[Election-Methods] Simple two candidate election

Juho juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Dec 23 10:49:50 PST 2007

On Dec 23, 2007, at 3:39 , rob brown wrote:

> Say you've got an election for two candidates.

> Let's further assume that there are a large enough number of voters  
> that we can assume that most don't know one another.  This isn't a  
> pizza party or a local club, but a large scale vote.  Also assume  
> that while some people are somewhat on the fence, a lot of others  
> have very strong feelings about it on one side or the other.  And  
> assume anyone is welcome to abstain from voting.
> So once again, the question is this:
> In this case, do you consider a majority vote optimum?

The election seems to be a typical competitive election where people  
want to win or defend what they think is best for them or for some  
others or for all.

Under these typical circumstances majority based methods may well be  
the recommended systems to use. I wouldn't say that majority vote is  
"the optimum". It may well be that the minority favourite (that may  
have e.g. better average utility) would be the ideal alternative to  

Sometimes it may also be optimal (from one point of view) to elect  
the majority favourite instead of the the one with best utility -  
just to respect the majority opinion and to avoid further fighting  
that could occur if the best utility alternative would be chosen.

Majority vote is a good and well working tool (works in competitive  
and strategic environments too) if one wants to give one equal vote  
to everyone (a rather good democratic principle).

Now bak to the question. Majority vote may often not yield the  
optimum outcome (from some chosen high level theoretical viewpoint)  
but majority vote may well be considered to be the best practical  
method for competitive two candidate elections.


P.S. There are also circumstances where methods like Range work well,  
but that is not typical e.g. in the competitive political  
environment. One could try to give also an opportunity to the  
alternative with best average utility to win. One could e.g. first  
arrange a Range vote and after that a majority vote between the  
majority winner of the first election and the utility winner (if they  
differ). At the second round the majority would thus be offered an  
opportunity to donate the victory to the best (Range style) utility  
alternative (now they know how popular that alternative is). In many  
circumstances also the informative Range votes could however be  
strategic (many voters would feel no need to weaken the position of  
their favourite and thereby invite others to pick the (Range style)  
utility winner at the second round).

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