Math Makes My Brain Ache

As a college professor, it sometimes seems utterly shameful to me that I failed so many classes when I was in high school-- it is a fact that it took me five years (beginning in the eighth grade) to complete three years of high school-level math (and senior year, when I was on year three, I graduated with a 66 on the final Regent's exam; a 65 was the lowest possible passing grade. I was this close to not graduating). Like I said, sometimes that strikes me as shameful. Most of the time I don't think of it, though.

But thanks to Jonathan, I'm forced to think about math again. In the comments thread about the only good opera anyone's ever thought of below, he posts a link to this article about the mathematics of our current voting system, and why they don't... add up. So to speak. Essentially, the article is concerned with "spoiler candidates" and issues of people voting out of practicality rather than what they really want. In a system such as ours, the article points out, Ralph Nader can cause George W. Bush to win an election, even though most of Nader's supporters would probably prefer to see Al Gore elected if their guy has to lose.

The author of the article concludes by suggesting that the country shift to a scale of ranking our preferences when we go into the voting booth on a ten point scale. This way, the author suggests, a voter might still most strongly support a third-party candidate without necessarily throwing support behind a major party candidate she does not agree with; I could give Nader a ranking of 10, but then give Gore a ranking of nine, while not ranking Bush at all.

Frankly, this idea makes sense to me. But it's 7:30 in the morning, I'm still kinda groggy, and even when I'm completely awake and alert, my math skills are slighty lower-than-average for primates. So... what are some other thoughts? Is this, in fact, a sensible proposal, or is there a reason this hasn't caught on that I'm just not seeing?

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