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Introduction

Mathematical theory and tools have become valuable in the social sciences, notably

in the fields of economics, demography, psychology, and political science, among

others. Computational methods and modern technology such as geospatial

information systems are now routinely used to study and simulate social behavior

and social systems.

Mathematics helps us understand and examine many social issues. Consider these

questions for example:

• In the Philippine Congress, how is the number of seats for a given region

determined?

• Who controls power among shareholders in a company?

• How is the US President elected?

• Are voting systems fair?

In this module we will discuss how mathematics can help answer these questions in

a more informed and scientific way. The mathematics related to these topics

involves elementary concepts only but arriving at “answers” to these questions can

be complicated, as we shall see.

Learning Outcomes

After studying this module, you should be able to:

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

ranked election.

• Discuss the concept of principles of fairness in voting and define at

least 5 of these principles.

• Create a hypothetical preference schedule that produces different

winners using different voting methods.

• Reflect on the implications of Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem.

voting system.

• Compute the Banzhaf power distribution given a weighted voting

system.

• Clarify distinctions between dictators, dummies, and players with veto

power.

• Reflect on the power relations in the Philippine Lower House and

Senate in terms of coalitions and bloc voting.

• Apply the quota methods of Hamilton and Lowndes given an

apportionment problem.

• Apply the divisor methods of Jefferson, Adams and Webster given an

apportionment problem.

One of the cornerstones of a democracy is the right of citizens to participate in

elections. Voting might appear to be a simple activity, and producing the winner of

an election, just a matter of counting the votes correctly. But there is more behind

election exercises and many experts devote their professional careers to this field of

study. We will examine the mathematics of voting guided by the following key

questions:

• Is there a best way to conduct an election? That is, what is the fairest way to

transform a set of individual preferences (votes) into a single societal

preference (the winner)?

• How can we use mathematics to design, analyze and compare different

election methods?

• How can we use mathematics to say what “fair" means?

Voting theory falls under the area of Social Choice theory, which deals with the

process by which varied and conflicting choices (as in elections) are consolidated

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

into a single choice of the group (or society) that reflects the desires of each

individual as much as possible.

In 1952, the mathematical economist Kenneth Arrow wrote a seminal paper titled

“Social Choice and Individual Values” that examined the fundamental concepts of

this theory. In particular, Arrow proved an important result that addresses the

question: “Is there an ideal voting system?”

area of mathematics called Order Theory that studies ways in which objects can be

ordered, from simple ordering of integers from smaller to bigger, or ordering of

subsets of a set via inclusion, to more complicated relations. In daily life, without

order, it would be very difficult for example to find our friend’s phone numbers in our

mobile phone directory.

Voting Systems

A voting system is a way for a group to select one (winner) from among several

candidates. If there are only two alternatives, choosing is easy: the one preferred by

the majority wins. If there is only one person doing the choosing, things are again

easy (but this option is probably undesirable). When several people choose from

among three or more alternatives, the process is trickier.

most of the votes. Using the plurality method (or pataasan), candidate Tito was

declared the winner.

CANDIDATE PERCENTAGE

OF VOTES

TITO 36.99%

VIC 34.39%

JOEY 28.09%

Given that the winner obtained only about 37% of the votes, how sure are we that

the voting system produced an outcome that reflected the will of the voters? Is Tito

really the best? Let’s consider some scenarios.

Scenario 1: Supporters of Vic and Joey had Tito as their second choice. In this

scenario, perhaps Tito indeed is the best candidate, as 99% either preferred Tito in

the first or second position.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Scenario 2: Supporters of Vic and Joey liked Tito the least among all 8 candidates.

Maybe in this case Tito is not the best representative of the society’s preference.

Scenario 3: One of the 5 others may be perfectly satisfactory to all the voters,

including the supporters of the top 3 candidates. That one person may even be the

second choice of all. Maybe that candidate should have been the winner.

We may obtain more information on the individual choices if we also know how the

voters rank the candidates. When the voting system asks for a ranking, such as in a

survey of preferences, the voting system is called a ranked (or preferential) voting

system. We will focus on such systems in this module. To simplify our analysis, we

now assume that all voters will rank all candidates in order of preference, and ties

will not be allowed.

Transitivity

There are some conditions or features that we want voting systems to satisfy. The

first assumption that we impose on our voting systems is transitivity. Individual

preferences are assumed to be transitive in this sense: if a voter prefers candidate

X to Y and Y to Z, it is reasonable to assume that the voter prefers X to Z.

Transitivity means that relative preferences are not altered by the elimination of one

or more candidates.

There are also principles that involve “fairness” of the voting method. These are

desirable conditions that make the elections “fair” or positive from the point of view

of the voters. In designing a voting system, we will try to impose these desirable

“fairness conditions or principles”.

When we study the math behind the method, remember that we are not dealing with

external issues like cheating or manipulation.

Leni is choosing from among 3 suitors: Alex (A), Billy (B), and Carl (C). She ranks

the suitors according to three attributes: intelligence, looks, and income.

Rank 1 A B C

Rank 2 B C A

Rank 3 C A B

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Taken in pairs, observe that Leni prefers A to B (with A ranking higher in intelligence

and income), B to C, and C to A. But this non-transitive situation is problematic.

Which suitor to choose? Of course, there may be other ways to resolve this

impasse. For example, the girl may consider other attributes (such as personality) or

the attributes may be given different weights.

The example above may be too simple, but let’s translate it to a larger population.

