Steve, thanks for the clarification. In your list of strategies 1 thru 4, I didn't pick up on the fact that you were responding to a question about overnight permits. I am a day hiker. I have tried the lottery on several occasions for Whitney and for the Half Dome hike. I have never been successful. Here is the situation for me. This would be a significant trip because I am travelling from out of state. I have several hiking friends that would like to come, but they also live far from California, and a couple of them live in different states than me. It would be a considerable expense for us to collaborate and make trips to Lone Pine just for a chance of getting unused permits at the forest office for a next day hike.
It seems to me that if the lottery was run correctly, all of the permits would be awarded in the lottery. The lottery computer could be programmed to pull a winning application, award it, and then check for duplicate applications by other group members, right then and there. Then procede with the next winning application. At the end of the lottery there would be no dates with 42! unawarded permits. That way, us out-of-state hopefuls would know that we were out of luck for that year, without all of this strategizing for un-awarded/unused permits. I entered the lottery with the expectation that I had a chance to win 100 available permits each day. It turns out (e.g. August 14th) that only 58 permits were awarded for that date. The lottery officials certainly didn't give me a chance to win one of the 100 available for that day. It is not right.