[EM] What is the ideal election method for sincere voters?

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sat Mar 3 22:13:35 PST 2007

At 10:52 PM 3/3/2007, Scott Ritchie wrote:
>On Sat, 2007-03-03 at 02:06 -0500, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> > And, please, explain to me why a method that will work well for
> > selecting pizzas, with sincere votes, will not work well selecting
> > political officers, similarly with sincere votes. If you think that.
> >
> > If we cannot agree on the best method with sincere votes, we are
> > highly unlikely to agree on the best method in the presence of
> > strategic voting, though I suppose it is possible....
>The answer for pizza selection should be fairly obvious - SOME form of
>proportional representation.  No one is stupid enough to insist on
>buying 10 pizzas of the exact same type for a large party.

Right. However, the example is intended to examine single-winner. For 
some reason, only one kind of pizza can be purchased. The case where 
multiple pizzas can be purchased is simpler to resolve, though still 

>It's interesting you bring up the pizza example, as it's one I so often
>like to use when describing voting systems.  Sometimes people have very
>strong preferences (say, vegetarian), and we let them have a veto over
>meat unless we can order more than one.  Sometimes people's favorite is
>very very bizarre (anchovies), but pepperoni is a good compromise.

Preference strength *matters* with pizzas. Why not with politicians?

>Importantly, though, just about everyone understands how proportional
>representation "works" for pizza selection with large groups - it simply
>doesn't matter what others are eating.  This isn't quite so for real
>elections; people care that extremists are in the parliament (even if
>they're only 1% of it), but they don't care that some weirdos are eating

My own opinion is that excluding extremists from assemblies increases 
and makes more dangerous their extremism. Anyone who can follow 
assembly rules, maintaining decorum, should be allowed in -- if they 
have sufficient support.

I've argued, similarly, that taking the vote from felons is harmful. 
If so many people are felons that it affects elections, perhaps there 
is something wrong with the laws! Now, there are procedural problems 
that could justify not allowing incarcerated felons to vote, though 
even that is problematic to me.

It's obvious that pizzas are different from politicians. Fewer 
letters in the food name, for example. :-)

The point is about the selection process, not about the object being 
selected. Election methods are about groups of people, particularly 
groups large enough that informal deliberation is not practical, 
making choices, and I think we err when we focus exclusively on 
political elections. Certainly political elections have some unique 
characteristics, but so do other choices.

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