Thursday, October 18, 2007

The math of voting

In North Carolina, the Town of Cary elected a council member with an instant runoff.

Here’s how it works: Voters selected their first, second, and third choices. If no candidate received more than 50% of voters’ first choices, a runoff took place between the first two candidates whereby each vote for the third place candidate was awarded to that voter’s second choice.

82% of those surveyed said they understood the new ballot.

But it seems that they didn’t bring in a mathematician to certify the software: a math mistake credited 24 ballots to the wrong candidate. The mistake was discovered and the correct candidate was elected.

If used in Presidential elections, this system could benefit third parties because votes would still count even when cast for the third party candidate.

Maybe it’s time the electoral college took a math class.

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