Consider an election with 3 candidates A, B and C. The voters are asked to rank the

3 candidates and three distinct rankings are produced.

Rank 1 A B C

Rank 2 B C A

Rank 3 C A B

Taken in pairs, 2/3 of the voters prefer A to B; 2/3 of the voters prefer B to C; and

2/3 of the voters prefer A to C! As before, it seems that no candidate stands out.

The term “voting method” refers to the mathematical process, algorithm, or manner

in which individual votes are counted and consolidated to produce a winner. It

does not refer to voting machines, polling precincts, absentee voting, or the like.

The most popular method of voting is plurality voting (pataasan). Here, a candidate

with the most number of votes, or most 1st-place votes, wins. This seems like a very

reasonable method, right? But let’s look at a particular election where a winner was

chosen using the plurality method.

In a certain barangay, 100 residents elected their barangay leader. There were 5

candidates: R, H, C, O and S. The voters were asked to rank the candidates and

the individual votes were consolidated. The consolidated results are displayed in the

table below called a preference schedule:

No. of voters 49 48 3

1st choice R H C

2nd choice H S H

3rd choice C O S

4th choice O C O

5th choice S R R

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Using plurality, the winner is candidate R with 49 1st-place votes, despite being the

last choice of a majority (51). Observe that candidate H almost won (falling behind

candidate R by just one 1st-place vote). Candidate H is also the second choice of

the rest. Might not H be a more acceptable winner? Under any reasonable

interpretation, H appears to be more representative of the barangay’s choice. But

the plurality method failed to choose H.

all other candidates. To do this we simply compare votes of H along with all other

candidates one at a time. Observe that in all one-to-one comparisons, H would get a

majority of the votes. Here, majority means at least 50% +1 of all votes cast.

• Comparing H with R, we see that H got 51 votes (48 from the second column

and 3 from the third) versus 49 for R.

• Comparing H with C, we have that H had 97 votes with only 3 from C.

• Finally, H is preferred to both O and S by all voters.

In the language of voting theory, we say that the plurality method in this instance

failed to satisfy a basic principle of fairness called the Condorcet criterion.

Condorcet Criterion

If there is a candidate who wins in a one-to-one comparison with any other

alternative, that candidate should be the winner of the election.

This principle of fairness is due to the French statesman and scholar, Marie-Jean-

Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, more popularly known as the Marquis de Condorcet

(1743-1794). The Marquis was one of the leading figures in the French Revolution.

He wrote on mathematics, political science, economics and human rights.

We shall examine several voting methods and discuss other fairness criteria. We

shall do this by considering the results of a fixed election, and examine the

outcomes using different voting methods. We will discuss four methods:

1. Plurality Method

2. Borda Count Method

3. Method of Pairwise Comparisons

4. Plurality with Elimination Method

The plurality method is the simplest and most commonly used method. The three

others are also popular and may be familiar to most of you.

points. In there are N candidates, give N points for first place, N-1 points for

second, and so on, until the last place, to be given 1 point.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

• The points are tallied for each candidate, and the candidate with the highest

total wins.

statesman, scholar, and contemporary of the Marquis de Condorcet.

candidate, just as we did in analysing our barangay election in Example 1.

to either X or Y by the order of preference indicated by the voter. (X gets the

votes of all voters ranking X higher than Y.)

• The winner of each head-to-head match-up gets 1 point. The winner of the

election is the candidate with most number of points.

rounds.

• The method starts by eliminating the candidate with the fewest number of 1st

place votes. By this, we mean that we remove from the preference schedule

that candidate with all votes assigned. The process is repeated round by

round, until a candidate with a majority of 1st place votes emerges.

There are four candidates for the position of President: Alice (A), Ben (B), Cris (C),

and Dina (D). The 37 members of the club each submit a ballot indicating his or her

1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th choices. The consolidated votes are displayed in the preference

schedule below.

Rank\Votes 14 10 8 4 1

1st choice A C D B C

2nd choice B B C D D

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

3rd choice C D B C B

4th choice D A A A A

We shall now use the four different voting methods to pick the winner:

1. Plurality Method

Candidate A has the most number (14) of 1st-place votes and is thus the winner.

Alice wins!

Votes 14 10 8 4 1

1st : 4 pts A: 56 C: 40 D: 32 B: 16 C: 4

2nd : 3 pts B: 42 B: 30 C: 24 D: 12 D: 3

3rd : 2 pts C: 28 D: 20 B: 16 C: 8 B: 2

4th : 1 pt D: 14 A: 10 A: 8 A: 4 A: 1

A gets 56 + 10 + 8 + 4 + 1 = 79 points

B gets 42 + 30 + 16 + 16 + 2 = 106 points

C gets 28 + 40 + 24 + 8 + 4 = 104 points

D gets 14 + 20 + 32 + 12 + 3 = 81 points

The winner is Ben (B).

Observe that with this method, our previous winner Alice places last!

23 over A. For this pair, B wins and gets 1 point. We compare all other pairs:

A vs D (14 to 23) → D gets 1 pt

B vs C (18 to 19) → C gets 1 pt

B vs D (28 to 9) → B gets 1 pt

C vs D (25 to 12) → C gets 1 pt

Candidate Cris (C) has the most points (3), and is the winner.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

# 14 10 8 4 1

1st A C D B C

2nd B B C D D

3rd C D B C B

4th D A A A A

From the above table, eliminate B, to obtain a reduced table.

