How To Vote Mathematically!

[This is a back issue of one of this site’s newsletters]

About half of you reading this are from the United States. At least, that’s my guess, based on my website‘s traffic statistics.

About a quarter – half of that half – will be voting in the coming Presidential Election, or have already done so. At least, that’s my guess, based on turnout stats I skim-read on Wikipedia.

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Do Bellweathers Exist?

On Nate Silver’s election live blog, he points out “In every presidential election since 1960, the candidate who prevailed in Florida’s Hillsborough County, home to Tampa, has also prevailed in Florida”

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Can Elections Be Fair?

Imagine the United States had only three states, Texas, California and Florida. Suppose each of these states sent 10 delegates to the electoral college. Suppose, also, that each of these states is a swing state – the polls show 50% support for either candidate, so the result depends on tiny swings within each state.

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The Math of Voting

The Math Of Voting
The Math Of Voting

The House of Representatives in the United States Congress is responsible for creating laws that, if they get through the Senate and the President, become, well, law. the House has 435 members. The British House of Commons has 650 lawmakers. Even the Australian House of Representatives has 150 members.

 

Democratic countries deliberately choose to have their laws created by large groups of people. The idea is that special interest groups will not be able to have too much influence on the passage of laws, and so the government will truly be a government representative of the people.

Is it possible, then, that an entire democratic country could be run by as few as two individuals? Let’s see what the math says…

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