Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Manual Tie Breaks for Counts

We've added a new feature to our OpaVote Counts that has been a long time coming...

An OpaVote "Count" is the online equivalent of the old OpenSTV software that is no longer available, and a Count lets you count ranked ballots with 23 different counting methods (e.g., ranked-choice voting, instant runoff voting, or the single transferable vote), a variety of counting options, and withdrawing candidates.

With an OpaVote Count, you can now break ties manually. When you initially count the votes, any ties will be broken randomly. After the initial count, you can recount the votes, and in doing the recount you have the option to manually specify how ties are to be broken.

Screenshot showing how to break ties with OpaVote.

If your initial count had a tie, then you will something similar to the image above on your console. In this example, there was a tie:
  • in Round 2 between Chocolate, Strawberry, and Cookies & Cream, and the tie was broken with a random selection of Cookies & Cream, and
  • in Round 3 between Chocolate and Strawberry and the tie was broken with a random selection of Strawberry.
To better understand what is going on, it is helpful to view the current results in another browser tab or window. You can now change how the ties are broken. For example, for Round 2, you could uncheck Cookies & Cream and check Chocolate so that Chocolate was selected instead of Cookies & Cream, and you will see this when you recount the ballots.
Some important things to note:
  • If you make an invalid selection, such as checking no candidates or checking more than one candidate, then the tie will be broken randomly.
  • You can only change one tie break at a time, because changing one tie break will change all later ties in the count. For example, if you change the tie at Round 2 as indicated above, then the tie at Round 3 is now between Strawberry and Cookies & Cream.
Manually tie breaking is not available for Elections and Polls.  If you need this feature for an Election or Poll, then you will need to create a Count using the ballots from the Election or Poll.