The Center for Voting and Democracy attended the first annual Hip Hop Convention on June 18th, 2004, in Newark, NJ. We conducted two mock elections, one for John Kerry's Vice-Presidential running mate, and one for the favorite Hip Hop artist of all time.
44 ballots were cast for who should be the VP nominee. Therefore the winner would need 23 votes to have a majority. Hilary Clinton took the early lead after the first round of voting with 19 first-choice votes, followed by Al Sharpton and John Edwards with 7 each. Jesse Jackson, Jr. was in fourth place with four first choice votes, and Lyndon LaRouche rounded out the group with three. Coming in last were several write-ins and John McCain with one vote each. Since no candidate had a majority, we eliminated the candidates with only one vote and redistributed them. After the first instant runoff, Clinton had 20 votes, and Sharpton had 10. Edwards also gained one. Now LaRouche was in last place with 3 votes, so he was eliminated. After the redistribution, Clinton had 20 and Sharpton had 11. Still, no candidate had the required 23 votes for a majority, so Jesse Jackson, Jr. now the last place candidate with only 4 votes was eliminated. After the redistribution, Clinton had 21 votes, Sharpton had 13, and Edwards had 8. There was still no majority, so Edwards was eliminated. After the final redistribution, Clinton had 25 and Sharpton had 15, with several ballots having been exhausted, which means all ranked candidates on those ballots were eliminated. Clinton now had a majority, and was declared the winner. Though Clinton had the most ballots from the start, she had no decisive majority, and was declared the winner because more people preferred her over Sharpton.
We next used the same VP election to demonstrate a choice election. Imagine that there are three vice-presidential slots instead of one, and all candidates are running all at once for these three slots. Choice voting works just like instant runoff voting, except instead of needing a majority to win, candidates need to cross a certain victory “threshold”. Since in this case there are three seats, the threshold is 33%, or 14 votes. So in the first round, Clinton has 19 first choice votes. She has crossed the victory threshold, and therefore wins a seat. She has 5 more votes than she needs, so five of her votes are randomly selected and redistributed. After this redistribution, Sharpton has 11 votes, Edwards has 9, Jackson has 5, LaRouche has 3, and McCain has 2. No other candidate has crossed the threshold, and so McCain is eliminated. After the redistribution, Sharpton has 12, Edwards has 10, Jackson has 5, and LaRouche has three. Again, no one has crossed the victory threshold and so LaRouche is eliminated. After the redistribution, Sharpton has 13, Edwards has 11, and Jackson has 5. There is still no winner, so Jackson is eliminated, putting both Sharpton and Edwards over the victory threshold. The three VP slots go to Hilary Clinton, Al Sharpton, and John Edwards.Finally, the moment you have all been waiting for, who is your favorite hip-hop artist? 40 ballots were cast, so a majority of 21 votes was necessary to win. After the first count, Tupac Shakur had 10 first choice votes, Lauryn Hill had 8, Run DMC had 5, Missy Elliot had 4, Eminem and Outkast both had 3 each. Additionally, there were several write-ins with one vote apiece. If this were a regular plurality election, Tupac would be declared the winner. However, since he doesn’t have a majority, we employed the rules of choice voting and eliminated the last place candidate and redistributed their votes. All of the write-ins with only one vote were eliminated and their votes move to the second choice. After that tally, Tupac had 12, but is followed closely by Lauryn Hill with 11 votes. Run DMC had 5 votes, and Eminem, Missy Elliot, and Outkast all had 4 votes. At this point, there was a tie for last place. Since Outkast had fewer votes than the other in previous rounds, he was eliminated. After the redistribution, Lauryn Hill took the lead with 14 votes, Tupac had 13, Run DMC had 5, and Eminem and Missy Elliot both had 4. There was still no majority, so Eminem and Missy Elliot were eliminated. Lauryn Hill then claimed the lead with 19, Tupac with 16, and Run DMC with 5. Run DMC was now eliminated. After the final redistribution, Lauryn Hill had 22 votes and Tupac has 18. Lauryn Hill now had a majority and was declared the winner of the mock election. Although Lauryn Hill did not have the most first-choice votes, she won the election because more people preferred her over Tupac Shakur. In a very crowded field such as this one, instant runoff voting is the best system for determining who has the most overall support.