An Introduction to the Math of Voting Methods

We review the second of this year’s nominees for the Book of the Year


Brendan W Sullivan is an assistant professor of mathematics at Emmanuel College in Boston, Massachusetts. An Introduction to the Math of Voting Methods (Amazon UK) is a book that that introduces readers to a variety of voting and ranking methods and encourages them to think critically about how to select the winner of an election, and why the winner may well change if the voting method changes even if the individual voters do not change their mind.


The book treats a variety of different voting methods with each chapter focussed on a different approach to picking a winner. Many readers are likely to be familiar with some of these voting methods but others will be encountering them for the first time. A credit to this book is that it treats the voting methods in such a fashion that both sorts of readers will learn a lot from it.


An Introduction to the Math of Voting Methods is very accessible and well written. It does a good job of motivating the different voting methods that are discussed and giving nice introductions to how they work.


With lots of worked examples of elections and even more exercises for readers to work through on their own it is an excellent book for self studying.


As an electoral enthusiast I really enjoyed this book and think that is a must read for anyone involved in plebiscite preparations. In particular, those involved in running student clubs and societies may pick up ideas about how to run their elections. The mathematics used is very accessible so could be read by almost anyone who recalls their secondary school maths. However, I imagine that it may read a bit too much like a set of lecture notes for some peoples tastes. Just make sure you have some paper nearby for solving the exercises!

I would particularly recommend this book to anyone think of teaching a course about voting methods.


You can vote for your favourite book on the Book of the Year shortlist below. The winning book will be crowned the Chalkdust Readers’ Choice. Voting closes at 1pm (BST) on Saturday 31 March.

What is your favourite book on the 2022 Book of the Year shortlist?

  • An Introduction to the Math of Voting Methods by Brendan W Sullivan (44%, 101 Votes)
  • Peculiar Deaths of Famous Mathematicians by Ionna Georgiou and Asuka Young (19%, 44 Votes)
  • Congruent Triangles by X and Y (15%, 35 Votes)
  • Escape from Model Land by Erica Thompson (8%, 18 Votes)
  • Math Games with Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin (7%, 16 Votes)
  • A Ring of Cats and Dogs (and Other Curious Puzzles) by Daniel Griller (7%, 15 Votes)
  • The Irrational Diary of Clara Valentine by Coralie Colmez (0%, 1 Votes)
  • Beyond Measure by James Vincent (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 230

Loading ... Loading ...

More from Chalkdust