We are given three votes to cast in the moderator election. What happens if one casts only one or two votes?

And how does such behavior plays within the STV system used?

  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps the most interesting problem is what the implications are of casting a second and a third place vote, but without casting any first place vote. But you are more rational than I, and probably this did not occur to you. $\endgroup$
    – hardmath
    Oct 10, 2017 at 0:47
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    $\begingroup$ @hardmath It occurred to me, and I tested it using OpenSTV software. Casting 2 and 3 without 1 is the same as casting 1 and 2. Only the relative order matters. $\endgroup$
    – user357151
    Oct 10, 2017 at 2:10
  • $\begingroup$ Asaf; I asked the same question in the election chat room, but many many hours after you asked it here, and was nicely linked from there to your question. Thanks for asking it! $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 10, 2017 at 16:25

2 Answers 2


We are electing two moderators. If your choices #1 and #2 get elected, then your choice #3 is irrelevant, it's the same as if you did not make it.

If both of your choices #1 and #2 are eliminated midway through the STV process, then

  • If you picked #3 (and they are not eliminated yet), they get your vote
  • If you didn't pick #3, your ballot is out; it's the same as if you did not vote at all.

If one of your top two top choices is elected, while the other is eliminated, then the elected one gets to keep a large % of your vote (whatever they need to be elected), while the rest gets treated as above.

My conclusion: even if you have a weak preference for #3, it's still better to express it than to (essentially) abstain in a situation when 1 and 2 did not work.


This is an excellent question. The short answer is no, you don't have to cast all three votes. However, if there are multiple candidates that you like, then it is a good idea to cast multiple votes. Casting a second or third vote does not in any way lower the value of earlier votes.

The election uses the Meek Single Transferable Vote system. This system is designed to alleviate some of the problems that come from the prototypical one-person, one-vote, winner-take-all system (sometimes called first past the post).

For an excellent description of this voting system, I recommend reading this answer from Jon Ericson, which includes some examples within.

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    $\begingroup$ So, it's better to vote for one or two strong candidates than to cast a full three punch ballot with candidate[s] which I don't like all that much? $\endgroup$
    – Asaf Karagila Mod
    Oct 9, 2017 at 22:09
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    $\begingroup$ Casting more than one vote will never be detrimental to your first choice (and casting all three will never be detrimental to your second choice). If you are not convinced by more than one/two candidate/s, casting extra votes is not better nor worse for your candidate/s (it obviously may be for others). $\endgroup$ Oct 9, 2017 at 23:15
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    $\begingroup$ @AsafKaragila: No, that's completely incorrect. Your third place vote doesn't get used at all unless both of your top two choices have already been eliminated or one of them has been eliminated and the other has been elected. So there is absolutely no reason not to cast a third vote, unless you are completely indifferent about who gets elected if your top two choices don't both make it. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 1:21
  • $\begingroup$ @EricWofsey So, if, e.g., I have one distinct user to vote for (using first choice). There is another candidate I think might be qualified to be a mod, so I will likely vote for them as my second choice. Suppose I DO not believe any other candidate is able/ready to moderator, after I cast my first and second choices; it makes me reluctant to choose any of them in my third choice. But if I am able to rank them according who I consider the worst candidate, to the least worst, I should vote the least worse? But that just feels like doing dothing more than "damage control" (as I see it)? $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 10, 2017 at 16:04
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    $\begingroup$ @amWhy: Yes, you should vote for the least worst remaining candidate, at least if you would rather do damage control than nothing. A second moderator will be chosen, regardless of what you do, so you might as well have some say in it and try to get the least worst option chosen. I suppose you may wish to protest the inadequacy of the available candidates in some way, but refusing to cast a third vote is a probably rather ineffective way to do so and I'm sure you can think of much more effective ways. $\endgroup$ Oct 10, 2017 at 17:06
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    $\begingroup$ Thanks, @EricWofsey. I do have top choice and second choice, it's the third I'm working on. Just wanted to make that giving the third choice to "the least worst" may help in damage control.Thanks again. $\endgroup$
    – amWhy
    Oct 10, 2017 at 17:16

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