Choice-Voting Hand Counts: Procedure
Step 1. Use the Results Form

Record the basic information, such as the candidates' names, etc., on the Results Form.

Step 2. Shuffle Ballots

Shuffle the ballots. Mix them up in a paper bag, for example.

Step 3. Number Ballots

Take each ballot out and number it in red ink in the upper right hand corner. This is so you can repeat the count if you need to. You will sort the ballots in this order. Write the total number of ballots on the Results Form.

Step 4. The Winning Threshold

Calculate the winning threshold -- how many votes a candidate needs to be elected. To do this, divide the number of votes by the number of seats you have to fill plus one, drop any fraction, and then add one. For example, let us say that you had 85 votes to fill 7 seats on your Board of Directors. The winning threshold would be 11, because 85 divided by 8 (7 + 1) is 10.625. We drop the 0.625, and then add 1, and the winning threshold is 11, in this example.

Exception 1: If you are electing only one person, e.g. the group's President, then the threshold is a simple majority of the votes.

Exception 2: In certain extremely rare cases, this threshold does not work properly, due to the rounding. To check it, divide the number of votes by the threshold you calculated, rounding down. The result should be the number of seats to be filled. If it isn't, see Troubleshooting, item #10.

Record the Winning Threshold on the Results form.

Step 5. Start Sorting Ballots

Take each ballot one at a time, and transfer it to whoever has the #1 ranking on the ballot. You will make a pile of ballots for each candidate - each pile holds all of their ballots. Remember that only Continuing candidates can ever get ballots - as soon as anyone reaches the Threshold they are immediately declared Elected, so don't give them any more ballots. Instead, give the ballot to whomever the voter put down as his/her #2 choice. Keep this up until all the ballots are distributed.

Record the results of this count in the "1st Round" column of the Results Form.

Step 6. Election Finished?

The election will be finished when you've elected enough people. Most likely, at this point, after having only looked at the first choices, you've elected 1-3 people, but you haven't filled all the seats. So go on to Step 7.

Step 7. Transfer from the Weakest Candidate

Find the candidate that has the fewest number of votes. Declare that candidate Defeated. Defeated candidates can't have any ballots - so transfer those ballots to whichever Continuing candidate has the next highest ranking on each ballot. As always, once someone has enough votes in their pile, they are immediately declared Elected.

Record the results of this round on the Results form.

Note: If there is a tie for the last position, here is how you break it. Whoever had the most votes in the last round wins the tie - the other person is defeated. If they had the same number of votes in the last round, then check the previous round, etc. If they've had the same number of votes the whole election, then you just have to flip a coin, draw names from a hat, etc.

Ties are not uncommon in very small elections, so you do need to be prepared to handle them.

Step 8. Keep Transferring Until Finished

Continue transferring ballots from the candidates with the lowest number of votes (Step 7) until you have enough winners, or until there are only the right number of people left. At that point the election is over. Easy as pie!