What if there are just too many candidates?

Organizations often have problems deciding on how to choose the right candidates when there are more than enough people for positions that require more than one person to fill them.

OIPB organization has to elect three members at large to the board. But they have five people on the slate. It doesn’t seem fair if every voter gets just one vote. So what are the other options?

Each voter could either get several votes or each voter could rank the candidates in order of preference–called cumulative or preference voting, respectively.

Cumulative Voting
In cumulative voting, voters get one vote for each position to be filled. That means that if there are three positions and five people running, each voter may give one or more of his votes to any collection of candidates.

This method can allow coalitions of voters to put the weight of more votes behind a given candidate.

However, it is possible that miscalculations will result in wasted votes and unanticipated out comes. It could happen that there would be plenty of votes for one candidate and a less desirable candidate might wind up in the next position.
Preference Voting
In Preference Voting, each voter ranks all the candidates according to his preference. For example, if the OIPB’s the five candidates are ranked from 5 at the top of the pile to 1 at the bottom, then a tally of those numbers will indicate which candidates are most favored.

A more detailed explanation is availabe in the article “Preference Voting vs. Cumulative Voting” by Rob Richie of The Center for Voting and Democracy. Click here to read it.

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