THE INDIFFERENCE VOTE
48 Cliff Road, Cowes, IOW, PO31 8BN, England
Paul@paulbirch.net and http://www.paulbirch.net
What is an indifference vote? An indifference vote is a technique I have invented for making decisions in which many persons have a legitimate interest. An ordinary majority vote also allows us to make such decisions, but it has a major drawback: in any such vote, some people will win and some will lose; those who lose will be upset, suffering a net loss of satisfaction. Majority voting allows the majority to plunder the wealth and happiness of the minority. In an indifference vote, the losers are indifferent whether they win or lose.
How is that possible? It is possible because the winners are required to compensate the losers for losing the vote, and to do so just enough that the losers don't mind losing. Thus indifference voting does not allow the winners to plunder the losers, or the losers the winners; no one is cheated out of what is rightfully his, and at the end of the day everyone is (or ought to be) happy.
An indifference vote is a money vote. Participants do not simply cast their votes for one side or the other; they place bids of various amounts of money. Indifference voting is like an auction in which two syndicates vie for the prize. How much it matters to you is as significant as which side you favour. An indifference vote is quantitative, not merely the either-or of a simple majority vote or the 1-2-3 ranked order of a single transferable vote. It is a market vote, capturing the full weight of public and private preferences in an economically efficient and Pareto compliant fashion.
In this essay I explain the mechanism of indifference voting. As we progress we shall discover how to include voting expenses and the costs of implementation, how to assign capital credits and hold equitable repeat votes, even after a delay of months or years, how to address questions of gambling and tactical voting, how to deal with multiple options and prior claims, and how to distinguish rental, capital and one-off votes.
An indifference vote works like this. Those in favour of a proposal make bids on one side; those against it on the other. Anyone may join the bidding. Once the bidding is over, the side with the higher total bid wins. The winners pay their winning bids into a pool, from which each loser draws the amount of his bid as compensation for losing. Each bidder will thus be prepared to increase his bid up to the point at which he is indifferent whether he wins (and has to pay up) or loses (and gets paid). Bidding can continue until no one on the losing side is willing to increase his bid any further; whilst on the other side at least one person, still shy of his indifference point, tops the losers' total with his winning bid.
Let's try a simple example. Please don't skip; it helps to do the sums. You and your friends want to go to a restaurant. But which one? The Peking Duck or the Spaghetti Italiano? Charles prefers Chinese, but you're a bit strapped for cash and Italian's cheaper. You bid 50p. Charles goes 60p. The girls join in. Amy is on a diet and bids 50p for the Duck, but Beth is always hungry and bids 70p for the Spaghetti; the score is now £1.20 for Italian, £1.10 for Chinese. Amy looks at Charles, who goes up 11p to 71p. You decide to bid another 2p. Charles shakes his head. Amy reluctantly adds another 2p for Chinese herself. The final bids are £1.22 for Italian, £1.23 for Chinese. So off you all trot to the Peking Duck. Amy and Charles fork out 52p and 71p respectively; Beth gets 70p and you get 52p. Amy and Charles get the fancier but less fattening fare they wanted; you get enough money to cover the higher prices, and Beth gets enough for a larger helping. The waitress gets the penny left over.
Let's take another, less trivial, example. Some folk want to hold a carnival. It will be fun, and may bring in business, but it will also cause traffic congestion and a lot of noise. Not everyone likes the idea. The shopkeepers are mainly in favour, the commuters against; residents are divided. Some have stronger opinions than others. Everyone must ask himself how much better or worse off he'll be if the carnival goes ahead — and bid accordingly.
To start with, each shopkeeper should be willing to bid up to half the extra profit he expects to make. Why only half? Because if he bids more he's better off losing — his loser's compensation would be more than his net profit on winning. If he bids more and hopes to lose, he risks ending up on the winning side and thus, after compensating the losers, gaining less overall. If he bids more than the full extra profit, he risks an actual net loss. The shopkeeper should bid up to the point at which he doesn't care whether he wins or loses because he gets the same net benefit either way. For other bidders the time and money wasted in detours and traffic jams will determine the strength of their opposition in a similar fashion. The bottom line is that the carnival will go ahead if and only if it is economically efficient — that is, if it produces a net increment of satisfactions.
