Fall 2018

Voting and Elections: A Mathematical Perspective

Listed in: Mathematics and Statistics, as MATH-150


Tanya L. Leise (Section 01)


The outcomes of many elections, whether to elect the next United States president or to rank college football teams, can displease many of the voters. How can perfectly fair elections produce results that nobody likes? We will analyze different voting systems, including majority rule, plurality rule, Borda count, and approval voting, and assess a voter’s power to influence the election under each system, for example, by calculating the Banzhaf power index. We will prove Arrow’s Theorem and discuss its implications. After exploring the pitfalls of various voting systems through both theoretical analysis and case studies, we will try to answer some pressing questions: Which voting system best reflects the will of the voters? Which is least susceptible to manipulation? What properties should we seek in a voting system, and how can we best attain them?

Limited to 24 students. Fall semester. Professor Leise.

If Overenrolled: Priority to 1st and 2nd year students, with a mix of majors and non-majors.


Quantitative Reasoning, Science & Math for Non-majors


2022-23: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2016, Fall 2018, Fall 2020