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Optimal Voting Rules


  • Peyton Young


Modern social choice theory, following Kenneth Arrow, treats voting as a method for aggregating diverse preferences and values. An earlier view, initiated by Marquis de Condorcet, is that voting is a method for aggregating information. Voters' opinions differ because they make errors of judgment; absent these errors they would all agree on the best choice. The goal is to design a voting rule that identifies the best choice with highest probability. This paper examines maximum likelihood estimation. Surprisingly, the optimal rule can also be axiomatized by variations of Arrow's axioms.

Suggested Citation

  • Peyton Young, 1995. "Optimal Voting Rules," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 51-64, Winter.
  • Handle: RePEc:aea:jecper:v:9:y:1995:i:1:p:51-64 Note: DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.1.51

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Young, H. P., 1974. "An axiomatization of Borda's rule," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 9(1), pages 43-52, September.
    2. Satterthwaite, Mark Allen, 1975. "Strategy-proofness and Arrow's conditions: Existence and correspondence theorems for voting procedures and social welfare functions," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 10(2), pages 187-217, April.
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    JEL classification:

    • D72 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Lobbying, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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