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Encyclopedia > Tactical voting
 Voting Part of a series of articles on Politics and Elections Politics Portal · edit

It has been shown by the Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem that any voting method which is completely strategy-free must be either dictatorial or nondeterministic (that is, might not select the same outcome every time it is applied to the same set of voter preferences). For instance, the random ballot voting method, which randomly selects the ballot of a single voter and uses this to determine the outcome, is strategy-free, but may result in different choices being selected if applied multiple times to the same set of ballots. The Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem is a result about voting systems designed to choose a single winner from the preferences of certain individuals, where each individual ranks all candidates in order of preference. ... The random ballot voting method takes the one person one vote principle to an extreme by only counting the vote of one person. ...

However, the type of tactical voting and the extent to which it affects the timbre of the campaign and the results of the election vary dramatically from one voting system to another.

There are different types of tactical voting:

Compromising (sometimes "useful vote") is a type of tactical voting in which a voter insincerely ranks an alternative higher in the hope of getting it elected. For example, in the first-past-the-post election, voters may vote for an option they perceive as having a greater chance of winning over an option they prefer (e.g., a left-wing voter voting for a popular moderate candidate over an unpopular leftist candidate, or in order to help defeat a strong right-wing candidate.) Duverger's law suggests that, for this reason, first-past-the-post election systems will lead to two-party systems in most cases. In those proportional representation systems that include a minimum percentage of votes that a party must achieve to receive any seats, people might vote tactically for a minor party to prevent it from dropping below that percentage, which would make the votes it does receive useless for the larger political camp that party belongs to. The first-past-the-post electoral system is a voting system for single-member districts, variously called first-past-the-post (FPTP or FPP), winner-take-all, plurality voting, or relative majority. ... â€œLeftismâ€ redirects here. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Duvergers Law is a principle which asserts that a first-past-the-post election system or in other words, a Single-member, Simple-plurality system, naturally leads to a two-party system. ... A two-party system is a form of party system where two major political parties dominate the voting in nearly all elections. ... Proportional representation (sometimes referred to as full representation, or PR), is a category of electoral formula aiming at a close match between the percentage of votes that groups of candidates (grouped by a certain measure) obtain in elections and the percentage of seats they receive (usually in legislative assemblies). ...

Burying is a type of tactical voting in which a voter insincerely ranks an alternative lower in the hopes of defeating it. For example, in the Borda count or in a Condorcet method, a voter may insincerely rank a perceived strong alternative last in order to help their preferred alternative beat it. This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ... A Condorcet method is a single winner election method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. ...

Push-over is a type of tactical voting in which a voter ranks a perceived weak alternative higher, but not in the hopes of getting it elected. This primarily occurs in runoff voting when a voter already believes that his favored candidate will make it to the next round - the voter then ranks an unpreferred, but easily beatable, candidate higher so that his preferred candidate can win later. A United States analogy would be voters of one party crossing over to vote in the other party's primary to nominate a candidate who will be easy for their favorite to beat. An example of runoff voting. ... A primary election is an election in which voters in a jurisdiction select candidates for a subsequent election (nominating primary). ...

Shotgunning is a type of tactical voting used in elections where voters select more than one representative from a pool of candidates. In this instance a voter can cast as many votes as there are representatives to be elected. The winners are the candidates that receive the highest vote totals. By not casting the maximum number of votes, a voter helps his or her preferred candidate by not supplying votes to potential rivals.