In the previous paragraph I mentioned risk. Since risky overbidding is a possible stratagem, it is apparent that an indifference vote can also be used as a vehicle for gambling. However, bidding beyond one's indifference point is always a bluff — a bluff that opposing bidders may call. If a gambler guesses just right, he may come out ahead; but he is normally as likely to guess wrong and lose out. If the vote still goes the right way (produces the economically efficient outcome), gamblers may sometimes be able to capture a greater share of the net economic surplus; but, on the other hand, if the gamblers drive the vote the wrong way (to the economically inefficient outcome), then it is the gamblers who foot the bill and compensate the rest.
If you gamble on an indifference vote, you can expect, on average, to lose money. It is less attractive than a fair bet (when on average you neither gain nor lose) because of the added risk of producing inferior economic outcomes. You are therefore better off if you restrict your gambling to betting on horse races (where gambling does not affect the outcome) or to games of chance (where the specific outcome doesn't matter). In consequence, we can assume that in a properly formulated indifference vote pure gambling will not significantly interfere with its operation. So long as the gamblers are rational, it will be present only to the extent that they are willing to meet the cost of the occasional inappropriate decision for the sake of some distinctive pleasure that other forms of gambling might not supply.
So far I have ignored both the cost of running the indifference vote and the cost of implementing the proposal. As a rule, the cost of any vote should be paid by the person who moves that vote — irrespective of whether or not the motion passes. This will include the fees of the vote organisers, invigilators, referees, recorders, escrow agents and so forth — though for an online auction these expenses should be light — and the cost of publishing the call to vote. Some modest recompense for the effort involved in entering a bid may also be appropriate (at least for those opposing the measure).
A proposer may offer to pay for the implementation of his proposal himself. However, an indifference vote can also be used for fund-raising. Our carnival organisers will typically expect those who want the carnival to help pay for it. To this end a proposer will state, as part of his formal proposal, how much money he requires to implement it. Only if the bids in favour exceed those against by at least this margin can the proposal pass; that excess is the price paid to the proposer for implementing the proposal, which he is then under a contractual obligation to do. If the bids fall short, and the proposal fails, the winners still pay off the losers, but the losers' compensation is reduced pro rata to match the sum of the winning bids. In effect, the implementation price is a bid against the proposal, but of a special kind that doesn't have to pay compensation if the proposal fails. The proposer is also free to post ordinary bids on either side, just like anyone else.
Let's go back to our carnival. Suppose the organisers want £100,000 to run it. The shopkeepers expect to make additional profits of £110,000. So they will then be willing to bid up to their indifference point of £105,000 (which isn't at the halfway mark this time, because winning and losing are no longer symmetrical). If the shopkeepers win with such a bid, they pay £100,000 to the organisers, plus £5000 compensation to the losers, for a net profit of £5000. If they lose, they receive £5000 compensation themselves. They don't receive compensation for the £100,000 they bid towards the cost — the shopkeepers are entitled to compensation only on the bids above £100,000. Similarly, those opposed to the carnival only need to bid once the bids in favour exceed £100,000. Obviously, if those in favour can't raise the £100,000 "reserve", the carnival can't go ahead, and the pledges (the bids below £100,000) then lapse.
For simplicity I have been assuming that the winning bid only just tops the losing total, so the final bid totals on either side are essentially equal. In an online auction bids could be automatically incremented up to each bidder's posted maximum, or the winning bids scaled back in proportion. We may take it that indifference vote procedures will usually be selected, as a matter of convenience, so as to generate matching final bids, though other possibilities do exist (for example, in a vote by sealed bid, the winning bids could either be scaled back, or the excess distributed among the losers or added to the implementation fund). In most procedures the losers will end up making their maximum bids; but the winners' actual bids will usually be less than their maximum bids (unless the issue is very finely balanced). Where the maximum bids produce a tie, it will usually be best to treat this as a defeat for the proposal or a win for the status quo.
In the above examples the parties started off from a position of parity. None of them owned any particular rights one way or the other (to have or not to have the carnival, say). Yet once the indifference vote has been held, parity has been broken; the vote has created a new set of rights; one side has in effect purchased rights from the other. So what happens if a vote is repeated? We can't simply rerun it as before without major injustice.
Imagine that the carnival proposal has been turned down; those in favour have been compensated for not being permitted to hold it, but they don't let it go at that; they call a revote. If nothing's changed, they lose again — and get paid off again. They can keep on doing this for ever, like blackmailers — or until the rest surrender and let the carnival go ahead. It's not much better the other way round; those who don't want the carnival can keep calling votes to stop it, and keep raking in the compensation for failing to stop it until the organisers give up. Clearly, this voting pattern is neither just nor stable.
