NEW YORK, NY – July, 2012. The Politics & Electoral Reform Working Group of Occupy Wall Street has released the results of its first major alternative voting methods experiment. The test was a trial run for a planned exit poll-style survey to be conducted on Election Day this November in a strategically chosen district in New York City. The present survey of over 300 individuals was conducted at Occupy Wall Street events in April and May, and tested three alternative voting methods – approval voting, range voting and instant runoff voting – against the traditional system most commonly employed in the United States, namely, plurality voting.
With the experiment, we set out to answer the following questions: How does voting method affect outcome? What method or methods are most effective in reflecting the will of a given sample of individuals? Are there methods other than plurality that better represent the sample?
We found that the plurality method results in anomalous outcomes which are not representative of the sample. Simply put, the outcome of the plurality test was not reproduced by any other method, but the results of the three alternative methods converged with and substantiated one another. See our full report for a breakdown of our findings.
The present experiment was the first large-scale test of our model and method. In the coming weeks, we will be releasing more detailed analyses of our results. We will also be improving our model in preparation for an expansion of the size and scope of the experiment. On Election Day, we plan to conduct an exit poll style survey in a strategically chosen district in New York City that will reproduce a portion of the actual ballot presented to voters. This will allow us to compare official vote tallies under the plurality method with our own sample of the same voters utilizing the three alternative methods tested by our program.
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