Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Revamping the Primary Process?

Professor Samwick has a post up that endorses a move to 'approval voting' in presidential primaries.

Having watched the primary season unfold from a very nice vantage point, I think that the nomination processes would have been better served by approval voting. From a potentially long list of candidates, voters simply vote for as many of them as they find acceptable. The candidate with the most votes wins.

The main advantage of approval voting is that it allows voters the opportunity to express a preference for more than one candidate. The drawback to approval voting is that it does not provide voters with the opportunity to rank candidates within the set that they find acceptable. With approval voting, we wouldn't see primary voters having to worry about "wasting a vote" in expressing a preference for a candidate who has little chance of achieiving [sic] a plurality. There would be less pressure on candidates to drop out of the race if they don't "win" one of the early states. This is particularly important given how much weight the early primaries seem to have.


Read the whole thing for other ideas on how to improve the primary system.

N.B. This is the system Dartmouth has used in its trustee elections.

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

It looks like it will be the system Dartmouth used. The trustees required a return to the traditional majority vote for future nominees.

A. S. Erickson said...

noted

John Bruce said...

And in fact that approval system, with multiple official nominees, was put in, theoretically, to make it harder for petition nominees to succeed (in the wake of John Steel's 1980 success). Which in turn led to the Hanover Institute system of petition nominees.

Anonymous said...

So it seems the experiment has failed. Time to return to the tried-and-true of one alum, one vote.

Anonymous said...

Actually, approval voting was not instituted until 1990. Petition nominees had failed in every election in which they ran after 1980. Rather than trying to prevent another John Steel, approval voting came out of a 1986 board study that was concerned with the rising cost of campaigns.

John Bruce said...

Wait: they wanted to lower the cost of campaigns by adding more candidates? And wait again: why did the Board, in its 2007 study, decide to lower the cost of campaigns by reducing the number of Alumni Council candidates?

Anonymous said...

Well, obviously it didn't work. Do you think the Board is perfect? I'll bet they toughened campaigning rules at the same time they diluted the field in 1990 by requiring more candidates. It was a reasonable effort that worked until 2002 or so. Times change.

The 2007 return to the pre-1990 form does include rules meant to lower the cost of campaigns, such as a reduced campaign period, but you should be able to understand from the report that the main reason to return to the traditional form is to eliminate bullet voting.

BROKEN LADDER said...

Approval Voting is the simplest form of Range Voting. Range Voting, or "score voting", just means rating the candidates on a scale like 0-10 or 1-5. When it's a 0-1 scale, it's Approval Voting.

This method is hugely superior to the plurality (not "majority") system of "one vote only per person", per the world's most extensive Bayesian regret simulations.

http://rangevoting.org/BayRegDum.html