Abstract / Synopsis
It is a simple matter for the members of a group to decide among two options. When there are three or more options among which to choose, the situation is much more complicated. This is precisely what faces the electorate each time there are more than two candidates running for a single office. And while there is debate over which voting method should be used, there is wide agreement over the method that should not be used: plurality, the most common approach taken in the United States. This article presents a simple classroom activity which provides students the opportunity to explore this issue in the context of a group of friends deciding which movie to watch. The methods of plurality, Borda count, approval, Condorcet, and Instant Runoff are discussed, along with advantages and disadvantages of each. All theoretical discussions are illustrated with voting data collected from fifty-eight students; an accompanying spreadsheet contains the data and the tabulations corresponding to each method.
Michael J. Caulfield, "Decisions, Decisions: How Should The Votes Be Counted?," Journal of Humanistic Mathematics, Volume 12 Issue 1 (January 2022), pages 387-398. DOI: 10.5642/jhummath.202201.29. Available at: https://scholarship.claremont.edu/jhm/vol12/iss1/29