Measuring Preference Intensity

Mike Ositoff ntk at
Sat Jul 11 19:07:25 PDT 1998

Mike S. spoke of a fee that would measure intensity of preference.
Though I don't believe that such a fee would be appropriate for
public elections, or probably any other kind either, someone
claimed that preference intensity would be measured not by
charging for each vote or point, but by charging, after the election
count, for the amount by which a particular voter has affected the
election result. This idea was described, it seems to me, in
a small paperback entitled _Topics in the Theory of Voting_  Maybe
it was _Selected Topics in the Theory of Voting_.

I don't remember the details of how he suggested determining how
much a particular voter's role was in affecting the election, but
it probably had to do with how great the winner's margin of victory
was, and how many points you gave him. The smaller his margin was,
the greater share of the credit for his election is deserved by
each of his votes.

The author said that, in order for the price to be genuine, the
revenue from those fees must not be spent for the public good. It
should be burned or sunk in the ocean or something.

He also pointed out that, of course, it would have to be determined
(or estimated as well as possible) how much of a fee from a person
with one income compares to a certain fee from someone with a 
different income. There's probably no particular reason to expect
the relation to be linear with respect to the two people's income,
or even with respect to the fees. No reason why, for 2 people,
the ratio should be the same at different levels of subjective
price. Obviously that would be a very difficult function to evaluate
fairly, and that adds to the reasons why such fees shouldn't really
be considered.

Mike Ossipoff

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