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Making Multicandidate Elections More Democratic

Making Multicandidate Elections More Democratic

Samuel Merrill
Copyright Date: 1988
Pages: 170
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7ztn0d
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    Making Multicandidate Elections More Democratic
    Book Description:

    This book addresses a significant area of applied social-choice theory--the evaluation of voting procedures designed to select a single winner from a field of three or more candidates. Such procedures can differ strikingly in the election outcomes they produce, the opportunities for manipulation that they create, and the nature of the candidates--centrist or extremist--whom they advantage. The author uses computer simulations based on models of voting behavior and reconstructions of historical elections to assess the likelihood that each multicandidate voting system meets political objectives.

    Alternative procedures abound: the single-vote plurality method, ubiquitous in the United States, Canada, and Britain; runoff, used in certain primaries; the Borda count, based on rank scores submitted by each voter; approval voting, which permits each voter to support several candidates equally; and the Hare system of successive eliminations, to name a few. This work concludes that single-vote plurality is most often at odds with the majoritarian principle of Condorcet. Those methods most likely to choose the Condorcet candidate under sincere voting are generally the most vulnerable to manipulation. Approval voting and the Hare and runoff methods emerge from the analyses as the most reliable.

    Originally published in 1988.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5950-4
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. LIST OF FIGURES
    (pp. xi-xii)
  4. LIST OF TABLES
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  5. PREFACE
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  6. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. xix-2)
  7. 1 MULTICANDIDATE ELECTIONS: CHOOSING A WINNER
    (pp. 3-14)

    The votes for U.S. House majority leader by the 1976 Democratic caucus had been counted. Representative Jim Wright—to the surprise of many, perhaps to Wright himself—had cleared the last hurdle by the barest of margins to become, as it turned out, the new majority leader for the next decade and eventually the speaker of the House of Representatives.

    The electoral process by which Wright wound his way to leadership says much about the effect of rules on the outcome of elections. In the United States, the top congressional leaders are chosen by a procedure almost unique in U.S....

  8. 2 CONDORCET EFFICIENCY
    (pp. 15-29)

    No criterion for evaluating a multicandidate voting procedure appears more pervasive than Condorcet’s. This criterion, as we have seen, requires that if there is a candidate who can defeat each of the others in pairwise contests (i.e., is preferred by a majority to each), that candidate should be chosen as the winner. Such a candidate, when one exists, is known as the Condorcet candidate.

    For example, suppose there are three candidates A, B, and C, and seven voters with preference orders as shown.

    2 voters 3 voters 2 voters

    A C B

    B A A

    C B C

    Since A...

  9. 3 SOCIAL-UTILITY EFFICIENCY
    (pp. 30-37)

    A second measure of the tendency of an electoral system to reflect the collective values of the electorate attempts to assess the intensity of support of candidates by the voters. Under the Condorcet criterion, two candidates are compared on the basis of the relative number of voters who prefer each to the other. This criterion, however, ignores the intensity of those preferences. Although strength of preference is in most cases not revealed by votes cast and is difficult to ascertain from actual voters, that is not to say that such intensities do not exist in the minds of the voters....

  10. 4 THE EFFECT OF ALTERNATIVE SPATIAL MODELS ON CONDORCET AND SOCIAL-UTILITY EFFICIENCY
    (pp. 38-46)

    The assumptions for the spatial models in chapters 2 and 3 were necessarily simplistic. In this chapter, I investigate through further simulations a number of variations in these assumptions and their effects on Condorcet and social-utility efficiency. The variations involve alternative spatial distributions of the voters and candidates, the introduction of voters’ perceptual uncertainty concerning candidates’ positions, alternative utility functions, and a restriction on candidate configuration. The results are taken from Merrill (1985). Because of the limited number of simulations that could be performed, the analysis for some of these variations may be more suggestive than definitive.

    Since a single...

  11. 5 STRATEGIC VOTING UNDER PLURALITY ELECTORAL SYSTEMS: DECISIONS UNDER UNCERTAINTY AND UNDER RISK
    (pp. 47-63)

    In any electoral system, many voters intuitively try to take into account expected candidate strengths as well as their own preferences in determining how to vote. This phenomenon is perhaps best known in the case of single-vote plurality, where it may be optimal for a voter to vote for a second or third choice if that candidate is perceived as having a better chance of winning. This strategy—if exercised by many voters—leads to the desertion of trailing candidates and no doubt explains much of the drop in popular vote support for George Wallace in the 1972 U.S. presidential...

