Journal of Economic Perspectives: Vol. 9 No. 1 (Winter 1995)


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Optimal Voting Rules

Article Citation

Young, Peyton. 1995. "Optimal Voting Rules." Journal of Economic Perspectives, 9(1): 51-64.

DOI: 10.1257/jep.9.1.51


Modern social choice theory, following Kenneth Arrow, treats voting as a method for aggregating diverse preferences and values. An earlier view, initiated by Marquis de Condorcet, is that voting is a method for aggregating information. Voters' opinions differ because they make errors of judgment; absent these errors they would all agree on the best choice. The goal is to design a voting rule that identifies the best choice with highest probability. This paper examines maximum likelihood estimation. Surprisingly, the optimal rule can also be axiomatized by variations of Arrow's axioms.

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Young, Peyton (Johns Hopkins U)

JEL Classifications

D72: Models of Political Processes: Rent-seeking, Elections, Legislatures, and Voting Behavior


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