The letter by Jojo Quain on page 7 of the Daily Graphic
of 17th December 2008 was well intentioned. The issue of
50% plus one making sense and its authentic use as a
criterion for deciding a winner in an election has been
addressed in a letter on page 7 of the Daily Graphic of
Saturday, 13th December 2008.
misleading statement in Mr. Quain’s letter is to do with
the view that election results should not be
approximated. Election results can be approximated.
Approximations are accurate estimates within a given
context. Within the context of the 7th December 2008
elections for example, approximations of the percentages
to 49.13 for Mr. Akuffo-Addo and to 47.92 for Prof.
Mills are accurate to two decimal places and do NOT
change the results in terms of the winning criterion of
50% plus one or more than 50%. (Notice that 50% or more
is not the same as more than 50%).
If in another
context the votes for candidate A = 50.4% and votes for
candidate B = 49.6% and the winning criterion is more
than 50%, then approximating to the nearest whole number
will make candidate A get 50% and candidate B also get
50%. A tie may be declared. The mathematics is correct
but within the context of the criterion, it is an
inappropriate use (in fact an abuse) of mathematics. In
this context there is no need to approximate to the
nearest whole number as candidate A has clearly won.
Principles and methods of mathematics should be well
understood and applied appropriately to decision making,
however sophisticated the situation might be. It is not
just for convenience that we use mathematics. Rather
mathematics brings out the fine details and ensures the
efficiency, authenticity and transparency of decision
making. We should study mathematics well to appreciate
its beauty and power. So to conclude, I claim that
election results can be approximated.