, Salem, MA


October 16, 2012

Column: How every vote matters


On Nov. 6, we’ll enter the polls, and hopefully we’ll be informed about what can go wrong. But do we know what can go right? On that count, the mathematics of voting today has become as opinionated and diverse as the approaches themselves. So a different part of Cusa’s proposal might be worth revisiting instead.

Considering the history of intrigue and corruption in elections of his day, Cusa called each voter to, “in the name of God ... ponder, directed by his conscience, who among all candidates” is best. Maybe we should urge everyone to make the best decisions they can, even while knowing that sometimes, without any foul play, the outcome will seem unfair.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t change our system. It does mean that if we challenge it, we need to know all the consequences. Then, directed by our conscience, we can ponder who among all candidates deserves our votes. Because they really do count.


Karl-Dieter Crisman is an assistant professor of mathematics at Gordon College in Wenham. He and his family live in Lynn.

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