What is the solution? We've already come close. We need to adjust the baseline to make allowance for the fact that the situation is no longer symmetrical. Aha! but the implementation costs were asymmetrical too, and we handled them by crediting the opposing side with a special bid equal to those costs. This points the way. In a revote we should credit the winners of the previous vote with a bid equal to twice the amount they had to pay out to the losers as compensation. Why twice the amount? Because the difference between winning (and paying out) and losing (and being paid) is twice the amount of an ordinary bid.
Let's work through an example. The Peking Duck has won the first vote but you remember it recently had a change of management and call for a revote. This time, though, let's work on the principle that a tie is a win for the status quo, which stops the result seesawing back and forth in endless revotes. Amy and Charles have paid out 51p and 71p (we've given Amy back the waitress's penny, which under the new rules for tie-breaks is no longer needed), so they get credited bids of £1.02 and £1.42. If you and Beth venture the same as last time plus the compensation you received, you are back at the previous indifference point with a combined bid of £2.44. Since this only just matches the credited £2.44 the Duck wins again (tie-break for the status quo) and no more money changes hands. But Amy is no longer quite so keen; she bids 1p for the Spaghetti Italiano, effectively reducing her bid for the Duck. Now the Duck loses, by a short head. As the new winners you and Beth pay £2.44, twice the £1.22 you previously received in compensation for losing. This brings you both back to where you would have been, had you won the first vote instead of losing it; that is, £1.22 poorer, but with your choice of restaurant. Amy and Charles are also where they would have been, £1.22 richer, but losers. The credited bids shift the baseline to keep the result fair, whether we have one vote or many.
So what happens if we call a third vote? Do you and Beth get a credit of twice the £2.44 you've just paid out? No, only £2.44 — that is, twice £1.22 — because only £1.22 of your payout was compensation; the other half was paying back your compensation, to which you were no longer entitled. In other words, you get a credit of twice your net payout.
Does Amy get a credit of 2p? No, because under the tie-break rules the person who makes the winning bid against the status quo doesn't have to pay out that last penny. However, if you or Beth had decided not to venture the whole £2.44 (perhaps wondering whether it might be worth giving the Duck's new management a try out), Amy might have been willing to put an extra 11p against the Duck. Then Amy would have obtained a 20p credit, with your credit reduced by the same amount. Similarly, if Amy had had to bid that extra 11p against Charles — who might also have been keen on putting the Duck's new management to the test and thus have bid an extra 10p for it — your credit would have remained at £2.44, with Amy's at 20p, for a total of £2.64. In other words, the credit equals the amount of the previous credit plus twice any additional winning bids (positive or negative).
If you and Beth had bid 10p less than £2.44, and Amy and Charles had both stood pat, the Duck would have won again, but you'd have had to pay back 10p of your original compensation, reducing the winning credit by 20p to £2.24.
In a revote, if the bids of the former losers are to have the same weight as before, they have to be increased by the amount of the compensation each bidder received; with ordinary bids the amount is doubled. Our bid procedures should normally make the appropriate adjustment by default, so that bidders will only have to think about real changes in their preferences or valuations. In the same way, the credited bids of the former winners automatically have the same weight as their original bids.
Now, let's see how revotes deal with the implementation costs, which as you'll recall were initially credited against the proposal. The simplest case is if the first vote fails to attract the reserved implementation price; no ordinary bids are logged against the proposal, no money changes hands, no rights are transferred, and a revote is the same as a first vote. If the reserve is met, but those in favour fail to outbid the ordinary bids against the proposal, the successful antis receive a credit equal to twice those ordinary bids (twice the amount they have to pay as compensation for the unsuccessful above-reserve ordinary bids in favour); no payment is made in respect of the implementation costs, so in a revote their treatment is unchanged. However, if the proposal passes, the implementation price stands as a capital credit, and the winners receive a credit equal to that price plus twice the ordinary bids against the proposal.
The pro-carnival shopkeepers pledged £100,000 and bid another £5000, but lost the first vote and thus received £5000 from the antis. The pledges lapsed and the organisers got nothing. When a revote is called the £100,000 implementation cost remains as a capital credit against the carnival (assuming that the organisers are still willing to go ahead at that price). The antis also have a credit of £10,000. The total credit against is thus £110,000. If the shopkeepers can outbid that they may overturn the first result. They will then have to pay back their £5000 compensation and in turn pay out £5000 in compensation to the antis. They will also have to pay £100,000 to the organisers, who will then be under a obligation to proceed with the carnival.
