Voting Rules for
 Accurate
Democracy

Different uses for voting need different types of voting.

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One-Winner Elections

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Elect a central chairperson by the pairwise Condorcet method.

Humor 2: Marlene Dietrich said, “I love men who try to impress me; they make me laugh.”
Who courted laughter with the impressive boast “Power is the ultimate aphrodisiac.”
1) Mahatma Gandhi, 2) Abe Lincoln, 3) Henry Kissinger, 4) Adolf Hitler ?

Old voting rules splinter an interest group that has more than one candidate — greatly reducing the chance that any of those candidates can win. Newer rules organize data from ballots to find the broad interest groups.

Democracy's Tragedies

Any president elected with a plurality but not a clear majority has a weak mandate to set and enforce policies.  He or she is vulnerable to attacks from rival factions, most significantly those who do not like democracy.

Abraham Lincoln became U.S. president in 1860 with less than 40% of the vote.  This gave secessionists a powerful argument to deny his authority — hastening the Civil War.

Salvador Allende became president of Chile in 1970 with 36% of the vote.  That was followed in 1973 by a right-wing coup and 17 years of brutal military dictatorship.

 
Bill Clinton's 1992 victory with 43% of the vote was attacked by Republicans.  Senator Bob Dole pledged to filibuster all major Democratic legislation on behalf of the 57% who voted “against” Clinton.

Terrible tragedies in democracy's history often were sparked by the plurality rule.  Every day it hurts millions of people through democracy's smaller disasters.

Research finds the antiquated plurality rule is the worst rule for electing the most central candidate from three or more. (refs C, M, L

A Democratic Solution


Better tally methods have been used for over a century, although those tallies were slow, costly and rare before computers.  Marking a ballot is easy:

Simply rank the candidates.

The solution to most undemocratic tragedies is as easy as 1, 2, 3; marking first choice, second choice, third choice.  Tha gives the vote counters enough information to use the Condorcet rule.  (Pronounced "Con door say".)

Condorcet's Rule

Condorcet's rule elects the one candidate who can top each of the others.  The candidate must win a series of one-against-one contests.
 
The sports analogy for a Condorcet tally is a “round-robin tournament.”  A competitor has one contest against each rival.  If she wins all of her tests, she wins the tournament.

Each voting test sorts all of of the ballots into two piles.  If you rank candidate J higher than D, your ballot goes to J.  The candidate with the most ballots wins that test.  If a candidate wins all of her tests, she is the Condorcet winner.

If most voters prefer (rank) J over D, J wins that contest.  Each ballot's rank of J relative to D concerns us; the number of first-rank votes is not important.

Linked pages will show tallies through drawings, or tables for the visually or mathematically inclined.  This non-technical page will look at the merits of electing the Condorcet winner.

Merits of Condorcet's Rule    

Condorcet's rule is the best way of finding the most-central candidate.  The candidate with opinions favored by the most central voter usually tops any other candidate by a clear majority (the central voter plus all voters on one side).

For example, Representative Sanders [Livingstone, Lafontaine] out ranks Clinton [Blair, Schröder] on ballots from progressive voters, so for a Condorcet win, Clinton would have to appeal to centrists and conservatives -- even though she cannot hope to be the first choice for conservative voters. 
Conservatives like Bush [Major, Kohl] out rank Clinton on conservatives' ballots, so for a Condorcet victory, Clinton must appeal to centrists and progressives.

A candidate must compete across the political spectrum -- unlike plurality winners, who need and get no votes from one side.  Every voter can rank her relative to other candidates.  So under Condorcet's rule all voters are "obtainable" and valuable.  Thus a rep elected by this rule must be concerned with helping a very broad constituency.  This motivation is essential for the swing rep(s) in an ensemble council.

If she appeals only to centrists, the moderate and fringe voters on all sides can give higher ranks, and the election, to someone whose appeal is wider.

Wide appeal and policy positions close to the median voter's make this the most appropriate candidate to moderate debates.

A group with several nominees does not splinter.  Its members may rank all of their nominees above other candidates.  Then each nominee gets all of that group's ballots when tested one against one with an outsider.

Finally, if another rule picks a different winner, the Condorcet winner ranks higher on most ballots and would win a majority, one against one.

There is usually one who can top all others.  But sometimes no one passes all of her pairwise tests.  Such ties can be broken by many rules including the Instant Runoff rule described in a page below.

Critics charge that the Condorcet rule might elect politicians whose vagueness or indecision offends nobody.  That might happen after a negative, polarizing campaign which leads some voters to rank their party's major rivals below unknown candidates. Obviously those critics are exasperated by indecision and afraid of the unknown, but so are many voters.  A democrat must assist and then give credit to the judgements of voters.

Central leaders tend to be pragmatists.  Leaders further from the center are more doctrinaire and intolerant -- with sometimes disastrous consequences.  Constructive leaders of the 21st Century will be challenged to raise tolerance of religions and cultures.

In the Korean example, progressive voters could have ranked the militarist candidate below both progressive candidates.  They were nearly tied in first-choice votes (28% to 27%).  So the Condorcet winner probably would have been the progressive preferred by the conservative voters.  That was the most central candidate.  The president would have had majority support over each rival.

(Note: If a chief executive is given the power to veto legislation, then her election should be closely related to that of the legislature.  Otherwise their disagreements may block essential government action.  A council elected by off-center rules usually matches best with an executive elected by Instant Runoff Voting.  A well-centered ensemble council matches an executive elected by Condorcet's rule.)

The down arrow links to a page about the preference ballots that let voters rank many candidates.  But before going deeper, please click the right arrow Electing reps to read an overview of multi-winner rules.  Later pages on central majorities and policies will give more stories about off-center governments.

 
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Yes Sim Candidate 1YesSim Candidate 2 Yes

 

Answer: Did U.S. Secretary of State Kissinger really feel political power
was his sexist part?  If so, did presidential power make Nixon even sexier?

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Searching for more?  There are a score of pairwaise-tournament Condorcet-completion rules.

You will find rules named for their inventors such as Black, Coombs, Copeland, Dodgson , Kemeny, Nanson, Tideman, Schulze, and Schwartz.  You will also find rules named for a logic mechanism: beat path, minimax, or min max, and ranked pairs.  So a rule may have two common names.  And you will find names that express variations on these rules.  The voting glossary defines some of these.

Search Terms Adjectives
Nouns Condorcet Pairwise Tournament
Rule Condorcet rule Pairwise rule Tournament rule
System Condorcet system Pairwise system Tournament system
Method Condorcet method Pairwise method Tournament method
Procedure Condorcet procedure Pairwise procedure Tournament procedure
Tally Condorcet tally Pairwise tally Tournament tally
Voting Condorcet voting Pairwise voting Tournament voting
 

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