Vote Count Confusion
with BC-STV is like ordering a steak and a beer but your
neighbour determines the size of the steak and whether you
get a pint or a glass. STV breaks your vote into fractions
with the size of each fraction determined by how others
90 people gathered in Surrey on April 8th to listen to a
debate on whether B.C. should adopt the Single Transferable
Vote. The audience heard that BC-STV would mean replacing
our 85 constituencies, which each elect just one MLA, with
20 large areas that would elect between 2 and 7 MLAs. The
audience had many questions on how the vote count works.
STV everyone gets one vote, but you mark numbers to indicate
preferences and those numbers are used in the vote count.
First all the "1s" are counted. If a candidate
receives the number necessary to be elected (12.5% to 33.3%
of the vote), the excess votes are reallocated to the next
preferences of the people who voted for that candidate,
in proportion to the excess. If a candidate is eliminated,
the full value of a vote is reallocated to the next preferences
of the voters for that candidate.
second preference could get counted as 10% of a vote while
your neighboour's second preference could get counted as
a full vote, as some value in between, or not at all. With
BC-STV you cannot control what fraction of your vote is
given to each of your preferences because how your vote
is counted is determined by how other people vote.
this sounds confusing it is, and no one should vote for
BC-STV without understanding how the count works.
gets even trickier when you try to trace what happens to
the third preference of voters. For many voters, the count
never gets to their third preference, for others, it may
result in as little as 1% of a vote being transferred, for
example when preferences one and two each win by 10%.
more questions are asked about the details of the count,
the more people are likely to want to stay with the current
system, which is easy to understand. Most people think our
current system is fair since it elects the candidate who
gets the most votes, but many don't think it is fair for
their neighbour's second preference to count 10 times, or
more, as much as theirs.
Counting Procedure Rules
taken directly from Pages 18-20,
Citizens' Assembly: Technical Report
Once the total number of valid ballots is established in
each multi-member district, the minimum number of votes
required for a candidate to be elected is calculated using
the Droop quota formula.
quota formula is:
All ballots are counted and each ballot is allocated as
a vote to the candidate against whose name a first preference
(i.e., "1") is shown on the ballot.
If a candidate(s) on the first count has a number of first
preference votes exactly equal to the minimum number of
votes needed to be elected, then that candidate(s) is declared
elected and the counted ballot papers indicating that candidate(s)
as a first preference are put aside and the other preferences
recorded on the ballots are not examined.
If a candidate on the first count gains more than the minimum
number of votes needed to be elected, the candidate is declared
elected, and the number of votes in excess of the number
of votes needed to be elected (the surplus) is recorded.
All of the elected candidate's ballots are then re-examined
and assigned to candidates not yet elected according to
the second preferences marked on the ballots of those who
gave a first preference vote to the elected candidate. These
votes are allocated according to a "transfer value."
formula for the transfer value is:
If two or more candidates on the first count gain more than
the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, all of
those candidates are declared elected. The ballots of the
candidate with the largest number of first preference votes
will be re-examined first and assigned (at the transfer
value) to candidates not yet elected according to the second
preferences marked on that candidate's ballots, or the next
available preference, if the second preference candidate
has already been elected. The ballots of the other elected
candidate(s) will then be re-examined and their surpluses
distributed in order according to the number of first preference
votes each candidate received.
If a candidate reaches more than the minimum number of votes
needed to be elected as the consequence of a transfer of
votes from an elected candidate, the number of votes in
excess of the number of votes needed to be elected (the
surplus) will be transferred to other candidates. This transfer
will be to the next available preference shown on all of
this candidate's ballots. These ballots now include 1) the
candidate's first preference ballots, and 2) the parcel(s)
of ballots transferred to the candidate from one or more
transfer value for the candidate's first preference ballots
transfer value for each parcel of ballots transferred to
the candidate from one or more elected candidates is:
If no candidate has a number of votes equal to or greater
than the minimum number of votes needed to be elected, the
candidate with the smallest number of votes is excluded.
All of that candidate's ballots-both first preference ballots
and any parcel or parcels of ballots transferred from other
candidates-are transferred to candidates who have not been
elected or excluded according to the next available preference
shown on the excluded candidate's ballots.
excluded candidate's first preference ballots are transferred
to the second (or next available) preferences at full value.
Ballots received from previously-elected (or excluded) candidates
are transferred at the transfer value at which the ballots
Counting continues in the described sequence: the surplus
of elected candidates is assigned until no more candidates
are elected, then the ballots of excluded candidates are
assigned until another candidate is elected.
all but one of the candidates to be elected from the district
have been elected, and only two candidates remain in the
count, the candidate with the most votes is declared elected,
even though the candidate may not have reached the minimum
number of votes (the quota) needed to be elected.
If, during the transfer of preferences, a ballot paper does
not indicate an available preference, the ballot is put
aside as "exhausted." This can occur because:
o the voter only indicated one, or a small number of preferences;
o all the preferred candidates have already been elected
or excluded; or
o there are gaps or repetitions on the ballot in the sequence
of numbering preferences.
for tied votes
Where two or more candidates have the same number of first
preference votes at the end of the first count, and this
number is more than the minimum number of votes necessary
for election, then the candidate whose surplus is distributed
first will be decided by lot.
Where no candidate has a number of first preference votes
equal to or greater than the number of votes necessary for
election at the end of the first count, and two or more
candidates have the same number of first preference votes,
this number being the smallest number of first preference
votes gained by any candidate, then the candidate who is
excluded first will be decided by lot.
If, at any stage of the count other than during the first
count, two candidates have the same number of votes, the
candidate who is declared elected first, or who is not excluded
a. the candidate with the larger number of votes in the
previous or immediately next preceding count where there
is a difference in the votes between the two candidates;
b. the candidate whose name is drawn by lot, where there
is no difference in the number of votes between the candidates
at any preceding count.