Democracy: 'Hot or Not'?

To negate the Nader effect, pick a president the way you'd rate a 'drunk sorority girl'
By Jason Farago,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 12, 2008 1:55 PM CST
Dolores Diamond Wood is seen at a voting booth at a Goodwill store in the Reseda section of Los Angeles, Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2008. (AP Photo/Nick Ut)   (Associated Press)
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(Newser) – The US voting system has serious problems, as any Gore-loving Floridian can attest. A new book, Gaming the Vote, recounts the failings of plurality voting, which allows spoilers such as Ralph Nader undue influence. Author William Poundstone explores systems from instant runoff voting to "the method used on the bod-rating website Hot or Not," writes Salon's book critic.

The Impossibility Theorem demonstrated that no voting system can ever be completely fair; the challenge is to discover the least unfair. Instant runoff voting reduces the influence of spoilers but doesn't guarantee the most popular candidate victory. Letting voters rank hopefuls on a 10-point scale à la Hot or Not—judging each candidate like a "drunk sorority girl"—may be the fairest system of all.