‘The New Yorker’ looks at voting systems, from plurality to IRV to range voting

From a new, interesting piece in The New Yorker that reads like a few-page version of William Poundstone’s book “Gaming the Vote,” which is also worth reading (the full thing can be read here):

Why are the effects of an unfamiliar electoral system so hard to puzzle out in advance? One reason is that political parties will change their campaign strategies, and voters the way they vote, to adapt to the new rules, and such variables put us in the realm of behavior and culture. Meanwhile, the technical debate about electoral systems generally takes place in a vacuum from which voters’ capriciousness and local circumstances have been pumped out. Although almost any alternative voting scheme now on offer is likely to be better than first past the post, it’s unrealistic to think that one voting method would work equally well for, say, the legislature of a young African republic, the Presidency of an island in Oceania, the school board of a New England town, and the assembly of a country still scarred by civil war. If winner takes all is a poor electoral system, one size fits all is a poor way to pick its replacements.

3 thoughts on “‘The New Yorker’ looks at voting systems, from plurality to IRV to range voting

  1. pete healey

    That’s fine as far as it goes. “One size fits all” is a poor guide. Our concept for New York isn’t a complete aboition of single-member districts and isn’t fully proportional (at least at first). It’s a transitional system that would have the state legislature elected half from single-member districts and half by party-line proportional vote. Each voter enters the booth with two votes, one for his/her local rep and the other for the party he/she wishes to represent him/her in the legislature. Akin to the German system.

  2. dlw

    Pete is solid that thinking we can all agree on the holy grail of the best election rule to use is unhelpful and that the use of both single-seated and multi-seated elections (at least initially more so in state elections) is what is most crucial.

    Our diffs lie in how I’m cool with the current bicameral state legislatures and want to use a simplified form of PR that I call American Proportional Representation that has only 3 seats and one candidate per party and one vote per voter, but with 3 or 2 winners…

    I think such a simplified form of PR would be easier to get adopted in the US sooner and could prove to be a gateway election reform leading to the sort of PR stuff that pete wants.

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