The pro-carnival shopkeepers won the first vote and paid out £5000 to the antis and £100,000 to the organisers. When a revote is called they receive a credited bid of £110,000 in favour of the carnival. The £100,000 implementation cost remains as a capital credit against the carnival. The net credit is then £10,000 in favour.
If the antis can bid more strongly in the revote, topping the £10,000 total, they may overturn the first result. They will then have to pay back their £5000 compensation and pay out £5000 in compensation to the shopkeepers. The £100,000 must also be paid back to the shopkeepers by the organisers, who are then relieved of the obligation to produce the carnival.
Let's see if we can summarise the procedure so far.
The winners of a vote obtain a credit equal to their net capital payout plus twice their net compensatory payout. This equals the previous winning credited bids plus twice any additional ordinary bids (positive or negative). A capital credit equals the capital amount currently demanded, and stands opposed to its expenditure.
An ordinary bid pays out its face amount on winning; and receives its face amount on losing against an ordinary bid. It receives nothing on losing against a credited bid.
A credited bid on the previously winning side (that is, against the current motion) receives its face amount upon losing; a credited bid on the previously losing side (that is, for the current motion) pays out its face amount upon winning; a credited bid neither pays out nor receives payment if the status quo is maintained.
Note that in the original vote, the motion is in favour of the project or proposal, whereas in a revote to revoke a previously passed proposal, the motion is against the proposal. That is, the first motion is that the proposal be implemented; the revote motion is to revoke that decision. This is all a bit confusing, and in practice it may be best to leave the form of the vote unchanged, so that the pros and antis stay the same, even when the new vote is called by those against the proposal.
Readers may wonder why we need this rigmarole of doubling the credited bids. Couldn't we simply have a positive credit for the winners and a negative credit for the losers exactly equal to their respective bids? Well, yes, we could. The former would receive its face value on losing; the latter would pay its face value on winning — just like our capital credits.
The problem is that losers would then carry around a permanent liability. At any time a revote could reverse the decision and require them to pay back their compensation — which, if they'd already spent the money, might prove impossible. True, they could always enter an equal ordinary bid on the opposite side, which would bring in exactly the amount necessary to meet the liability — but only at the risk of an equally large liability if the previous decision were upheld instead. Of what use are compensation payments the recipients can't safely spend? Alternatively, they could set aside half of their compensation in advance and then bid that set-aside in opposition to their credit bid; either way, their net loss would be half their original compensation. This works, but only by bringing back that awkward factor of two, by an even less convenient route.
Another possibility would be to make the winners' credits equal to their bids, but to allow them twice their face value on losing. This puts the doubling in a different place, but the overall result is just the same. Indeed we could, rather pointlessly, introduce any arbitrary factor between bids and credits; yet the factor between the losing payouts and face values would remain exactly twice as great. So far as I can see, there's no way around it.
Suppose that when it comes to a revote some of the implementation capital has already been spent, and can't be recouped if the project is cancelled. It would clearly be unjust to call on the contractors or organisers to give that money back. The answer is to reduce the capital credit by the irrecoverable expenditure committed to date (including a reasonable margin for profit on work already undertaken). The purchase of property that can be sold again without loss does not count as irrecoverable expenditure (though the administrative overhead does). To some extent we may have to rely upon the contractor's unsupported claim for these figures, though a false claim would naturally be a fraud subject to action for recovery through the courts.
This reduction of the capital credit against the project implies that it will be much harder to reverse the original decision to proceed, once substantial sums of money have been spent on it. This is as it should be. Such shilly-shallying is economically wasteful. Only if circumstances have changed radically in the interim will late revotes to cancel a project be appropriate.
Once a project is underway its simple cancellation may not be enough to restore the status quo ante, since works already done may take money to remove or undo. A vote to restore as well as cancel must then carry its own implementation price — offered by whoever calls the vote for that option — as a capital credit against restoration. In such a vote there will be capital credits on both sides; if neither attracts sufficient bids the "do nothing" default option wins.
