aaronhamlin

495Joined Jun 2017

Bio

I'm the executive director of The Center for Election Science (www.electionscience.org). We study and advance better voting methods. I also started Male Contraceptive Initiative but am no longer there. I first learned about EA in 2016 and went to my first EA event in 2017. My formal education is in the social sciences and law. You can find my writing and resources at www.aaronhamlin.com. Also at: https://twitter.com/aaronfhamlin, https://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronhamlin

Comments
57

I know our team isn't super excited by this switch by Every.org. Will be interesting to see how it goes.

This is a big need for a lot of organizations, including ours at The Center for Election Science. We're looking for especially well networked candidates, particularly those who could help with funding bottlenecks. We use committees to do internal board duties. See our board posting here: https://electionscience.org/join-our-board/

Hi Adam,

I think your response fairly addresses the concerns I initially raised, and I appreciate your effort there. Thank you for the delicate response.

"I am skeptical whether CES will be able to have much influence at the federal level . . ."

It's worth mentioning that CES highlighted that approval voting was able to be used for US House, US Senate, Presidential general, and Presidential Primaries with state-wide ballot initiatives. This information seems to be missing in the write-up and instead states that it doesn't influence Federal elections. 

The write-up also seems to portray local-level reform is CES' only goal. Again. we provided feedback on this issue. We also corrected the review on the cost efficiency, which is incorrect.

We hope that our feedback is more fully considered in future reviews and that this doesn't dissuade others from supporting our critical work.

Job Title: Director of Operations & Outreach

Organization: The Center for Election Science

Location: Virtual (US Based)

Salary: $65,000 + great benefits

More info and application process in the link: https://electionscience.org/ces-updates/were-hiring-a-director-of-operations-and-outreach

Within a week would be best as the opening closes within a few weeks.

We're hiring at the moment at The Center for Election Science for an operations director. We are open to EA and non EA applicants alike. We'd like to be able to pay more than $65K with a larger budget but we provide good benefits and are transparent. We are constantly trying to improve our process. If you have any feedback, feel free to share.

https://electionscience.org/ces-updates/were-hiring-a-director-of-operations-and-outreach/

I feel like this comment falls in this category:

"Q: I heard there was this thing about approval voting that wasn’t so good or that another voting method was better. Also, don’t forget about Arrow’s Theorem.

A: All voting methods have quirks, but we maintain that the quirks of approval voting are comparatively mild compared to the alternatives. You can see this article where we go into all the details about approval voting critiques. Also, I talked with Kenneth Arrow personally for an hour, and he said that our choose-one voting method was bad. Really."


I put together a detailed article where I compare different voting methods (including STAR). Some relevant details there are that STAR had its chance on the ballot in the city of Portland and failed. Note that voting methods poll much, much better in cities. So that it failed in Portland where STAR advocates are centered is a particularly discouraging sign.  We also find that methods involving scoring (like STAR does) simply do not poll as well. This isn't that big of a deal because they're only slightly better in winner selection. And we have other methods that perform very nearly as well (approval voting, in the same cardinal family) that do poll well.

Recall also that approval voting passed by over 60% in both cities it was on the ballot for. I would disagree with the claim that our forces in St. Louis and Fargo were so large that they would have passed any voting method. Our forces were so large in St. Louis and Fargo because it was approval voting. I know because they considered other options. STAR folks even reached out to our key person in Fargo, and they still decided on approval voting. IRV folks reached out to the same folks we partnered with in St. Louis and they still went with approval voting. I feel like to say that our forces were so strong that we could have passed anything misses the causality of why our forces were so strong to begin with.

I also find it a bit hard to take seriously the idea of putting energy behind Condorcet methods. Condorcet methods are a class of ranking methods that elect a "beat-all" or Condorcet winner. The math involved to select the winner when there is no Condorcet winner is quite complex (more so than STAR or IRV). That alone seems like a large barrier. Even I have to look up the algorithms to remember how they're computed. And there's no doing these by hand.

I feel like those two rationales help to explain why we continue to get behind approval rather than splitting our focus.

It's also worth noting that CES explored the possibility of approval voting in Denver and to a lesser extent in Broomfield. We did this by talking with the Denver city council who invited us and talking with advocates in Colorado. We did not support signature gathering in Denver, and we did not submit it to be on the ballot (though there was an individual who did it on their own and abandoned it). We did not think that we had an adequate team of people who physically lived in Denver during the window that we were focused on. And so we decided to look at other opportunities. We're data-oriented and cautious about how we spend limited resources. These are hard decisions, but saying no to Denver also meant that we got to say yes to our partners in Seattle. Seattle is polling at 70% and we have great partners who live there.

Also, the question is not whether approval voting will outcompete IRV—though with proper funding it very well may. The bar is actually lower. Perhaps a better rephrasing of the question is whether approval voting can thrive as a candidate and be implemented so that it may be tested alongside IRV. And to that question, I'm confident that it can. We've evidenced that. And we will surely get more cities with proper funding. And we are currently exploring our plans with states. I can't say exactly where we're targeting and when just yet (we have to keep some aspects of our strategy confidential). But we will target states as our strategic opportunities align with our operational capacity—which is determined by funding.

Consider also that there are only two states that use IRV. Both won by slim margins. One of those states (Alaska) failed the first time it tried. IRV also failed by 10 points in Massachusetts. And it's been repealed by voters multiple times in cities across the US. This is not a runaway for IRV. And it took them multiple decades to get this far. There's enough reason for concern that it's worth supporting approval voting as a viable alternative—particularly given that approval voting does substantially better at its job as a voting method.

Plus our team at CES that is pushing approval voting is amazing. I feel very lucky to work with such talented staff. Each of them went through a very challenging blind hiring process, and now they get to continually flex their muscles at work. We're really just starting to show what we're capable of.

Thanks for all you've done for the forum, Aaron! It was a challenging assignment to say the least. And a personal thank you for your feedback on some of my not-so-short essays! Best of luck on your new path. I'll be cheering you on.

Nice find, and thank you for sharing! I can verify that it worked quickly.

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