# 14 10 8 4 1

1st A C D B C # 14 10 8 4 1

2nd B B C D D → 1st A C D D C

3rd C D B C B 2nd C D C C D

4th D A A A A 3rd D A A A A

Combine the identical columns to get the reduced table for Round 2.

# 14 11 12

1st A C D

2nd C D C

3rd D A A

Now observe that C has the least number of 1st place votes (11). Thus, eliminate

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

C, combine the identical 2nd and 3rd columns to get the following table for Round

3.

# 14 23

1st A D

2nd D A

Since A has less 1st place votes than D, eliminate A, leaving candidate Dave (D)

as the winner using the plurality-with-elimination method.

Let us now summarize the winners of the Math Lovers Club Election using the four

different methods.

Plurality Alice

Borda count Ben

Pairwise comparison Cris

Plurality with elimination Dina

From a single election, we used four methods and obtained four different winners!

Find the winners of an election with 55 voters whose preference schedule is given

below using the four different voting methods.

18 12 10 9 4 2

First choice A B C D E E

Second choice D E B C B C

Third choice E D E E D D

Fourth choice C C D B C B

Fifth choice B A A A A A

We already know the Condorcet Criterion. We list other major fairness principles.

majority (50%+1) of the voters, then that candidate should be the winner.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

favorable only to X, then X should still be the winner.

winner of an election, and one or more candidates are removed and votes

are recounted, then X should still be the winner.

must the resulting societal choice.

order of a single individual while ignoring all others.

Earlier, we saw that the plurality method may violate the Condorcet criterion. Are the

other voting methods better?

It turns out that all four voting methods exhibit some weakness in the following

sense: In a particular election, it is possible that the outcome may violate one or

more fairness principles or criteria.

Example 4.

The Board of Trustees of a university is choosing its Chair There are 11 board

members and 4 candidates. The Board will use the Borda Count Method to choose

its Chair. The results of the election are given below:

No. of Voters 6 2 3

4th place: 1 pt D A A

Computing the total weighted points for each candidate, we find that B has 32

points, C has 30 points, A has 29 points, and D has 19 points. By the Borda Count

method, candidate B wins. Now note that this outcome violates the Majority

Criterion. Candidate A has a 6 out of 11 1st-place votes, a majority, but the Borda

method failed to produce A as a winner.

Example 5.

A student club election is held with 3 candidates A, B, C. The winner is to be

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

decided by the plurality with elimination method. The preference schedule is given

below:

No. of votes 7 8 10 4

1st choice A B C A

2nd choice B C A C

3rd choice C A B B

Eliminating B (who has the least number of 1st place votes), we obtain the reduced

table

No. of votes 11 18

1st choice A C

2nd choice C A

However, the Election Committee declared the election null and void due to some

irregularity and asked the voters to cast their votes again. A second election is held

and the 4 voters (in the last column of Round 1) decide to change their ranking.

They switch their 1st and 2nd choices (between A and C), expecting to be on the

winner’s side after the new election. No other voters change their choices.

Since C won the first election, and the new votes only increased C’s votes, we

expect C to win again. Let’s determine the winner of the second election.

No. of votes 7 8 10 4

1st choice A B C C

2nd choice B C A A

3rd choice C A B B

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

No. of votes 15 14

1st choice B C

2nd choice C B

B wins in the new election! This outcome violates the Monotonicity Criterion.

Example 6.

The preference schedule for a certain election is shown below. The winner is to be

determined using the method of pairwise comparison.

No. of votes 5 3 5 3 2 4

1st place A A C D D B

2nd place B D E C C E

3rd place C B D B B A

4th place D C A E A C

5th place E E B A E D

Comparing all pairs, A gets 3 points. B, C, and D have 2 points and E has 1 point.

Candidate A wins.

The Comelec, for some reason, wanted to have a recount, without new voting.

Before they started their recount, losing candidates B,C, and D conceded and

requested that their votes be omitted (essentially dropping out from the race). This

means that the new preference schedule is now —

No. of votes 5 3 5 3 2 4

1st choice A A

2nd choice E E

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

3rd choice A

4th choice A E A

5th choice E E A E

No. of votes 10 12

1st choice A E

2nd choice E A

The winner is now E! Originally, the winner was A, but when some candidates

dropped out and no re-vote was made, the winner became E. This violates the

Independence of Irrelevant Alternatives fairness criterion.

We have presented an election where four different methods produced four different

winners. We have also presented instances of elections using certain voting

methods where particular fairness criteria were violated. It seems we are nowhere

near an answer to the question, Is there a best method?

It is good to know that experts would not have an immediate answer, too. Most

would declare: There is no ideal voting method!

The mathematical basis for this is a very famous and deep theorem of the

mathematical economist Kenneth Arrow.

It is impossible to design a voting system that would simultaneously obey in all

voting instances all of the following fairness conditions: monotonicity, independence

of irrelevant alternatives, unanimity and non-dictatorship.

society can make a choice that is always “fair” when that choice must be made from

among three or more alternatives. The concept of “fair” is taken in the sense that a

fairness principle or condition is not violated.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Kenneth Arrow (1921-2017) examined these ideas for his Ph.D. dissertation “Social

Choice and Individual Values”. He published his results in a 1952 essay “A Difficulty

in the Concept of Social Welfare”. Arrow was awarded the Nobel Prize in Economics

in 1972.

proof uses concepts of order theory. It proves that no voting method can satisfy all

reasonable fairness criteria at the same time.

