Democracy Center - Sequential choice - name proposals

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Research and advice on methods of voting and election

A proposal concerning the merger of five local government areas into one was put to the vote in September 1997. On the same occasion, a survey was made to find out voters’ opinion on the 13 proposals for a name for the new area that would result from the merger. The voters were asked to put a 1 against the one they liked best, “and so on”. Further instructions were available at the polling stations. The method was not publicised in advance to anyone apart from some of the election officers, and the names were first published only the day before polling day. Seven hundred and one voters cast ballots on the merger proposal.

On the question of the name, 593 ballots were valid. Two hundred and thirty-eight voters marked only one name, while 355 took the opportunity to rank further choices, most of them ranking two or more names from the top down, but 114 ranking names from the bottom up, i.e. they used the chance that sequential choice offered them to show strong opposition to one or more of the alternatives to be considered. People did not seem to find it difficult to use the method.