  12. 6 STRATEGIC VOTING AND ITS EFFECTS ON CONDORCET EFFICIENCY
    (pp. 64-78)

    Information gathered through polls or other sources fuels strategic voting in a variety of ways, depending on the electoral procedure in use. This chapter investigates such strategies and their impact on Condorcet efficiency for each of the voting systems introduced in chapter 1. The results suggest a major reassessment of the relative merits of these procedures in meeting the Condorcet criterion.

    Three sets of assumptions are considered: (1) those suggested by Brams (1982, 1983) for single-vote plurality and for approval voting and natural analogues of these assumptions for other systems, (2) strategic voting based on the proportions of votes received...

  13. 7 STRATEGIC VOTING FOR APPROVAL BALLOTING UNDER ALTERNATIVE DECISION RULES
    (pp. 79-88)

    The increased flexibility offered by approval voting suggests that a more differentiated view of sincerity would be useful in assessing the strategic options available. In the following sections we introduce such a perspective and use it to study not only the usual approval voting system (with the plurality decision rule), but also approval balloting coupled with alternative decision rules, especially two-stage rules. Much of this chapter is based on the work of Merrill and Nagel (1987).

    Under approval balloting, the voter must decide not only for whom to vote but also for how many candidates to vote. The five levels...

  14. 8 EMPIRICAL ESTIMATES FOR SINGLE-VOTE PLURALITY AND APPROVAL VOTING
    (pp. 89-95)

    Two of the major claims put forward by advocates of approval voting are that it tends to select the strongest candidate and that it reduces the incentives for infighting between candidates. Insofar as these arguments are valid, each is particularly pertinent to primary elections within a party.

    In a primary election it is desirable to nominate a candidate with broad support who can serve as a viable standard bearer in the general election. Candidates who share the same constituency within a party can share support rather than fight each other for it, thus averting internal party rancor (see Kellett and...

  15. 9 OTHER CRITERIA FOR ASSESSING VOTING SYSTEMS
    (pp. 96-103)

    This chapter evaluates the seven voting procedures introduced in chapter 1 for each of the criteria embodied in Arrow’s axioms. Furthermore, several systems are shown to have the property of minimality, i.e., they offer, with trivial exceptions, no strategies that cannot be optimal for any voter.

    Section 9.2 discusses Arrow’s conditions, with emphasis on the criteria of monotonicity and independence of irrelevant alternatives. In section 9.3, I demonstrate that the three plurality voting systems are all minimal and, in fact, two of them—single-vote plurality and approval voting—permit exactly the residual strategies left when nonoptimal strategies are discarded from...

  16. 10 CONCLUSIONS
    (pp. 104-108)

    The concept of majoritarian rule seems clear in principle; to implement it when there are three or more candidates is not. The logical difficulties of specifying a winner—first observed two centuries ago by Condorcet—are still with us and, in light of Arrow’s theorem, will not go away. Still, the exigencies of practical social choice demand that winners be chosen from multicandidate elections. From the richness of electoral procedures that have been proposed, one must choose schemes suited to specific needs, evaluating each in turn against appropriate criteria.

    We have considered the choice of the Condorcet candidate as the...

  17. APPENDIX A. A STATISTICAL MODEL FOR CONDORCET EFFICIENCY
    (pp. 109-113)
  18. APPENDIX B. JUSTIFICATION OF THE SHEPSLE UTILITY FUNCTION
    (pp. 114-116)
  19. APPENDIX C. PROOFS OF THEOREMS 5.1 AND 5.2
    (pp. 117-120)
  20. APPENDIX D. SIMULATION RESULTS FOR APPROVAL BALLOTING WITH ALTERNATIVE DECISION RULES
    (pp. 121-124)
  21. APPENDIX E. CHARACTERIZATION OF THE POTENTIALLY UNIQUELY OPTIMAL STRATEGIES AS EXTREME POINTS OF THE PERMISSIBLE SET OF STRATEGIES
    (pp. 125-129)
  22. APPENDIX F. DERIVATION OF THE STANDARD-SCORE VOTING SYSTEM
    (pp. 130-132)
  23. GLOSSARY
    (pp. 133-138)
  24. BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 139-144)
  25. INDEX
    (pp. 145-149)
  26. Back Matter
    (pp. 150-150)