Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It)

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Feb 17, 2009 - Political Science - 352 pages

Our Electoral System is Fundamentally Flawed, But There's a Simple and Fair Solution

At least five U.S. presidential elections have been won by the second most popular candidate. The reason was a "spoiler"—a minor candidate who takes enough votes away from the most popular candidate to tip the election to someone else. The spoiler effect is more than a glitch. It is a consequence of one of the most surprising intellectual discoveries of the twentieth century: the "impossibility theorem" of Nobel laureate economist Kenneth Arrow. The impossibility theorem asserts that voting is fundamentally unfair—a finding that has not been lost on today's political consultants. Armed with polls, focus groups, and smear campaigns, political strategists are exploiting the mathematical faults of the simple majority vote. In recent election cycles, this has led to such unlikely tactics as Republicans funding ballot drives for Green spoilers and Democrats paying for right-wing candidates' radio ads. Gaming the Vote shows that there is a solution to the spoiler problem that will satisfy both right and left. A system
called range voting, already widely used on the Internet, is the fairest voting method of all, according to computer studies. Despite these findings, range voting remains controversial, and Gaming the Vote assesses the obstacles confronting any attempt to change the American electoral system. The latest of several books by William Poundstone on the theme of how important scientific ideas have affected the real world, Gaming the Vote is a wry exposÚ of how the political system really works, and a call to action.

 

Contents

A Short History of Vote Splitting
3
Year of the Spoiler
6
Last Man Standing
13
The Big Bang
45
Randy Duke Cunningham
120
Ted Kulongoski Ron Saxton Mary Starrett Tweedledee Tweedledum
129
Lord Salisbury H G Wells instantrunoff voting onestop shopping
169
sarcasm simplicity KaPing Yee Microsoft Windows manipulative
174
Hot or Not?
227
Blue Man Coup
279
Notes
293
The Most Evil Man in America
298
Trouble in Kiribati
302
Bad Santa
306
The Way Democracy Will
309
Sources
313

Buckley and the Clones
186
Nixon Ithaca game theory approval voting John Kellett Kenneth Mott
194

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About the author (2009)

William Poundstone is the author of ten books. His latest, Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street, was published by Hill and Wang in September 2005.

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