IAAP voting procedures


José M. Prieto, SG



During the BOD meeting held in Singapore 2002 two different voting systems were used, one for the choice of the Congress site, the other for the election of Officers. Also, with respect to the latter, it became evident that members of the BOD were used to two different voting traditions. Consequently the SG was asked to examine all systems and report back to the BOD.


Various voting procedures used around the world are described below and presented to the BOD meeting to be held in Beijing 2004. These procedures will be studied to consider and decide their adequacy for the election of IAAP Officers and Division Officers in 2006 as well as ICAP sites in the future.


By way of background the First-past-the-post System has been used for the choice of ICAP sites and the Instant Runoff Voting System has been used to elect IAAP Officers and Division Officers. The other systems, the Runoff Voting System and the Single Transferable Vote or Hare System are more complicated but are shown for information.



1.     First-past-the-post System, known also as “plurality voting” or “relative majority” method.


1.1.          Voting: Each voter selects one candidate.

1.2.          Counting the votes: All votes are counted and the candidate (or proposal) with the most votes is declared the winner.

1.3.          Potential for tactical voting: Voters only get one chance to express their preference, so if they express it for a candidate who stands little chance of winning, they do not get to choose between the popular candidates (or proposals). Because of this, most voters vote for the candidate they prefer among those candidates who they believe will have a chance of winning. Therefore, candidates often vie to appear that they are more likely to win rather than that they are preferable.  To counteract tactical voting, sometimes groups of like-minded voters will hold preliminary or primary elections amongst themselves to choose a candidate for the true election. This ensures that their vote will not be split amongst similar candidates. Sometimes this is institutionalized in the form of political groups.

1.4.          Where it is used: Westminster elections in the UK and Presidential elections in the US.



2.     Instant Runoff Voting System, known also as alternative vote or the preferential system.


2.1.                     Voting:  Each voter ranks at least one candidate in order of preference, but it is recommended that each voter ranks all candidates.

2.2.                     Counting the votes:  First choices are tallied. If no candidate has the support of a majority of voters, the candidate with the least support is eliminated. A second round of counting takes place, with the votes of supporters of the eliminated candidate now counting for their second choice candidate. After a candidate is eliminated, he or she may not receive any more votes. This process of counting is repeated until one candidate is the most favoured choice of more than fifty percent of voters.

2.3.                     Potential for Tactical Voting: The basic premise of tactical voting within preference voting is to ensure that the proper mix of candidates is left standing toward the end.

2.4.                     Where it is used: Elections in Australia for the House of Representatives, in the City Council of San Francisco and in student elections in Harvard, MIT, and Stanford Universities.



3.     Runoff Voting System, known as the voting system in single seat elections.


3.1.                     Voting: In the preliminary election, voters select their preferred candidate. If one candidate reaches the election threshold (usually fifty percent), they are declared elected. Otherwise, the top candidates (usually the top two) are placed on a secondary ballot. Whoever receives the most votes on the second ballot is declared elected.

3.2.                     Difference between Runoff voting and Primary Elections:  In many voting systems, political parties hold primary elections before the general election. This is not the same as a runoff ballot. In a runoff ballot, all candidates are placed on the initial ballot, and all voters are allowed to participate in the vote.

3.3.          Potential for tactical voting: voters are encouraged to avoid voting for candidates who do not have a chance to contend for the second ballot. However, this is a lower threshold than contending for the election. If voters strongly dislike one candidate, they are also encouraged to vote for a candidate who they believe can defeat that candidate in the runoff.

3.4.          Where it is used: Elections in France for the President and in primary elections for some political parties.



4.     Single Transferable Vote System, known also as the Hare System.


4.1.                 Voting: Each voter ranks all candidates in order of preference.

4.2.                 Setting the quota: When all the votes have been cast, a winning quota is set. The Hare quota is the total number of valid votes cast divided by the total number of seats in the constituency.  Any remaining seats are then awarded to the lists with the largest number of remaining votes. This means that only lists that receive at least one “Hare quota” of votes are allocated seats in the first court.  A list that received two Hare quotes would win two seats on that count.  Any remaining seats are then awarded to the lists with the largest number of votes remaining after the hare quotes have been subtracted from the vote count of the lists that won seats in the first round.  The quota is not deducted from the votes received by lists that did not win seats in the first round.


4.3.                 Counting the votes:   


Process A: Top-preference votes are tallied. If one or more candidates have received more votes than the quota, they are declared elected. After a candidate is elected, they may not receive any more votes. The excess votes for the winning candidate are reallocated to the next-highest ranked candidates on the ballots for the elected candidate. There are different methods for determining how to reallocate the votes. Some versions use random selection, others count each ballot fractionally. Process A is repeated until there are no more candidates who have reached the quota.


Process B: The candidate with the least support is eliminated, and their votes are reallocated to the next-highest ranked candidates on the eliminated ballots. After a candidate is eliminated, they may not receive any more votes. After each iteration of Process B is completed, Process A starts again, until all candidates have been elected or eliminated.



4.4.          Potential for tactical voting:  A voter is "safe" voting for a candidate they fear won't be elected, because their vote will be reallocate in Process B. They are "safe" voting for a candidate they believe will receive overwhelming support, because their vote will get reallocated in Process A. However, there are loopholes: candidates who have already been elected do not receive any more votes, so there is incentive to avoid voting for your top-ranked candidate until after they have already been elected. A vote is wasted if it ends up on the last candidate to be eliminated.

4.5.          Where it is used: Elections in the Republic of Ireland, in Australia for the senate, and in the City Council of Cambridge, MA.