Allocation voting

Allocation voting

Allocation voting is any voting system in which voters are assigned a number of "points" or other unit of account, and are expected to allocate these among a number of alternatives. Unlike preference voting the numbers do not represent ranks but weights.

Unlike Range voting, the total number of votes is fixed. A voter may cast all votes for a single candidate or option, or may spread the votes out among multiple candidates or options.

Example of application

The American Psychological Association elects its Council of Representatives through a complex system where each APA member has 10 votes to allocate among the Divisions or State Associations. These divisions are then assigned representatives in proportion to the vote total they receive and a rules in the Bylaws. The divisions themselves (which may be coalitions of divisions or other combinations of members) elect the actual representatives.


Allocation systems tend to encourage bid and ask thinking and may be more applicable to situations where tolerances and preferences are entwined very deeply. According to some ethicists, such as Jane Jacobs, such entwined situations are inherently symptoms of corruption. Put more simply: by encouraging voters to think in terms of tradeoffs, they abandon moral codes and think in terms more of advantage, encouraging what Jacobs calls the "Trader Ethic" moral syndrome. This she contrasts to the "Guardian Ethic" of leaders and moral examples, in which tradeoffs are not up to the voter but the leader, who is trusted to make very difficult moral decisions, such as when to lie to the public. Her view is best described as "classical" as it builds on observations on these matters back at least to Plato and Confucius.

By contrast, the neoclassical mindset tends to accept the substitution of market systems for command hierarchy as a general optimization, and is more accepting of such methods as an allocation voting scheme.


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