On Elections

How people elect parliaments

Biographies – historical figures

This is a listing of historical figures who have made a contribution to the history of electoral science in one way or another.

(See also separate page of biographies of living psephologists and political scientists.)

Adams, John Quincy: (1767–1848); US diplomat and statesman, ambassador to the Netherlands 1794-97, ambassador to Prussia 1797-1801, US Senator 1803-08, ambassador to Russia 1809-14, ambassador to the United Kingdom 1814-17, US Secretary of State 1817-25, President of the United States 1825-29, Congressman 1831-48. In the ongoing debate over apportionment of seats in the US House of Representatives among the states, he proposed the adjusted divisor quotient rounding method which became known as Adams’ method.

Andræ, Carl: (1812–1893); Danish mathematician and politician; professor of mathematics and mechanics at the national military college 1842–54; Finance Minister 1854–56 and 1857–58, Council President of Denmark (prime minister) 1856–57; responsible for the development and implementation of the first use of single transferable vote (STV) voting for a national assembly (at the 1856 elections of the Danish Rigsraad)[i].

Arrow, Kenneth: (1921–2017); American neo-classical economist, political scientist and writer; joint winner of the Nobel Memorial Prize in Economics in 1972 (as are five of Arrow’s former students); winner of the von Neumann Theory Prize (1986). Arrow is known for his contributions to social choice theory, notably ‘Arrow’s theorem’ (also ‘Arrow’s impossibility theorem’, or ‘Arrow’s paradox’), widely used as a test of the mathematical robustness of decision-making (including electoral) systems. Arrow’s other socialists economic fields include general equilibrium theory and welfare economics. Works relevant to electoral science include Social Choice and Individual Values (1951).

Ashworth, Thomas Ramsden: (1864-1935); Australian publicist, architect and businessman. President of the Victorian division of the Free Trade and Liberal Association in 1898-1902. Co-author (with his brother) of Proportional Representation Applied to Party Government (1900). Member for the Victorian State seat of Ovens 1902-1904 (ministerialist). President of the Victorian Employers’ Federation 1920-34. Member of the Royal Commission on the Constitution 1927-29; with two Labor politicians wrote a minority report advocating greater Commonwealth powers. Continuing critic of the industrial arbitration system, and vocal opponent of the Scullin Government in 1931.

Avebury, Lord: see Sir John Lubbock.

Black, Duncan: (1908–1991); Scottish economist and political scientist. Black researched and built upon work by Charles Dodgson and other earlier political scientists on electoral methods, and largely initiated the field of knowledge now known as social choice theory. He proposed Black’s method, an electoral approach to single-position preferential election using first the Condorcet criterion and alternatively, where there is no Condorcet winner, re-examining the preferences as a Borda Count. Works: Theory of Committees and Elections (1958).

Boothby, William: (1829 –1903); Australian public administrator, first Electoral Commissioner for the colony (later state) of South Australia, serving for nearly half a century from 1856 to 1903; later also Comptroller of Prison Labour. Boothby was responsible for many reforms to electoral practice that came to be adopted across Australia and worldwide. In 1856 Boothby was responsible for new electoral practices based on the use of a pre-printed official ballot papers, and the opportunity for voters to cast a secret ballot (the latter adopted shortly before in the colony of Victoria). Secret ballot voting came to be adopted in other democracies in the later half of the 19thcentury, being generally known as “the Australian ballot”. Boothby’s administrative practices were influential on Australian electoral law and practice in other colonies and in the new Australian federal government that was formed at the turn of the century. After Boothby’s death in 1903 a still-existing federal electoral division in Adelaide was named in his memory.

Borda, Jean-Charles: aka the Chevalier de Borda, (1733–99); French naval officer, mathematician, physicist, and political scientist. Developed in 1770 the a Borda count, a variant of preferential voting which has features of both rate voting and rank voting. In a Borda count voters mark all the candidates with scores from N (the number of candidates) down to 1. The numbers are then counted as points, with the candidate with the highest total points being the winner.

