VoteFair party ranking

From electowiki

VoteFair party ranking is a vote-counting method that identifies the popularity of political parties for the purpose of identifying how many candidates each political party is allowed to offer in a non-primary election. This limit is useful in elections that otherwise would attract candidates from very unpopular parties. It allows, and encourages, two or three candidates from the two most popular parties.

Purpose and usage

This method is designed for use in high-level elections that otherwise would attract too many candidates from political parties that are so unpopular that their candidates have almost no chance of winning. This limit enables voters to focus attention on all the candidates, which becomes important when elections use ranked ballots or score ballots instead of single-mark ballots.

Rules for ranking the parties by popularity include:

  • Any single-winner vote-counting method that uses ranked ballots and pairwise counting can identify the most popular party.
  • VoteFair representation ranking identifies the second-most popular party in a way that proportionally reduces the influence of the ballots that identified the most popular party.
  • The third-most popular party is identified after appropriately reducing the influence of the voters who are well-represented by the first-ranked and second-ranked parties.  Without this adjustment the same voters who are well-represented by one of the most popular parties could create a "shadow" party that occupies the third position, which would block smaller parties from that third position.

The rules for limiting the number of candidates from each party are:

  • The most popular party and the second-most popular party are allowed two, or possibly three, candidates each. A few of the next-most popular parties are allowed one candidate each. The remaining parties are not allowed any candidates in that contest.
  • The total number of candidates in a contest are limited to a specific number, such as seven candidates. This limit can be different for different political positions.
  • If any parties offer fewer candidates than they are allowed to offer, then lower-ranked parties that otherwise would not be allowed to offer even one candidate are allowed to offer one candidate each. This provision discourages a popular party from forcing the voters in that party to elect a candidate who would lose against a more popular candidate from the same party.
  • If either of the top two parties conducts their primary election using single-mark ballots then that party is allowed three candidates instead of two candidates, and the third-most popular party is allowed two candidates instead of one candidate.

When a party rises in popularity and earns an additional place on the ballot, that is offset by another party losing a position on the ballot.

If a party splits into two parties in an attempt to offer more candidates, both parties are likely to lose popularity because fewer voters will rank each one at the top of their ballot.

During a previous election, ballots must ask the voters to rank the political parties. The advance results enable candidates and parties to know how many candidates that party can offer in each contest in the upcoming election cycle.

The results are calculated separately for each district. As a result, a national political party might qualify to offer two candidates in one district, just one candidate in another district, and no candidate in yet another district.

The list of political parties to rank would include parties that previously failed to qualify to offer any candidates. If appropriate, the list of parties can exclude any that are based on unacceptable agendas such as religion, gender, or race.

Calculation details

Here are the steps used to calculate VoteFair party ranking results.

  1. In a previous important election, voters are asked to rank the political parties that have legal status.
  2. The most popular party is identified using any vote-counting method that uses ranked ballots and pairwise counting. The same vote-counting method is used within some of the calculation steps below.
  3. The second-most popular party is identified using VoteFair representation ranking. The same vote-counting method used in step 2 is also used as a part of these calculations.
  4. Identify the ballots on which the voter's most-preferred party is not one of the two highest-ranked parties.
  5. Using only the ballots identified in the previous step, identify the most popular party from among the not-yet-ranked parties. This party is the third-most popular party.
  6. Using all the ballots, the fourth-ranked party is the most popular party from among the not-yet-ranked parties.
  7. Calculate the ranking of the remaining parties using VoteFair representation ranking.


VoteFair party ranking was created by Richard Fobes while writing the book titled Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections, and is described in that book as part of the full VoteFair Ranking system.

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