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

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Macmillan, Feb 17, 2009 - Political Science - 352 pages
23 Reviews

At least five U.S. presidential elections have been won by the second most popular candidate, but these results were not inevitable. In fact, such an unfair outcome need never happen again, and as William Poundstone shows in Gaming the Vote, the solution is lurking right under our noses.

In all five cases, the vote was upset by a "spoiler"--a minor candidate who took 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 the Nobel laureate economist Kenneth Arrow. His 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. The answer to the spoiler problem lies in a system called range voting, which would satisfy both right and left, and Gaming the Vote assesses the obstacles confronting any attempt to change the U.S. electoral system.

The latest of several books by Poundstone on the theme of how important scientific ideas have affected the real world, Gaming the Vote is both a wry exposť of how the political system really works and a call to action.

 

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

User Review  - Michael Mingo - Goodreads

Poundstone gives a good introduction to the various problems with voting systems and outlines several possible (albeit flawed) alternative to our current system of first-past-the-post voting. My one ... Read full review

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

User Review  - Xavier Shay - Goodreads

3 stars + 1 for new useful information on a topic I am unread on. Summary: Ranked voting systems are fundamentally broken (proven with math), plurality vote (American system) is *really* broken: major ... Read full review

Contents

The Wizard and the Lizard
3
THE PROBLEM
23
Game Theory
25
The Big Bang
45
A Short History of Vote Splitting
59
The Most Evil Man in America
92
Run Ralph Run
107
Year of the Spoiler
120
Bad Santa
201
Last Man Standing
219
Hot or Not?
231
Present but Not Voting
250
THE REALITY
259
The Way Democracy Will Be
261
Blue Man Coup
279
Glossary
285

THE SOLUTION
131
Trouble in Kiribati
133
The New Belfry
149
Instant Runoff
162
Whos Afraid of the Big Bad Cycle?
172
Buckley and the Clones
186
Addresses
291
Notes
293
Sources
313
Acknowledgments
325
Index
327
Copyright

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About the author (2009)

William Poundstone is the author of ten books, including Fortune's Formula: The Untold Story of the Scientific Betting System That Beat the Casinos and Wall Street (H&W, 2005).

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