[EM] Defects in various election systems

Matthew Shugart mshugart at weber.ucsd.edu
Tue Feb 27 10:03:29 PST 1996

I quite like the idea of having voters select one candidate as first
choice, then mark "approvals" for as many others as they wish.  I
especially like it for primaries.  How would the winner be determined,
though?  And how would it work in delegate allocation in presidential

At 8:22 PM 2/22/96, Rob Lanphier wrote:
>On Thu, 22 Feb 1996 DEMOREP1 at aol.com wrote:
>> Condorcet
>> Based on relative comparisons and not absolute approval or disapproval
>> (especially for second and later choices).
>>From a pragmatic point of view, how useful is information about the
>absolute preferences of the voters?  If we need to pick one and only one
>President, we only need to know which one (and only one) they like best.
>Since voters seldom agree, we *then* need mechanisms for determining
>Hence the ranked ballot.  Voters pick *one* top choice, and then can list
>other candidates the can "live with", in order of preference.
>Absolute approval/disapproval is irrelevent when we want people to
>*choose* a candidate.  If giving each candidate a grade is what we care
>about, then we should consider approval.
>> Circular result ties possible in
>> pair comparisons.
>A system that measures voter ambiguity is far superior to one that
>arbitrarily chooses a winner in spite of ambiguity.  Ties are highly
>unlikely in any election method with a sufficient number of voters,
>including Condorcet.
>> Approval Voting (AV)
>> Based on absolute approval or disapproval. No relative comparisons among
>> multiple majority winners.
>It also gives disproportionate representation to voters who can't
>distiguish the difference between several candidates.  It is riddled with
>very real strategy problems.
>Consider the 1992 election, had it been an approval election.  Voters who
>preferred Clinton, but would take Bush in a last ditch effort to keep
>Perot out of office stood the danger of helping Bush get elected if they
>voted for Bush and Clinton.  Yet they also stood the danger of losing to
>Perot if they voted for only Clinton, since there was probably a large
>number of people who would have voted for Clinton and Perot to run Bush
>out of office.  Perot voters who really didn't like Clinton or Bush would
>be forced to vote for neither if Perot is who they truly wanted.  Bush
>voters would have had the same problem.
>Ultimately, voters should be expected to choose a candidate, and give
>fallback info if their first choice is not acceptable.  They shouldn't be
>able to choose a wad of candidates and leave it up to everyone else to
>decide.  Nor should voters be forced to use this as a method of
>expressing their preference.
>Rob Lanphier
>robla at eskimo.com

Matthew Shugart
Associate Professor of Political Science

Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies
University of California, San Diego
9500 Gilman Drive
La Jolla, CA 92093-0519

Phone:  619-534-5016
Fax:     619-534-3939
E-mail:  mshugart at ucsd.edu

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