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Single transferable voting fractions explained

From: Carl Gunther
Date: Wed Oct 30, 2002 5:07 pm
Subject: Answer to STV Question and STV Example

In an election that uses the Standard Transferable Vote (STV) method, your second preference will be counted in either of the following circumstances:

1) Your first preference candidate is eliminated from consideration, in which case your ballot is transferred to your second preference candidate if she or he is still in the running (otherwise, to the third preference, etc.), OR

2) Your first preference candidate receives more votes than the "quota" that is required to elect her or him. The quota is the total number of ballots divided by (number of seats plus 1). For example, if there are three seats, then the quota is 25 percent (1/4) of all ballots cast.

In case 1, your entire ballot is transferred to your next most preferred choice.

In case 2, a fractional part of your ballot is transferred, based upon the number of surplus ballots that your first preference candidate received. For example, if the quota was 100 votes, and your first preference candidate got exactly 200 first preference votes, then exactly one half of your vote will be transferred to your second preference candidate.

In other words, you get exactly one vote, and no part of that vote is wasted. The only way that you can end up with less than one vote is if you fail to specify preferences for the entire set of candidates who are on the ballot. In that case, if all candidates who you did specify are eliminated, then your vote will be discarded.

If you would like to see an example of this transferring process in action, you can look at the results of the Free Pacifica Neighborhood Network's election of its own representatives to the KPFK General Manager Search Committee, which used STV, at the following URL:


The link near the bottom of the page for the output file will take you to a step by step description of how ballots were assigned, transferred, etc. during the tallying of the vote. There is quite a bit of additional information on STV at the above URL, as well.



To: carl gunther
Subject: STV
Date sent: Mon, 28 Oct 2002 18:30:24 -0800

Hi Carl,

I was talking to ___ today and was surprised that he is opposed to STV. His reason is that it doesn't take account of someone's second place voting. He says that in the second round your second place selection will get no weight and he is opposed to that. I thought he was mistaken, but he said ____ agreed with him. I guess I have to study this some more. I thought STV would result in proportional representation. That your second place vote would count if your first place vote went to someone who won easily. Want to provide clarification?

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