There are other voting methods that are also used, even in some legislatures. An

example is approval voting. In this system, voters are not asked to rank the

candidates in order of preference. Given a set of candidates, voters can give their

approval to as many (or as few) of their choices. Voting experts consider this strong

system, but more applicable to smaller voting populations, like some legislatures or

organizations. This method work for those voters who cannot or who prefer not to

make distinct rankings among the candidates.

• gives voters flexible options and increases voter turnout.

• helps elect the strongest candidates.

• unaffected by the number of candidates.

• will reduce negative campaigning.

Also, in the approval method minority candidates are not greatly disadvantaged.

“consolidating” individual votes:

• Plurality method

• Borda count method

• Method of pairwise comparison

• Plurality with elimination method

• Condorcet criterion

• Majority principle

• Monotonicity

• Independence of irrelevant alternatives

• Unanimity

• Non-dictatorship

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Watch the following videos that highlight the concepts and issues presented in this

unit.

1. “Math and the Vote” by Moon Duchin, (11:27),

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tnZsnThleGw

2. “Voting Theory: Fairness Criterion” (2:36), http://mathispower4u.com

3. “Voting Paradoxes” by Paul Dancstep, (9:29)

https://www.exploratorium.edu

4. “Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem”, by PBS Infinite Series, (15:11)

https://www.pbs.org (also uploaded on https://m.youtube.com)

What are advantages of ranked voting systems, as compared to just voting for a

single winner without specifying ranks? In your opinion, which fairness principles

would you least like to be violated? Does Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem render

elections useless?

You may wish to visit the website “Math Alive” of Princeton University, found at

web.math.princeton.edu. The course site has a unit on Voting and Social Choice,

with worked-out example, notes and explanations.

In many elections, the principle of one-person, one-vote is followed. This is the

principle we follow when we elect presidents and national and local officials

(assuming no cheating). However, in some voting situations, individuals or groups

are not always equal and some voters are given more say than others.

Weighed voting systems are systems where voting rights are not equally divided

among all voters.

votes as the number of shares owned;

• In some legislatures, where bloc voting is followed because of strict party

loyalties. Here the parties are the players and the sizes of the blocs are the

weights of the votes; and

• Committee voting, where the chair has tie-breaking or veto power.

• Who has more say in weighted voting systems or who has more power?

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

• Is there a mathematical treatment of power?

For simplicity we will analyze voting situations involving only two alternatives. For

example, a motion is any vote involving only two alternatives (a yes or no vote). We

assume that no abstentions are to be made.

A weighted voting system has three main ingredients, namely, the players, weights,

and quota.

• The players are the voters. If there are N players, denote them by:

P1, P2, … , PN

• Each player controls a certain number of votes, called the player’s weight.

Denote these by:

w1 , w2 , … , wN

The quota is usually strict majority (q > 50%, usually 50%+1), but rules may

require a higher number of votes, even 100% (unanimous). The quota must

satisfy:

The notation indicates a weighted system with quota q and N players. The weights

of the N players are listed after the quota. The weights are ordered from biggest to

smallest.

Example 1: [13: 8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1]

This weighted voting system has 6 players: P1, P2, P3, P4, P5, P6, with weights

8, 6, 4, 3, 2, 1, respectively. The quota or number of votes to win is 13. There

are 24 total number of votes.

Example 2: [21: 9, 8, 2, 1]

Since the total number of votes is only 20, no motion could ever pass because

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

The quota is less than half the total number of votes. If P1 and P2 voted yes

and P3 and P4 voted no, both groups win. So this is not a legal voting system.

Example 4: [20: 7, 7, 7, 7, 7]

Three players need to vote yes to meet the quota. In this case, all players

have equal power and this is essentially just a one-person, one-vote system. It

can equivalently be described by the system [3: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1].

Example 5: [6: 7, 3, 1, 1]

The first player can pass any motion alone. Such a player is called a dictator –

a player whose weight is bigger than or equal to the quota. In systems with

dictators, all the other players have no power. A player whose vote has no

outcome in the election is called a dummy. In this system, the last 3 players

are all dummies.

Example 6: [8: 7, 3, 1, 1]

players from passing a motion. Player 1 is said to have veto power.

Does player P3 really have very little power compared to P1 and P2? Observe

that P1 cannot pass a motion without the help of P2 or P3. Similarly, P2 (and P3)

need votes of at least one other player.

At least two players are needed to pass a motion. In this case, we see that P3

has just as much power as the two other players!

This example shows that in a weighted voting system, a player with the most

number of votes does not necessarily hold the most power.

Suppose 4 partners hold shares of 26%, 26%, 26% and 22% respectively. The

weights are almost uniform. Can we say that all 4 players more or less have

the same power? Not necessarily.

vote (22%), even if close to the others, is not enough to make a losing coalition

win, or a winning coalition lose.

In this example, the first three partners share equal power. The last has none.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Example 9: [15: 5, 4, 3, 2, 1]

All votes are needed to meet the quota (unanimous vote). Thus, each vote

counts as much as the other. The system is equivalent to [5: 1,1,1,1,1] and is

essentially a one-person, one-vote system.

We should thus regard the “one-person, one-vote” principle to mean that all

players have an equal say in the outcome of the election, instead of just having

an equal number of votes.

number of votes he or she has. For instance, if player X has four votes and Y has

two votes, we cannot conclude that X has twice as much power as Y. Of course, if

two players have the same number of votes, we expect them to have the same

amount of power.

