Handbook of Social Choice and Voting

Handbook of Social Choice and Voting

Edited by Jac C. Heckelman and Nicholas R. Miller

This Handbook provides an overview of interdisciplinary research related to social choice and voting that is intended for a broad audience. Expert contributors from various fields present critical summaries of the existing literature, including intuitive explanations of technical terminology and well-known theorems, suggesting new directions for research.

Chapter 16: Voting mysteries: a picture is worth a thousand words

Donald G. Saari

Subjects: economics and finance, political economy, public choice theory, politics and public policy, political economy, public choice


What makes voting paradoxes so intriguing is that voting appears to be conceptually simple. So, why the puzzles? Following the ‘picture is worth a thousand words’ adage, the approach adopted here (starting with Saari 1995, 2008a) uses nothing more complicated than the geometry of a triangle or an ordinary cube to explain several paradoxes. Suppose two proposals designed to help teachers are defeated: Proposition S, to increase salaries, received only 40 percent of the vote; Proposition B, to improve benefits, received 45 percent. The voters clearly have a negative attitude about the teachers because a solid majority, 55 percent, voted against both proposals; an added 5 percent voted to improve benefits but not for a salary increase; only 40 percent wanted to improve salaries and benefits. Is this interpretation correct? It may not be because the same tallies occur should a vast majority, 85 percent of the voters, strongly support the teachers. But with budgetary constraints, the community can afford only one option. As such, 40 percent voted for a salary increase but against benefits; 45 percent voted to improve benefits, but against the salary; and only 15 percent voted against both.

You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.

Elgaronline requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals. Please login through your library system or with your personal username and password on the homepage.

Non-subscribers can freely search the site, view abstracts/ extracts and download selected front matter and introductory chapters for personal use.

Your library may not have purchased all subject areas. If you are authenticated and think you should have access to this title, please contact your librarian.

Further information