Examples in real elections

One high-profile example of tactical voting was the situation that led to the 2003 California recall. During the primaries, Republicans Richard Riordan (former mayor of Los Angeles) and Bill Simon (a self-financed businessman) were vying for a chance to compete against the unpopular Governor of California, Gray Davis. As California holds open primaries in which anyone can vote for any candidate he or she pleases, Davis supporters were rumored to have voted for Simon because Riordan was perceived as a greater threat to Davis; this combined with a negative advertising campaign by Davis describing Riordan as a "big-city liberal", and Simon ultimately won the primary despite a last-minute business scandal. However, he lost the election against Davis; discontent soon led to the recall. In the 1997 general election in Winchester Mark Oaten (Liberal Democrat) beat the incumbent Conservative MP Gerry Malone with a majority of 2 votes. Malone successfully challenged the election in the High Court, which declared it void. A by-election was held which returned Mark Oaten as MP, this time with a larger majority of 21,556, this was due to the majority of Labour voters voting Liberal in the By election. The 2003 California recall was a special election permitted under California law. ... The Republican Party is one of two major contemporary political parties in the United States of America, along with the Democratic Party. ... Richard J. Riordan (born May 1, 1930) is a Republican politician from California, U.S. who served as the California Secretary of Education from 2003â€“2005 and as Mayor of Los Angeles from 1993â€“2001. ... Flag Seal Nickname: City of Angels Location Location within Los Angeles County in the state of California Coordinates , Government State County California Los Angeles County Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa (D) Geographical characteristics Area     City 1,290. ... Bill Simon, in mid-2005 William E. Simon, Jr. ... Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (left) and Governor Gray Davis (right) with President George W. Bush in 2003 The Governor of California is the highest executive authority in the state government, whose responsibilities include making yearly State of the State addresses to the California State Legislature, submitting the budget, and ensuring that... Joseph Graham Davis Jr. ... An Open Primary is a type of direct primary open to voters regardless of their party affiliation. ... A scandal is a widely publicized incident involving allegations of wrong-doing, disgrace, or moral outrage. ... The term recall has a number of meanings: Product recall A recall election Recall to employment after a layoff Recall from memory. ... The UK general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997. ... Mark Oaten Mark Oaten (born 8 March 1964, Watford) is a Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom, and Member of Parliament for the Winchester constituency. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... The Conservative Party (officially the Conservative and Unionist Party) is the second largest political party in the United Kingdom in terms of sitting Members of Parliament (MPs), the largest in terms of public membership, and the oldest political party in the United Kingdom. ... Peter Gerald Malone, known as Gerry Malone, (born 21 July 1950) is a Scottish Conservative and Unionist Party politician who was an MP 1983-1987 and 1992-1997. ... The Member of Parliament for Winchester, Mark Oaten, (Liberal Democrat) was unseated on an electoral petition on October 6, 1997. ... Mark Oaten Mark Oaten (born 8 March 1964, Watford) is a Liberal Democrat politician in the United Kingdom, and Member of Parliament for the Winchester constituency. ...

The candidacy of Richard Huggett in both 1997 elections as a "Literal Democrat" candidate led in part to the creation of the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998. Richard J. Huggett is a British man who prompted the Registration of Political Parties Act 1998. ... The Registration of Political Parties Act 1998, or An Act to make provision about the registration of political parties was an act of the Parliament of the United Kingdom to set up a register of political parties in the United Kingdom. ...

In United Kingdom elections, there are three main parties represented in the Parliament: the Labour party, the Conservative party and the Liberal Democrats. Of these three, Labour and the Liberal Democrats are considered most similar by many voters. Many people who prefer the Liberal Democrats vote for the Labour candidate where Labour is stronger and vice-versa where the Liberal Democrats are stronger, in order to prevent the Conservative candidate from winning. The Labour Party is a political party in the United Kingdom. ... The Conservative Party (officially the Conservative and Unionist Party) is the second largest political party in the United Kingdom in terms of sitting Members of Parliament (MPs), the largest in terms of public membership, and the oldest political party in the United Kingdom. ... The Liberal Democrats, often shortened to Lib Dems, are a liberal political party based in the United Kingdom. ...

In the 1997 UK general election, Democratic Left helped Bruce Kent set up GROT - Get Rid Of Them - a tactical voter campaign whose sole aim was to help prevent the Conservative Party from gaining a 5th term in office. This coalition was drawn from individuals in all the main opposition parties and many who were not aligned with any party. While it would be hard to prove that GROT swung the election itself, it did attract significant media attention and brought tactical voting into the mainstream for the first time in UK politics. In 2001, the Democratic Left's successor organisation the New Politics Network organised a similar campaign tacticalvoter.net. Since then tactical voting has become a real consideration in British politics as is reflected in by-elections and by the growth in sites such as tacticalvoting.com who encourage tactical voting as a way of defusing the two party system and empowering the individual voter. In the 2005 UK General Election individuals set up tacticalvoting.net to balance the tactical voting debate. The UK general election, 1997 was held on 1 May 1997. ... In the United Kingdom the Communist Party of Great Britain reformed itself into a left-leaning political multi-issue grassroots campaign group/think-tank called Democratic Left in 1991 based around the CPGBs Manifesto for New Times (1990, Lawrence & Wishart). ... Bruce Kent (born 22 June 1929) is a British political activist. ... In United Kingdom politics ,the New Politics Network is an independent political and campaigning think tank, concerned specifically with issues relating to democratic renewal and popular participation in politics. ...

