[EM] Electoral standards

Wynott at aol.com Wynott at aol.com
Tue Mar 5 06:58:52 PST 1996

In a message dated 96-03-03 07:45:00 EST, Mike O. writes:

>I nominate the standards that I've named in previous letters to this
>1. Getting rid of the lesser-of-2-evils problem
>   (By which I mean ensuring that a voter can cast a reliably-counted
>   full-strength vote for Compromise over Worst, while still casting
>   one for Best over them both)
>2. Getting rid of the need for defensive strategy
>   (By which I mean ensuring that a majority can get what it wants,
>   including the defeat of a candida whom they want defeated, without
>   doing other than voting sincerely)
>3. Majority rule. Same as #2, above.
At the risk of throwing in an entire new set of variables and considerations,
I'd like the group to consider adding the following criteria, which are
designed to take into account the distorting factor that money spent in the
political process has on even the most PC (polynomially correct) election

1) Reducing the advantage of wealth -- defined as whether the system helps or
hurts candidates with more wealthy contributors

2) Increasing "breadth" -- defined as whether the system increases voter
participation (both at the ballot box and during the campaign itself)

3) Increasing the advantage of breadth -- defined as whether the system helps
or hurts candidates with larger numbers of supporters (regardless of their
financial capacity) 

These are among the criteria I've been using to evaluate campaign finance
reform proposals.  (I've got a longer list, if folks are interested.  I'd
also appreciate moer elegant names for them.)

In anticipation of the criticism that including such considerations into the
discussion is tantamount to arguing that certain interests should be favored
over other, I would make three quick points:

A. I leave it to the participants in this and other forums to decide whether
these wealth-oriented "values" are important or not.

B. In the real world, people pick and choose their electoral systems with
such criteria high on their list -- perhaps under different names, such as
"fairness" or, perjoratively, "class interests".

C. We're all good enough historians to know that the renowned democratic
theorists of the past took economic considerations into account in their
ultimate recommendations.   
-- K.D. Weinert

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