Unique Virtues of Plurality Rule: Generalizing May's Theorem
May's theorem famously shows that, in social decisions between two options, simple majority rule uniquely satisfies four appealing conditions. Although this result is often cited as a general argument for majority rule, it has never been extended beyond pairwise decisions. Here we generalize May's theorem to decisions between many options where voters each cast one vote. We show that, surprisingly, plurality rule uniquely satisfies May's conditions. Our result suggests a conditional defense of plurality rule: If a society's balloting procedure collects only a single vote from each voter, then plurality rule is the uniquely compelling procedure for electoral decisions. First version: 15 September 2004; this version version 22 December 2005.
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