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The Fairness of Democracy


Date: 09/16/98 at 12:15:40
From: Ashley Lanell Newman
Subject: Democracy.  The mathematics of voting and apportionment

Is democracy fair? I'm having trouble finding information on this 
topic for my Math Fair project. Could you please be of some help? 
Thanks.


Date: 09/16/98 at 14:56:19
From: Doctor Mitteldorf
Subject: Re: Democracy.  The mathematics of voting and apportionment

Dear Ashley,

You should look at the writings of Lani Guinier, who has done as much 
progressive thinking on this subject as anyone.

Before you can begin to ask mathematical questions, you have to start 
with some values questions. Do you want to reflect the will of the 
majority on every issue? Are you concerned with keeping the minority 
engaged in the process? Are there ways in which it is unfair for the 
majority to treat the minority, even if they are "democratic"?  

One of Guinier's points is that no permanent minority will want to 
remain engaged in a democracy. It is essential that each person feel 
that, though he or she may be in the minority now and on this issue, 
there are other issues on which, at a later time, s/he will be part of 
the majority. Guinier has also thought of creative ways to amplify the 
voice of the minority without violating the principle of one person/
one vote.

Why don't you come back to the Math Forum with some specifically 
mathematical questions after you've read and thought about the civics 
and sociological aspects of this question?

- Doctor Mitteldorf, The Math Forum
  http://mathforum.org/dr.math/   
    
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