Ballot Box Stats Prove Voting MATHers

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Hilary Clinton wasn’t the first presidential candidate to win the popular vote yet lose the election. Truth is, statistics and demographics have affected several elections over the centuries. And that’s important stuff to know, according to Stephany Subdiaz, Math Instructional Specialist, who is teaching a class this trimester called Voting MATHers.

So, was it entirely unfair that Clinton received more popular votes in the 2016 campaign than Donald Trump? Perhaps. But maybe not. Students enrolled in Subdiaz’s class are exploring the mathematics behind our nation’s elections. How do all those individual ballots get counted? Is the count generally accurate?

In Voting MATHers, students are also taking a close view of the Electoral College — a complex system that some folks believe should be disbanded. They’re also looking at alternative voting systems and methods of tallying votes, with an eye on the advantages and disadvantages of some of these vote-counting options.

So far students have discovered that depending on what state someone lives in, their vote can count more than others and vice versa. For example, a candidate could potentially win the electoral college vote while winning only 22 percent of the popular vote in certain states.

This week, for example, students are studying an alternative voting system called “ranked choice voting.” And they are finishing up the first five weeks of the class by conducting a mock election in which Eagle Rock community members place their votes and then analyzes the results of each system with an eye toward accuracy and fairness.

Some students are also performing an independent research project related to the 2020 election in order to persuade their congressional representative to either keep or abolish the Electoral College and propose a viable alternative.

To date, students have engaged in lengthy conversations about the fairness of the current presidential election process, all the while working through complex and mind-twisting math assignments in an effort to understand the numerical fairness of the Electoral College.

Next week in this spot, we’ll be focusing on another class — In the Mind of a Champion.

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