This is not really a question, but an informational message. Stack Exchange (SE) uses a method of election called Single Transferable Votes (STV). AFAIK, this mechanism is recently incorporated into SE, and therefore it might be alien to some users.

Here is a very simple description of the method, taken from Wikipedia. It is rather short, and I encourage everyone (who is not familiar with STV) to take a look at it:

Suppose a food election is conducted to determine what to serve at a party. There are 5 candidates, 3 of which will be chosen. The candidates are: Oranges, Pears, Chocolate, Strawberries, and Sweets. The 20 guests at the party have their ballots marked according to the table below. In this example, a second choice is needed by only some of the voters, however with a different vote distribution additional preferences may be needed.

First, the quota is calculated. Using the Droop quota, with 20 voters and 3 winners to be found, the number of votes required to be elected is:

$\left({\mbox{20 votes cast} \over {\mbox{3 seats to fill}+1}}\right) +1 = \mbox{6 votes required}$

When ballots are counted the election proceeds as follows:

Result: The winners are Chocolate, Oranges and Strawberries.

Last note: The counting method for SE elections is a bit different, in that it changes the quota continuously at each round. Please see Meek's method for more info.

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    $\begingroup$ ok this is great but what exactly is the value of cutting and pasting wikipedia here? $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2011 at 7:53
  • $\begingroup$ For those who want to read in context: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote#An_example $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2011 at 8:42
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    $\begingroup$ @Jeff: Good call ;) I just felt if I copy-paste it here, the chance of people reading it increases. Sorry if I made any trouble. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2011 at 10:49
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    $\begingroup$ I don't mind. I just read it here too. $\endgroup$ Jan 30, 2011 at 3:39

1 Answer 1


It took me some time to figure out how the user interface at https://cstheory.stackexchange.com/election works, so here is what I learned:

  • It is not a typical SE user interface where you can change your mind by clicking the vote button again.

  • If you are quick, you can change your votes, and you can remove some of your votes. For example, if you have chosen A = 1st and B = 2nd, then you can select C = 2nd and your vote on B is removed. And then you can then select C = 1st, and your vote on A is removed, too. This way you can remove all of your votes, except one! A strange limitation, but that seems to be how it works.

  • At some point your votes get frozen. If you try to change your votes, you only get a popup note that says "Your votes are too old to be changed".

Edit: See "Your votes are too old to be changed" for yet another feature of the system.

  • $\begingroup$ Nice info. I had the same issue when voting at Math.SE a few weeks ago, but I've totally forgotten this (odd) behavior. $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2011 at 13:41
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    $\begingroup$ The “some point” seems four hours after your first vote, provided that it is the same for the primary and the election phases. See I can't undo or change my vote in the primary election phase on Meta Stack Overflow about the primary phase (not the election phase). $\endgroup$ Jan 29, 2011 at 20:01

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