“This Website has been designed by French and Canadians scientists who seek to understand the effect of various electoral systems on electoral results. Does the way votes are counted have an influence on who is ultimately elected? Are these systems really different? Is one better than others? To answer these questions, it matters to know how voters use them. That is the reason why we invite you to vote four times in asking you each time the following question: “For this election, how would you personally vote with this electoral system?”
Given that there’s (usually) only one Pope, the range of electoral systems on offer is necessarily limited: first past the post plurality, approval vote, two round majority vote, and the alternative vote. The purpose of the enterprise is both to spread awareness of electoral systems alternative to that used in one’s own jurisdiction, and research. I’m quite curious about their research questions and hypotheses, which I’m sure will result in conference paper in the not too distant future.
The project does have a couple limitations from a social science perspective. Pope-voting is a seriously low information election for the general population. Hypothetically, the advantages of an above-average eduction and a geeky, technically lapsed, curiosity in theology does not overcome the paucity of information about the candidates. An experimental design regarding electoral systems should enjoy either some degree of an informed electorate, or at least available cues; in this field the only cue available is ethnicity. While I recognize that the field of candidates had to be narrowed somewhat from the total population of potential candidates, the 115 or so eligible for the conclave, to render a papabile shortlist, the six chosen are somewhat arbitrary. I reviewed four sources (three mainstream and one specialized) discussing the “leading” candidates, including The Guardian, The New York Times, the BBC, and The Tablet. Of the six selected for the poll, three cardinals appear in all four (Ouellet, Scola, Turkson), Sandri appears in three, Erdo one, and Bertone not once. Yet several candidates not included did appear in three if not four of the sources I reviewed.
Nevertheless, it’s a very cool idea, and fun for the whole family. And you get to vote more than once, as I was informed at the end:
Every Monday at 9.00 AM (Roma time), a new online vote will start.
You will thus be able to vote again and to follow the evolution of the votes.
The online vote will continue until the election of the new Pope.
h/t David Farrell