Episode 114 Your Vote Brings Democratic Stability


Episode 114

Your Vote Brings Democratic Stability

An Interview with Yaneer Bar-Yam & Alexander Siegenfeld

November 2, 2018

In this episode, Haley talks with Yaneer Bar-Yam, President of the New England Complex Systems Institute, and Alexander Siegenfeld, a PhD physics student at MIT, about their collaborative research paper entitled: Negative Representation and Instability in Democratic Elections. They each discuss why the current political climate in the U.S. is so polarized and unstable and explore how low voter turnout leads to negative representation and further instability. Describing insights from their research, they share the importance of increasing voter turnout and weakening the two party system (through methods like ranked choice voting) in order to achieve a more stable democracy.


Show Notes


Quotes from this episode:

“We were interested in, what does representation mean? What are the general properties of elections? Why are we in this current situation?” — Alex Siegenfeld

“Over the course of the research, we discovered that the core problem is something we term ‘democratic instability’.” — Alex Siegenfeld

“One of the interesting observations is that when you have polarized voters you don’t necessarily get polarized elected officials. In particular, if more people vote, it tends to reduce the polarization of elected officials.” — Yaneer Bar-Yam

“Whenever you have an unstable election, there will always be some opinions that are negatively represented.” — Alex Siegenfeld

“Even if people are uninformed, voting is important because high voter turnout contributed to stability, while low voter turnout will lead to instability and negative representation.” — Alex Siegenfeld

 A boulder sitting in the bottom of a valley is stable, while a boulder perched at the top of a hill is unstable. Where do elections sit? — Alexander Siegenfeld

A boulder sitting in the bottom of a valley is stable, while a boulder perched at the top of a hill is unstable. Where do elections sit? — Alexander Siegenfeld