Friday, March 23, 2018

Electoral Tie-Breaking

I've not seen national news coverage yet, but a (council?) by-election in Ockendon, Thurrock has been resolved by drawing a name out of a box. Local coverage can be found here and here.

So far, I'm not clear on the facts of the case. The Thurrock Gazette reports the first count gave a one-vote difference, before a recount led to an exact tie (696 each) and a lottery. In that case, I'd expect another recount, to confirm whether it really was a tie or not, before the lottery.

However, reports that there were three recounts. (I don't know whether they actually mean an original count and two recounts, or whether they really mean three recounts, i.e. four counts total.)

Predictably, comments sections show some opposition to lotteries, but I'm pleased to see that they continue to play a part in our democracy.

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Thursday, March 01, 2018

Age-based Voting in the EU Referendum

In the aftermath of the EU ('Brexit') Referendum, there was a lot of talk about the disparity between the old (who it seems voted in larger numbers and mainly to leave) and the young (who mainly voted to remain, but many of whom did not vote - or for under 18s were not eligible to do so).

Here is Sean Lock, proposing to include those over 10 but exclude those over 65. You'll need institutional access to Box of Broadcasts.

If you don't have that, my TV guide says it was from Series 4, Episode 6 of 8 Out of 10 Cats Does Countdown, which seems to be confirmed by 4OD. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to square with what I can find on Youtube, where episodes seem to be wrongly labelled. It featured Bill Bailey and Josh Widdicombe as guests.

A more serious, academic take on the issue is provided by this Van Parijs article (which I've shared before) but I think I might use Sean Lock in my lectures.

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Thursday, February 08, 2018

Votes for Immigrants

A nice blog here, arguing that the right to vote should not be restricted to citizens, but rather should extend to resident foreigners.

Some would go even further, questioning why even residency should be required, if people can be affected by decisions. It's been suggested, for example, that everyone in Latin America should get to vote on the US president. This would probably have made quite a difference to the 2016 election, where the Mexican border wall was one of Trump's main campaign promises.

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Monday, January 22, 2018

Taxes for Children

The BBC just led me to this HMRC video explaining taxes for children (roughly 8-11). From around 3:30, it highlights that the target audience pay tax (VAT). This could be interesting in a discussion of voting rights.

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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Iterated Games

An important part of game theory is that the payoffs of a one-off game may differ if it were repeated (especially if infinitely or indefinitely). A nice illustration of that can be found here.

In a one-off game, getting $1 beats getting 50c. But taking $1 ends the game, whereas if the boys keeps taking 50c then he gets another chance to play (indefinitely), allowing him to win much more over time.

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Saturday, December 23, 2017

Unusual Marriages 3: Yourself

It's often said that a marriage is between a man and a woman. This excludes not only homosexual (same-sex) marriage, but also polygamous marriage. And it also excludes sologamy, yet it seems that some people are marrying themselves. This BBC story partially repeats an earlier feature on Laura Mesi.

It takes two to tango, but not necessarily to marry...

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Saturday, December 09, 2017

Unusual Marriages 2: A Chandelier

When I posted this piece, about a woman who married a bridge, a while ago, I think I had a couple of other examples that I meant to post in a little series. Unfortunately, it looks like I never did. I just saw this piece, about a woman who proposed to a chandelier.

The piece clarifies that this marriage won't be recognised by Church or law, though as far as I can tell no marriage has actually taken place yet anyway. The woman in question apparently wants a commitment ceremony, although it seems she's in an open/polyamorous relationship that involves sleeping with other light fittings too.

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