Complexity of Manipulating Elections with Few Candidates

Vincent Conitzer and Tuomas Sandholm, Carnegie Mellon University

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. We derive hardness results for the more common setting where the number of candidates is small but the number of voters can be large. We show that with complete information about the others’ votes, individual manipulation is easy, and coalitional manipulation is easy with unweighted voters. However, constructive coalitional manipulation with weighted voters is intractable for all of the voting protocols under study, except in the Cup protocol. Destructive manipulation tends to be easier, except in the Single Transferable Vote protocol. Randomizing over instantiations of the protocols (such as schedules of a Cup) can be used to make manipulation hard. Finally, we show that under weak assumptions, if weighted coalitional manipulation with complete information about the others’ votes is hard in some voting protocol, then individual and unweighted manipulation is hard when there is uncertainty about the others’ votes.


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