Honors: All College Participants

Title

Preference Aggregation: Can an Alternative Voting Mechanism Make a Difference?

Academic Level at Time of Presentation

Senior

Major

Mathematics

Minor

Business Administration and Spanish

List all Project Mentors & Advisor(s)

David Eaton

Presentation Format

Oral Presentation

Abstract/Description

The current system of individual preference aggregation employed by the United States is plurality rule. Plurality rule is a system in which the preference option that garners the most votes, but not necessarily a majority of the votes, is declared the winner. During presidential elections, states use a version of plurality rule to allocate electors who are then responsible for voting for the presidential candidates. The accuracy of plurality rule in its measurement of individual voter preferences over the entirety of the candidate options has been questioned. Economist and Political Scientist Kenneth Arrow once proved that no system of preference aggregation exists that satisfies certain rational conditions (to be discussed later) without either limiting the options of the voters or imposing a dictatorship. In the analysis that follows, the foundation of voting theory that led to Arrow’s conclusion, named the “General Possibility Theorem” will be explored. The question of whether there exists a mechanism of vote aggregation that provides us with results that better represent a majority of the population will be presented and evaluated utilizing data from the 2016 Republican primary election. The alternative method of vote aggregation that will be analyzed is instant runoff voting, which has been suggested as a superior mechanism to plurality rule and has been implemented by various governments and institutions around the world. The results of this analysis may shed some light on the potential downfalls of a plurality system, and inform of a possible improvement to the United States voting system.

Location

Classroom 211, Waterfield Library

Start Date

November 2016

End Date

November 2016

Affiliations

Honors Thesis

This document is currently not available here.

Share

COinS
 
Nov 16th, 1:30 PM Nov 16th, 4:00 PM

Preference Aggregation: Can an Alternative Voting Mechanism Make a Difference?

Classroom 211, Waterfield Library

The current system of individual preference aggregation employed by the United States is plurality rule. Plurality rule is a system in which the preference option that garners the most votes, but not necessarily a majority of the votes, is declared the winner. During presidential elections, states use a version of plurality rule to allocate electors who are then responsible for voting for the presidential candidates. The accuracy of plurality rule in its measurement of individual voter preferences over the entirety of the candidate options has been questioned. Economist and Political Scientist Kenneth Arrow once proved that no system of preference aggregation exists that satisfies certain rational conditions (to be discussed later) without either limiting the options of the voters or imposing a dictatorship. In the analysis that follows, the foundation of voting theory that led to Arrow’s conclusion, named the “General Possibility Theorem” will be explored. The question of whether there exists a mechanism of vote aggregation that provides us with results that better represent a majority of the population will be presented and evaluated utilizing data from the 2016 Republican primary election. The alternative method of vote aggregation that will be analyzed is instant runoff voting, which has been suggested as a superior mechanism to plurality rule and has been implemented by various governments and institutions around the world. The results of this analysis may shed some light on the potential downfalls of a plurality system, and inform of a possible improvement to the United States voting system.