A helpful (unofficial) guide for how Sunday’s voting process works

10 Jul

This is a post by Rob Sassoon. Follow him on Twitter @robsassy.

[Please note – any inaccuracies or omissions are my own and will be corrected at the first available opportunity. If you have any questions or comments, feel free to e-mail me at sprinting_landsharks@hotmail.com. Good luck to all the candidates!]

The elections for Sunday’s Division elections at the Board of Deputies will be conducted using Single Transferable Vote (STV). This guide will hopefully provide a short introduction to how STV works.

What is STV?
STV (Single Transferable Vote) is a voting method used in elections where multiple positions are available. Voters rank candidates in numerical order, choosing to include as many or as few candidates as they like. Voting takes place over several rounds; a new round starts when all votes have been counted for this round and candidates are either elected or eliminated – read on to see how this works.

How do people get elected under STV?
In order to get elected, a candidate needs to reach what is known as quota. The quota is calculated by dividing the number of valid ballot papers by the number of positions available plus one, and adding one to that total.

So for example, let’s say there are 260 valid ballot papers on Sunday. There are 12 positions available for each position, which means the quota needed to be elected is [260 / (12+1)] + 1, which is 21 votes.

What happens if a candidate receives more than 21 votes?
If a candidate receives more than 21 votes in any round – all additional votes being called their surplus – they are deemed elected, and one of three things can happen:

Firstly, if there is a candidate who has so few votes that they cannot possibly catch up with the next lowest candidate with all the additional surplus votes, that candidate is eliminated and their votes are transferred to their next valid preference (a preference is invalid if the candidate in question has already been elected or eliminated).

Secondly, if the candidate has more surplus votes than any other candidate who has reached quota, then their surplus votes are transferred. This is done by looking at all the second preferences given by voters who initially voted for this candidate, and distributing them to these other candidates proportionally depending on how many surplus votes are available. The greater the surplus, the more weight each second preference carries. Second preference votes can be fractional (i.e. not a whole number).

Thirdly, if a candidate has surplus votes but another candidate has even more surplus votes than they do, their votes will not transfer until a later round of the election where neither of the two previous criteria is met.

What happens if no candidate reaches quota on any round?
If no candidate reaches quota on any round, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and their votes are transferred to their next available preferences.

What happens if there’s a tie at any point?
If there is ever a tie between two or more candidates, the computer programme which the Board uses will randomly choose one candidate.

Can the quota ever change from 21?
Yes – if Deputies do not rank all the candidates, this can lead to the number of valid votes cast in later rounds of the election decreasing as ballot papers become exhausted. A ballot paper is considered exhausted when there are no remaining preferences for candidates who have not already been elected or eliminated. This means that the quota can decrease according to the original
formula (number of valid ballot papers divided by the number of positions available plus one, and adding one to to the total). The quota can never increase as there will never be more voters.

Rob is an Under-35 observer for Reading Hebrew Congregation.


To see the list of Changing the Board candidates, click here.


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