Mathematics lessons on elections


The 2012 presidential election will be a popular topic with U.S. students this school year. You can use this opportunity to demonstrate the importance of mathematics in our society.

Free resources for all grade levels can be found at

NCTM members can access additional lessons for secondary students at

These NCTM lessons provide opportunities to (1) give students information about the election process and introduce them to the role the Electoral College plays in the presidential election; (2) compare and contrast plurality voting versus the Electoral College method; and (3) explore the role of mathematics in electing a U.S. president. In this activity, one of these opportunities is examined as students explore three alternative voting methods (the Borda count method, the pairwise comparison method, and the single transferable method). Students determine the winner of an election based on each voting method, compare the election results based on each method, and consider benefits and limitations of each method. This issue of Student Exploration in Mathematics is an opportunity to provide students with cross-curricular activities around the theme of the presidential election.