There are several measurements of power. We will discuss the method suggested

by lawyer John Banzhaf in 1965. Banzhaf’s idea is that power is measured by

winning. The player whose vote can influence the outcome of the election the most

is the one with the most power. The Shapely-Shubik index is another system, but

we will not discuss this in this module.

There are four groups that could join forces to form a winning combination:

P1 and P3 (with 53 votes)

P2 and P3 (with 52 votes)

P1, P2 and P3 (with all 100 votes)

A coalition is any set of players that join forces to vote together. The total

number of votes in a coalition is called the weight of the coalition.

Winning coalitions are those with enough votes to win. Otherwise, they are

called losing coalitions.

Let us list the different coalitions in the weighted voting system given in

Example 7.

A: {P1} 48 Losing

B: {P2} 47 Losing

C: {P3} 5 Losing

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

E: {P1, P3} 53 Winning

F: {P2, P3} 52 Winning

G: {P1, P2, P3} 100 Winning

E: {P1, P3} 53 Winning

F: {P2, P3} 52 Winning

G: {P1, P2, P3} 100 Winning

In each of coalitions D, E, and F, both players in the coalition are needed for

the win; in G, no single player is essential.

A player whose desertion turns a winning coalition into a losing one is called a

critical player (or pivotal player). That is, a critical player is a voter who can

cause the measure to fail by changing his/her vote from yes to no.

The critical player concept is the basis for the Banzhaf index. Banzhaf’s key idea is

that a player’s power is proportional to the number of times the player is critical.

In the previous example, each of the three players is critical twice, so all have equal

power. We say each player holds 1/3 power or that each has Banzhaf power index

1/3. The triple (1/3, 1/3, 1/3) is Banzhaf power distribution for the three players.

To calculate the power of a voter using the Banzhaf index, list all the winning

coalitions, then count the critical voters. A voter's power is measured as the fraction

of all swing votes that he could cast. We outline the steps:

Step 1: Make a list of all coalitions. With N players, one has 2N – 1 coalitions.

Step 3: In each winning coalition, determine who among the players are

critical players.

Step 4: Count the number of times player P is critical and call this number CP.

Step 5: Count the total number of times all players are critical and call this

number T.

The Banzhaf power index of player P is given by the ratio CP/T, that is,

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

# Critical instances of all players

Example 10: We compute the Banzhaf distribution for the system [4: 3, 2,1]

{A,B} A and B

{A,C} A and C

{A,B,C} A only

The Banzhaf power distribution is (3/5, 1/5, 1/5), with power indices

Example 11: We determine the Banzhaf power distribution for [12: 8, 6, 5, 3].

{A,B} A and B

{A,C} A and C

{A,B,C} A

{A,B,D} A and B

{A.C,D} A and C

{B,C,D} B, C and D

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

{A,B,C,D} none

by determining the winning coalitions and the critical players.

2. Do the same for the 4-player systems [5: 4, 3, 2, 1], [10: 7, 5, 4, 2], [4: 3, 2,1, 1],

and [10: 8, 7, 4, 2].

In the next two examples, we introduce some conditions on the weighted voting

systems and as before, compute the power distribution using Banzhaf’s method.

one vote. A motion is carried by majority, except that in case of a 2-2 tie, the

coalition containing the chair (A) wins. What is the Banzhaf distribution?

• Any three-player coalition

• The grand coalition (all four players)

The winning coalitions with critical players in boldface and underlined are:

• Two-player coalitions that include the chair: {A, B}, {A, C}, {A, D}

• Three-player coalitions: {A, B, C}, {A, B, D}, {A, C, D}, {B, C, D}

• Grand coalition: {A, B, C, D}

From the above data, we see that the Banzhaf power distribution is

The tie-breaking rule gives the chair three times as much power!

Example 13: We have a committee of 5, with Chair (A), and members B,C,D,E.

The 4 members have equal standing. The Chair votes only to break 2-2 ties.

Motions are by strict majority.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

• Winning coalitions without the Chair (critical players in bold face and

underlined):

{B,C,D}, {B,C,E}, {B,D,E}, {C,D,E} and {B,C,D,E}

{A,B,C}, {A,B,D}, {A,B,E}, {A,C,D}, {A,C,E}, {A,D,E}

A: 6/30 B: 6/30 C: 6/30 D: 6/30 E: 6/30 or (1/5, 1/5, 1/5, 1/5, 1/5)

Mathematicians study these systems and have come up with results such as the

following:

Banzhaf power index of each player is 1/N. For example, even if the weights

are different, one can compute the power distribution for the system [18: 5,

4, 4, 2, 2, 1] and obtain a uniform index of 1/6 for each player.

• Two proportional systems [q: w1, w2, … , wN] and [cq: cw1, cw2 , … , cwN]

always have the same Banzhaf power distribution. For example, the systems

[9: 4, 4, 4, 4] and [27: 12, 12, 12, 12] are equivalent.

• In any 3-player voting system with no veto power, there is only one possible

power distribution, namely, (1/3, 1/3, 1/3).

Professor, an Assistant Professor and an Instructor. Voting on personnel issues

follows the system [4: 3, 2, 1, 1]. The Banzhaf power index distribution is (1/2, 1/6,

1/6, 1/6).

