[EM] ignoring "strength of opinion"

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Wed Nov 30 16:11:09 PST 2005

> rob brown Sent: Wednesday, November 30, 2005 11:17 PM
> >From a purely utilitarian point of view (i.e. "greatest 
> happiness"), it makes a lot of sense to give more weight to 
> the opinions of those who feel more strongly.  But common 
> sense tells us why this is a bad idea.

By "common sense" I presume you mean, in the context of elections, that it is fundamentally undemocratic.  That
certainly offers an interesting perspective on the social choice approach to determining the best method to secure
democratic representation.

>  Intentionally 
> ignoring this information (or, more likely, not collecting it 
> in the first place) is the only thing that makes 
> sense....otherwise people who had any opinion whatsoever would 
> have an incentive to vote insincerely, saying they felt very 
> strongly so as to have the most impact on the outcome. 

I think this circle can be squared, if you normalise the responses so that each respondent contributes equally to the
determination of the result.  That is democratic ("one person, one vote") but still allows those who wish, to show the
relative strengths of the preferences they express.  Brian Meek, inventor of Meek STV, described such a system for
normalising weighted preferences in multi-winner elections.

James Gilmour

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list