Buckalew, Charles R: (1821–1899); American lawyer and Democratic party politician from Pennsylvania; elected to the Pennsylvania Senate, the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. An early advocate of proportional representation and cumulative voting in the United States, Buckalew introduced into the House two bills mandating the use of cumulative voting for congressional elections, firstly for application to the soon to be re-admitted states of the rebel South (1867), and subsequently for nation-wide use (1969), but neither bill was agreed to. He was however influential in the adoption of cumulative voting in several places, including the state legislature of Illinois (1870 to 1980).

Bucklin, James: resident of Grand Junction, Colorado, United States; developed the Bucklin voting method (also known as the Grand Junction system).

Clark, Andrew Inglis: (1848–1907); Australian politician, electoral reformer, jurist and barrister, Attorney-General of Tasmania, Senior Justice of the Supreme Court of Tasmania and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Tasmania. A leading expert on constitutional law, Clark made significant contributions to the adoption of the Australian Constitution as a lead author of the draft Constitution of 1891 (of the 96 sections of the Constitution, 86 are recognisable in the 128 sections of the final document). Clark was a prominent advocate for Thomas Hare’s system of single transferable vote (STV) voting, which as the colonial Attorney-General he was responsible for introducing to Tasmanian elections. “Clark was an Australian Jefferson, who, like the great American Republican, fought for Australian independence; an autonomous judiciary; a wider franchise and lower property qualifications; fairer electoral boundaries; checks and balances between the judicature, legislature and executive; modern, liberal universities; and a Commonwealth that was federal, independent and based on natural rights.” In 2018 the federal electoral division in Hobart formerly named Denison was renamed in his memory.

Condorcet, Marquis de: Marie Jean Antoine Nicolas de Caritat, Marquis de Condorcet (commonly known as Nicolas de Condorcet) (1743–94); French philosopher, mathematician, and political scientist, Inspector General of the Paris Mint (1774–91), Permanent Secretary of the Académie des Sciences (1977–93), Secretary of the Académie Française (1782–94), member of the revolutionary Assemblée National (1791-93) and Secretary of the Assemblée (1791-93), leader of the Girondin Constitutional Committee; advocate for the political rights of women and opponent of slavery. Amongst many other achievements Condorcet devised a method of vote tallying to identify the candidate who would beat every other candidate in all pairwise comparisons, now known as the Condorcet winner.

Considerant, Victor: (1808–93); French journalist, author and utopian socialist. Devised an early proportional representation system and advocated measures of direct democracy including the referendum and recall of elected officials. In 1846 he urged the Constituent Assembly of Geneva to adopt a form or seat allocation (or ‘party list’) voting system, which played a large part in the interest of Swiss scholars and politicians in adopting proportional representation in the following decades. Author of the Democracy Manifesto, a precursor of Marx’ and Engels’ Communist Manifesto.

Coombs, Clyde: (1912-1988); American psychologist specializing in mathematical psychology. Proposed the Coombs method of elimination for preferential elections.

Courtney, Leonard: 1st Baron Courtney of Penwith (1832–1918); British politician, academic and man of letters; member of William Gladstone’s second administration 1880–84 and Deputy Speaker of the House of Commons 1886–93.[ii] In 1884 Courtney resigned from the Gladstone Cabinet in opposition to the Government’s refusal to adopt a system of proportional representation for House of Commons elections, instead negotiating with the Conservative party to introduce the near-uniform system of single-member electoral divisions now known as the ‘first past the post’ system. Courtney was a leading figure in the revived British Proportional Representation Society from 1905 until his death in 1918.

Craig, Frederick Walter Scott; (1929-89) Scottish psephologist, publisher and politician; he compiled and published the standard series of reference books covering United Kingdom Parliamentary election results.

Cridge, Alfred Denton: (1860 – ?) American radical activist and author, associated with the People’s Power League, an entity active in seeking governmental reforms such as recall elections and voting reforms in the US in the early 20th century. Works include: Epitome of Spirit-intercourse: A Condensed View of Spiritualism, In its Scriptural, Historical, Actual and Scientific Aspects: Its Relations to Christianity, Insanity, Psychometry and Social Reform (1854); Woman’s Rights, and How to Obtain Them (1875); Voting Not Representation: A Demand for Definite Democracy and Political (1880); Utopia, or The History of an Extinct Planet (1884); 1 Cent Per Mile, Proof that Railroad Charges are 3 to 20 Times the Cost of Service (1880’s); ‎‎Proportional Representation: Including its Relations to the Initiative Referendum (1893); People’s Power and Public Taxation (co-author).

