Iowa and Ireland: election math

What happened in Iowa?

Well, we don’t really know for sure how Mayor Pete managed to astonish everyone, but that’s not what I’m writing about here. And what does it have to do with Ireland anyway?

The issue is one that we’ve discussed before: how do we determine the winner(s) of a multi-candidate race when no one gets a majority? This is a significant problem that has only recently come to the attention of most of the American voting public. Maine, for instance, has adopted Ranked Choice Voting as a solution, and Massachusetts is considering following suit. The city of Cambridge (MA) has used it for decades, thereby bewildering hundreds of high-school students as any of my Crimson Summer Academy sophomores can attest. The primary in Iowa uses a simplified compromise, a version of the Single Transferable Vote, which still confuses lots of people and doesn’t look especially simplified to most people.

And what about Ireland, which has eight political parties!? Democratic Convention Watch has posted a thorough analysis of the voting systems in both Irish elections and Iowa primaries — kind of a compare and contrast — which carefully avoids oversimplifying the issues. So don’t expect it to be quick reading. But you’ll learn a lot from the analysis. Yes, this is math, but it’s only high-school level, so don’t be scared away. In particular, realize that it’s applied math, so it won’t seem purely abstract and theoretical like so much of high-school math.



Categories: Life, Math