Pandering in a (Flexible) Representative DemocracyDownload PDF

Published: 08 May 2023, Last Modified: 26 Jun 2023UAI 2023Readers: Everyone
Keywords: computational social choice, reasoning under uncertainty, reinforcement learning
TL;DR: We formalize and study a novel model of election attack, pandering, where candidates report their positions strategically and study the complexity of and algorithms for reasoning in this domain.
Abstract: In representative democracies, regular election cycles are supposed to prevent misbehavior by elected officials, hold them accountable, and subject them to the "will of the people." Pandering, or dishonest preference reporting by candidates campaigning for election, undermines this democratic idea. Much of the work on Computational Social Choice to date has investigated strategic actions in only a single election. We introduce a novel formal model of pandering and examine the resilience of two voting systems, Representative Democracy (RD) and Flexible Representative Democracy (FRD), to pandering within a single election and across multiple rounds of elections. For both voting systems, our analysis centers on the types of strategies candidates employ and how voters update their views of candidates based on how the candidates have pandered in the past. We provide theoretical results on the complexity of pandering in our setting for a single election, formulate our problem for multiple cycles as a Markov Decision Process, and use reinforcement learning to study the effects of pandering by single candidates and groups of candidates over many rounds.
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