In the Ontario general election, 1999, strategic voting was widely encouraged by opponents of the Progressive Conservative government of Mike Harris. This failed to unseat Harris, and succeeded only in suppressing the New Democratic Party vote to a historic low. Map of Ontarios ridings and their popular vote for their party elected The Ontario Legislature after the 1999 election. ... The Ontario Progressive Conservative Party (PC Party of Ontario, also known as Tories) is a right-of-centre political party in Ontario, Canada. ... Michael Deane Harris (born January 23, 1945, in Toronto, Ontario) was the twenty-second Premier of Ontario from June 26, 1995 to April 15, 2002. ... The Ontario New Democratic Party (formerly known as the Ontario Cooperative Commonwealth Federation) is a social democratic political party in Ontario, Canada. ...

In the 2006 local elections in London, tactical voting is being promoted by sites such as London Strategic Voter in a response to national and international issues. The question of whether this approach acts to undermine local democracy is receiving much debate.

Rational voter model

Academic analysis of tactical voting is based on the rational voter model, derived from rational choice theory. In this model, voters are short-term instrumentally rational. That is, voters are only voting in order to make an impact on one election at a time (not, say, to build the political party for next election); voters have a set of sincere preferences, or utility rankings, by which to rate candidates; voters have some knowledge of each other's preferences; and voters understand how best to use tactical voting to their advantage. The extent to which this model resembles real-life elections is the subject of considerable academic debate. Rational choice theory assumes human behavior is guided by instrumental reason. ...

Pre-election influence

Because tactical voting relies heavily on voters' perception of how other voters intend to vote, campaigns in electoral systems that promote compromise frequently focus on affecting voter's perception of campaign viability. Most campaigns craft refined media strategies to shape the way voters see their candidacy. During this phase, there can be an analogous effect where campaign donors and activists may decide whether or not to support candidates tactically with their money and labor.

In rolling elections, or runoff votes, where some voters have information about previous voters' preferences (e.g. presidential primaries in the United States, French presidential elections), candidates put disproportionate resources into competing strongly in the first few stages, because those stages affect the reaction of latter stages. Rolling Election Rolling elections are elections in which representatives are elected over a period of time rather than all at once. ... An example of runoff voting. ... A primary election is an election in which voters in a jurisdiction select candidates for a subsequent election (nominating primary). ...

Views on tactical voting

Some people view tactical voting as providing misleading information. In this view, a ballot paper is asking the question "which of these candidates is the best?". This means that if one votes for a candidate who one does not believe is the best, then one is lying. British Labour Party politician Anne Begg considers tactical voting dangerous: [1] Margaret Anne Begg (born December 6, 1955, Brechin, Scotland) is a Scottish politician and member of Parliament, for Aberdeen South since 1997. ...

Tactical voting is fine in theory and as an intellectual discussion in the drawing room or living rooms around the country, but when you actually get to polling day and you have to vote against your principles, then it is much harder to do.

Tactical voting is generally regarded as a problem, since it makes the actual ballot into a nontrivial game, where voters react and counter-react to what they expect other voters' strategies to be. British mathematician Charles Dodgson (a.k.a. Lewis Carroll) was, apparently, the first to acknowledge this fact. A game such as this might even result in a worse alternative being chosen, because most of the voters used it as a strategic tool. Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) â€“ believed to be a self-portrait Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (IPA: ) (January 27, 1832 â€“ January 14, 1898), better known by the pen name Lewis Carroll, was an English author, mathematician, logician, Anglican clergyman and photographer. ...

