Sergiu Hart: Two-Vote or not to Vote


Sergiu Hart raises a very interesting idea regarding elections. Consider the Brexit referendum. Sergiu  proposes to have two rounds two weeks apart.  Every voter can vote in each, and the votes of both rounds add up! The outcomes of the first round are made public well before the second round.

In the paper Repeat Voting: Two-Vote May Lead More People To Vote Segiu Hart suggests the following method:

A. Voting is carried out in two rounds.

B. Every eligible voter is entitled (and encouraged) to vote in each one of the two rounds.

C. All the votes of the two rounds are added up, and the final election result is obtained by applying the current election rules to these two-round totals.

D. The results of the first round are officially counted and published; the second round takes place, say, two weeks after the first round, but no less than one week after the official publication of the first round’s results

(The pun in the title is taken from an early version by Sergiu.)

What do you think?

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13 Responses to Sergiu Hart: Two-Vote or not to Vote

  1. domotorp says:

    While only for a fraction of the available seats, this used to be the system in Hungary in 1990-2010, just see the last bullet point of this section:
    I believe the system made sense and gave a more balanced representation, otherwise it wouldn’t have been in the interest of the current government to change it…

  2. Ploni says:

    What about majority of wins out of 3 rounds?
    After the first round, those who are not satisfied with the result are incentivized to vote.
    If the result changes on the second round, then everyone knows that the result is uncertain, so anyone that care is incentivized to vote.

    What are the advantages/disadvantages in comparison to what Sergiu suggests?

  3. Jonathan Baron says:

    The situation is similar to the publication of opinion polls before an election. When the polling/first-vote is close, more people on both sides turn out in the real/second vote, and more vote strategically in multi-candidate elections. For example, in the 2016 US presidential election, I believe that the Libertarian and Green parties got more votes from states that were not expected to be close. (Unfortunately, they also got too many votes from close states, as in 2000.) In cases when the high-pollling side loses (Brexit, Trump), the surprised losers, who believed the polls and didn’t vote, might be more motivated, so, indeed, this might have prevented Brexit and Trump, although it is also possible that the surprised winners would be more motivated to protect their victory. Hard to tell.

  4. The practice of having a straw vote is popular, although usually not in the nation-wide elections but rather in a small-size committees. Sergiu’s idea is somewhat different (the straw votes do count), but close in spirit.

    The right question to ask is when the results of the two-stage election may be considerably different from the results of one-stage, given that in most cases the outcome is decided by the least interested and least motivated voters.

    If the election is binary (yes/no), I have a feeling that the outcome will be basically the same. Yet, say, in the Israeli elections with a multiparty system and rather significant thresholds the difference may be drastic. People still remember Tehiya’s failure in 1992 and the Rabin government that ensued.

  5. Gil Kalai says:

    Many thanks for all the comments. I think that indeed the fact that the votes are added makes it quite different than a straw votes or polls. The comment by Dömötör Pálvölgyi is very important and it will be useful to analyze the situation in these Hungarian elections with a similar method. (The Gale-Shapley method was used in practice before the paper 🙂 )

  6. I find Sergiu idea elegant and general but I think there are more specific and suitable existing solutions for many of the problems it address.
    For example: Second round in case a clear decision hasn’t been reached in the first. This is used mainly for multiple candidate elections, for example in the presidential election in France. It can also be used in the binary case. I.e. One of the problems with Brexit is that it was a close call. A second round of Brexit would be beneficial therefor. However if the results were very clear in the first run, let’s say 90:10 there is no point conducting a second round. There is also no need to sum the results of the first round if it was a close call in the binary case.
    Another well used solution is a recall elections. For example in the state of California, if people are not pleased with the performance on the governor, there is a procedure of recall elections that requires the collection of signatures to be initiated. Arnold Schwarzenegger was first elected as governor in a recall election.

    When suitable, both of the above are preferable to Sergiu’s suggestion in my opinion.

  7. Sergiu Hart says:

    thank you all for your comments. some additional replies:
    – hungarian elections: it seems to be a sort of two-round run-off system, close to, say, the french system, rather than two identical rounds as i propose (some candidates are eliminated after the first round, according to some complex rules …)
    – 3 rounds: it was in fact my first idea (see the last page of the paper). but it only works for binary (i.e., two-outcome) elections, and it is hardly practical even then. two rounds works for ANY election, and is much simpler.
    – other solutions: of course there are many alternatives. one advantage of the identical two-rounds is that it is transparent and simple.

  8. davidellis2 says:

    It’s not clear whether, if everyone had voted in the Brexit referendum, Remain would have won. The respected think-tank ‘UK in a Changing Europe’ put the odds of a Remain win (if everyone had voted) at 1.94 to one – see Another issue is that for those who stayed at home, voting in the referendum was obviously not high on their list of priorities so it’s not clear how informed their vote would have been.

  9. davidellis2 says:

    Having said the above, I would be interested to know how many Brexit voters now believe their vote to have been a mistake, given the maximalist negotiating positions of the EU27, the unwillingness of the latter to compromise (over issues such as the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice in the UK after Brexit, and the size of the financial settlement, a.k.a. ‘Divorce Bill’), and the consequent increased likelihood of a ‘no-deal’ outcome.

    • Sergiu Hart says:

      Here is an interesting story (thanx to Motty Perry for pointing it out). Before the Brexit vote, a petition that called for a second vote in case of low participation and a narrow winning margin was launched; it got 22 signatures before the vote, and more than 2 million signatures in the two days after the result was announced. Ironically, the initiator was a “leave” supporter who believed that “leave” would lose. See, e.g.,

  10. davidellis2 says:

    In general I think Hart’s idea is a very good one, also when the choice is between more than two alternatives, where tactical voting comes into play.

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