[EM] request for reading matter

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Fri Jul 4 14:02:02 PDT 2003

John B. Hodges said:
> I've read a book by Donald Saari, CHAOTIC ELECTIONS, in which Saari
> finds unique virtues in the Borda Count and many weaknesses in
> Approval. I don't regard Borda Count as a realistic contender, both
> from vulnerability to manipulation, and from its requirement that all
> voters rank all candidates. Can y'all recommend some text that
> replies to Saari regarding Approval?

The problem with replying to Saari is that you first have to figure out
what Saari is interested in.  I have tried to read some of his books and I
still don't really get what his concerns are when analyzing election
methods.  He focuses a lot on "positional methods" and proves that, among
all "positional methods" (a family which includes Borda and plurality)
only Borda satisfies certain properties.  Whether these properties are at
all interesting and/or desirable for public elections is a different
matter entirely.  Since they lead to a bad recommendation I doubt I'd care
about his concerns, but I'm still not exactly sure what he is actually
concerned about.

> More generally, how did y'all learn what you know about this stuff?

_Approval Voting_ by Brams and Fishburn is good.  www.electionmethods.org
is good.  Searching the web for "Gibbard-Satterthwaite Theorem" is good. 
Saari actually presents an insightful proof of that theorem.  Look on the
web for "Banzhaf Power Index" for interesting discussion of the Electoral
College (either an abomination or a work of divine inspiration, depending
on whom you ask).

Alex Small

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