Choice Hand Counts: TroubleshootingOf course, not everything goes perfectly every time. Here are some questions and answers.
1. We made a mistake and gave someone too many ballots. What should we do?
Just take the extra ballot off the top of the pile and transfer it to the next Continuing candidate that has the highest ranking on that ballot.
2. What should we do with blank ballots?
This is unusual in private elections. But if it should happen, don't number or count these at all. Don't include them in your calculation of the winning threshold either.
3. One person only ranked one candidate on his/her ballot, and that person didn't win. When we transfer this ballot, where does it go?
In this case, you need an "Exhausted" pile. This pile is for ballots that you can not give to any Continuing candidate.
4. Toward the end of the election, we had a number of exhausted ballots. There was one seat to fill, but clearly neither of the last two candidates would reach the winning threshold. What do we do?
This is actually pretty common. The winner of the last seat will be whoever has the most votes, even if s/he hasn't reached the threshold. This person has won by the process of elimination, and deserves the seat because s/he is one of the strongest candidates, overall.
5. One candidate who lost got very excited and claimed that we did the count wrong. Is there some way to do a recount?
Certainly. Just take the ballots back, and sort them by the ballot numbers you put on them, in red ink, in Step 3. Then do the count again. Also, you have the Results chart to document exactly what happened in the count. This is especially helpful in these sorts of situations.
6. What should we do when voters put the same ranking for more than one candidate?
Ignore that ranking, and move the ballot along based on subsequent rankings.
7. We had trouble reading what number someone put down. What should we do?
Usually, two or three people can get together and figure out what the voter meant. If necessary, you may want to appoint one person, or three people, as Election Referees to make final judgment calls in these situations. But that isn't usually necessary.
8. What if a voter skips a ranking, putting down a #1 and a #3, but no #2 ranking?
Not a problem. Whenever you transfer ballots, they go to the highest ranking that is still a Continuing candidate.
9. I think I know a better way to do this count. Why don't we do it my way?
There are many different variations that can be used in a Choice Voting election. The Winning Threshold can be calculated differently. You can allow Elected candidates to receive more votes and then choose one of many different rules on how to transfer the surplus votes. You can handle break ties differently. Etc.
It is OK to use any of these variations, if you know exactly what you are doing!
Our advice is to follow the procedures we recommend, to the letter, unless you check with us first to make sure that the variation you have in mind is actually valid. A number of times we've had counters who thought they knew a better way, but they really didn't, resulting in some embarrassing recounts.