Munich Personal RePEc Archive

The Paradox of Grading Systems

Brams, Steven and Potthoff, Richard (2015): The Paradox of Grading Systems.

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Abstract

We distinguish between (i) voting systems in which voters can rank candidates and (ii) those in which they can grade candidates, such as approval voting, in which voters can give two grades—approve (1) or not approve (0)—to candidates. While two grades rule out a discrepancy between the average-grade winners, who receive the highest average grade, and the superior-grade winners, who receive more superior grades in pairwise comparisons (akin to Condorcet winners), more than two grades allow it. We call this discrepancy between the two kinds of winners the paradox of grading systems, which we illustrate with several examples and whose probability we estimate for sincere and strategic voters through a Monte Carlo simulation. We discuss the tradeoff between (i) allowing more than two grades, but risking the paradox, and (ii) precluding the paradox, but restricting voters to two grades.

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