Something I learned today – the US Electoral College System.
Excerpt from the Wikipedia entry:
Rather than directly voting for the President and Vice President, United States citizens cast votes for electors. Electors are technically free to vote for anyone eligible to be President, but in practice pledge to vote for specific candidates and voters cast ballots for favored presidential and vice presidential candidates by voting for correspondingly pledged electors. Most states allow voters to choose between statewide slates of electors pledged to vote for the presidential and vice presidential tickets of various parties; the ticket that receives the most votes statewide ‘wins’ all of the votes cast by electors from that state. U.S. presidential campaigns concentrate on winning the popular vote in a combination of states that choose a majority of the electors, rather than campaigning to win the most votes nationally.
Read the whole entry about the evolution of the US election system. Interesting stuff. The takeaway – it is really hard to devise a system which is ‘fair’ even when what is ‘fair’ is defined. In the case of elections, it seems that ‘fair’ is a rather hard thing to pin down. Which begs an interesting question – what do you understand about the word ‘democracy’?