When are elections with few candidates hard to manipulate


Journal Article

In multiagent settings where the agents have different preferences, preference aggregation is a central issue. Voting is a general method for preference aggregation, but seminal results have shown that all general voting protocols are manipulable. One could try to avoid manipulation by using protocols where determining a beneficial manipulation is hard. Especially among computational agents, it is reasonable to measure this hardness by computational complexity. Some earlier work has been done in this area, but it was assumed that the number of voters and candidates is unbounded. Such hardness results lose relevance when the number of candidates is small, because manipulation algorithms that are exponential only in the number of candidates (and only slightly so) might be available. We give such an algorithm for an individual agent to manipulate the Single Transferable Vote (STV) protocol, which has been shown hard to manipulate in the above sense. This motivates the core of this article, which derives hardness results for realistic elections where the number of candidates is a small constant (but the number of voters can be large). The main manipulation question we study is that of coalitional manipulation by weighted voters. (We show that for simpler manipulation problems, manipulation cannot be hard with few candidates.) We study both constructive manipulation (making a given candidate win) and destructive manipulation (making a given candidate not win). We characterize the exact number of candidates for which manipulation becomes hard for the plurality, Borda, STV, Copeland, maximin, veto, plurality with runoff, regular cup, and randomized cup protocols. We also show that hardness of manipulation in this setting implies hardness of manipulation by an individual in unweighted settings when there is uncertainty about the others' votes (but not vice-versa). To our knowledge, these are the first results on the hardness of manipulation when there is uncertainty about the others' votes. © 2007 ACM.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Conitzer, V; Sandholm, T; Lang, J

Published Date

  • June 1, 2007

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 54 / 3

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1557-735X

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0004-5411

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1145/1236457.1236461

Citation Source

  • Scopus