15th April 2005 at 01:00
KS3+. Election voting systems are mathematically interesting. Is our "first past the post" system fair? Shouldn't the total number of votes cast for a particular party relate o the number of seats it gains in parliament? Is there such a thing as a fair system? Investigate other voting systems, particularly proportional representation and single transferable vote. What voting system is used to elect MEPs?

Run a school election and have pupils investigate how the outcome is affected if different voting systems are used. Ask pupils to invent data to show how different systems can produce radically different outcomes from exactly the same votes.

How is data related to polls and the outcome of elections presented in the media? Looking at the use of statistical diagrams to present election data can form the basis of work on how to present data fairly and how statistical diagrams can be used to mislead people.

KS34. An investigation of voting systems and election reporting could form the basis of cross-curricular work between maths and citizenship.

KS45. Opinion polls and exit polls are worth analysing. They are often wrong. Why is this? What factors influence the reliability of a poll? Can the reliability of a poll be measured? This links to analysis and interpretation of data.

* For an explanation of various voting systems go to

How to Lie with Statistics by Darrell Huff and Irving Geiss (WW Norton 1954 and 1993).

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