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.

 

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User Review  - maneekuhi - LibraryThing

Voted 1 1/2 stars, completed 5/26/11. I thought the presentation was rather dull over all, too much narrative. More examples were needed, and more real life cases. I don't think a real good case was ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - FPdC - LibraryThing

This book gives an entertaining and informative tour of the most important voting systems (plurality, instant-runoff, Condorcet, Borda, approval, and range voting), their features and their problems ... Read full review

Contents

The Wizard and the Lizard
3
Game Theory
25
Kurt G÷del Adolf Hitler Albert Einstein Oskar Morgenstern Bambi
43
Michelle Kwan the Great FlipFlop Republicans Democrats
57
A Short History of Vote Splitting
59
The Most Evil Man in America
92
Run Ralph Run
107
Year of the Spoiler
120
Lord Salisbury H G Wells instantrunoff voting onestop shopping
169
Buckley and the Clones
186
Bad Santa
201
Last Man Standing 2 19
219
4 Hot Or Not?
231
Present but Not Voting
250
The Way Democracy Will Be
261
Blue Man Coup
279

Randy Duke Cunningham Brian Bilbray Francine Busby Tijuana
129
The New Belfry
149
Instant Runoff
162
Notes
293
Acknowledgments
325
Copyright

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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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