Cusanus; Nicholas of Kues (Cardinal; also Nicolaus Cusanus, also Nicholas of Cusa): (1401-64); German renaissance humanist, philosopher, theologian, jurist and astronomer; papal legate to Germany (1446), Cardinal (1448), Prince-Bishop of Brixen (1450), and Vicar General in the Papal States (1459). Proposed in 1433 a new method for the election of Holy Roman Emperors, which is essentially the same as the Borda Count later proposed again in the 1780s; his method was, however, not adopted.

D’Hondt, Victor: (1841–1901); Belgian lawyer, salesman, jurist of civil law at Ghent University, and mathematician. In 1878 he devised the first escalating divisor method for the apportionment of seats to candidates in party list system elections, now known as the D’Hondt method. The method is mathematically equivalent to the Jefferson’s method, a varient of the adjusted divisor quotient rounding method. The method has been adopted in a number of countries.

Dilke, Sir Charles Wentworth: Second Baronet Dilke (1843-1911); British Liberal politician, a radical opposed to Whig control of his party. Dilke, a leading member of the Gladstone Liberal government, was responsible for negotiating the Arlington Street political compromise with the opposition Conservative party over the UK Representation of the People Bill 1884, dealing with widening the franchise, and the Redistribution of Seats Bill 1885, which introduced the near-uniform system of single-member electoral divisions now known as the ‘first past the post’ system.

Dean, James: US mathematician. In the ongoing debate over apportionment of seats in the US House of Representatives among the states, he proposed the adjusted divisor quotient rounding method which became known as Dean’s method, which in turn inspired US Senator Daniel Webster to develop Webster’s method.

Dodgson, Charles: (aka Lewis Carroll) (1832–98); English cleric, mathematician, photographer and writer; known for early social choice theory work including refinements of methods for the Borda count and for identifying the Condorcet winner of pairwise comparisons with preferential voting. Works include Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (1865), Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There (1871), and The Theory of Committees and Elections (1958, posthumously).

Droop, Henry Richmond: (1831–84); English lawyer and mathematician. Devised the Droop quota in 1868 as a replacement for the simple quota. Also proposed the relationship between electoral systems and party configurations which subsequently became known as Duverger’s Law. Key works include the essays On the Political and Social Effects of Different Methods of Electing Representatives (1869), extracts of which are discussed by US political scientist Matthew Shugart at his Fruits and Votes site, and On methods of electing representatives (1881).

Duverger, Maurice: (1917–2014); French jurist, sociologist and politician; scholar of the evolution of political systems and institutions; proponent of with empirical methods of analysis. Promoted a theory (Duverger’s law) which identifies a correlation between a plurality voting and the formation of a two-party party configuration.

Fisher, Francis: early American advocate for proportional representation from 1863 onward.

Freeze, John Gosse: (1825 – ?) Pennsylvanian lawyer, author and advocate of electoral reform. Member of the Pennsylvania Constitutional Convention of 1872. Works: edited, with Charles Buckalew, Proportional Representation or The Representation of Successive Majorities in Federal, State, Municipal, Corporate and Primary Elections (1872).

Gergonne, Joseph: (1771–1859); French mathematician and logician. In Aritimetique politique, Sur les elections et le system representative (1820) he proposed an early form of fixed-quota-based voting system for multi-member electoral divisions.

