Multi-winner Condorcet, vs STV

Ian Jackson ijackson at
Tue Dec 8 16:59:16 UTC 2009

Sorry, but I think we need to think again about our voting system for
the board elections.  Condorcet is great for a single-winner election.
However AFAICT the current system for the multi-winner board elections
has a very undesirable majority-takes-all property.

I couldn't find a formal description of the process we use but as I
understand it, we use Condorcet to elect the first seat.  Then we
remove the winner from the ballots and rerun Condorcet to elect the
2nd winner, etc.

If we imagine a polarised election, where there are four candidates on
one side A B C D and three candidates on the other side W X Y Z, and
three seats, and every ballot is either an ABCD-ballot (ranks every
ABCD above every WXYZ) or an WXYZ-ballot (ranks every WXYZ above every
ABCD) then a bare majority of ABCDs over WXYZs will get all three of
their candidates elected.  This would be quite unfair; a better result
would be to elect two of A B C D and two of W X Y Z.

In less polarised elections we still have the problem that we get a
slate of winners who are very similar to each other.  In the extreme
case, if the winning candidate had n identical twins, they would all
win, excluding anyone else.  Surely this can't be what we want.  We
Would rather have diversity, with minority viewpoints represented.

I don't have a clear suggestion for an improvement to Condorcet to fix
this problem.  I did a bit of searching for multi-winner Condorcet and
it seems to be an open research problem.

I think therefore that we should probably hold the next board
elections using STV, which is an established and relatively
hard-to-game system which copes well with multiple-winner elections.


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