Voting Rules for

Different uses for voting need different types of voting.

Voting rules for setting policies; Condorcet rules

Other Policy Rules

Setting policies with Condorcet rules, chapter contents
The chapter about one-winner elections explains a dozen rules. 
This page adds,
Declaired Strategy Voting
Johnsrud Matrix
Market-Based Policy Setting
Insurance premiums & payouts
Demand Revealing Device


Consensus may be essential to under-staffed volunteer organizations because a volunteer who feels ignored is likely to leave. Advocates say "Each person has a piece of the truth." Site B., Site A..

Is consensus inclusive, well-centered and decisive? Usually it is.
    But it may not feel inclusive to shy or timid people, busy, easy-going or inarticulate people. Like other methods, it can create wide differences in power based on a person's popularity and verbal skills.
    It is hard to be well centered when manipulated by a “squeaky wheel”, a person who persistently demands more than one share of attention.
    It sometimes seems interminable and indecisive. On the other hand, what could be less decisive than a vote which leaves opponents actively working to undermine and reverse the result? And what could be more interminable than an result which gets reversed time after time?
    Some issues allow decisions that are co-operative, not consensual nor adversarial: Multi-winner funding gives fair shares of power; yet it does not let anyone block action. This site also shows new ways to elect councils and enact policies that are inclusive, well-centered and decisive.

Declared Strategy Voting

The abstract by DSV developer Lorrie Cranor states: “DSV is a novel group decision-making procedure in which preference is specified using voting strategies, thus allowing voters to cast ballots that are both effective and expressive. For a simple illustration, consider the dilemma faced by Perot supporters in the 1992 U.S. Presidential election: vote honestly (expressively) and waste their votes, or vote effectively (for a second choice) and forfeit the opportunity to express their true preferences. In a DSV election voters indicate their (honest) preference for each candidate on a numeric scale. The optimal strategy is then generated for each voter based on their expressed preferences and the preferences of the other voters. So, if it turns out that Perot really has a decent chance of winning, voters who give Perot their highest rating will have their votes cast for Perot. But if it turns out that Perot has a slim chance of winning, these voters might have their vote cast for a second choice, depending on how highly they rated the other candidates. While DSV could certainly be applied to national elections as in this example, it has more likely application in other types of decision-making situations where a group must choose between many alternatives. It also may be useful to policy-makers who use survey data to guide their decisions.” Site

Johnsrud matrix

This rule was derived from war game simulations which model competing forces as a matrix of vectors. A candidate gets points for each rival she beats, more points for besting a strong rival, fewer for defeating a weak one who wins few comparisons. Site

Market-Based Policy Setting

Some economists think money should decide everything. Their voting schemes give power in proportion to "willingness to pay". In economic theory, this leads to economic efficiency.

But in practice it leads to oligarchy, which is economically inefficient and ethically corrupt. An oligarchy lets those who control most of the discretionary wealth, control most of the group's decisions, which helps them get more wealth. Resources that do not command wealth, including poor people, are badly used.

Together with the availability of money, the need for money also affects the willingness to pay and varies from person to person even at communes, where everyone has the same income. One person may need to buy health care or visit a relative. We cannot assume that even one individual has a constant utility for money. Someone may have an emergency which uses up savings -- leaving them with no political power so decisions will be taken with no measure of their concerns or needs.

In theory market rules are less coercive than majority rule because winners pay only what they agreed to pay and losers may receive compensation. But an interest group that is repeatedly threatened by legislation might have to pay repeatedly to protect itself.

Bidding rules to make political decisions by market methods give a vote to every dollar rather than a vote to every voter.


Some rules for a political market let voters buy insurance against policy options they don't like. The option with the smallest payout wins. The government collects insurance payments from all voters, then pays the losers' claims. Losers get paid enough to compensate for the new policy and winners pay what they felt they would gain.

    Demand-Revealing Process

The best-known market-based voting rule is the demand-revealing process published in 1976 by Tideman and Tullock. A voter decides how much each alternative (policy, service, tax or project) is worth to his future and writes those amounts on his ballot, thereby offering to pay the amount written beside whichever one wins. The winner is the alternative with the most money offered from all voters.

How to deter him from offering more than he sincerely thinks an alternative is worth? If removing his offers changes the winner from A to B, he must pay a tax equal to the amount by which B now beats A. That is the utility value other voters lost because his vote pushed the decision to A.

The voter's tax cannot exceed his offer for the winner. In small groups, his tax usually will be substantially less than his offer. In large groups, he is likely to pay no tax because the margin of victory is much larger than any one voter's offer.

This tax must be wasted or given to a politically neutral expense to avoid adding value to paying the tax for some voters or subtracting value for other voters.


Critics say the tax might not give many voters economic and political pains big enough and often enough to make its threat seem real.

The rules for voters might prevent a one from offering more money on a series of decisions than he has credit to pay, even though he is very unlikely to win them all and pay his full offer on each. Such a rule would limit poor voters severely.

To avoid the unequal need for money, a rule can give each voter a number of points to use for paying taxes. But artificial points do not measure the real market values of alternative policies. So the voting rule loses its primary benefit.

Hours of community service is another way to try for political equality. But this would disenfranchise lawyers and doctors who work long hours or poor people who work two jobs. The idle poor and the idle rich would rule.

The system easily could lead to a minority surprise by a small group using all its money or points to seize control of one issue.

Daring conspirators could defeat the rule by making huge offers which would give their favorite an enormous margin of victory, far greater than any one offer — if their rivals don't use the same strategy.

The insurance and demand-revealing methods are not adapted to use by representatives. So they require direct democracy and its inherent costs in days of study and calculation by all voters.

Bargaining systems which require "near unanimity", become unworkable in large groups with some self-interested voters because, “[I]ndividuals holding out for more favorable treatment could be expected to block almost all action.” T. Nicolaus Tideman, " Voting and the Revelation of Preferences for Public Activities"

The bargaining system by Ferejohn, Forsythe and Noll (1979) reduces the costs of bargaining but works only for discrete, semi-public goods from which some of the public can be excluded. Only those willing to pay are allowed to control and use the public good -- even if there is little or added cost for letting others enjoy it.

Community groups often weigh an individual's vote (or voice) based on 1) contributions sacrificed to the group and 2) requested influence tradeoffs which may result from 3) bargains with other voters. Elements of those principles appear in some formal voting rules: 1) demand revealing process, 2) influence points, and 3) bargaining systems.

A super majority rule is often used for changing an organization's by-laws (or a government's constitution) but not for detailed policies. That's because the by-laws set the ground rules for making all other decisions, so changing that changes the basis under which people joined the organization.

A multi-candidate decision cannot require winning 2/3 over each rival because some rivals may be very similar. But a winner must get 2/3 over the status quo. Condorcet and IRV let us compare the overall winner with the status quo in that way. Approval, Borda and the other methods here cannot.

One country, Switzerland, and many organizations give voters the power to block some legislative decisions, often involving increased taxes or dues. The vote to override usually requires only a majority but could require two-thirds of the electorate. (It is worth noting that Swiss voters choose to pay for a high-quality government.)

The chapter on electing a central chairperson has sections pertinent to all one-winner elections. You might want to review ballots and strategies.  

Stability is not rigidity

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