Gerry, Elbridge: (1744-1814); American revolutionary, statesman and diplomat; Member of the US House of Representatives 1789-1793; diplomatic representative to France 1797-98; Governor of Massachusetts 1810-1812; Vice-President of the United States 1813-14. Gerry was a signatory to both the Declaration of American Independence and the Articles of Confederation, and a participant in the Constitutional Convention of 1787, although he refused to endorse the resulting Constitution due to the (initial) non-inclusion of a bill of rights. Elected to Congress, Gerry helped developed the final Bill of Rights, and he opposed the development of a system of political parties. However years later, during his term as Governor of Massachusetts, state legislation was passed creating electoral districts with a distorted partisan advantage for his Democratic-Republican party, especially in the state’s Senate. Despite Gerry reportedly disapproving of the partisanship involved in the boundary-making, he signed the legislation. At the following state elections the Federalist party won the governorship and the majority of the lower House seats, yet the Democratic-Republican party won the majority of Senate seats due to the distorted boundaries. The affair resulted in the enduring term ‘gerrymander’ being used for such boundary distortions.

Gilpin, Thomas: (1776-1853); American paper manufacturer whose paper On the representation of minorities of electors to act with the majority in elected assemblies (Philadelphia, 1844) was one of the earliest proposals for proportional representation by seat allocation using party lists.

Glynn, Patrick (Paddy) Mahon: (1855-1931); b. Galway, Ireland; Australian lawyer and politician, Member of the South Australian House of Assembly 1887-90, 1895-96 and 1897-1901; Member of the Commonwealth House of Representatives 1901-1919, Commonwealth Attorney-General 1909-10, Minister for External Affairs (1913-14) and Minister for Home and Territories (1917-1920). Glynn was a prominent constitutional lawyer, and a leading member of the Free Trade party and its successors the Liberal and Nationalist parties. Glynn played a significant role in the debates on the first Commonwealth Electoral Bill in 1902, through which the electoral system for the Commonwealth Parliament was established.

Gregory, John Burslem: (1844-1910); Melbourne barrister and lecturer at the University of Melbourne Law School 1882-1896; Registrar of Friendly Societies 1872. He proposed what is now known as the Gregory method, a formula for use in transferring the surplus of votes from a candidate who has won a seat in an single transferable vote (STV) election in the immediately preceding stage of counting.

Hagenbach-Bischoff, Eduard: (1833–1910); Swiss physicist, mathematician and teacher, after whom the Hagenbach-Bischoff quota and the Hagenbach-Bischoff method are named.

Hallett, George: (1895-1985); US psephologist and electoral reformer, assistant secretary of the American PR League from 1920, later Vice-President of the UK Electoral Reform Society. Hallett visited Ireland in 1920 to observe the first Irish Free state elections. He was active in the movement to introduce the single transferable vote (STV) to US elections, including the adoption of that system – using rules drawn up by Hallett – for the New York City Council from 1937 to 1945, and for School Board elections in New York in the 1970s. Works include Proportional Representation (with Clarence Hoag, 1926) and Proportional Representation: The Key to Democracy (1940).

Hamilton, Alexander: (1755 or 1757–1804); American Founding Father, military officer, economist, political philosopher and constitutional lawyer; first United States Secretary of the Treasury.

Hare, Thomas: (1806–91); British lawyer, judicial commentator, social scientist, author and public servant; proponent of electoral reform, in particular as the most prominent developer of the single transferable vote (STV) voting system. Works include The Machinery of Representation (1857); A Treatise on the Election of Representatives Parliamentary and Municipal (4 editions: 1859, 1861, 1865, 1873).

Hart, Jennifer: (1914-2005); British civil servant and historian, author of a key text on the history of the proportional representation movement in Britain and the invention of the single transferable vote voting system, Proportional Representation: Critics of the British  Electoral System 1820-1945 (1992).

Hill, David: (often known as ID Hill); (1926-2015); English statistician, member and onetime Honorary Secretary of the Royal Statistical Society, and psephologist active with the Electoral Reform Society of the UK. Hill proposed improvements to the counting methods for the single transferable vote (STV) voting system. Hill was a descendant of Thomas Wright Hill, the originator of the earliest form of STV.

Hill, Sir Rowland: (1795-1879), KCB, Fellow of the Royal Society; English teacher, inventor and postal official, most known for his innovations in what became the postal service. In 1840 while serving in the British government he proposed for use in the new colony at Adelaide (South Australia) a single transferable vote (STV) method for the election of local councillors, drawing on the method developed by his father Thomas Wright Hill in 1821. In England during the 1860s he supported the campaign of Thomas Hare and others to promote Hare’s more developed proposals for STV for the election of the House of Commons.

Hill, Sir Thomas Wright: English schoolmaster at Birmingham. In 1819 he authored a description of a voting system which constitutes the first known variant of the single transferable vote (STV) system. In 1821 he oversaw an election at the Birmingham Society for Literary and Scientific Improvement using his system. Father of Rowland Hill and ancestor of David Hill.

Hill, Joseph Adna: (1860-1938); American statistician, Chief Statistician of the United States Census Bureau from 1909, Assistant Director of the national Census of 1921. Hill was the initial proponent of the method of equal proportions for apportionment of seats in the US House of Representatives among the states, later revised by Edward Huntington, adopted for House seat allocations from 1941 onwards, and now known as the Huntington-Hill method.

Hoag, Clarence Gilbert: (1873-1968); US economist, electoral reformer and advocate of proportional representation. Works include Effective Voting: An Article On Preferential Voting and Proportional Representation (1914), Proportional representation, preferential voting, and direct primaries (in the National Municipal Review, 1914), A Theory of Interest (1914) and Proportional Representation (with George Hallett, 1926).

Howatt, Dr George: (1919-1997); American-born expert in electoral matters, active in Tasmania from 1952 until his death; a consultant on electoral issues for the Australian, Tasmanian and Irish governments, especially on matters relating to the single transferable vote (STV) voting system. Works include Democratic Representation under the Hare-Clark System – The Need for Seven-Member Electorates (1958) and Voting – By Party Direction or Free Choice? (1979).

Hughes, Colin Anfield: (1930-2017); Australian academic and electoral official; Professor of Political Science at the University of Queensland; first Australian Electoral Commissioner 1984-89. Hughes was a prominent electoral commentator and analyst from the 1960s. When the Australian Electoral Commission was established in 1984 as an independent statutory authority, Hughes was appointed as the foundation Commissioner. Works include A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1890-1964 (1968, with B Graham) and A Handbook of Australian Government and Politics 1964-74 (1977). A lengthy 2011 interview with Dr Hughes discussing the development of political science as a discipline can be found at Queensland Speaks.

Huntington, Edward Vere: (1874-1952); prominent American mathematician, Professor at Harvard University. Huntington was involved in the long-running debate on the preferable method of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives among the states. Revising an earlier proposal by statistician Joseph Hill, Huntington developed the method of equal proportions (or Huntington-Hill method) for the apportionment of seats in the House among the states. This method, advocated by the ‘Harvard School’ in opposition to the major fractions method advocated by the ‘Cornell School’, has been in use for each decennial reallocation of seats since 1941.

Humphreys, John: Secretary of the Proportional Representation Society of Britain for over two decades from the revival of the Society in 1905.

Jefferson, Thomas: (1743–1826), American farmer, inventor, architect, philosopher, writer, diplomat and statesman, author of the Declaration of American Independence and of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia. Jefferson proposed the first adjusted divisor method for the apportionment of seats in the United States House of Representatives among the several states of the Union.

Lakeman, Enid: (1903-1995); OBE, British chemist, WWII radar operator, humanist, feminist, political reformer, writer and politician, noted for her advocacy of the single transferable vote (STV) voting system. Lifelong member of the Liberal Party – later the Liberal Democrats – standing unsuccessfully for election to parliament in the 1940s and 50s. From 1946 she was active in the UK Proportional Representation Society (since 1958 known as the Electoral Reform Society), and was Director of the Society from 1960 to 1980. In 1955 she wrote (with James Lambert) Voting in Democracies, a detailed comparative study of electoral systems in different countries and still a standard reference work, the final edition (1974) released the title How Democracies Vote. Lakeman and the ERS were influential in retaining STV in use in Éire and advocating its re-introduction into Northern Ireland elections.

Laksi, Harold: (1893-1950); British political scientist, economist, academic and author; lectured at McGill, Harvard and Yale universities, later professor at the London School of Economics 1926-50; executive member of the Fabian Society 1922-36; chairman of the British Labour Party 1945-46. A prominent advocate of Marxist and socialist policies within the Labour party during the 1930s and 40s, but opposed to authoritarian communist governments, Laksi was described by George Orwell as “a socialist by allegiance, and a liberal by temperament”. Advocate US support for the allied nations during the early part of WWII.

Linz, Juan: (1926-2013); Spanish sociologist and political scientist; Sterling Professor of Political and Social Science at Yule University; research focus on the study of authoritarianism and totalitarianism, political parties and elites, and democratic breakdowns and transitions to democracy; Principe de Asturias prize in the social sciences (Spain) (1987); works include Problems of Democratic Transition and Consolidation: Southern Europe, South America, and Post-Communist Europe (1996), Totalitarian and Authoritarian Regimes (2000) and the much-cited essay The Perils of Presidentialism (1990).

Lipset, Seymour Martin: (1922-2006); American political scientist and sociologist; senior fellow at the Hoover Institution at Stanford University, and the Hazel Professor of Public Policy at George Mason University. Focus of Lipset’s work was on political sociology, trade union organization, social stratification, public opinion, and the sociology of intellectual life. Works include Political Man (1963), American Exceptionalism: A Double-Edged Sword (1977), The First New Nation: The United States in Historical and Comparative Perspective (1979), Continental divide: The values and institutions of the United States and Canada (1989, 1991).

Llull, Ramon: (1232–1315) (also known as Raymond Lull (Anglicised) and Raimundus Lullus (Latin)); Majorcan writer and philosopher, logician and Franciscan cleric. Original manuscripts show him to have anticipated by several centuries the concept of the ‘highest-consent winner’ – identical to the Condorcet winner – and of the Borda count voting system.[iv]

Lytton, Robert: English diplomat; as Queen’s Secretary of the Legation in Copenhagen, his report of 1863 brought Carl Andrae’s form of single transferable vote (STV) voting to the awareness of the British public.

Lubbock, Sir John: also Lord Avebury; 1st Baron Avebury (1834–1913); English polymath and Liberal Member of Parliament; founder of the Proportional Representation Society (1884) (later renamed the Electoral Reform Society); advocate of the single transferable vote (STV) voting system. Works include Proportional Representation (1904).

Mackenzie, William James Millar: (1909-96); CBE; British political scientist; Professor of Government at the University of Manchester; Professor of Politics at the University of Glasgow; Fellow of the British Academy. The WJM Mackenzie Book Prize is awarded by the Political Studies Association. Works Include Federalism and Regionalism (1951), Free Elections (1958) and Theories of Local Government (1964).

Marshall, James: English politician. Proposed the use of the cumulative vote for elections of the House of Commons in 1853, but the proposal was not adopted.[v]

Meek, Brian: (1934-97); English mathematician. Proponent of a revised method for managing the distribution of transferred ballots in STV counts so as to minimise the minor inequality of influence arising from different preference sequences of different voters. The two primary papers in which he set out his counting proposals are A New Approach to the Single Transferable Vote: Paper I: Equality of Treatment of voters and a feedback mechanism for vote count (1969) and A New Approach to the Single Transferable Vote: Paper II: The problem of non-transferable votes (1970). He wrote a further short paper A transferable voting system including intensity of preference (1975), offering a possible approach to taking into account intensity of voter support in a quasi-STV voting system.

Mill, John Stuart: (1806–73); British philosopher, political campaigner, economist and civil servant; supporter of electoral reform and in particular of the single transferable vote (STV) voting method proposed by Thomas Hare. Works include Considerations on Representative Government (1861).

Mirabeau, Comte de: Honoré Gabriel Riqueti, Comte de Mirabeau (1749–91); French revolutionary, writer, diplomat, journalist and politician. In an address to the Assembly of Provence in 1789 he advanced the notion that an assembly should be a representation in miniature of the electorate which it represents.

