IRV Election Results: Favorite Saint (besides Monica)

SMRV was at this weekend's Santa Monica Festival to continue spreading the word about IRV. Amy went it alone this time (she's the ballsiest chick ever), and collected a whopping 51 ballots for Santa Monicans' favorite saint (besides Monica, of course). As in the last election, we heartily thank everyone who participated. Santa Monicans rock!

We would like the winner to be the candidate that a majority of voters prefer. And we would like everyone that votes to help determine the outcome. So we're using Instant Runoff Voting, where each voter indicates their first choice and their runoff choices all on the same ballot. That way, if no candidates gets a majority of votes, then we can have a runoff, instantly, between the top candidates.


We had 51 voters in this election, so the winner needs a majority (50% = 26) votes to win. Here is how all of you beach dwellers out there voted for your first choice for Favorite Saint (besides Monica):

For the impatient, a very slick graphical representation of this IRV election can be found here.

Round 1:

St. Joan of Arc9
St. Anthony6
St. Francis16
St. Patrick8
St. Bernard8
St. Jude (write-in)2
St. Dominic (write-in)1
St. Teresa of Avila (write-in)1

So, if we just look at who got the most first-choice votes, St. Francis would win. This is how we elect the president, governor, state representatives -- it is how most American elections work. But notice that most voters did not prefer St. Francis. In fact, 35 voters (69%) preferred another candidate. Since no candidate got a majority of votes, we will go to a runoff. In this first round, we eliminate all of the write-in candidates. So St. Jude, St. Dominic, and St. Teresa are eliminated and are no longer candidates in the runoff. Now, anyone whose favorite candidate was one of these three gets to vote for their 2nd choice in the runoff. Now let's see how the remaining candidates stack up.

Round 2:

St. Joan of Arc11
St. Anthony7
St. Francis17
St. Patrick8
St. Bernard8

Still, no candidate has the 26 votes necessary to win. Now we eliminate St. Anthony, who has the fewest votes, and have a runoff between the top 4 candidates remaining.

Round 3:

St. Joan of Arc12
St. Francis21
St. Patrick9
St. Bernard9

In this round, we have a two-way tie for last place! How will we decide who to eliminate?!?! First, we point out that ties are rare in real IRV elections, like the ones that elect the president of Ireland. Weird things can happen when there are very small numbers of voters, like there are in this election. To resolve the tie in this case, we just flip a coin, and St. Bernard loses out. Which means that if Amy and I are ever stranded in the Alps by a mountaineering mishap, we might be on our own.

Round 4:

St. Joan of Arc14
St. Francis24
St. Patrick13

St. Francis is just shy of the 26 votes needed to win! St. Patrick is eliminated, and it's down to the last two candidates.

Round 5:

St. Joan of Arc23
St. Francis28

Joan of Arc, warrior-style, came on strong in the last round, but St. Francis, patron saint of birds, animals, and environmentalists kept his lead. This Instant Runoff Voting election gave the same result as we would have gotten with the more common voting system, by just choosing the candidate with the most votes after the first round. Note, though, that we learned during the runoffs that St. Francis is preferred to all the other candidates by a majority of voters, whereas the first round showed only 31% support.

Of course, the first-round winner is not always the candidate that most voters prefer! To see the results of another IRV election in which the first-round winner was not the ultimate victor, see this link.