Though Arrow's impossibility theorem and Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem prove that any useful voting system is prone to manipulation, some use game theory to search for some kind of "minimally manipulatable" voting schemes. In voting systems, Arrowâ€™s impossibility theorem, or Arrowâ€™s paradox, demonstrates that no voting system can possibly meet a certain set of reasonable criteria when there are three or more options to choose from. ... The Gibbard-Satterthwaite theorem is a result about voting systems designed to choose a single winner from the preferences of certain individuals, where each individual ranks all candidates in order of preference. ... Game theory is often described as a branch of applied mathematics and economics that studies situations where multiple players make decisions in an attempt to maximize their returns. ...

Game theory can also be used to analyze the pros and cons of different methods. For instance, under purely honest voting, Condorcet method-like systems tend to settle on compromise candidates, while Instant-Runoff Voting favors those candidates which have strong core support - who may often be more extremist. An electorate using one of these two systems but which (in the general or the specific case) preferred the characteristics of the other system could consciously use strategy to achieve a result more characteristic of the other system. Under Condorcet, they may be able to win by "burying" the compromise candidate (although this risks throwing the election to the opposing extreme); while under IRV, they could always "compromise". It could be argued that in this case the option to vote tactically or not actually helps the electorate express its will, not only on which candidate is better, but on whether compromise is desirable. (This never applies to "sneakier" tactics such as push-over.) A Condorcet method is a single winner election method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. ... Example ballot Instant runoff voting (IRV) is a voting system used for single winner elections in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. ...

Tactical voting greatly complicates the comparative analysis of voting systems. If tactical voting were to become significant, the perceived "advantages" of a given voting system (that is, tending towards compromise or favoring core support) could turn into disadvantages - and, more surprisingly, vice versa.

Tactical voting in particular systems

First past the post / plurality voting

Tactical voting by compromising is exceedingly common in plurality elections. A plurality, relative majority or simple majority is the largest share of something, which may or may not be considered a majority, i. ...

Due to the especially deep impact of tactical voting in first past the post electoral systems, some argue that systems with three or more strong or persistent parties become in effect forms of disapproval voting, where the expression of disapproval in order to keep an opponent out of office overwhelms the expression of approval to elect a desirable candidate. Ralph Nader refers to this as the "least worst" choice, and argues that the similarity of parties and the candidates in first past the post systems grows stronger due to the need to avoid this disapproval. The plurality voting system, also known as first past the post, is a voting system used to elect a single winner in a given election. ... Disapproval voting is any voting system that allows many voters to express formal disapproval simultaneously, in a system where they all share some power. ... Ralph Nader (born February 27, 1934) is an American attorney and political activist, who has promoted a wide range of issues, including consumer rights, feminism, humanitarianism, environmentalism and democratic government. ...

One often-overlooked flaw in the first past the post system is that, in single member districts, voters can invariably select only one candidate, whilst in multi-member districts they can never select more candidates than the number of seats. Approval voting, by contrast, allows voters to cast a vote for as many candidates as they wish. This in turn allows for "voting against" a certain despised candidate without having to guess at whom the strongest contender is to defeat that candidate. Such a system would also serve to reduce the spoiler effect. The spoiler effect is a term to describe the effect a candidate can have on a close election, in which their candidacy results in the election being won by a candidate dissimilar to them, rather than a candidate similar to them. ...

Approval voting

Steven Brams and Dudley R. Herschbach argued in a paper in Science magazine in 2001 that approval voting was the system least amenable to tactical perturbations. This may be related to the fact that approval voting is designed to avoid preferences ('likes' or 'dislikes') being stated at all, instead permitting only a statement of tolerances, that is, "which candidate could you stand to see win", as opposed to "which candidate would you like to see win." Approval voting is vulnerable to tactical voting, however, as a voter can exaggerate his disapproval of a slightly unpreferred candidate by not ranking him in order to help ensure his most preferred candidate wins, analogous to the burying strategy mentioned above. A similar exaggeration can be given in the inverse by granting approval to disliked candidates, in order to ensure that a strongly disliked candidate doesn't win - compromising. Steven J. Brams (born November 28, 1940) is a political scientist and professor at New York University. ... Dudley Robert Herschbach (born June 18, 1932), a chemist and Frank B. Baird Jr. ... Science is the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). ... Year 2001 (MMI) was a common year starting on Monday (link displays the 2001 Gregorian calendar). ... On an approval ballot, the voter can vote for any number of candidates. ...

