No voting method perfect

  • Tuesday, August 6, 2013

To the Editor:
I am enjoying the series on voting systems.  It is a difficult subject with no easy answers, and sure to upset many.  Bravo!
As you discuss proportional voting systems though, you may want to insert another term to your glossary:
Arrow's Impossibility Theorem
The theorem states that when there are more than two alternatives (candidates), no ranked voting system can be free of paradox.
I am sure that the advocates you have contacted have probably neglected to mention this small matter, but it is quite important.  
For example, using a ranked voting system it would be possible for a candidate to get the most first place votes and still lose if one of his opponents received more second place votes.  That is not to say that this would happen every time or even often, but it would be possible every time. 
Imagine the panic at the Election Commission when it does!  If you think candidates, campaigns, parties and voters get riled up now about close elections, what would be their reaction to their candidate having the most first place votes and then losing to the second or third runner-up in the second round?
Just food for thought.
Jim Randall


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