Let us imagine that two representatives are to be elected to the committee of an association. Up to now, these positions have been filled by two highly experienced men. Now there is a general feeling that it is time for a change, though one of the men should continue. Opinions differ as to which one it should be. Five new candidates are standing for office. If the conventional voting procedure is used, with each voter writing two names (an incumbent’s and one of a new candidate) on the ballot paper, the result may be that both incumbents will be returned, even though none of the voters actually intended this, because the votes were spread among the new candidates.

Sequential choice can ensure that new blood will be brought into the committee in accordance with what the members want, i.e. that a newcomer and an incumbent be elected. This is done by choosing between pairs consisting of a newcomer (N) and an incumbent (I). In this example there might be up to 10 pairs: N1I1, N1I2, N2I1, N2I2, N3I1, N3I2, N4I1, N4I2, N5I1 and N5I2. Each voter ranks the pairs, and the pair ranked highest by each voter receives 9 points (in his opinion it is better than 9 other pairs), the second-highest receives 8 points, etc.

The number of pairs may become quite high, especially if the choice is between more than two candidates. The number of choices can be limited by imposing certain conditions on whether certain choices (pair, trio or a larger group) can be proposed.

The procedure for electing an incumbent and a newcomer may also be applied if, in the election of two candidates, it is vital to ensure that one will be a man and one a woman.