Rules for Fair Elections In A Small Organization
Here is the wording for a rule that can be adopted for use in a small organization that wants to adopt fair election rules for electing its President, Secretary, and Treasurer (and any similar officer). It is intended for use in non-profit organizations of any size. It implements the use of order-of-preference ballots and selecting the most popular candidate based on VoteFair ranking. It does not specify how candidates are nominated because traditional nomination methods are usually fair. Of course the wording should be modified as necessary to fit the needs of a specific organization.
After the candidates for the offices have been nominated, the officers of this organization shall be elected as follows. Eligible members shall be given ballots that contain the names of the candidates grouped according to their desired office. To the right of each name shall be markable locations, such as empty ovals, arranged in columns labeled First choice, Second choice, Third choice, and so on, progressing from left to right. Each voter shall mark these locations on their ballot to indicate their first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on for each office. The left-most mark among multiple marks given to the same candidate shall be used as the voter's preference level. More than one candidate can be marked at the same preference level. The absence of a mark for a candidate indicates the lowest preference. VoteFair ranking, as explained below, shall be used to identify the most popular candidate for each office, and the most popular candidate for each office shall win the election for that office. If there is a tie for first place, the counting of votes and the VoteFair ranking shall be repeated. If the recount also indicates a tie, the outgoing Treasurer [or some other designated official] shall choose how to resolve the tie.
VoteFair ranking shall be done using software (such as accessible at www.VoteFair.org) that performs the following calculations. The preferences indicated in the ballots are counted to produce a tally table in which all the possible pairs of candidates are listed, one number for each pair indicates the number of voters who prefer one candidate in the pair over the other candidate in the pair, another number for each pair indicates the number of voters who have the opposite preference for these two candidates, and a third number for each pair indicates the number of voters who express no preference between the two candidates. Using a computer, each possible sequence of candidates is considered, where a sequence consists of one of the candidates being regarded as the most popular candidate, another candidate being regarded as the second-most popular candidate, and so on. For each such sequence the numbers in the tally table that apply to that sequence are added together to produce a score for this sequence. The sequence that has the highest score indicates the overall order of preference for the candidates. If there is more than one sequence that has the same highest score, the sequences with this score shall be analyzed to identify one or more ties at one or more preference levels.
A different rule — in the Making Decisions page — should be used when the organization's members need to vote on a decision (such as a course of action) that does not involve choosing among candidates.