Nanson, Edward: (1850?-1938?); Australian Mathematician active in Melbourne from the 1880s to the early years of the 20th century. Nanson was influential in the debates and designs of electoral systems during the passage of the first national electoral legislation in 1902. He was an advocate for single transferable vote (STV) systems, and for preferential voting generally. Nanson developed a mathematical method for using a Borda count ranking to identify the Condorcet winner from the ranked votes. Works include the pamphlet Electoral reform : an exposition of the theory and practice of proportional representation (1899), which criticised the proposed use of for federal elections under the recently endorsed national Constitution of SMD plurality voting (for the House of Representatives) and block voting (for the Senate).

Nash, John F: (1928-2015); US mathematician renowned for development of game theory, widely applied in economics, social and political sciences; co-winner of the 1994 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Sciences.

Naville, Ernest: (1816–1890s); Swiss theologian and public intellectual, promoter of proportional representation and closely associated with Switzerland’s adoption of a system of indirect elections through party list proportional representation. Works include On the theory and practice of representative elections (1872).

O’Connor, Richard Edward: (1851-1912); Australian lawyer, politician and judge; member of the NSW Parliament 1891-1900 and Senator in the Commonwealth Parliament 1901-03; Leader of the Government in the Senate and Vice-President of the Executive Council 1901-03; Justice of the High Court of Australia 1903-1912; President of the Commonwealth Court of Conciliation and Arbitration 1905-07. O’Connor was a leading figure in the movement for the federation of the Australian colonies into the Commonwealth in the 1990s. A member the first Australian Government (the Barton ministry), in 1902 O’Connor was the minister responsible in the Senate for the first Commonwealth Electoral Bill (1902) through which the Australian national electoral system was established, and was responsible for the Judiciary Act establishing the High Court of Australia. O’Connor resigned from Parliament to form – together with the former Prime Minister, Edmund Barton, and Sir Samuel Griffith – the first bench of the High Court.

Ostrogorsky, Moisey: (1854-1921); Belarusian political scientist, historian, jurist and sociologist. Member of the First State Duma of the Russian Empire in 1906-1907. Considered one of the founders of political sociology, especially in the field of theories about party systems and political parties. See Ostrogorsky’s paradox. Works include Democracy And The Organization Of Political Parties (originally in French, 1902) and Democracy and the Party System in the United States (1910).

Penrose, Lionel: (1898 –1972); FRS, British psychiatrist, medical geneticist, mathematician and chess theorist; proposed Penrose law for analyzing relative voting power of blocks in assemblies.

Riker, William: (1920-93); American political scientist and game theorist. Focus of work included social choice theory and the theory and history of federalism. Works include The Theory of Political Coalitions (1962).

Robson, Neil: (1928–2013); Tasmanian politician, member of the Tasmanian House of Assembly 1976-92; proposed the method of printing variants of ballot papers for Tasmania’s single transferable vote (STV) elections so that candidates would have the advantageous top position on ballot papers in equal numbers, now known as Robson Rotation. The approach was adopted for elections to the Tasmania House of Assembly in 1979 and in the Australian Capitol Territory Legislative Assembly in 1994.

Rokkan, Stein: (1921-79); Norwegian political scientist and sociologist; professor in comparative politics at the University of Bergen. Research focused on the formation of political parties and of European nation-states. Works include Party Systems and Voter Alignments (co-edited with Seymour Martin Lipset (1967) and Citizens Elections Parties: Approaches to the Comparative Study of the Processes of Development (1970).

Salisbury, 3rd Marquess; Robert Gascoyne-Cecil: (1830-1903); British Conservative politician, Member of the House of Commons 1854-1902, Secretary of State for India 1866-67 and 1874-78, Foreign Secretary 1878-80, Leader of the Conservative Party 1880-1902, Prime Minister 1885-86, 1886-92, and 1892-2901. Amongst many other political activities, Salisbury was responsible for negotiating the Arlington Street political compromise with the governing Liberal party over the UK Representation of the People Bill 1884, dealing with widening the franchise, and the Redistribution of Seats Bill 1885, which introduced the near-uniform system of single-member electoral divisions now known as ‘first past the post’ system.

