[EM] Real-world effects

rob brown rob at karmatics.com
Sun Nov 27 12:44:30 PST 2005

One of the things I am trying to research now -- without much success -- is
what are the real world effects of various election methods, or
specifically, of failures to meet various criteria of election methods.  My
searches have not turned much up on the web, other than mentions of
Duvergers law (plurality voting causes people to cluster into opposing
strategic clusters, a.k.a. parties).  I am looking for something more than
"sometimes it elects a candidate that could be considered wrong, when looked
at from a certain point of view".

One of the things that came up on the list a few days ago inspired an
off-list discussion where we questioned whether certain "failures to meet
criteria" might, in the real world, actually have positive results.  (as
heretical as it may seem to say so)  Here is an example:

Let's say that we decide that parties (i.e. clustering of people into
ideological groups so as to have strategic advantage) are not a good thing,
as they limit our choices and drive people into opposition and conflict.
Any system which is susceptible to vote splitting, then, is bad because it
will force people into such clusters.  However, there are other reasons --
probably less straightforward to mathematically analyze -- that people will
gain strategic advantage by forming such ideological clusters, such as
pooling advertising money to promote a single candidate, as opposed to
having many similar candidates competing for people's attentions while
dividing the money of contributors who have similar ideology.

What if an election method actively counteracted this effect?  For instance,
it was mentioned recently that a certain method would give a (small?)
strategic advantage to clone candidates  This could be considered the
opposite of vote splitting.  The real world effect it might have would be to
discourage the removal of similar candidates, balancing out the effect I
described above and resulting in even less partisanship.

In any case, I'd think a discussion of this sort of thing -- sort of a "big
picture view" of why we care about the various things we are trying to
achieve (or avoid) with election reform -- might better help put things in
perspective and prioritize things.

Is there a resource out there that discusses this stuff in an accessible way
that I haven't found?

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