Monday, January 07, 2008

Range Voting

I just got around to reading a very informative interview with William Poundstone on voting systems. I still have a lot to learn on this subject (as some have pointed out previously), which may account for my finding the interviewer's style a bit erratic; it was an excellent read otherwise.

Of particular interest to me was the discussion concerning small political parties: in addition to being the fairest voting system - according to a study by mathematician Warren Smith that is referenced throughout the interview - the range voting system also benefits small political parties. The idea is that by assigning each candidate a value in a range (say, from 1 to 10), voters address the 'spoiler effect', or the splitting of votes amongst similar candidates, such that a candidate in clear opposition to them wins the election with less overall support: under a range voting system, voters would be able to assign similar values to similar candidates, or to their favourite (possibly 'fringe') party candidate and the best of the candidates who are likely to win, if you will. This also addresses the concept of 'wasting' one's vote in a first-past-the-post or plurality voting system.



There's also a proportional representation version called Reweighted Range Voting, and another simple P.R. system called Asset Voting (originally invented by Lewis Carroll, but then recently re-invented by Warren D. Smith).


If you're interested in proportional representation, the Center for Range Voting offers some cool solutions: