Preferential Balloting

How Preferential Balloting Works

Preferential Balloting
is a system of voting where candidates need to receive an absolute majority (50% + 1 vote) of the total ballots cast to be elected. The intent is to ensure that a winning candidate has a broad range of support from the students voting, especially in an election with several candidates, and that students think carefully about which candidates they will support as they are now making preference decisions about multiple candidates rather than a single selection.
The Preferential Vote Count

After the ballots have been collected, we sort and count them according to the first preferences named on them. This is called the FIRST Count - if no candidate receives an absolute majority (50% + 1 vote) of the total first preferences, then subsequent preferences will have to be redistributed through a SECOND and maybe even a THIRD Count...

An example is provided below in which there are exactly 100 ballots. Since an absolute majority would be equal to 50% + 1 vote, a total of 51 votes are needed to win.

In the FIRST COUNT, ballots are counted according to where the voter placed the first preference (number ”1”) for each candidate...
Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia
SALLY
33 first preferences

Sally has the most ballots, but not yet enough to win.
Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia
JO
21 first preferences

Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia LEE
16 first preferences


Lee has the lowest number of ballots, and is now excluded.

PAUL
30 first preferences


Since no candidate received an absolute majority in the first count, the candidate with the lowest number of first preferences is excluded (in this case Lee) and a SECOND COUNT begins, in which ballots are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the next available preference. In this case, this is where voters placed their number “2” preference... 

Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia SALLY
33
+7 from Lee  
40 ballots

Sally has the most ballots, but still not yet enough to win.

Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia JO
21  
+4 from Lee  
25 ballots

Jo has the lowest number of ballots, and is now excluded.

 

 

Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia  PAUL
30
+5 from Lee
35 ballots


Since no candidate attained an absolute majority in the second count, the candidate with the lowest number of first preferences is excluded (in this case Jo) and a THIRD COUNT begins, in which ballots are redistributed to the remaining candidates according to the next available preference. This could be a number "2" preference, or a number "3" preference if the number "2" preference has already been excluded...

Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia
SALLY
40  
+6 from Jo  
46 ballots
Graphic Image ©2003 Electoral Council of Australia
PAUL
35
+19 from Jo   
54 ballots

Paul is elected, as he has now received a majority of the ballots.

*In our Preferential Balloting system, there is NO "Fourth Count".  The candidate with the most ballots after the Third Count is declared the winner, even if he or she does not have a full majority.

What if there's a tie?

If there is a tie for first or second place, Article IV Section 4 of the Student Council Constitution requires a run-off election between only those candidates tied for the contested Office (or seat on the Board of Directors). This run-off will be done within five school days of the General Election and will be a straight vote - no preferences.

If the tie is for first place, the winner of the run-off election will receive the Office and the second place finisher will receive a seat on the Board of Directors.  If the tie is for second place, the winner of the run-off election will receive a seat on the Board of Directors.

If after the First or Second Count two or more candidates are tied for second place and no other candidates remain for ballot redistribution, then the Office in question is awarded to the first place candidate.  Article IV Section 4 of the Student Council Constitution requires a run-off election between only those candidates tied for second place. This run-off will be done within 5 school days of the General Election, and will be a straight vote - no preferences. The winner of this run-off election will receive a seat on the Board of Directors.

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