This made the Associate Professor unhappy. The Committee decided to try a

different set of weights. Hoping to increase the voting power of the Associate

Professor, the committee gave the different ranks distinct decreasing weights (with

an appropriate new quota. For this new system [5: 4,3,2,1], they computed the

power distribution and obtain (5/12,1/4, 1/4, 1/12). But the Associate Professor was

still not satisfied. Note that the system [5: 4,3,2,1] is equivalent to [10: 8,6,4,2]. They

continued to experiment with other weights, and came up with different

combinations summarized below:

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[10: 8,6,4,2]

There is a mathematical reason why the committee could not seem to obtain a

(strictly decreasing) power distribution that reflected the decreasing weights. This is

given by the following theorem obtained by John Tolle and discussed in his paper

“Power distribution in four-player weighted voting systems” published in

Mathematics Magazine in 2003).

In any 4-player weighted voting system with no veto power, there are only five

possible power distributions:

2. (5/12, 1/4, 1/4, 1/12)

3. (1/2, 1/6, 1/6, 1/6)

4. (1/3, 1/3, 1/6, 1/6)

5. (1/3, 1/3, 1/3, 0)

weighted voting system.

In the next section we examine weighted voting systems and power distributions in

some institutions.

UK, China, France, Russia) and 10 non-permanent members (voted into the

committee with fixed terms). All permanent members have veto power. A winning

coalition must consist of the 5 permanent members plus at least 4 non-permanent

members. We can view the voting rights in the Security Council as a weighted

voting system described by:

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[39: 7,7,7,7,7,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1,1]

The Banzhaf power index of a permanent member is 16.7% while that of a non-

permanent member is 1.65%.

Use a power index calculator freely accessible on the web such as Temple

University’s Banzhaf Power Index Calculator, found in “Calculus on the Web”, (www.

cow.math.temple.edu/~cow.bpi.html) to verify the power distributions provided in

Example 14. You may also experiment with various weighted voting systems and

use the online calculator to obtain the power index distributions.

The President of the United States of America is chosen using an “electoral college”

system. Each of the 50 states is allowed to cast a certain number of votes equal to

the total numbers of members of congress (senators plus representatives) from that

state. The votes are cast by electors who are chosen to represent the voters of their

respective states. For purposes of the electoral college, the District of Columbia

(DC) is considered and included as an additional state and given 3 electors.

As a general rule, electors from a particular state vote the same way for the

presidential candidate who wins a plurality of votes in that state. Roughly, we have a

winner-take-all system for electoral votes assigned to a state. Thus, the electoral

college system can be thought of as a weighted voting system with the 50 states

and DC as the players. Individual citizens still cast their votes (and this becomes the

basis for the electoral college winner-take-all system).

The weight of a state is the number of senators (2 each) plus the number of

representatives (proportionately based on the population) from that state. The quota

is strict majority: currently 270 are needed for a candidate to be elected as

President of the USA, from a total number of electoral votes of 538,

There are several states, led by California, with a big number of electoral votes.

Many states have few electoral votes because of their small populations. This

imbalance affects the campaign strategies of candidates. The number of electors

per state is updated every 10 years. We list some big and small states with the

corresponding electoral votes (used for the 2016 US elections based on the 2010

US Census).

VOTES

California 55 11.36%

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Texas 38 7.21%

Ohio 18 3.30%

Mississippi, Nevada, Utah

Virginia

Hamphshire, Rhode Island

North Dakota, South Dakota,

Vermont, Wyoming, DC

The Electoral College system was first proposed in 1787. It has been used by the

US since 1876 and continues to be the preferred system for choosing the chief

executive. But from time to time, it has produced surprising results. For instance, in

the 2000 U.S. presidential elections, the Electoral College results proclaimed

George W. Bush as winner over Albert Gore, with electoral votes given below:

• Gore – 266 votes

But Gore won in the popular vote! Had the elections been conducted in the

Philippines, Gore would be declared President.

• Gore: 50,996,064

• Bush: 50,456,167

This outcome was only the second time since 1888 that the winner of the popular

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allegedly faulty automated voting machines) reported in Florida. George W. Bush

won the 25 electoral votes that put him over Gore. At that time, the governor of

Florida was Jeb Bush, the candidate’s brother. Gore initially filed a protest, but

decided to withdraw and accept the election results.

In the most recent 2016 US Presidential elections that put Donald Trump in power,

the electoral college results were more decisive: 290 electoral votes for Trump

against 232 electoral votes for Hillary Clinton. But as in 2000, Clinton won the

popular vote, and this time by an even bigger margin of around 2.86 million votes!

1. “Does your vote count? The Electoral College explained” by Christian Greer

(5:22), www.youtube.com/watch?v=W9H3gvnN468

2. “Do you know the Electoral College” by Prager University hosted by Terry Ross

(5:02), www.youtube.com/watch?v=V6s7jB6-GoV

3. “The trouble with the Electoral College”, by CGP Grey, (6:30)

www.youtube.com/watch?v=7wC42HgLA4k

The second and third videos take sides on the debate on the appropriateness of the

Electoral College system to choose the President of the U.S.A. What’s your

position? Do you think the Electoral College system can be implemented in the

Philippines?

situations and make informed decisions. The knowledge also allows us to guard

against abuses.

More than a lecture on the mathematics of power, we hope that this section once

again underscores the power of mathematics.

This final section deals with division problems. Sometimes, dividing objects equally

into smaller sets can be easy. Think of 30 pieces of polvoron candy. If Mom had 5

children, then each child would get 6 pieces each. But what if there were 31 pieces?

What to do with the remaining 1 piece? It is probably difficult or impossible to neatly

divide such a piece into 6 equal parts. Instead, the mom would probably just eat it

herself and everyone would be happy.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Fair division is an area of mathematics that deals with problems such as the above.

