Choice-Voting Hand Counts: Starting Off
Choice voting, also known as the Single Transferable Vote (STV), is the fairest candidate-based full representation system. It eliminates the risk of spoilers and ensures that all groups win seats in proportion to their share of the voting population. Choice voting encourages coalition building and a more cooperative, positive form of campaigning.

  • Follow these procedures exactly.
  • Before you begin counting a real election, read over all of these procedures, and count a mock election for practice.
  • Note that there is a "troubleshooting" section to explain what to do in certain cases. Be sure you read this, too.
  • If you have any questions ask FairVote for assistance.

Materials needed:

  • Pencils, and a pen with red ink.
  • A form to record results (.pdf  35 KB)
  • A calculator.
  • Scratch paper can be useful

Creating the Ballots

On the ballots, list each candidate with enough space for a voter to put a number by his/her name. The instructions should to the voters should say:

"Rank each candidate in order of preference -- #1 to your favorite candidate, #2 to your second favorite, etc. Do not give the same ranking to more than one candidate.You can rank as many or as few candidates as you like, but it is to your advantage to give a ranking to as many candidates as you can."

An Overview of How a Choice Voting Election is Counted

A Winning Threshold is calculated. For example, if there were 100 votes and five seats to fill, the Threshold would be 20 votes.

The election is counted in rounds. In each round, votes are transferred to Continuing candidates (candidates that aren't yet officially declared Elected or Defeated). The election is basically a process of elimination - when there are only enough candidates left to fill the seats, they are the winners, and the election is over.

Each candidate has a pile of ballots. A ballot is put in a candidate's pile when s/he is the highest ranked candidate on the ballot. Whenever candidates achieve the Winning Threshold, then they are declared Elected. At the end of each round, the candidate with the fewest number of votes is declared Defeated, and his or her votes are transferred to the remaining Continuing candidates.

What happens next
Anytime a candidate reaches the Winning Threshold, s/he is immediately declared Elected. Candidates who are Elected can no longer receive any more votes - they already have enough.

Any candidates that are declared Defeated can not receive any more votes.

Candidates that aren't Elected or Defeated are called "Continuing" candidates - they are the only ones that can ever have ballots transferred to them.