Suppose a revote is called months or years after the original vote. What happens to the credits over time? The simplest general solution is to treat them like bank deposits and augment them at the market rate of interest. Remember that the function of the credits is to make revotes produce the same pattern of ownership as would have obtained if we had reached that same decision on the first vote. Yet in the interim, the monies received in compensation — or the monies that would have gone in compensation — could have been invested in a savings account at the market rate of interest. So in order that revotes shall be fair whichever way they go, the credited bids also need to be increased in proportion to the compounded compensation. If the currency employed is in the form of share money — see my essay Honest Money — in which the interest rate is zero, the credit amounts remain conveniently fixed.
In effect, this solution assumes that each permanent right is expected to increase in value at the market rate. This may not always be true. However, if the right does not appreciate this way it means that the balance of the economy has shifted; the holder of the right has made a speculative gain or loss above or below the market rate. This is fair enough, since it is true of ordinary holdings too, when property is purchased directly on the open market. If the economy shifts far enough, a change of use may be the efficient outcome, and a revote against the original decision becomes more likely.
It may be that the "permanent" right, although not in itself delimited in time, is expected to fall in value relative to the market rate, on account of a predictable economic change or depreciation of the physical capital. We can handle this by means of a depreciation allowance that works the same as the irrecoverable expenditure allowance mentioned above. Indeed, they are essentially the same. They define what the right holder can no longer get back if he is forced to sell up.
Where a right is already being enjoyed, the cost of maintenance should not usually be included as depreciation, nor should rent be imputed on the other side; an owner-occupied house is an example, where neither upkeep nor use need to be considered explicitly and the market price can still be expected to rise at or about the market rate. That said, for commercial properties a reasonable alternative would be to include both maintenance and rents. If such an option is chosen it must be specified in the original proposal, because the rights being voted on are then subtly different.
Not all indifference votes will transfer rights permanently, as in a capital vote on whether or not to construct a motorway or airport. Some, like our restaurant example, will be one-offs; after you and your friends have eaten your meal the credits lapse and you're back in the original position of parity. Some, like our carnival, may be periodic, to be held say once a year. Although it would be possible to arrange each year's carnival by a one-off vote, it may be that there are capital expenses that could only be justified on a repeat basis; in this case, we could instead vote on the question of whether to hold a carnival once a year; that right, and the corresponding credits, would be permanent, unless and until revoked by a revote. Finally, we have rental votes, in which bids and payments are made for a specified period; at the end of the period the credits lapse, but a new vote is held in which the default bids are equal to previous set (perhaps adjusted for inflation); a franchise to run a bus service or night-club might be handled this way. During the rental term the winner's credit, after interest, will ordinarily be reduced in proportion to the period remaining, though some of the expenditure may in practice be front-loaded and thus classed as irrecoverable.
Although the indifference vote has the primary function of helping us decide what to do, it also enables us to rebundle the ownership of rights in the most efficient ways. In an indifference vote, the speculative risk can be shared, or assumed by any party or either side. The same goes for costs and revenues. It is the responsibility of the proposer to suggest the most appropriate bundling. However, if it is not clear what the best bundling would be, even after the decision to proceed has been taken, further votes can be taken on changing the rights bundling from one form to another.
In general, if there are n options, whether substantive or distributive, we need (n-1) votes to decide among them. In theory, if the credits are properly assigned before the next vote, the order of voting doesn't matter; if the options are fully specified and the players rational the results should be transitive (if A>B and B>C then A>C). In practice, it may be best to start with the substantive vote thought most likely to succeed, and proceed from there. If we are worried that control of the agenda may permit some manipulation of the result we can arrange for a simultaneous blind vote or continuous auction on all options; for each option, other than the default do-nothing option, voters will enter bids for or against that option viz a viz the default; the option that wins most strongly wins the day, with compensation trickling down to the backers of the less popular options in turn.
Credits are the recognition of a bidder's title to the rights he has obtained by being on the winning side of the indifference vote, and are transferable assets. Those credits directly associated with a property or its locality are likely to be sold along with the property itself. For example, if one has obtained the right to open a bar or public house, but subsequently sells the premises on, one will normally wish to transfer that right, with its indifference vote credit, to any future landlord.
