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Behind the standard one man-one vote formula lies a labyrinth of bizarre dysfunction, according to this engaging study of the science of voting. America's system is the least sensible way to vote, argues Poundstone (Fortune's Formula), prone to vote-splitting fiascoes like the 2000 election. Unfortunately, according to the author, a famous impossibility theorem states that no voting procedure can accurately gauge the will of the people without failures and paradoxes. (More optimistically, Poundstone contends that important problems are solved by range voting, in which voters score each candidate independently on a 1–10 scale.) Poundstone provides a lucid survey of electoral systems and their eccentric proponents (Charles Dodgson, aka Lewis Carroll, loved voting novelties), studded with colorful stories of election skullduggery by campaign consultants, whom he likens to terrorists... exploiting the mathematical vulnerabilities of voting itself. His lively, accessible mix of high theory and low politics merits a thumbs-up. Illus. (Feb.)
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“Gaming the Vote is a must-read for anyone interested in the process and outcomes of voting. Poundstone gives a clear and remarkably accurate account of the rich theoretical literature. At the same time, his examples of voting anomalies in real elections are both lively and revealing.” —Kenneth J. Arrow, professor of economics (emeritus) at Stanford University and winner of the 1972 Nobel Prize in Economic Science
"In this masterful presentation William Poundstone sketches the history of voting systems, elucidates ideas such as Borda counts, Condorcet winners, and range voting, and shows how changing our system could make it less likely to yield paradoxical and unfair results. Ranging easily over material as disparate as Arrow's impossibility theorem and recent presidential elections, he makes it clear just how unclear is the question, "Who won?" The book has my vote." —John Allen Paulos, author of Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences and the forthcoming Irreligion: A Mathematician Explains Why the Arguments for Religion Just Don't Add Up
This book does an excellent job surveying the many voting systems that are likely superior alternatives to the plurality system used in most U.S. elections. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Christopher I Trojan
For the record, I was already a fan of Range Voting before I even encountered this book. After the Nader/Bush/Gore Florida event, I started to look into voting in general and... Read morePublished 14 months ago by Dar
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... Read morePublished on May 24, 2013 by Jennifer Sicurella
I've been interested in election systems/voting methods for some time. The disadvantages of our current system are pretty easy to explain (but not here). Read morePublished on January 11, 2013 by Jeff MacDonald
About how all voting systems have problems, but "range" voting is the best, though now I'm not sure how it's different than IRV, which is only better than the present "plurality... Read morePublished on July 15, 2012 by Dan Robinson
This gives a remarkably engaging history of voting theory and some prescriptions for improving democracy. Read morePublished on June 11, 2012 by Jonathan Andreas
This book takes two approaches to the problem of choosing a voting system for single office elections. (That is, elections to choose a single candidate from a field of candidates). Read morePublished on January 31, 2012 by Jerry Schwarz
Kenneth Arrow's Impossibility Theorem (1948) states that no voting system can exist which satisfies the four minimal conditions of transitivity, unanimity, non-dictatorship, and... Read morePublished on April 13, 2011 by Caleb Hanson
A fascinating book. A bit tough to get through but it makes you think about voting and the "American Way". Read morePublished on April 7, 2011 by NYdirector