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The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

The Student News Site of Tarrant County College

The Collegian

Students learn mathematics of voting

By Kristine Behrhorst/reporter

One area of math became a little less mysterious when SE Campus students learned The Mathematics of Voting Methods.

Dr. Rhonda Hatcher, professor of mathematics at Texas Christian University, discussed voting methods of plurality, Borda Count, Condorcet, Hare and approval.

During the Oct. 10 presentation, students learned that commonly used voting methods are nothing new.
“ Several of these methods were developed by philosophers in the mid 19th century and conducted by trial and error,” she said.

The voting methods work in different ways including strategic voting, head-to-head comparisons, a run-off between two candidates and approval.

Each method has different outcomes, and each is favored by different mathematicians. Hatcher detailed each method and explained how to calculate them.

With plurality, the candidate with the most first-place votes wins, even if the candidate does not have a majority. The Borda Count gives points to a candidate based on voters’ preference rankings.

Condorcet, named for its 18th century proposer, allows a head-to-head comparison of candidates but may not produce a winner.

Hare, named for a 19th century British lawyer, eliminates the candidate(s) with the fewest votes in elections with three or more candidates with no majority. Then another voting occurs, and the process will continue until a winner is elected.

The approval method allows each person to vote for as many candidates as he or she wants. The one with the most votes wins.

Hatcher said today’s students do not truly appreciate and understand mathematics and its importance.
“ You need to branch out and take a closer look to expand your minds on the subject of mathematics,” she said.

For more information on these voting methods and the fun of mathematics, read Mathematics Beyond the Numbers, which Hatcher wrote with George T. Gilbert.

Hatcher, who received her doctorate from Harvard, was awarded the 1998 Deborah and Franklin Tepper Haimo Award for Distinguished College or University Teaching of Mathematics.

The award honors college or university teachers “who are widely recognized as extraordinarily successful and whose teaching effectiveness has been shown to have had influence beyond their own institutions,” according to the Mathematical Association of America.

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