Posted by: bnorouzi | January 28, 2009

Condor-WHAT? A brief guide to the new AMS voting system

The Condorcet Method was founded by mathematician, philosopher, and political scientist, Marquis de Condorcet in 1785. His method determines the winner of an election by a comparison of voter’s preferences in a multiparty election. This means rather than a one choice vote, voters rank candidates based on their preferences. This method is based on the premise that voter’s preferences of the majority share an intransitive relationship. Intransitive simply means that if a certain percent of voters prefers party A over party B, and another percent favors party B over party C, the percent that prefers party C over A can not be calculated because it will be a completely unrelated number.
In this system, the winner can be the majority of voter’s second choice and a minority’s first choice, rather than another majority’s first choice. Although this sounds a little strange at first, it is called the “best compromise” and should, as calculated by Condorcet, satisfy the greatest number of voters and ensures that a majority’s last choice is not elected. However, Condorcet himself has written on the flaws of his system, called the Condorcet’s Paradox, which occurs when the majority’s wishes are in conflict with each other. In cases where voter’s preferences are symmetrical there can be no Condorcet winner. Today there are various systems to work out any paradoxes, but can be quite in-depth and controversial.

What’s great about Condorcet’s method is that it is designed to satisfy the greatest number of students and reach the best consensus among the student body.

What’s not so great is that it requires students to know all of the candidates for each position and results can be greatly swayed if students are not informed and arbitrarily rank their second and third choices. Similar to the case Vancouver’s last municipal election, the Condorcet method has potential to promote racist or sexist voting if voters are required to vote for candidates they are unaware of, and have little to base their vote on other than assumed gender or origin come voting day. So no matter whom you vote for, get informed and check out all the candidates ( Path: Student Government; AMS Elections) first because your second choice might actually be more important than your first!

References: wikipedia



  1. So actually you can still just vote for your first choice if you really have no second preference.

  2. aye, like Bruce points out, the voter can just rank the number of candidates that they want to. Everyone else is automatically ranked last. Ties are allowed to, if the voter marks the same rank for two candidates. According to the code, that is. I have no idea what will be possible with the system the EA managed to McGuivre.

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