Perhaps the easiest way to handle credits would be for each bidder to hold an escrow account with the organisation or clearance house that manages the online indifference votes. Credit and compensation receipts would then be paid into the account automatically — and payouts to other bidders debited similarly. Credit-holders would be informed of any upcoming revote by email, but would not need to take any special action, since their credited bids would automatically be re-entered by default. Account-holders could also pre-post bids to apply in the event of a revote. Credits and funds could be transferred online between accounts — and to and from external accounts. Ideally, the accounts should be interest-bearing, so that voters would not lose out by holding substantial balances. To avoid problems with billing and collection, the system should only accept bids where the bidder already has an adequate cash balance or credit for that vote.
It is generally in everyone's interest either to hold onto his own credits or to transfer them only to substitute interested parties; speculation would tend to cause a net economic loss, because of the risk of wasteful revotes or inefficient reversals. Nevertheless, if you genuinely lose all concern for an issue you could sell your position to a speculator, to whom your credit would be worth approximately half its face value times the anticipated probability of a revote (the speculator may call a revote himself, if he holds sufficient credits to justify the expense). You could also, more straightforwardly, register a standing bid of half your outstanding credit; that way, if a revote ever comes up, you will get back just half your credit whichever way the vote goes.
What happens if we try to hold an indifference vote where the parties are not initially at parity? For example, suppose we wish to decide how a homeowner shall lay out his back garden — something that has previously been considered his sole prerogative. The answer is to move the baseline to where it would otherwise have been. In other words, to give the homeowner a capital credit equal to the value of the rights he specifically holds. In the absence of a market price or a previous indifference vote this may not always be straightforward. What is the value to you of being able to lay out your own back garden?
In general, we may allow the right-holder to claim as a capital credit whatever the right is currently worth to him, or the amount for which he could purchase an equivalent right on the market, bearing in mind that a false or excessive claim would be considered fraud. But how does the right-holder know what the correct value is? This will not always be easy to judge. Nevertheless, if his claim is too low, he will find himself willing to bid above it in order to hold onto his ownership of the right; and if it is too high, he will find himself willing to bid against his ownership in order not to lose out on the capital compensation. When the claim is just right he will already be at his marginal indifference point without having to make any additional bids — not caring which way the vote goes.
It's a little trickier when the right-holder has an interest in the result distinct from the particular right for which he is claiming credit — for example, when the garden layout is to be imposed as a covenant on his neighbours too. The key here is for him to claim the credit that would leave him indifferent to a vote on his right alone — the rights of the other parties being left unchanged.
It may also be possible to price holdings by a roundabout method. Often we will have a clearer idea of the value of the entire property than of its components. Now in most countries a power of compulsory purchase of real estate will already exist; so if we were to specify a capital credit amounting to the top market value of the house (and pay the owner's costs and compensate him for the inconvenience if we wanted him to move out), the public would then be entitled to purchase the property by indifference vote. We could also vote to split the title to the property into several rights (such as gardening and landscaping rights) which could then be transferred separately by indifference vote, or sold on the open market. Pure rebundling will always preserve or increase the total capital credit (since otherwise the motion would not pass), although the implementation of substantive decisions need not.
Fortunately, an indifference vote will still produce the economically efficient answer, even if the initial baseline is inaccurate, so long as the participants are confident that an honest attempt has been made, and that subsequent votes and transfers will fully respect the rights so defined. We can accept that many existing rights are cloudy and ill-specified. Yet which of us would bid freely on a right apt to be abrogated in the foreseeable future? At the very least, the amount we'd be prepared to bid would be inefficiently low — significantly less than the right's real economic value. That is why justice — the credible commitment henceforth to render to every man his due — is essential if we are to maintain the proper incentives and make indifference voting work.
In conclusion, we have seen how indifference voting can help us create optimal public and private policy, by quantitatively measuring and comparing the weight of opinion instead of merely counting heads, while simultaneously implementing the crucial compensatory side-payments that make these collective decisions and impositions Pareto compliant, so that no one suffers an overall loss of satisfactions as a result. In an indifference vote there are no net losers.
Planning applications, zoning regulations, public works and local by-laws are among the questions particularly suited to decision by indifference vote. More complex issues, such as immigration and citizenship rights, fishing quotas or allocation of the radio spectrum, may be settled by analogous procedures, going beyond the simple discrete votes described in this essay towards more sophisticated composite or continuous indifference votes. Elections to public offices are another possible application.
Politics is all too often confrontational and negative sum. With indifference voting we have an opportunity to draw much of its sting and guarantee positive sum decisions instead. Such techniques must play a major role in any just and prosperous society.
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© Paul Birch, Nov. 2004.
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