Millersville University, Faculty Senate

Attachment B

Faculty Senate Minutes

4 October 1994

DATE: 9/14/94
TO: Faculty Senate
FROM: Don Eidam
RE: Saving Time: A Proposed New
Voting Algorithm


Traditionally our first fall meeting has been devoted to elections, with nominations, ballots, counting of ballots, motions on how to conduct runoffs, runoff elections, ... Although the parallel processing and time pressure that ensues is not as chaotic as it appears, it almost invites errors and it normally consumes the entire meeting corpus with the "real" agenda business RTA'd.

In addition, our ad hoc runoff criteria are subject to the criticism that sometimes one's prior vote may have been "wasted". But note:

Since at least the time of Pliny the Younger, people have grappled with the dilemmas of voting algorithms. In 1952, economist Kenneth Arrow (Stanford, 1972 Nobelist) proved the Impossibility Theorem, that finding an absolutely fair and decisive voting system is impossible: "...I began to get the idea that maybe there was [a] theorem here, namely that there was no voting method that would satisfy all the conditions that I regarded as rational and actually turned out to be a matter of only a few days' work."(1)


Although this is the method used in most campus elections (e.g. those conducted by APSCUF-MU and the School Deans), our tradition is to elect by majority. In a plurality election with 20 candidates, one could be elected with <6% of the total number. Indeed, Roberts advocates a majority in most elections so that those selected are perceived as having the support of the body; and his Rules of Order is our authority for rules according to our bylaws.

Alternate Algorithm 1 is thus apparently rejected.


Voters indicate on their ballots their first, second, third, ...choices. If there is no majority the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the choices are renumbered accordingly (3). The ballots are counted again and the algorith continues recursively until a candidate receives a majority (see example below). the virtues of this system are that only one ballot is needed unless there is a tie and that every ballot potentially counts at every step of the tallying.

Proposed Implementation Details:

A soliciation for nominations will be mailed to you prior to the first day of the fall semester; you may then mail/phone/email nominees' names to the chairperson before the first Tuesday in September. A pre-printed blank ballot will be distributed to you at the beginning of the meeting with entries such as:

At that meeting, advance nominations will be on the blackboards upon your arrival; additional nominations may be made immediately prior to the meeting or when the "Elections" agenda item is reached. Note that a nominee for >=2 positions may specify in advance that if she/he is elected to a committee then her/his name is to be removed from later committee elections.(3) When all nominations are in, we will proceed with our new-and-improved voting; and we will then proceed with the agenda! After the meeting, the votes will be tallied by the chairperson and volunteers. Results, including the solicitation for nominations for the next meeting if necessitated by vacancies or perhaps ties, will be mailed to Senators by the chairperson the next morning.
I will ask for your consent on 11/1/94 to effect this new algorithm.


Voter 1 Voter 2 Voter 3 Voter 4 Voter 5 Voter 6 Voter 7 Voter 8
R 1 Newton Newton Newton Euler Euler Archimedes Archimedes Guass
A 2 Archimedes Euler Euler Archimedes Gauss Euler Gauss Euler
N 3 Euler Archimedes Gauss Newton Archimedes Gauss Euler Newton
K 4 Gauss Gauss Gauss Newton Newton Newton Archimedes
TALLY: Newton=3, Euler=2, Archimedes=2, Gauss=1

No majority; Gauss is eliminated(4):
1 Newton Newton Newton Euler Euler Archimedes Archimedes Euler
2 Archimedes Euler Euler Archimedes Archimedes Euler Euler Newton
3 Euler Archimedes Newton Newton Newton Newton Archimedes
TALLY: Newton=3, Euler=3, Archimedes=2

No majority; Archimedes is eliminated:
1 Newton Newton Newton Euler Euler Euler Euler Euler
2 Euler Euler Euler Newton Newton Newton Newton Newton
TALLY: Newton=3, Euler=5

Majority; Euler is elected.

(1)COMAP staff, For All Practical Purposes, Freeman, 1988
(2)See XXXIV-XXXVII, Jones' Parliamentary Procedure at a Glance, distributed to all Senators
(3)In practice, this simply involves redistributing the ballots in one pile onto the other piles.
(4)As two Senators have noted, this is called "Gaussian elimination".

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