[EM] Interest in voting theory

Steve Barney barnes992001 at yahoo.com
Tue Jan 29 11:05:54 PST 2002


	Another part of the problem (the apparent lack of interest in voting theory)
may be the lack of consensus among those who do know something about voting
theory as to what is better than the plurality method, or what is best. Also, 
Arrow’s Theorem is often misinterpreted as proof that the choice of a voting
procedure is completely arbitrary. I have actually heard a teacher state, in
class, that such is the conclusion to be drawn from Tannenbaum and Arnold’s
first chapter. These things can eliminate interest in the subject. That has
been my experience. All these things can make the whole subject seem to be a
colossal and pointless waste of time.
	Personally, I can tell you that the complete dismissal of the work of Donald
Saari, who is currently perhaps the world’s leading mathematician in this
subject, has decreased my interest. I know that Saari is doing all he can to
spread the word about this crisis of democratic procedure. He is always willing
to come and speak at campuses and what not, he is constantly doing seminars,
even organizing some, speaking at math conferences, etc. In spite of all that
effort, I see very little respect for Saari or his work. When Saari briefly
joined this list and answered some questions about his work, he was immediately
subjected to abuse and disrespect. What fools! If you want to disagree with
Saari, I want to see your mathematical proof. Hang on to your sour emotions.
	If I may make a suggestion, consider extending Donald Saari an invitation to
to come and speak at your campus. I organized such an event at my campus last
Spring, and I can tell you that he created a lot of interest in the subject.
One economics professor became deeply interested in the topic for the first
time, and is now working on a related paper for publication. One of the
governing bodies here immediately converted their plurality election procedure
into a Borda Count. Now, you may or may not, of course, agree that the BC is an
improvement over the plurality vote. At the very least, however, Saari
certainly commanded a lot of respect, created a lot of interest in the subject,
and even catalyzed some actual electoral reform locally.

Steve Barney

> Date: Mon, 28 Jan 2002 12:30:37 -0800 (PST)
> From: Forest Simmons <fsimmons at pcc.edu>
> To: election-methods-list at eskimo.com
> Subject: Re: [EM] Interesting use of Borda count
> On Fri, 25 Jan 2002, Steve Barney wrote in part:
> > 
> > Ironically, perhaps part of the problem is that the math department, or
> liberal
> > arts department, is using something like the plurality method to decide on
> > which textbooks to use. A better method, perhaps the Borda Count, might
> yield a
> > better result. Such departmental decision making is a frequent theme in
> Saari
> > books.
> > 
> > Steve Barney
> > 
> There are plenty of available texts; that's not the problem. Neither is
> the selection method the biggest problem.  The only real problem is that
> most math instructors know next to nothing about election methods.\
> Forest

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