Ellen Veomett, PhD

A professor in the Mathematics and Computer Science department of Saint Mary's School of Science, Ellen Veomett's scholarly research includes the employment of mathematical formulas and techniques to address assaults on democracy, including preventing gerrymandering to foster equity at the nation's polls.

Professor Ellen VeomettProfessor Ellen Veomett's mathematical civic engagement includes research on key metrics intended to detect gerrymandering, which is a major concern as America's 2020 Census is underway and States will be required to redraw their voting districts based on population changes.

Veomett's research on gerrymandering detection metrics includes the Efficiency Gap and the Declination. As explained in the SMC Magazine profile on Veomett "What Math Can Do For Your Country," the Efficiency Gap is a metric that has been used in various court cases, including the Supreme Court Case Gill v Whitford (2018).  Professor Veomett's research showed how uneven turnout from district to district can impact this metric in unexpected ways.  Her groundbreaking paper on the Efficiency Gap became one of the top three most downloaded articles of 2018 and is one of the most read articles in the Election Law Journal. 

The Declination metric compares the number of seats won by a specific political party, the average vote share for that party in districts it won, and vote share in districts that it lost. “The idea is that gerrymandering happens when some of party A’s voters are packed into districts that it wins with an overwhelming majority, and the rest of party A’s voters are cracked among the remaining districts, which it loses. Declination tries to detect this packing and cracking," says Veomett.

Veomett has worked closely with the Metric Geometry and Gerrymandering Group, a Boston-based team of mathematicians and computer scientists working on measuring competitiveness and promoting equity in U.S. redistricting. She can be reached by email at erv2@stmarys-ca.edu or by phone at (925) 631-8302.