Commentary – Second Vote: Crazy Math

It is possible that a candidate with fewer supporters can be elected if voters are not careful with their second vote. Because of the math, there is a risk that how a voter casts that second vote will actually contribute to their priority candidate’s loss.


We have three candidates for two open council positions. Ardent Worden supporters will vote for Dwight, ardent Gaasterland supporters will vote for Terry, and ardent Quirk voters will vote for Stephen, but where will the second votes land? 


Consider this simple hypothetical: Assume that there are 1000 voters who are ardent supporters of Worden or Gaasterland and they cast their first vote for their favorite. Many pay less attention to their second vote, resulting in Worden and Gaasterland each getting 500 second place votes but Stephen Quirk getting 1000 second place votes from Worden and Gaasterland supporters. Because of his lead in second priority votes, Quirk wins the seat even though he gets the fewest first priority votes. These numbers are rounded off, but they illustrate the point that your second vote can have unintended consequences.