W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > public-w3process@w3.org > May 2014

Re: Voting again…

From: Jean-Charles (JC) Verdié <jicheu@yahoo.fr>
Date: Sun, 04 May 2014 21:10:39 +0200
Message-ID: <536690AF.6010000@yahoo.fr>
To: Charles McCathie Nevile <chaals@yandex-team.ru>
CC: "public-w3process@w3.org" <public-w3process@w3.org>
Hi Chaals

I agree with this statement. As I said in my statement we (*I*) failed
to explain/convince last year that the system was broken. But nothing
prevents us from proposing a CG and work on a proposal with people
interested/concerned by the topic.

That's what I'd like to drive as part of my new term at the AB if I get


Charles McCathie Nevile wrote:
> TL;DR: AB (and TAG) elections are broken, if we find out exactly how
> broken it won't really affect the ability of each group to do their
> work, but it isn't hard to fix this and we should. A simiarly broken
> system is being proposed for Webizens, whereit is likely to be even more
> important to have a decent system.
> There is an election (for the Advisory Board), where there are a dozen
> candidates. As far as I can tell all of them are qualified for the
> position, although of course Ihave preferences for whom I would prefer
> to see on the AB.
> But the existing system for voting makes a total mess of this. Given
> candidates of roughly equal quality, more than half the votes cast will
> be completely wasted. If we see (as we have in the last two TAG
> elections and the last AB election) a campaign for a slate of voters,
> even if they are running on a single "party" platform and proposing
> exactly the same things, the system is likely to elect the entire slate,
> rather than a diverse group of people representing the diverse
> preferences of the whole AC.
> The only sensible way to vote, then, is to vote for one candidate. I
> waste 80% of my right to vote, but increase the odds that my vote is
> actually useful in helping elect one of the people I *really* want on
> the AB. I do this repeatedly, but reluctantly, as the least-worst of a
> set of bad options in how to vote under the current system.
> This is why for the last few years (and more so since the beginning of
> last year when it started being an issue in practice as slates of
> candidates were run in elections) I have been trying to get some
> traction on a change in the voting procedures.
> There have been a number of arguments raised against such a change, and
> I would like to address them:
> == It ain't broke, why fix it?
> When a slate of candidates standing on a single position ("reform all
> the thingz") gets elected in each of the last 3 elections it may mean
> that we face only one important problem. I doubt that - and as a
> candidate (and someone many other candidates have turned to for advice)
> I understand the pressure to align oneself with that "platform". I think
> this is an anti-democratic result, and that we are seeing an artificial
> reduction in the diversity of the AB, and how representative they really
> are of the membership.
> In addition I *believe* that an increasing number of votes are
> "strategic" - people voting for far fewer candidates than they could, in
> order to try and maximise the chances that their vote counts at all.
> Without an open count it is hard to know for certain, but the W3C team
> at least has those numbers.
> == Don't deligitimise the AB / TAG
> I find this argument illogical. The voting system we use effectively
> deligitimises the results as being representative of us, the AC. This is
> a simple mathematical property of a choice made a decade or so ago,
> based on a aprticular view of a century and a half of research into and
> deployment of voting systems designed to ensure fair outcomes (and also
> those designed to favour incumbents or other sectional interests).
> While running an experimental vote system that showed the results we get
> in our elections are not a very good reflection of the real intentions
> of the community would indeed suggest that we have "the wrong people" on
> the TAG or AB, I don't think this is a huge problem in practice. First,
> because while I believe the AC gets misrepresented by election results,
> I also believe that the candidates who are elected but would not have
> been under a fairer system are actually widey regarded as well-qualified
> for the task.
> In other words, what we have now is a somewhat random system for
> selecting representatives, that doesn't actually choose what we want,
> but whose impact is balanced by the fact that at least most candidates
> are reasonable. In which case, why bother with the election instead of a
> random selection?
> == No voting system is perfect, so why swap?
> Arrow's theorem is one of those that demonstrates that it is effectively
> impossible to get a system that cannot be gamed (e.g. allowing a slate
> of candidates to effectively shut out diversity), and that entirely
> reliably represents the interests of the voters.
> However, it is one piece of a large body of work going back to at least
> the mid 19th century on how to provide *better* systems. And it is
> generally accepted that some systems are significantly better than
> others - and we happen to have on of the worst.
> == STV is really complicated…
> Well, it does require the ability to rank candidates in order of
> preference. Which in turn means being able to count perhaps as far as
> 12. I believe that all members of the AC can manage that task without
> getting terribly confused.
> Even the most complex voting systems could be hand-calculated for the AC
> - but luckily we also have computers that can simplify this process,
> providing a result effectively instantaneously for an election the size
> of those we run in W3C.
> == How do we select a new system?
> Obviously, unless you have a decent voting procedure in place, you're
> unlikely to get one by voting on it! However, while I think the level of
> candidates for W3C elections is generally high enough that it isn't a
> big deal whether we vote or pull names out of a hat, that isn't true of
> voting systems.
> Pretty much any STV or ranked-pair voting system is so much better than
> the current one that it would be a big improvement.
> However, David Baron did some research a while ago. He expressed
> interest in approval voting[0], which unfortunately is still subject to
> most of the problems of our current system. His eventual conclusion
> (which matches mine, unless I have misinterpreted him as merely
> proposing a strawman) was that there are a couple of systems seriously
> worth further consideration.
> Of those David suggested were most worth further investigation, the
> "qualification" is that they are highly resistant to managed voting,
> ensuring that the best voting strategy is to say exactly what you want.
> And of them, the Shulze system[1] has a couple of very interesting
> properties:
>  - You can try it on the Web[2], where there is an explanation of how it
> is a big improvement, and
>  - there is open-source code[3] to implement the counting, which means
> we would require a minimal effort to implement it in e.g. WBS (assuming
> we don't 'outsource' our voting to the open web).
> Since David's suggestion and subsequent discussion a year ago, I haven't
> seen *any* suggestion that we should not use the Schulze system in any
> discussion. I would like to know if there are any alternative candidates.
> == Conclusion
> There should be a call for consensus on whether we should adopt an STV
> system for voting. At this stage, I am thinking of simply an up/down
> vote on the Schulze system (primarily to help defuse the "but it's all
> so complicated - and which system would we choose" argument that is
> occasionally raised), but before I do anything I welcome further
> thoughts, suggestions, ideas and opinions.
> [1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schulze_STV
> [2] http://www.modernballots.com/
> [3]
> https://github.com/bradbeattie/python-vote-core/blob/master/pyvotecore/schulze_stv.py
> cheers
> Chaals
Received on Sunday, 4 May 2014 19:11:17 UTC

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