[EM] The Electoral College (was Interesting use of Borda count)

Anthony Simmons asimmons at krl.org
Wed Jan 30 17:08:48 PST 2002

>> From: Forest Simmons <fsimmons at pcc.edu>
>> Subject: Re: [EM] The Electoral College (was Interesting use of
Borda count)

>> Both Blake and Anthony have pointed out actualities that
>> the Banzhaf index doesn't detect: Blake because of
>> correlations among the blocks, and Anthony because of
>> distinctive trends within individual blocks.

>> The Banzhaf power index averages these effects out, so it
>> is to be taken with a grain of salt in any particular
>> situation.

Here's an example that seems to give rather extreme power to
the small states.  This occured in another country, where, in
an election last fall, the voters had to choose between two
slates of officials.  In this particular country, there are
seven states, and each state gets one vote in the Electoral
College.  Most of the candidates are eliminated in primaries
of a sort, so there are only two candidates in the final

Here is the record of the actual popular vote, by state:
(* shows the winner of the state's electoral vote)

   For the        For the
   Diamondbacks   Yankees

         9 *         1
         4 *         0
         1           2 *
         3           4 *
         2           3 *
        15 *         2
         3 *         2
Total   37          14

The popular election was a phenomenal landslide, but the
electoral vote was marginal.  Apparently, gerrymandering has
concentrated the Diamondback voters in two states, where
their voting power has been drastically diluted.

Our own Electoral College is also a by-district election for
representatives who then vote as proxies.  It suffers all of
the disadvantages of a by-district parliamentary election,
aggravated by the fact that the districts are gigantic,
covering a huge area, and therefore the method exaggerates
the differences between districts.

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