By Adrian Tawfik and Richard Fobes
April 22, 2o12
Across the free world today, an unlikely group of mathematician reformers have joined their voices through social media to give a fresh perspective on modern democracy. Approaching elections from the aspect of mathematics is not new, having been an interest of Thomas Jefferson during the writing of the US Constitution. What is new is that computer technology and recent developments in mathematics are powerful tools that were not available when the United States pioneered the basic form of democracy that now spans the globe.
During the last two decades a group of election-method experts from around the world have communicated through an online forum to discuss, and argue about, the mathematical advantages and disadvantages of many vote-counting methods. Recently, they reached enough of a consensus to express support for several specific voting methods.
These recommendations, along with a denunciation of the continued use of single-mark ballots and plurality counting (known as “first past the post” in Canada and some other countries), have been published in a document titled the “Declaration of Election-Method Reform Advocates”. The Declaration has been signed by election-method experts from around the world, and now it is accessible for anyone to sign, or to “like” on the Declaration’s “Ban Single Mark Ballots” Facebook page. The Declaration is a powerful tool that reformers can use to bring awareness to the unfair vote-counting method used today.
The authors of the report come from a variety of backgrounds and specialties. One of the principal authors of the Declaration, Jameson Quinn, told Democracy Chronicles, that his aim was to “provide an unbiased, or at least nonsectarian, source for those unversed in abstruse details of election methods to understand the consensus of the field”. Richard Fobes, author of “Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections”, explained that the “purpose of writing the Declaration was to communicate the message that we, the forum-member participants, have ‘done the math’ and want to expose ‘vote splitting’ and other weaknesses of single-mark ballots as the source of unfair governmental elections throughout the world.”
Over the course of a series of articles Democracy Chronicles will present the results of the interviews we have conducted with several prominent signers of the Declaration. Our interviews will cover the opinions of a diverse group of election experts from a host of countries. We will also look at the different systems of vote-counting and further explore the possibilities for voting reform across the democratic world. Stay tuned!