One weird trick to end gerrymandering: cake-cutting game theory

Which is an obvious problem with the cascading election described, but ranked-choice voting (weakest link) doesn’t as long as voters know of more than one candidate they’d like. In the end the redistricting process probably isn’t fixable, and replacing it with ranked voting would be better… for the public. …until they start manipulating the number of seats.

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This system doesn’t give as much of a preferential treatment to large parties as the current one, so you’d slowly catch up with the rest of the world’s democracies, where 3-5 parliamentary parties is the norm. If people did really cast all their votes on members of a single party, you’d get a fair electoral college in the Congress. You could also give people less votes than there are seats, but this leads to tactical voting which is not something I’d like to encourage

Ranked voting is objectively a better idea, but it’s harder for voters to understand and in trials has caused the number of invalid votes to increase. It makes vote tallying harder, because you have to do it a few times, and even a minor difference between the weakest candidates could lead to completely mistallied elections.

Honestly, the thing I care about most is ending one man districts. This has lead to so much polarization it’s unreal. The sooner it ends, the better

Is it more important for you that your repesentative lives closer, or is more closely aligned with your oppinions? But yes, making moderate majority candidates stronger is an unfortunate side effect of the cascading system.

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It’s funny, I think of the problem with “franchise” as being that it was that really it wasn’t the people choosing, but it was the computer choosing.

I think it’s actually really different. If you pick the top N then people can make an argument: Don’t cast your vote for [person in party X], that’s throwing your vote away! With random ballot you can’t throw your vote away. If the communist party gets 0.01% of the vote then they will get a seat 0.01% of the time.

Of course it’s a terrible idea, so there’s that…


I don’t know, now that you’ve pointed out the “So you’re telling me there’s a chance?” aspect of it it doesn’t sound so silly.


How about going on a 5k run?

I’m all for random politicos, so long as there’s a plebiscite at the end of their term as to whether they deserve a nice pension or criminal charges, depending on how good their administration was.


I’m not sure why it is even necessary to give people who live less densely a larger say in the election. “You’re richer so you can own more land so you’re more important”?

Why are the representatives divided by state, even? One pool for the whole country. Absolute number of votes wins seats. Remove political parties from the equation and instead have every candidate fill in a questionnaire of what their opinions are on subjects, the results of which are then public. You get the pick the person who’s opinion coincides with your own.


I think it’s inarguably the best system if you ignore the way that actual people would actually feel about it.

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It’s necessary because people in those areas also deserve representation that reflects their values. It probably shouldn’t be in quite the disproportionate way we currently have, but everybody deserves the right to representation in the US gov’t. This is the whole crux of the argument, that gerrymandering is unfair and leads to political stagnation.

If you let the whole state/country go strictly by popular vote, it’s basically the same thing, only with the false moral high-ground of “Hey, I didn’t draw these lines, if people want to live in an area that doesn’t get completely shafted by the popular vote, they should move to a more popular area.” Regardless of the probable environmental benefits to such a stimulus, it’s just a shitty way to operate, IMHO.

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You risk ending up with what modern electoral laws were supposed to replace: ad-hoc systems (like the original UK one, back in the day) that represented interests (churches, landowners etc) rather than people. For all the jokes about “the representative for ExxonMobil”, the current approach did dispense with that, making the political debate a bit more open and fair…

And of course there is the challenge of aggregating ballots across wider distances. The ideal electoral process is simple, low-tech, and fully observable and auditable. Looking at shenanigans from 2000 onwards, it looks to me like US states have a long way to go to achieve that even on a very small scale; pushing them to go beyond would likely result in even more corrupt outcomes.

Going back to the “you cut, I choose” approach, the size of the task would likely require automation to some degree. 17 rounds of redraws for one of the smallest states does not look very scalable to me. Then again, i have no idea how many man-hours the task currently requires, so it might be doable. It does look eminently fair, at least to the two main parties.

I think the implicit goal with the freeze-and-redraw is force politicians to make fair districts from the get-go. Whether politicians would actually go that route is a different question; they could also go the other way and play it out as an actual game.
Either way it still has the inherent flaw of letting the fucking politicians choose their voters; it just makes it more bipartisan.

Why wouldn’t people really cast all their votes on members of a single party? I’ve got 54 representatives to elect! Why try to pay attention to the exact particulars of a candidate, when I can just vote (D) all the way down? Why wouldn’t it give just as much preferential treatment to large parties? Why would “the Yellow Party”, to make up an example, get enough votes to actually send someone to the legislature?

But why don’t people have interests?

What’s wrong with giving the blue-collar voters their representative, and the conservative church-goers their representative, and the hippies their representative? Letting people look at the slate and find the person that best represents their interests?

Is that really worse than giving the people of county 17 their representative, who has opinions that are the polar-opposite of 40% of his constituents?


We are raising issues that are far from settled in political science all over the world. I started typing a response but it would take a long essay just to touch the most important issues, which I’m only going to list here.

If we represent interests, how do we change those interests as society evolves?

What happens to people who refuse to self-identify as this or that interest group?

Is it better to be represented by someone who agrees with 30% of the electorate while everybody else cannot agree anything, or someone who disagrees with that same 30% while still not agreeing with anyone else?

If all that matters is the ideological debate, then nobody has any interest in agreeing anything, everyone is locked into perennial debate, and people start calling for dictators (see French republics, Italian republic, Weimar etc); so having a degree of localism injected (“I vote for the guy who delivers roads to my town”) tends to make things more amenable in practice (the British tradition).

I agree that the two-party system with first-past-the-post is sclerotic and awfully antidemocratic in practice. But one has to be careful not to throw away the baby with the bathwater.

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