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Going from theory to practice: the mixed success of approval voting

  • Steven Brams

    ()

  • Peter Fishburn

    ()

Approval voting (AV) is a voting system in which voters can vote for, or approve of, as many candidates as they like in multicandidate elections. In 1987 and 1988, four scientific and engineering societies, collectively comprising several hundred thousand members, used AV for the first time. Since then, about half a dozen other societies have adopted AV. Usually its adoption was seriously debated, but other times pragmatic or political considerations proved decisive in its selection. While AV has an ancient pedigree, its recent history is the focus of this paper. Ballot data from some of the societies that adopted AV are used to compare theoretical results with experience, including the nature of voting under AV and the kinds of candidates that are elected. Although the use of AV is generally considered to have been successful in the societies-living up to the rhetoric of its proponents-AV has been a controversial reform. AV is not currently used in any public elections, despite efforts to institute it, so its success should be judged as mixed. The chief reason for its nonadoption in public elections, and by some societies, seems to be a lack of key "insider" support.

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File URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10.1007/s00355-005-0013-y
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Article provided by Springer in its journal Social Choice and Welfare.

Volume (Year): 25 (2005)
Issue (Month): 2 (December)
Pages: 457-474

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Handle: RePEc:spr:sochwe:v:25:y:2005:i:2:p:457-474
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  1. Brams, Steven J., 1994. "Voting procedures," Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, in: R.J. Aumann & S. Hart (ed.), Handbook of Game Theory with Economic Applications, edition 1, volume 2, chapter 30, pages 1055-1089 Elsevier.
  2. anonymous, 1987. "Amendment June 12, 1987," Federal Reserve Bulletin, Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve System (U.S.), issue Aug, pages 656, 659-66.
  3. Michel Regenwetter & Bernard Grofman, 1998. "Approval Voting, Borda Winners, and Condorcet Winners: Evidence from Seven Elections," Management Science, INFORMS, vol. 44(4), pages 520-533, April.
  4. Brams, Steven J., 1990. "Constrained Approval Voting: A Voting System To Elect A Governing Board," Working Papers 90-28, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
  5. Robert J. Weber, 1995. "Approval Voting," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 9(1), pages 39-49, Winter.
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