The typical problem involves division of a certain set of goods among individuals

that would be considered fair by the parties involved.

An old farmer in the desert died and left his estate of 17 camels to his three

children. He willed 1/9 of the herd to the youngest, 1/3 to the middle child, and 1/2 to

the eldest. The siblings could not figure out how to fairly settle their inheritances, as

the 17 camels could not be divided nicely – until a wise man came riding by and

offered a solution that left all three children satisfied with the share they received.

What was the wise man’s solution?

The wise man first added his camel to the herd of 17 to make a total of 18 camels.

Now, observe that —

• 1/3 of 18 is 6, the share of the middle child.

• 1/2 of 18 is 9, the eldest’s inheritance.

This makes 17. Everyone is happy. The wise man takes back his own camel and

rides away.

Fair Division Problem: Given n players, and a set of goods S. How can you divide

the set S into n shares in such a way that each player gets a share that he/she

considers fair?

Assumptions

A fair share is any share that in the opinion of the player receiving it is worth at least

1/n-th of the total value (n = number of players). It only matters that an individual

player thinks the share is fair, based on the player’s own personal value system.

• Is internal to the players – It does not require intervention of an outside

authority such as judge, arbitrator, etc.

• Assumes that the players have no knowledge about each other’s value

systems.

• Assumes that the players are rational — they use logic instead of emotion.

For example, a rational player would want more than less.

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Fair division problems are classified into two types – continuous or discrete –

depending on the good or goods to be divided. Examples of continuous goods are

parcels of land or a piece of cake. Examples of discrete goods are cars, houses,

and jewelry. The goods may also be a mix of continuous and discrete goods.

Most of us have probably used a fair division scheme when sharing a piece of cake

or pizza with a friend. The “I cut-and-you choose” method is an example of a

continuous fair division scheme. I think you will agree that this seems fair.

allocating identical, indivisible objects among participants entitled to unequal shares.

An important application is the problem of assigning congressional seats.

Definitions

The standard divisor (SD) is the average number of people per seat over the

entire population.

SD = Total Population

No. of Seats

The standard quota (SQ) is the (exact) fraction of the total number of seats a state

would be entitled to if seats were not indivisible; the quota is usually not a whole

number.

Total Population

= State Population

SD

The lower quota is the standard quota rounded down to the nearest whole number.

The upper quota is the standard quota rounded up.

Quota Rule: A state’s apportionment should either be its upper or lower quota.

3.2 Some Quota Methods and Paradoxes from the Quota Method

Apportionment methods that satisfy the quota rule are called quota methods.

We present two quota methods proposed by Alexander Hamilton (1791) and

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Hamilton Method

3. Give surplus seats, one at a time, to states with the largest absolute

fractional parts until you run out of surplus seats.

1,000,000. There are 100 seats to be apportioned to the three states. The standard

divisor is therefor SD = 1,000,000 divided by 100 = 10,000. We will use Hamilton’s

method to apportion the seats.

A B C TOTAL

Lower quota 65 23 10 98

fractional part

Surplus seats +1 +1

Allocation 66 24 10 100

Lowndes Method

2. But assign surplus seats using relative (not absolute) fractional parts. This

means we divide the fractional part of the quota by the integer part of the

quota. We first illustrate the relative fractional part.

Example:

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Fractional part: 0.82

Integer part: 41.00

Relative fractional part: 0.82 /41 = 0.02

Example 2: We apportion the 100 seats in our 3-state country in Example 1, this

time using Lowndes method.

A B C TOTAL

Lower quota 65 23 10 98

part

Surplus seats +1 +1

Allocation 65 24 11 100

Hamilton and Lowndes are quota methods. Both use the standard divisor and

standard quota. Both satisfy the quota rule: standard quota is rounded up or down

to nearest whole number.

Paradoxes

an assertion that is essentially self-contradictory, although based on a valid

deduction from acceptable premises. Paradoxes are often statements or situations

contrary to received opinion or are counterintuitive.

We will illustrate three paradoxes arising from application of quota methods. These

paradoxes will be illustrated in the succeeding three examples.

a seat.

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apportioned causes a state to lose a seat.

• New State Paradox: Adding a new state with its fair share of seats can

affect the number of seats due other states

Recall the allocation (using Hamilton’s method) in our mythical country with 3

states A, B, C.

A B C TOTAL

Allocation 66 24 10 100

quotas and apply Hamilton’s method again.

A B C TOTAL

(old allocation) (66) (24) (10) (10)

After the population grew in our mythical country, Congress decided to allocate

101 seats. Let’s see what happens when we re-apportion using Hamilton’s

method:

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

A B C TOTAL

(old allocation) (65) (24) (11) (100)

When the house only had 100 seats, C was entitled to 11 seats.

But when the house increased to 101 seats (with no changes in population), C

only got 10 seats!

New Fake City has two schools: Dilaw and Pula. Mayor Moka donated 100

computers that were apportioned using Hamilton’s Method.

Allocation 10 90 100

Suppose that a new school (Bato) is created, with an initial enrolment of 525.

Mayor Moka decides to add 5 computers to the pool of computers. After this is

done, a re-calculation of the allocation is made. This is the result:

(old allocation) (10) (90)

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

The addition of a new school (state) can, by itself, affect the apportionment of

other schools (states)!

