[Election-Methods] RE : Re: Simple two candidate election

Kevin Venzke stepjak at yahoo.fr
Fri Dec 21 09:03:53 PST 2007


--- Jan Kok <jan.kok.5y at gmail.com> a écrit :
> To restate the questions my own way: What do we _mean_ by "best",
> "fairest", "most democratic", etc. Is there some standard (criterion,
> figure of merit) that we can all agree upon for evaluating and
> comparing voting methods?
> It appears that, so far, there is no widely agreed-upon definition for
> "best", fairest", "most democratic", etc. that can be used for
> comparing voting methods. Nor is there some "gold standard" that we
> can all agree upon for comparing methods. I had thought there were
> only a couple commonly held standards, but I see from this thread that
> there are perhaps four or more:
> The Majority Criterion: roughly speaking, the majority of voters get
> their way.

I think it creates confusion to use the term "majority criterion" to refer
to the principle that suggests the majority criterion rather than the
criterion itself...

> Social Utility: pick the winner that maximally benefits society, or
> gives maximal overall voter satisfaction, etc.
> Equal voting power: all voters have equal influence over the election.
> Minimize or eliminate the need or temptation for voters to vote
> strategically.
> Some people (anarchists) reject the idea of voting entirely!
> Many thousands of words have been written to try to define those
> standards or criteria more precisely. I won't add to that verbiage
> here. I think it's not very productive to haggle over detailed
> definitions when we don't agree about which of those broad criteria is
> "best".
> Instead, I'll say a few words to promote my view that Social Utility /
> Overall Voter Satisfaction / "Maximum Net Tangible Utility" (I like it
> :-) is the "best" standard.

I would say that when Range supporters and others argue about the outcome
of a two-candidate election, this has little to do with what is the "best
standard." It's usually a technical discussion about voter incentives.

The notion that you can simply add up ratings to estimate social utility
isn't a "standard" at all, it's just one approach to achieving the standard
of maximizing social utility.

Those who favor majoritarianism don't necessarily have a different "best
standard." They could disagree with the Range supporter on the
two-candidate scenario because they feel the Range approach will degenerate
into something worse, according to the Range advocates' own standard, than
would be provided by a majoritarian approach.

Other standards can as easily be seen as measures to try to maximize social
utility. A majoritarian election method invites less strategy. Less
strategy means better information. I'm not sure what you mean by "equal
influence," but even random ballot could be seen to aim to maximize utility
or at least distribute it more evenly, over time.

Kevin Venzke

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