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Mathematics LibreTexts

3.8: Exercises(Exploration)

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    1. In the U.S., the Electoral College is used in presidential elections. Each state is awarded a number of electors equal to the number of representatives (based on population) and senators (2 per state) they have in congress. Since most states award the winner of the popular vote in their state all their state’s electoral votes, the Electoral College acts as a weighted voting system. To explore how the Electoral College works, we’ll look at a mini-country with only 4 states. Here is the outcome of a hypothetical election:

    \(\begin{array}{|l|l|l|l|l|}
    \hline \textbf { State } & \textbf { Smalota } & \textbf { Medigan } & \textbf { Bigonia } & \textbf { Hugodo } \\
    \hline \text { Population } & 50,000 & 70,000 & 100,000 & 240,000 \\
    \hline \text { Votes for A } & 40,000 & 50,000 & 80,000 & 50,000 \\
    \hline \text { Votes for B } & 10,000 & 20,000 & 20,000 & 190,000 \\
    \hline
    \end{array}\)

    1. If this country did not use an Electoral College, which candidate would win the election?
    2. Suppose that each state gets 1 electoral vote for every 10,000 people. Set up a weighted voting system for this scenario, calculate the Banzhaf power index for each state, then calculate the winner if each state awards all their electoral votes to the winner of the election in their state.
    3. Suppose that each state gets 1 electoral vote for every 10,000 people, plus an additional 2 votes. Set up a weighted voting system for this scenario, calculate the Banzhaf power index for each state, then calculate the winner if each state awards all their electoral votes to the winner of the election in their state.
    4. Suppose that each state gets 1 electoral vote for every 10,000 people, and awards them based on the number of people who voted for each candidate. Additionally, they get 2 votes that are awarded to the majority winner in the state. Calculate the winner under these conditions.
    5. Does it seem like an individual state has more power in the Electoral College under the vote distribution from part c or from part d?
    6. Research the history behind the Electoral College to explore why the system was introduced instead of using a popular vote. Based on your research and experiences, state and defend your opinion on whether the Electoral College system is or is not fair.
    1. The value of the Electoral College (see previous problem for an overview) in modern elections is often debated. Find an article or paper providing an argument for or against the Electoral College. Evaluate the source and summarize the article, then give your opinion of why you agree or disagree with the writer’s point of view. If done in class, form groups and hold a debate.

    3.8: Exercises(Exploration) is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David Lippman via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.

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