How Choice Voting Works in Cambridge

How Choice Voting Works in Cambridge

In a choice system, the voter ranks the candidates in their order of preference.  Voters simply rank candidates, putting a "1" by their first choice, a "2" by their second choice and so on. Voters can rank as few or as many candidates as they wish, knowing that a lower choice will never count against the chances of a higher choice.

Contrary to what some critics have speculated, choice voting has not proved too complicated for voters.  In Cambridge, the elections have an average of 2% error rate.  This figure includes both incorrectly marked ballots and blank ballots where the voter may have only participated in a higher-level election.  In the future, to further reduce this error rate, Cambridge could allow error correction for the voters.

To count the votes, a "winning threshold" (the minimum number of votes needed to win a seat) is calculated, and used to determine winners. Votes candidates achieve above the threshold are transferred to help other candidates, candidates with little support are eliminated, and their votes transferred to more viable candidates, ensuring that as many voters as possible have some say in who wins an election.


[Massachusetts General Law, Chapter 54A]

[1994 Rent Control Initiative]