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The Intricate Mathematics of Elections: One Vote Does Matter

May 26th, 2018 by Michael Dyet


Hmmm, is there such a thing as political algebra? Could it be the best motivation for us to cast our vote?

I voted in the advance poll for the provincial election today. I had made up my mind and liked the idea of avoiding the lineups late in the afternoon on Election Day. Nothing any of the candidates can say was going to change my mind.

Honestly, leading up to Election Day I am inclined to avoid the news reports on the latest promises from the candidates. The closer we get to the election, the more elaborate the promises become. Promises made in the stretch run are very often the first ones to be broken.

Now I can sit back and view the remainder of the race dispassionately. I can also permit myself to take a peek now and then at the news reports without rolling my eyes in annoyance.

Right now I am looking at the Ontario Votes 2018 Poll Tracker website. It shows the PCs and the Conservatives in a virtual dead height with 36% support while the Liberals are fading fast and have fallen to 21% support.

So if the election was held today, it would be an exciting race to the wire. Right? Well, apparently not. The top line percentages are an aggregate figure from across all ridings and can be misleading. In fact, they are a rather unprecise indicator. The experts say that the current figures translate to the following outcome and even allow for the possibility of a PC majority:

Between 45 and 81 seats for the PCs

Between 39 and 65 seats for the NDP

Between 3 and 22 seats for the Liberals

Election analysis is, it seems, a rather imprecise science. (I wish I was allowed that degree of right or wrong latitude at work! It would lower my stress level considerably.) But the major factor at play at the moment is that the PCs have a better distribution of support across the province.

So, it is not simply a case of how the pluses and minuses add up. Where the pluses and minuses land geographically has everything to do with the eventual result. Feels like high school algebra all over again… Ah, I may be on to something! Let us explore that connection.

Algebra is defined as the part of mathematics in which letters and other symbols are used to represent numbers and quantities in formulae and equations. I never could get the hang of algebra in high school. Frankly, the definition itself stills give me a headache.

But perhaps there is such a thing as political algebra. The election battle is a complex, algebraic formula which allows for several different scenarios depending on which letters align with which symbols to recalculate the equation. The formula changes more often than we imagine.

My small role in determining the outcome is completed. But those of you who think it really does not matter where your X lands, remember that political algebra means your one vote could change the equation. Your vote does matter and it is worth the effort.

Now Available Online from Amazon, Chapters Indigo or Barnes & Noble: Hunting Muskie, Rites of Passage – Stories by Michael Robert Dyet

~ Michael Robert Dyet is the author of Until the Deep Water Stills – An Internet-enhanced Novel which was a double winner in the Reader Views Literary Awards 2009. Visit Michael’s website at or the novel online companion at

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