Election-methods mailing list

The election-methods mailing list (or the EM-list) is a mailing list that was started in 1996 and continues to host discussions with electoral system experts and activists.


The list is for discussion of the nitty-gritty details of single-winner election reform, the relative merits of different proportional representation systems, and the technical underpinnings of all election methods. "election-methods-list" discussions tend to be technical in nature (or at least, very laden with jargon), with the ultimate goal of providing recommendations and educational material to the electoral reform movement.


1996 through 2003

Wikipedia has an article on:

The list was started in 1996 by Rob Lanphier.[1][2] It was started as an unofficial spinoff to the "ER-list", which was more concerned about promoting single-winner STV than diving into the weeds about the theory of electoral systems.

During its first few years, it was on eskimo.com, and was originally a "Majordomo" list.

2003 until today

In 2003, the list moved to the newly-formed Electorama.com website on Dreamhost, and transitioned to becoming a GNU Mailman-based mailing list.[3] EM-list remains hosted on Dreamhost, but the old "Electowiki" wiki, hosted on Dreamhost was copied the Miraheze infrastructure in 2018 and rebranded "electowiki" (with a lowercase "e"). The old "Electowiki" wiki is still running to serve up history of articles written prior to 2018.

The archives and the latest subscription information for EM-list can be found at:

25th Birthday

main article: EM25

The 25th Birthday of the EM-list happened on Monday, February 15. That's when User:RobLa sent the first email to the list.[1]


Over the years, participants on the list developed a notation for describing elections using lower-ASCII characters,[4] since characters other than lower-ASCII tended to get garbled by mailing list archives and email delivery systems.

Electoral systems have long been chained using "//" between systems to denote composite methods. For example, "Smith//Plurality" a system where the candidates are narrowed to the Smith set, followed by the candidate who receives a plurality of first place votes. "Smith//Condorcet" was frequently used to describe methods which allowed any member of Smith set who wins any method that complies with the Condorcet winner criterion.[5]

Separately, sets of ranked ballots have frequently expressed using a subset of ABIF over the years.


This section contains a couple of items about the future of the EM-list (as of February 2021):

C4ES Election Theory Forum

The C4ES Election-Theory Forum was rumored to be shutting down as early as June 2020.[6] However, as of this writing in February 2021, it is still appears to be operational.[7]


  1. a b First message to the new EM-list on February 15, 1996: http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/1996-February/065327.html
  2. Rob Lanphier is "User:RobLa" on this wiki
  3. [EM] election-methods list move -- Rob Lanphier, 2003 March 4
  4. "lower ascii" is vernacular for "ISO 646". More information about ISO 646: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ISO_646
  5. http://lists.electorama.com/pipermail/election-methods-electorama.com/1996-April/065534.html
  6. Announcement from the Center for Election Science: https://forum.electionscience.org/t/alternatives-to-the-ces-forum/699 (author: Felix Sargent, Chair of C4ES)
  7. "Gambling to Select for Robustly Functional Voting Algorithms". Voting Methods Forum. 2021-02-05. Retrieved 2021-02-12.