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Efficiency and equity tradeoffs in voting machine allocation problems


Efficiency and equity are the two crucial factors to be considered when allocating public resources such as voting machines. Existing allocation models are all single-objective, focusing on maximizing either efficiency or equity despite the fact that the actual decision-making process involves both issues simultaneously. We propose a bi-objective integer program to analyse the tradeoff between the two competing objectives. The new model quantifies the sacrifice in efficiency in order to achieve a certain improvement in equity and vice versa. Using data from the 2008 United States Presidential election in Franklin County, Ohio, we demonstrate that our model is capable of producing significantly more balanced allocation plans, in terms of efficiency and equity, than current practice or other competing methods.

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Figure 1


  1. The actual values of the average waiting times used in this case study, w ij , are available from the authors upon request.

  2. Model B1 for Z2 only before linearization includes 1065 variables and 26 600 constraints for the case of 532 precincts and 50 possible machine assignments. After linearization, as shown in B1_Z2_Linear, the number of variables only increases by 1, but the number of constraints increases by 282 492.


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Correspondence to Xinfang (Jocelyn) Wang.

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Wang, X., Yang, M. & Fry, M. Efficiency and equity tradeoffs in voting machine allocation problems. J Oper Res Soc 66, 1363–1369 (2015).

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  • efficiency-equity tradeoff
  • efficient allocation
  • voting operations
  • public service