We have a ballot with three candidates and three ranked choices. What I'm wondering is if there is any difference between voting someone as third choice and not selecting a third choice at all. Are there any situations under which a different result could occur, like perhaps in a tie breaker?

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    Hm, I wonder if I should migrate this to Politics.SE...
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 20:26
  • @YannisRizos - quit poaching questions! ;-)
    – user53019
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:19
  • This really boils down to: Can we elect less than three moderators? If so, how? Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:21
  • @MartinSchröder There is only one moderator position available. Regardless, you can vote for up to three candidates, in order of preference. More details here: How does Single Transferable Vote work?.
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:23
  • @YannisRizos: Thanks; that information is missing on the election page. Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:24
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    @MartinSchröder It's not missing, but it's a bit out of the way. Look at the sidebar, the available positions are right before the yellow post it like thingy starts, and Meeks STV, the election's methodology, is mentioned at the end of the yellow post it like thingy.
    – yannis
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:26
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    @YannisRizos - I totally agree that it is not clearly visible. The standard sidebar for SE sites is almost entirely a "Go elsewhere" feature and not a "Info on this question" feature. Since I didn't want to go elsewhere, I didn't even look at it.
    – Bobson
    Commented Feb 25, 2013 at 21:35

1 Answer 1


You can use as many or as few of your votes as you like.

However, if there are three positions available or many more candidates than positions it makes sense to use all three votes.

In this election there's only one position available and only three candidates so you could just use one vote for the candidate you want to get the job as it's quite likely (though not certain) that there'll be a definitive result after the first round of voting. If you think that the won't be a result from the first round then it makes sense to use your other votes to indicate where you'd like your vote to go if your candidate is eliminated.

If there were more positions available or more candidates then your 2nd and 3rd votes would come into play once the candidate with the most first votes has been elected or if your 1st choice was eliminated.

However, if you only like one (or two) candidates then only use one (or two) votes. Please don't vote for someone - even as a second or third choice - if you don't think they'll make a good moderator.

  • You make it sound like your 2nd vote doesn't matter because there are only 3 candidates, but doesn't your 2nd vote count if your 1st choice gets eliminated? To put it simply for our election with 3 candidates, if your 1st choice is in last place, then your vote actually goes towards your 2nd choice since your 1st choice has no chance at winning.
    – Rachel
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 12:56
  • @Rachel - That is true, perhaps I was being too simplistic. With three candidates and one position you are more likely to get a definite result after the first round.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 12:58
  • per my understanding, non-elected candidates form sort of a "pool" to get replacement without elections when needed (example at Programmers about a year ago). In this case, it looks like votes for the candidate come back into play, correct?
    – gnat
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 13:40
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    @gnat - It's not a formal system, but yes in the past the last candidate(s) to be eliminated have been called up when an newly elected mod has to pull out. However, I wouldn't rely on it.
    – ChrisF Mod
    Commented Feb 26, 2013 at 13:43

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