There are apportionment schemes where the standard divisor and standard quota

are not used. Instead, a modified divisor MD is used (obtained by trial and error) to

obtain modified quotas that will result in no surplus seats. The modified quota

(MQ) is obtained by dividing the state population by the chosen modified divisor,

that is, MQ = state population / MD. These apportionment methods are called

divisor methods.

We present three divisor methods. The three methods differ in the way modified

quotas are rounded off. Their proponents were the American statesmen Thomas

Jefferson (1791), John Quincy Adams (1832), and Daniel Webster (1832).

3. If there are surplus seats, modify the divisor so that when each state’s

modified quota is rounded downward, no surplus seats remain.

For the succeeding three examples, we will allocate 100 seats from a population of

1,100. The standard divisor is 1,100/100 = 110. However, we will be using modified

divisors instead. We outline the steps for each method used.

Jefferson method:

• Since this gives 9 seats, modify the divisor (choose a smaller divisor, say 98)

to get bigger allocations.

A B C Total

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

Lower quota 6 2 1 9

Allocation 7 2 1 10

• Since this gives 12 seats, which is too much, modify the divisor (choose a

larger divisor than 110, say 135) to get smaller allocations.

A B C Total

Upper quota 7 3 2 12

Allocation 6 2 2 10

• Round off the standard quotas in the usual way, giving: (A,B,C) = (6,2,1).

• Since this gives only 9 seats, modify the divisor (choose, say 107.2) to get

larger allocations.

A B C Total

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Usual round-off 6 2 1 9

Allocation 6 3 1 10

The apportionment of 100 seats to the three states using the three methods are

summarized below:

A B C TOTAL

Jefferson 7 2 1 10

Adams 6 2 2 10

Webster 6 3 1 10

We see that after using the 3 divisor methods we obtain 3 different apportionments!

It is known that the 3 divisor methods can violate the quota rule (unlike the Hamilton

and Lowndes methods which do not violate the quota rule). However, it can be

proven that none of the 3 divisor methods can suffer from the earlier paradoxes

(unlike the Hamilton and Lowndes methods).

Which method is better — a quota method or a divisor method? Among the different

methods, is there a best one?

mathematicians Michael Balinsky and H. Peyton Young, called the Balinsky and

Young Impossibility Theorem, is known. It asserts that no apportionment method is

mathematically flawless in the following sense:

Theorem (Balinsky and Young, 1980): Any apportionment method that does not

violate the quota rule must produce paradoxes; and any apportionment method that

does not produce paradoxes must violate the quota rule.

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rule

paradox

paradox

paradox

states

Huntington-Hill Method

seats is called the Huntington-Hill method. This method was proposed by statistician

Joseph Hill and mathematician Edward Huntington in 1911. It was adopted officially

by the US Congress in 1941 with a fixed House size of 435.

The method is similar to the Webster method, except that rounding-off is based on

the geometric mean, instead of the (usual) arithmetic mean. The geometric mean

of x and y is √xy, the square root of the product xy.

Fun fact: The first US Presidential veto was a math bill. In 1791, President George

Washington vetoed Hamilton’s bill on apportionment. Jefferson’s method was

adopted instead.

___________________________________________________________________

A,B,C,D,E,F. The new legislature will have a total of 250 seats, to be apportioned

among the 6 states. The populations of the states are given below. Determine the

apportionments using the six methods presented. You should be able to fill in all the

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

seat allocations and the total for each method used must be 250.

A B C D E F TOTAL

(x 1000)

A B C D E F TOTAL

Hamilton 250

Lowndes 250

Jefferson 250

Adams 250

Webster 250

Huntington-Hill 250

___________________________________________________________________

Conclusion

critical in society, especially in decision-making. Mathematics allows us to analyze

voting systems and other social issues, but it does not provide all answers.

In Section 1.0, Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem shows that there can be no perfect

system.

In Section 2.0, we are reminded that in any society, no matter how democratic,

some individuals and groups have more power than others. The notion of power as

it applies to weighted voting systems can be studied mathematically. The Banzhaf

power index is one way to measure power.

Finally in Section 3.0, the problem of how to divide certain sets fairly was examined

and applied to the process of seat allocations in congress. We saw that apportioning

Mathematics in the Social Sciences

down numbers.

questions encountered in society. Many problems in society and government, such

as voting, power relations, and fair division and apportionment, can be more clearly

understood and analyzed using mathematics.

End

References

Prentice Hall, New Jersey, 2013.

For All Practical Purposes: Mathematical Literacy in Today’s World, 10th Ed.,

COMAP, W.H. Freeman, New York, 2015.

J. Malkevitch, The process of electing a president, Feature Column from the AMS,

www.ams/samplings/feature-column/fcarc-elections, accessed on 01/06/2018.

G.G. Szpiro, Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy, from Plato to

the Present, Princeton University Press, Princeton and Oxford, 2010.

Magazine, Vol. 76 No. 1 (2003) pp. 33-39.

www.temple.edu/~conrad/BPIand SSPI.html, accessed on 01/06/08 [this website

has a brief introduction and a link to an applet for calculating power indices]

Most of the examples in this module, such as the Math Lover’s Club election, the

examples of weighted voting systems, and the discussion on fair division and

apportionment are drawn and adapted from the wonderful textbook Excursions in

Modern Mathematics written by P. Tannembaum and R. Arnold.

Photo Credits:

• Cover photo: primer.com.ph/blog/2016/02/04/philippine-elections-the-culture-

the-drama-the battle-2/, accessed on 01/06/2018