Munich Personal RePEc Archive

When does approval voting make the "right choices"?

Brams, Steven J. and Kilgour, D. Marc (2011): When does approval voting make the "right choices"?

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Abstract

We assume that a voter’s judgment about a proposal depends on (i) the proposal’s probability of being right (or good or just) and (ii) the voter’s probability of making a correct judgment about its rightness (or wrongness). Initially, the state of a proposal (right or wrong), and the correctness of a voter’s judgment about it, are assumed to be independent. If the average probability that voters are correct in their judgments is greater than ½, then the proposal with the greatest probability of being right will, in expectation, receive the greatest number of approval votes. This result holds, as well, when the voters’ probabilities of being correct depend on the state of the proposal; when the average probability that voters judge a proposal correctly is functionally related to the probability that it is right, provided that the function satisfies certain conditions; and when all voters follow a leader with an above-average probability of correctly judging proposals. However, it is possible that voters may more frequently select the proposal with the greatest probability of being right by reporting their independent judgments—as assumed by the Condorcet Jury Theorem—rather than by following any leader. Applications of these results to different kinds of voting situations are discussed.

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