Instant runoff voting

Instant runoff voting has a somewhat reduced incentive for the compromising strategy, plus a minor vulnerability to the push-over strategy. When the single transferable vote voting system is applied to a single-winner election it is sometimes called instant-runoff voting (IRV), as it is much like holding a series of runoff elections in which the lowest polling candidate is eliminated in each round until someone receives majority vote. ...

Condorcet

Condorcet methods have a further-reduced incentive for the compromising strategy, but they have some vulnerability to the burying strategy. The extent of this vulnerability depends on the particular Condorcet method. Some Condorcet methods arguably reduce the vulnerability to burying to the point where it is no longer a significant problem. A Condorcet method is a single winner election method in which voters rank candidates in order of preference. ...

Borda

The Borda count has both a strong compromising incentive and a large vulnerability to burying. Here is a hypothetical example of both factors at the same time: If there are two candidates whom a voter considers to be the most likely to win, the voter can maximize their impact on the contest between these candidates by ranking the candidate whom they like more in first place, and ranking the candidate whom they like less in last place. If neither candidate is their sincere first or last choice, the voter is employing both the compromising and burying strategies at once. This article needs additional references or sources to facilitate its verification. ...

Single Transferable Vote

The compromising incentive exists in the Single Transferable Vote. If one's top-choice candidate is elected, only a fraction of one's vote will be transferred to one's next-favoured candidate. If one feels the favoured candidate is certain to be elected in any case, insincerely ranking the second candidate first guarantees them a full vote if needed. However, the greater the certainty of the first candidate being elected, the bigger their likely surplus, the higher the fraction of the vote that would be transferred to the next candidate, and hence the lower the proportionate benefit of tactical voting. This STV ballot for the Australian Senate illustrates group voting tickets. ...

More sophisticated tactics may be practicable where the number of candidates, voters and/or seats to be filled is relatively small.

Some forms of STV allow tactical voters to gain an advantage by listing a candidate who is very likely to lose in first place, as a form of pushover. Meek's method essentially eliminates this strategy. This article needs to be cleaned up to conform to a higher standard of article quality. ...

Tactical unwind

The term "tactical unwind" is used by some political scientists and commentators to refer to the phenomenon when tactical voting takes place in one general election but in subsequent elections voters revert to their normal patterns.

An election is a decision making process where people choose people to hold official offices. ... Voting is a method of decision making wherein a group such as a meeting or an electorate attempts to gauge its opinionâ€”usually as a final step following discussions or debates. ... A primary election is an election in which voters in a jurisdiction select candidates for a subsequent election (nominating primary). ... Political parties Part of the Politics series Politics Portal This box:      A political party is a political organization that seeks to attain political power within a government, usually by participating in electoral campaigns. ... Strategic nomination is the manipulation of an election through its candidate set (compare this to tactical voting, where the manipulation comes from the voters). ... Vote swapping is the method where a voter in one district agrees to vote tactically for a less-preferred candidate or party who has a greater chance of winning in their district, in exchange for a voter from another district voting tactically for the candidate the first voter prefers, because... Electoral fusion is an arrangement where two or more political parties support a common candidate, pooling the votes for all those parties. ... Unite the Right, also referred to as the United Alternative, was a Canadian political movement from 1997 until 2003. ...

Results from FactBites:

 Tactical voting - encyclopedia article about Tactical voting. (3129 words) Voting is best known for its use in elections and is often seen as the defining feature of democracy, where citizen preferences are used to determine the composition of government. Since then tactical voting has become a real consideration in British politics as is reflected in by-elections and by the growth in sites such as tacticalvoting.com who encourage tactical voting as a way of defusing the two party system and empowering the individual voter. Tactical voting by compromising is exceedingly common in plurality elections.
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