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A precise method for evaluating election schemes


  • Robert Bordley


A previously published paper evaluated election schemes under a wide variety of election circumstances. This paper improves upon the previous work by refining the measures used to rate the election schemes and increasing the statistical significance of those ratings. With these modifications, we can now draw some new conclusions: (a) In general circumstances, the Borda System outperforms the Copeland System which outperforms Approval which outperforms Majority Rule. (b) The Maximin Rule — strongly supported by Rawls's — turns out to be a reasonable election rule if the number of election alternatives is large relative to the number of voters. (c) With two exceptions, all our election systems performed quite well given a society with highly correlated utilities. (d) Given a polarized society, a serial dictatorship was better than every other election system except Borda. Perhaps even more importantly, we now have the possibility of conducting some cost/benefit analyses of different proposals for electoral changes. Copyright Martinus Nijhoff Publishers 1985

Suggested Citation

  • Robert Bordley, 1985. "A precise method for evaluating election schemes," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 46(2), pages 113-123, January.
  • Handle: RePEc:kap:pubcho:v:46:y:1985:i:2:p:113-123
    DOI: 10.1007/BF00179734

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Peter C. Fishburn, 1974. "Aspects of One-Stage Voting Rules," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 21(4), pages 422-427, December.
    2. Tullock, Gordon & Campbell, Colin D, 1970. "Computer Simulation of a Small Voting System," Economic Journal, Royal Economic Society, vol. 80(317), pages 97-104, March.
    3. John C. Harsanyi, 1955. "Cardinal Welfare, Individualistic Ethics, and Interpersonal Comparisons of Utility," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 63, pages 309-309.
    4. Brams, Steven J. & Fishburn, Peter C., 1978. "Approval Voting," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 72(3), pages 831-847, September.
    5. Bordley, Robert F., 1983. "A Pragmatic Method for Evaluating Election Schemes through Simulation," American Political Science Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 77(1), pages 123-141, March.
    6. William Ludwin, 1976. "Voting methods: A simulation," Public Choice, Springer, vol. 25(1), pages 19-30, March.
    7. Fishburn, Peter C., 1978. "Axioms for approval voting: Direct proof," Journal of Economic Theory, Elsevier, vol. 19(1), pages 180-185, October.
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    Cited by:

    1. Marcus Pivato, 2016. "Asymptotic utilitarianism in scoring rules," Social Choice and Welfare, Springer;The Society for Social Choice and Welfare, vol. 47(2), pages 431-458, August.

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