[EM] req to Matthew: definitions of standards

Steve Eppley seppley at alumni.caltech.edu
Fri Mar 15 21:25:45 PST 1996

------- Forwarded Message Follows -------
Date:          Mon, 11 Mar 1996 09:55:21 -0800
From:          mshugart at weber.ucsd.edu (Matthew Shugart)

I don't have the time to think about this carefully.  But by simplicity I
just mean that the outcome can be seen easily as resulting from the votes
cast.  Nothing is more simple that "most votes takes all."  The LA Times
automatically refers to elections in any country that uses PR as being "a
complicated system of proportional representation," as if its readers would
be too stupid to figure out the equally simple concept that if you get 35%
of the vote you should get around 35% of the seats, rather than 100%.
I.e., there are lots of systems that meet the simplicity criterion, but
also lots that don't.  (Including the Slovenian system, which I like
nonetheless--no one criterion is all-dominant, after all.)  Ranked ballot
systems are all more complicated.  That alone doesn;t make them bad, it
just makes them less simple.

Decisiveness.  Hmmm.  I guess it means that a narrow victory by one party
(or candidate in single-winner races) in votes is translated into a bigger
victory in seats.  Obviously winner-take all rules are by definition
decisive, if this is what the criterion means.  For legislative races, to
me it means that an election with, say, a 48-46 victory (narrow) that
translates into a 52-48 seats outcome is decisive.  So would one that takes
35-34 and gives the 35% everything.  I.e., again, one criterion is not
all-dominant, as we wouldn't like that outcome, but it would be decisive,
and that--by itself--is probably a good thing.  But too much of a good

Sorry I'm glossing over a lot here.  Got to run...

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

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list