Gaming the Vote by William Poundstone

With the presidential elections coming up, more and more folks seem to be talking about range voting — how if we were only as smart as other countries we would have adopted range voting and people could have voted for Ralph Nader and still gotten Al Gore as our county’s 43rd president.

So when I read Scientific American’s review on William Poundstone’s Why Elections Aren’t Fair (and What We Can Do About It), I thought it was worth writing about. When I first heard about this book in Janet Maslin‘s New York Times book review “Just Tell Us Whom You Want to Win” published March 20, 2008, I wasn’t interested in reading it.

But with the election getting closer, it seems more and more relevant.

Poundstone calculates that at least 5 out of 45 presidential elections since 1828 have gone to the second-most-popular candidate because of spoilers — a failure rate of more than 11 percent for our voting system.

I’m curious about what Poundstone ultimately concludes after his discussion of alternative voting systems.

Click here to view the table of contents or click here to read an excerpt.

As for the other books mentioned by Scientific American — Physics for Future Presidents: The Science Behind the Headlines by Richard A. Muller and Electronic Elections: The Perils and Promises of Digital Democracy by R. Michael Alvarez and Thad E. Hall — don’t appeal as much to me.

To learn more about Physics for Future Presidents, click here; click here to view the table of contents for Electronic Election or click here to read an excerpt of Chapter 1 in PDF format (also available in HTML format here).


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