Strategy for Approval Voting

A worthwhile question to ask about any proposed voting system is, for a third party, what is the optimal voting strategy. Some of the writing suggests that a voting system should encourage voters to vote “honestly” vs. “strategically”, but I think that distinction can be carried too far. A vote is not an answer to a survey; it is a political action. All votes are strategic, and to ask that they be “honest” is too much to ask, and doesn’t apply to what votes are for. So I ask about any system, what is the best strategy for up-and-coming factions, and is that strategy easy to understand and carry out. Also, is there a strategy at all that will work. For Plurality FPTP and for IRV, the answer is “no”. No strategy will work with them. With those systems, we can count on Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum until hell freezes over.

The situation I usually think about when asking about strategy is this. Say I’m a strategist for a rising faction and want to suggest to people in the faction how to vote. We have a Favorite candidate, but we also want to contribute sufficient support to a Compromise candidate to make sure that the Worst candidate doesn’t get elected. Choosing a strategy to use in any voting system requires not only knowing what you want, but also making an estimate of how much support the candidates are likely to receive. From polls, prior elections (Primary/General/Runoff), etc., a strategist arrives at those estimates. I try to guess whether the level of support for Compromise falls short of that for Worst. If so, by how many voters. That, plus a margin of safety, gives how many of Our faction need to approve Compromise. Of course, all of us must approve Favorite.
If I am a single voter rather than a strategist people will listen to, I go through the same steps as above and from that figure the probability that a person sharing my values and opinions should approve Compromise. I use coins or dice or a computer or a Geiger counter or something to extract a random result based on that probability. I obey the random result in deciding whether to approve Compromise. In either event, I approve Favorite.
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