Mathematical Digest

Short Summaries of Articles about Mathematics
in the Popular Press

"The Science of Elections," by Steven J. Brams and Dudley R. Herschbach.Science, 25 May 2001, page 1449.

The authors give a little history of voting theory and advocate for a methodcalled approval voting. This method allows voters to vote for as manycandidates as they wish and does not restrict them to only one choice, as domost voting procedures currently in use. Brams and Herschbach write that thefault in the last U.S. presidential election wasn't so much in Florida votingmachines as it was in the plurality method of voting (in which the topvote-getter wins). The flaw with plurality voting is that in a race with morethan two candidates, the top vote-getter is often the one most objectionable toa majority of the voters. Many professional societies use approval voting toelect officers. The authors invite a state to try approval voting and become"the pioneer in electoral reform."

--- Mike Breen