Methods of Counting (part one)

The United States of America is a democratic republic, or so goes the story. A republic, because citizens elect their representatives; a democracy, because most people are citizens and have the right to vote. This is different from a direct democracy such as ancient Athens, where citizenship meant you were part of the government, but citizenship was reserved to just a few thousand inhabitants (property-owning adult males, in other words). So American elections are simple, routine: people cast their ballots, the votes are counted, and the will of the people prevails.

Well — that’s how it’s supposed to go. There’s a lot that goes on in that middle step. But how hard could it be? Count up the votes for Candidate A or Candidate B, tally all the ballots for Proposition X, and so forth. It’s basic math! Continue reading