[Election-Methods] Simple two candidate election

Ian Fellows ifellows at ucsd.edu
Thu Dec 20 13:43:40 PST 2007

I'm not aware of much in the way of serious opposition to the two-party
majority vote. in fact any reasonable methodology should reduce to the
majority vote when there are two candidates. The only method (to my
knowledge) that doesn't do this is range voting. www.rangevoting.org. Range
voting reduces to something similar to what you are saying. The problem lies
in giving numerical value to something as intangible as "satisfaction." How
do I measure my satisfaction relative to yours? Also, regardless of strongly
I feel (perhaps I only have a weak preference for one candidate),
strategically, I should give the maximum rating to the candidate I like to
maximize my happiness. And could this even be called strategic voting,
because there is no universal yardstick of happiness? Perhaps my weak
preference is comparable to your strong preference.

Ian Fellows
University of California, San Diego

p.s. The arguments on rangevoting.org are pretty fast and loose

-----Original Message-----
From: election-methods-bounces at lists.electorama.com
[mailto:election-methods-bounces at lists.electorama.com]On Behalf Of rob
Sent: Thursday, December 20, 2007 10:59 AM
To: election-methods at electorama.com
Subject: [Election-Methods] Simple two candidate election

My understanding has been that in a simple two candidate election,
there isn't any need for alternative election methods, and all the
issues that condorcet/approval/range etc attempt to solve simply
disappear.  A plain old majority vote is "perfect", as long as there
really are only two candidates.  There is no conflict between strategy
vs. sincerity, and there is a single Nash equilibrium -- which is
simply that everyone picks the candidate they prefer.

Is this controversial?  For instance, could a two candidate election
be improved by, say, collecting information about how *much* each
voter likes or dislikes the candidates in question?  Assuming at least
some honest voters, this approach might be able to improve the
"maximum net tangible utility" ("tangible" meaning we are only
counting the happiness with the results themselves, and ignoring such
less-measurable utility such as "feeling of fairness" or "elimination
of resentment" or "long term satisfaction with the election process

 My own opinion has always been that the (perceived?) fairness of
"everyone's vote counts the same" outweighs any desire for "maximum
net tangible utility."  I'd even go so far as to say that this would
be true even if we knew all votes were honest (say we put everyone on
a perfectly accurate lie detector).

So, I am quite happy with plain old majority vote for a two candidate
election.  But I am encountering those who seem to disagree with this,
and who don't seem to have the same concept of "fairness" as I do.
I'm curious if people here see this as a legitimately controversial


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