Sainte-Laguë, André: (1882–1950); French mathematician and a pioneer in the subject of graph theory. His research on seat allocation methods (published in 1910) led to a new escalating divisor series, now widely used as the Sainte-Laguë method. Also named after him is the Sainte-Laguë Index for measuring the proportionality of an electoral outcome.

Sartori, Giovanni: (1924-2017); Italian political scientist; established the first adacemic post in political science in post-war Italy, and Dean of the University of Florence’s Department of Political Science; later Albert Schweitzer Professor in the Humanities at Columbia University  1979-94. Works include Parties and Party Systems (1976).

Spence, Catherine Helen: (1825–1910); Scottish-born Australian politician, journalist, author and teacher, prominent in the movement for womens’ suffrage and other social work relating to women and children. She was Australia’s first female political candidate (1897). Spence was a consistent advocate of proportional direct election using Thomas Hare’s single transferable vote (STV) system. In 1861 she proposed the modification to Hare’s system whereby the electorate would be divided into multi-member divisions. In 1893 Spence made a presentation on STV to an event at the World Exhibition in Chicago, helping to promote proportional representation to political reformers in the Unites States. In 2018 the federal electoral division in Adelaide formerly named Port Adelaide was renamed in her memory.

St Just: Louis Antoine Léon de Saint-Just (1767–94); French military and political leader, elected to the French National Convention in 1792, and a leader of the government of the First Republic. In 1893 he proposed to the National Convention that the electoral system for the whole nation should be the single non-transferable vote (SNTV), which if adopted would have been the first national usage of a system of proportional representation; his proposal was “quickly surpassed by the violent opposition of Robespierre” (Hoag and Hallett 1926, 163).

Sterne, Simon: (1839-1901); US lawyer, economist, lecturer and social scientist. An early US advocate of proportional representation, especially the single transferable vote (STV), particularly in New York. He was in contact with JS Mill and Thomas Hare, and joined the British Proportional Representation Society as an overseas correspondent. Works include Representative Government and Personal Representation (1870).

Ware, William: (1982–1915); American architect and author, founding professor of architecture at MIT; promoted the use of preferential voting using the sequential elimination method from 1870.

Warren, CE: English psephologist, author of a variation of Meek’s method for finalising a single transferable vote (STV) count.

Warren, Earl: (1891-1974); American politician and jurist, Governor of California (1943-53); Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court (1953-69). During Warren’s period as Chief Justice the Supreme Court dealt with a series of cases that concluded that the American Constitution barred the use of malapportionment in the drawing of electoral district boundaries for the state and national legislative elections.

Webster, Daniel: (1782–1852); American politician (Federalist, National Republican, Whig), Member of the United States House of Representatives 1813–27, Senator from Massachusetts 1827–41 and 1845–50, United States Secretary of State 1841–43 and 1850–52. Webster proposed a adjusted divisor method of apportionment for use in allocating the seats in the US House of Representatives among the States of the Union. Webster’s method is mathematically equivalent to the escalating divisor method later proposed by André Sainte-Laguë in 1910.

Wilcox, Walter: (1874-1945); US mathematician involved in the long-running debate on the preferable method of apportioning seats in the House of Representatives among the states. Wilcox was of the ‘Cornell School’, advocating the major fractions method, also known as Webster’s method.

Wright, JFH (‘Jack’): (?-1988); Australian electoral reformer, President of the Proportional Representation Society of Australia 1983-85. Works: Mirror of the Nation’s Mind – Australia’s Electoral Experiments.

[i] Parsons 2009, p.56
[ii] Wikipedia – ‘Leonard Courtney’, 29 December 2011
[iii] Parsons 2009, p.56
[iv] Wikipedia – ‘Ramon Llull’, 29 December 2011
[v] Parsons 2009, p.58

3 comments on “Biographies – historical figures

  1. Pingback: Independent reviews of Australian electoral boundaries announced | On Elections

  2. Pingback: First-past-the-post: a rogue’s practice? | On Elections

  3. Abram Bergold
    November 8, 2019

    Hi! This is my first visit to your blog! We are a collection of volunteers and starting a new initiative in a community in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

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