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MAA's Internal Election Method Meets with Approval

July 28, 2010 

The MAA has garnered a bit of public attention. The Association is mentioned in The New Yorker magazine's review of George Szpiro's Numbers Rule: The Vexing Mathematics of Democracy.

The New Yorker piece, titled "Win or Lose" (July 26, 2010; pp. 73-77), by Anthony Gottlieb, notes that no voting system is flawless, but that "approval voting," which is a rating system with two grades (approve or not), has merit. Although efforts to introduce approval voting for public elections have so far failed, "many mathematicians seem to like the way it works," writes Gottlieb. 

"The American Mathematical Society and the Mathematical Association of America, among others, use it for internal elections," Gottlieb wrote.

American mathematicians and political scientists had first studied the idea of approval voting in the 1970s. Mathematician Leonard Gillman, for instance, who served as MAA Treasurer (1973-85) and President (1987-88), proposed that the Association adopt it. More recently, game theorist Steven Brams (New York University) approved of approval voting in his book
Mathematics and Democracy

Former MAA Secretary Martha Siegel (Towson University) said of Gottlieb's piece, "Interesting review; I'll check out the book!" 

For more on Numbers Rule, see the Math in the News item "Voting's Vexing Mathematics Highlighted in Numbers Rule" (July 21, 2010).

Source: The New Yorker (July 26, 2010)

New Yorker cover image via Wikipedia

Start Date: 
Wednesday, July 28, 2010