Heads or Tails?: A Modest Proposal for Deciding Close Elections
20 Pages Posted: 7 Jun 2007 Last revised: 18 Feb 2012
Date Written: December 2006
Elections are fundamentally imperfect. For instance, machines break down and lines are long. A few elections are incredibly close, with only a few tenths of a percentage point or a couple of votes separating the candidates. A very small number of elections end in a dead-even draw. When this happens the winner is often decided by a game of chance -- a hand of poker, the drawing of lots, or the flip of a coin. In this brief, lighthearted Essay, the author develops the argument that because elections are fundamentally imperfect it makes sense to use a coin flip to decide the winners of close elections; that perhaps instead of relying on a curious alchemy of recounts and litigation to resolve close elections, we should rely on a different kind of alchemy -- the alchemy of the United States Mint.
Keywords: elections, voting, democracy, law
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