- (Fifty percent plus one does not exist)

There would have been no problem if Daasebre Oti Boateng’s claim is limited to “50% plus one” does not exist within the constitution of Ghana as a criterion for deciding a winner in a presidential election. But his attempt to extend his claim that “50% plus one” is non-additive and does not make mathematical sense is misleading and throwing dust into the eyes of Ghanaians (Daily Graphic of 18/12/2008, page 7). I have already addressed in some detail that 50% plus one makes mathematical sense and that it can be used to decide a winner in an election (see Daily Graphic of 18/12/2008, page 7). I hope those sending rejoinders (reactions) are reading carefully the points I have raised.

The argument that percentage and one are non-additive quantities only goes to show the rigidity with which we sometimes understand mathematical concepts, without perceiving other plausible representations and interpretations. Percentage is a fraction, a decimal, a ratio… only different representations of a number. Can ½ be added to one? Obviously yes! But 1/2 is the same as 0.5 and the same as 50%, only different representations. So, why can’t we add 50% and one? All you need is to convert appropriately and interpret appropriately. Mathematics is the study of everyday life activities (like voting) and the application of derived principles and methods of the subject to make sense of those activities and others like them (the activities).

Principles and methods of mathematics are one of the surest ways to make good and transparent decisions. They ensure the efficiency of all our developmental efforts. It is for these reasons that I have been at the forefront of the efforts to revamp mathematics education in Ghana. It is crucial therefore that we project an appropriate shared meaning of mathematical concepts and break mental barriers that make mathematics look like a bunch of meaningless symbols dropping out of space. I state categorically and unreservedly that 50% plus one makes mathematical sense and that it can be used to decide a winner of an election.

If necessary, any radio or TV station can organize a life face-to-face discussion of the issue so that we do not get people like Kwaku Awuye (see Daily Graphic of 19/12/2008, page 9) and Akwasi Osei (see Daily Graphic of Wednesday, 31/12/08. page 10) confused. There is NO argument over the constitutional requirement of more than 50 percent as the current criterion for winning presidential elections in Ghana. The argument is over whether 50 percent plus one makes mathematical sense and I say yes.

-Prof. S.E. Anku
Founder & Executive Director, MathNED

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