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FAQ: Counting Ballots
For more information about the BC-STV counting system, watch the Assembly's animated presentation, read the counting fact sheet or take a look at the Technical Report.
What happens to ballots after the polls close?
Elections BC – the non-partisan organization responsible for ballot counting – will manage the counting of ballots, as they always have.
After the polls close, the minimum number of votes needed to win a seat is determined for each district; this depends, for a start, on how many ballots were cast. Then the voters’ first-choice preferences are counted.
If a candidate reaches the required threshold, she is declared elected. If she has more first choices than necessary to be elected, her “surplus” ballots are redistributed, based on those voters’ second preferences. To be fair though, all the voters who helped that candidate win will have their second preferences redistributed at a discounted value (rather than just pulling the surplus votes out of a barrel).
If the seats are not all filled after that, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and his votes are transferred to the remaining candidates according to the voters’ preferences indicated on those ballots. This process is repeated until all available MLA seats in the constituency are filled.
How are voter preferences transferred during the counting process?
The counting process ensures that almost every ballot goes to elect a candidate of the voter’s choice. The voter’s first preference is the most important; other preferences will only be used to support another candidate if the voter’s first choice has no chance of getting elected or has more than enough support to get elected. For more information about the transfer process, follow the links at the top of this page.
With all these choices on the ballot, do voters need to be strategic?
The number of preferences a voter shows on the ballot does not negatively affect any candidates. Preferences shown only assist those candidates for whom that voter's support was counted.
Which counting process will BC-STV use?
The weighted inclusive Gregory method.
How many votes does a candidate need to be elected?
The minimum number of votes needed to be elected varies from riding to riding. This number is dependant on the total number of seats available in a constituency and the total number of valid votes cast. The formula for determining this number is known as the Droop Quota.
Are the winning candidates those who end up with the lowest score?
BC-STV is not a system where numbers are added to determine the winners, but is instead a system where preferences are allocated. A voter assigns 1, 2, 3, etc. to the candidates on the ballot to indicate his or her preferences. It's the voter’s first choice that is most important, but if this candidate has no chance of getting elected or has more than enough support to get elected, other preferences may be used to support a next preferred candidate.
Will BC-STV be counted with a computer?
The Assembly has designed BC-STV so the count can be done by hand, if preferred. However, counting the results could be also be done via computer voting or machine-readable, paper ballots.
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