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Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair…
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Gaming the Vote: Why Elections Aren't Fair (and What We Can Do About It) (2008)

by William Poundstone

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Why elections aren't fair (and what we can do about it)
  jhawn | Jul 31, 2017 |
The Good: I think this book did a good job exposing some of the flaws in today's voting system and how both major parties attempt to use these flaws to their advantage in order to win without actually having the support of the majority. Gaming the Vote focuses on the mathematical aspects of how the system can be manipulated, which is interesting and applicable on all levels of politics.

The Bad: For many people, math is essentially boring and will turn of readers regardless of how well Poundstone explains the ideas in understandable terms. Because the focus in on the mathematics of politics, the book only really highlights one tiny way the system is flawed. Ultimately, correcting this flaw on every level wouldn't truly make elections any fairer. ( )
1 vote TequilaReader | May 24, 2013 |
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 presented for changing what we have now (plurality voting). Recollecting the events surrounding Florida in 2000, I don't remember a big hue and cry to change the voting system. Rather I remember hanging chads, committees studying individual ballots, old machines, Florida Treasurer whatever, margins of 500+ votes, Nader, the Supreme Court - but nothing about Borda, IRV, range voting. And I don't see a lot in the newspapers today nor in other media, nor do I hear citizens clamoring for a change. This book did not move me - halfway through I was anxious for it to end... ( )
  maneekuhi | May 26, 2011 |
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. But this is no dry academic work: Poundstone's lively style, the large number of episodes from real live political situations (of U.S. history) that ilustrate some of the effects (or defects) of plurality vote, and his letting the various academics he interviewed (Arrow, Brams, Saari, Smith, etc) to speak for themselves, all this makes the book a terrific reading to everyone interested in these matters. There is not a single piece of mathematical reasoning in the book, which is fine given those general readers to which it is intended, but this feature can leave other type of readers asking for more. And although this is a very fine book, the author is not exactly impartial: he clearly prefers Range Voting and leaves no doubt about it when he discusses the method in chapter fourteen. And he may as well be right... All in all: a great read! ( )
  FPdC | May 25, 2010 |
As books of non fiction go, Gaming the Vote begins with an amazing story. William Poundstone starts the book with a telling of the 1991 governor's race in Louisiana. I never knew how corrupt politics in America could really get till the Blagojevich scandal broke. I had no idea I had been missing out on so much fun! The story of how Edwin Edwards ended up squaring off and winning against David Duke had me hooked and immediately raised my expectations from the book. And it delivered.

The book is an examination of Kenneth Arrow's Impossibility Theorem (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impossibility_theorem), i.e The Problem followed by proposals of other voting systems that try to address the issues of vote splitting which plagues the plurality voting system. Mr. Poundstone makes this admittedly dry subject funny and engaging through anecdotes aplenty. I found the Charles Dodgson/Lewis Carroll story especially enlightening. I had no idea the writer I knew as Lewis Carroll was also a philosopher mathematician. And now I know what a Condorcet winner is!

If you decide to read the book, I suggest putting the glossary at the end of the book to use - the author has condensed all the different voting systems described in four pages that help clarify the main text when you get bogged down in the jargon of IRV, Approval Voting, Condorcet Cycle etcetera.

I'm strongly recommending Gaming the Vote. ( )
  ubaidd | Jan 12, 2009 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0809048930, Hardcover)

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 exposé of how the political system really works, and a call to action.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:01 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

At least five U.S. presidential elections have been won by the second most popular candidate, because of "spoilers"--minor candidates who take enough votes away from the most popular candidate to tip the election. The spoiler effect is a consequence of the "impossibility theorem," discovered by Nobel laureate economist Kenneth Arrow, which asserts that voting is fundamentally unfair--and political strategists are exploiting the mathematical faults of the simple majority vote. This book presents a solution to the spoiler problem: a system called range voting, already widely used on the Internet, is the fairest voting method of all, according to computer studies. Range voting remains controversial, however, and author Poundstone assesses the obstacles confronting any attempt to change the American electoral system.--From publisher description.… (more)

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