Sunday, October 12, 2008

good book -- why elections aren't fair

I recently read the book "Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It)" by William Poundstone. The non-academic book considers the design of voting system, and does a good job discussing the academic literature in the process. Included is Arrow's impossibility theorem (it's impossible to design a perfect set of voting rules), and discussing the possitives and negatives of plurality voting, proportional representation, range voting, instant runoff voting, condorcet voting, the bords count, and approval voting mechanisms. Poundstone makes the case that changing the voting mechanism in the US could eliminate the spoiler effect and other problems.

Amazon book site



You're mis-stating Arrow's theorem. It does not say anything about perfection; it simply says there are a set of 3 criteria that no voting method can simultaneously satisfy.

Clay Shentrup
The world's "most militant" voting reform activist

chris c. said...

Yes, Clay is correct. Arrow's theorem is a mathematical result showing that no mechanism can simultaneously satisfy each of his defined criteria. It has often been interpreted in the way that I stated it, even if that is not technically correct. The book discusses this debate, and I recommend reading it for more details.


Wow...that's the fastest I ever won an online debate. Where's my flame war?