very good at organizing voters (by their ballots) into interest groups so they are not divided and defeated by 2 of a kind (clone candidates).  At least 1 will be funded if interest is strong.  But MMV is weak at preventing project duplication and it must avoid buying 2 of a kind when 1 will satisfy the need.

The solution is simple if there is a consensus that 2 items are of a kind and if the tally funds both.  Count those who contributed to both while ranking A over B plus those who contributed only to A.  Subtract from that number those who contributed to both while ranking B over A plus those who contributed only to B.  Eliminate the item that had fewer supporters, then run the tally again.

The solution is harder when there is no consensus.

Conditional items let voters enter grades for  A without BB without AA with B funded,  and finally  B with A funded.  The tally initially uses the votes for A without B,  and B without A .  If 1 or both win, the tally uses the corresponding votes, A with B,  or B with A or both. 

Do to what economists call "decreasing returns to cost", the scores for A with B funded are probably lower than those for A without B.  So if A wins and later B wins, the second winner may decrease scores for the first winner.  In fact the first may lose based on the scores for A with B funded.  That is the proper result.

Conditional items make the ballot longer and more difficult.  So an interest group improves its chances for efficient funding by agreeing on one proposal before voting.

Other notes on voting:

A voter's goal is the same as a shopper's: get the maximum happiness out of every dollar.  So a $10 item must give 10 times the happiness in a $1 item to earn the same grade.  That $1 item might be less beneficial than the $10 item.  But if the $10 item does not give 10 times more benefit, its grade should be lower.

This is very important to voters.  It might be hard for them to keep in mind while grading items.  If the voters don't think of grades this way consistently, then the data won't produce pleasing results through any tally rule.

(Voters could score the benefit of each item as a whole.  Scores can be divided by costs to calculate benefit/cost; and those can be graded.)

A voting rule might let voters give each item two grades: the first says, "how important it is to the community."  The second says, "how important it is to me."  Most economists argue that the social or collective utility of an item is the sum of its utilities to individuals.  But many voters feel that is false.  The first column of scores might be used for a Condorcet Allocation tally; then the second column of scores used for MMV. 

This probably increases incentives for strategic voting: free riding and putting personal needs in both columns.  Of course, personal needs might be the sole consideration for voters when limited to giving a single grade.  Whether the ballot asks for 1 or 2 grades for each item, the selfish voter is more likely to win what he wants for himself.

Protect Higher Choices

Many voters wonder whether they might hurt the chance of winning their first choice by grading lower choices.  Under STV that cannot happen since the tally does not even look at a lower choice until all higher choices have been eliminated or elected.  This rule motivates each voter to cast a sincere ballot, with no punishing votes for his favorite's nearest rivals.

MMV is less clear.  It can give some weight to second and third choices, and that weight could save a lower choice from elimination while the favorite falls.

A voter may be allowed to avoid that.  The rule may say, "Your lower choices will not count if your first choice becomes the candidate for elimination.  Likewise, if your second is threatened with elimination, your votes below that do not count.  So a lower choice would never threaten a higher."

This probably is not needed to motivate sincere ballots since virtually all voters want to help several favorites and few have one overwhelming favorite to protect.  Simulation research may reveal this option's value to the voter who chooses it and to all voters in an interest group.

A steep utility curve is a good compromise between leaving a voter's favorite vulnerable to his votes for lower choices, versus leaving his lower choices with no votes.  A steep curve tends to give much more to his favorite than to lower choices.

Labor Hours

The furniture co-operative that inspired and helped develop Fair-share Spending estimates surpluses for both money and labor then makes those available for projects.  Social service clubs and religious congregations may also have volunteer labor hours which are not interchangeable with cash but which do limit a group’s projects.  Many groups may need to set labor as well as cash budgets for projects.

Labor for projects can be allocated by the same ballots and the same formulas as money.  But a ballot often runs out of one resource before the other -- a basic problem in any method of balancing resources for projects.  Surplus money can be banked: held for emergencies or invested for future projects.  But hours idled away this year cannot be worked next year.

A) Create enough of 1 resource to guarantee it will be available to any project which wins a quota of the other resource.

B) Use two ballots and tallies: one for projects which are labor limited, which need little or no money, and another ballot and tally for projects which need money but little or no labor.

Strategies

A sponsor might break a big project into phases 1, 2, 3, and so on.  (Dr. Schneck's software lets each voter set funding levels on his ballot.)  This raises the chance of winning the funding for phase 1 because that can fit in a higher part of each ballot’s value curve than the whole project could.  But the strategy decreases the chance to win funding for phase 3 which supporters will rate on the low side of their value curves.  Sponsors of an omnibus bill must balance adding items to add supporters against adding costs that push down the value of the bill's average dollar.

Any value curve that gives a substantial vote to a low priority gives an incentive for vote trading.  A fair trade requires items with near equal budgets.  Each trader reduces his chances for funding his lower priorities which are pushed down the value curve.  A variety of value curves are explored in fundRank.htm.

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