Simplest Change - Greatest Impact: Voting system
Posted: 16 July 2006 02:50 AM   [ Ignore ]
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As a designer, and a person with a lot of interest in games and game theory, I spend a lot of time thinking about the simplest changes that have the greatest (positive) impact. (fun to think of the negative one too)

I like to apply these thoughts to everything: for example, in basketball - 1) allow teams to decide after a foul wether they want to shoot the free throw or take the ball out of bounds - seems inconsequencial enough, but think about the impact that would have at the end of games.

In politics, I see two changes that interest me as simple, yet would have enourmous (and positive) impacts.

1) Publicly financed elections (though I still have a degree of skepticism about wether a reasonably uncorruptable system of public financing could be devised - but some sstates are testing that now).

2) Approval Voting

I have no doubts that approval voting would be a positive change, and have a great impact. It would eliminate the problem of third candidate spoilers, eliminate the need for primaries, and likely reduce the lock incumbants hold in office. I think we’d also be more likely to have real debates . . . not like the ones we have right now where the two parties have negotiated rules have eliminated a true debate between candidates.  And this idea could be implemented cheaply and easily - considerable political resistance from the DNC-GOP aside.


Here’s an article from Science News that discusses the issue:


[quote:7c6105e4b6=“Science News”]Nearly all political elections in the United States are plurality votes, in which each voter selects a single candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. Yet voting theorists argue that plurality voting is one of the worst of all possible choices. "It’s a terrible system," says Alexander Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and director of research for the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. "Almost anything looks good compared to it."

Other voting systems abound. One alternative is the instant runoff, a procedure used in Australia and Ireland that eliminates candidates one at a time from rankings provided by each voter. Another is the Borda count, a point system devised by the 18th-century French mathematician Jean Charles Borda, which is now used to rank college football and basketball teams. A third is approval voting, used by several scientific societies, in which participants may cast votes for as many of the candidates as they choose.

Unlike these procedures, the plurality system looks only at a voter’s top choice. By ignoring how voters might rank the other candidates, it opens the floodgates to unsettling, paradoxical results.[/quote:7c6105e4b6]

Read the full article >>

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Posted: 16 July 2006 02:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Simplest Change - Greatest Impact: Voting system

As a designer, and a person with a lot of interest in games and game theory, I spend a lot of time thinking about the simplest changes that have the greatest (positive) impact. (fun to think of the negative one too)

I like to apply these thoughts to everything: for example, in basketball - 1) allow teams to decide after a foul wether they want to shoot the free throw or take the ball out of bounds - seems inconsequencial enough, but think about the impact that would have at the end of games.

In politics, I see two changes that interest me as simple, yet would have enourmous (and positive) impacts.

1) Publicly financed elections (though I still have a degree of skepticism about wether a reasonably uncorruptable system of public financing could be devised - but some sstates are testing that now).

2) Approval Voting

I have no doubts that approval voting would be a positive change, and have a great impact. It would eliminate the problem of third candidate spoilers, eliminate the need for primaries, and likely reduce the lock incumbants hold in office. I think we’d also be more likely to have real debates . . . not like the ones we have right now where the two parties have negotiated rules have eliminated a true debate between candidates.  And this idea could be implemented cheaply and easily - considerable political resistance from the DNC-GOP aside.


Here’s an article from Science News that discusses the issue:


[quote author=“Science News”]Nearly all political elections in the United States are plurality votes, in which each voter selects a single candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. Yet voting theorists argue that plurality voting is one of the worst of all possible choices. “It’s a terrible system,” says Alexander Tabarrok, an economist at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and director of research for the Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. “Almost anything looks good compared to it.”

Other voting systems abound. One alternative is the instant runoff, a procedure used in Australia and Ireland that eliminates candidates one at a time from rankings provided by each voter. Another is the Borda count, a point system devised by the 18th-century French mathematician Jean Charles Borda, which is now used to rank college football and basketball teams. A third is approval voting, used by several scientific societies, in which participants may cast votes for as many of the candidates as they choose.

Unlike these procedures, the plurality system looks only at a voter’s top choice. By ignoring how voters might rank the other candidates, it opens the floodgates to unsettling, paradoxical results.

Read the full article >>

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Posted: 16 July 2006 07:28 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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I think you’re on to something here, Riley; I’ve often thought the same thing. Public financing for elections is more the norm in Europe, and it does go some way towards reducing the huge amount of grey money sloshing around. But as you say, it does raise its own problems.

Approval voting could be interesting as well.

But I think we are all worldly enough to be aware that, in the words of Winston Churchill, democracy is the worst form of government ever invented, except for all the others.

That is, no matter what system of election we come up with, there will be corruption, there will be idiots chosen, there will be nastiness. Not to say we shouldn’t work to improve the system, but just to keep in mind that it will never be perfected ... because we’re starting with the flaws inherent in human nature ...

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