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April 26, 2017
Canadian Excellence

Marc Kilgour (L) receives the Elinor Ostrom prize
Marc Kilgour (L) receives the Elinor Ostrom prize

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Communications, Public Affairs & Marketing

Laurier math professor recognized for new election method

Sep 16/13| For Immediate Release


D. Marc Kilgour, Chair
Department of Mathematics
519-884-0710 ext. 4208 or


Kevin Crowley, Director, Communications & Public Affairs
Wilfrid Laurier University
519-884-0710 ext. 3070 or

WATERLOO – Wilfrid Laurier University’s Marc Kilgour, professor of Mathematics, was recently awarded the 2012 Elinor Ostrom Prize for the best paper in the Journal of Theoretical Politics. Kilgour co-wrote the paper, titled “Narrowing the Field in Elections: The Next-Two Rule,” with Steven J. Brams of New York University.

The article suggests a new approach to narrowing the field in multi-stage or short-listing elections, based on the “deservingness” of candidates to be considered contenders, or to participate in a runoff election. Instead of specifying an arbitrary criterion for success (for example, the top two or three candidates), the article proposes that the number of contenders should depend on the distribution of votes among all candidates.

“I’ve been interested in electoral systems for some time, especially multi-winner elections that – though very common – are not widely studied,” said Kilgour. “It’s always gratifying to receive this kind of distinction. In fact, I had great respect for the late Elinor Ostrom, so it’s especially meaningful to be recognized by a prize in her name.”

Ostrom was an American political economist known for her research about how commonly owned resources, such as water, can be successfully managed by a community of users. She was a founding editor of the Journal of Theoretical Politics, and the only woman to have won the Nobel Prize in Economics.

The Elinor Ostrom Prize for the best paper was awarded at the Journal of Theoretical Politics editorial board dinner, which was held at the annual meeting of the American Political Science Association in Chicago, Illinois, in August 2013.

“The article is a masterpiece of clarity, complete with diagrammatic expositions of rules and illustrative examples from U.S. electoral history and Major League Baseball Hall of Fame elections,” said Thomas Hammond, professor at Michigan State University and chair of the award committee. “It is an important step toward understanding the working of eliminative systems in general. We believe it will be a source of inspiration for much future work in this important area of political science.”

Visit the Journal of Theoretical Politics website for further information.


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