What about a meta election?

Markus Schulze schulze at sol.physik.tu-berlin.de
Fri Oct 2 08:57:49 PDT 1998

Dear Charles,

you wrote (02 Oct 1998):
> So the question becomes "Is there a way for
> a voter to give all this information and fill
> other requirements of an election, honesty, 
> secrecy, convenience etc. that argue so 
> strongly against written ballots and complex
> ones?
> I regard this as a very strong argument against
> this kind of system. Imagine the voter writing
> down 1, 2, 3, 4. Next to candidates names.
> If their are many candidates the voter will take
> a long time to vote. People will see the line
> and be disenfranchised by walking away. There
> will be few elected offices, a very undemocratic
> situation in and of itself.
> Votes will take a long time to count. This is 
> the strongest fraud magnet I know of. If these
> votes take three days to count the winner will
> be the biggest crook, a factor not in the math.

Cambridge (Massachusetts) uses the Single Transferable
Vote to elect the City Council and the School
Committee. Usually, there are about 20000 votes
and about 20 candidates for the 9 seats of the
City Council. It takes about 60 minutes to count
the votes and about 2 minutes to calculate the

To my opinion, this is appropriate.

> Counting votes will be a subjective process.
> The second strongest fraud magnet I know of.
> Since handwriting is distinctive you have
> compromised the secret ballot. This is especially
> true if some voters are trying to communicate,
> say by putting a loop on the number two. I've
> seen secret ballot accidently compromised by
> write in votes, this is not an imagined issue.

In Cambridge (Massachusetts), the voters don't
write "1", "2", "3", etc..

Behind every candidate, "1", "2", "3", etc. is
already written and the voter marks that preference,
that he wants to give to this candidate.

> On the basis of mathematics you have a better
> system than approval voting. But we don't live
> in mathematics. Out in the real world you have
> a fraud magnet that no one can ever live with.

Sometimes, I ask myself, why I have studied
mathematics. Whenever I try to apply mathematics,
I immediately get the answer, that the considered
problem is not a mathematical question, but
an economic resp. ecologic resp. political resp.
physical resp. chemical resp. subjective
resp. historical resp. medical resp. ethical

Sometimes, I ask myself, what is mathematics
good for if you can never apply it.

Markus Schulze

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