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Election Selection

Are we using the worst voting procedure?

By
12:07pm, October 30, 2002

As Election Day approaches, voters must be feeling a sense of déjà vu. With recent reports of malfunctioning voter machines and uncounted votes during primaries in Florida, Maryland, and elsewhere, reformers are once again clamoring for extensive changes. But while attention is focused on these familiar irregularities, a much more serious problem is being neglected: the fundamental flaws of the voting procedure itself, say various researchers who study voting.

Nearly all political elections in the United States are plurality votes, in which each voter selects a single candidate, and the candidate with the most votes wins. Yet voting theorists argue that plurality voting is one of the worst of all possible choices. "It's a terrible system," says Alexander Tabarrok, an economist at George

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