Friday, April 6, 2018

Weighted Votes with Ranked-Choice Voting

For some online elections, it is desired to use weighted votes. In government elections, the vote of each voter counts the same so that each voter has equal influence. In this situation, you could say that each voter has a weight of one. Voters used to government elections may think that weighting some votes more than others is unfair, but there are elections where it is fair and necessary!

Probably the most common example is condominium homeowner associations or HOAs. For a building with multiple condominium units, the building will often need to make decisions, such as to charge each owner an additional fee to replace the roof. To make these decisions, the HOA will have trustees who are elected by the condo owners to make decisions. The trustees will generally be a subset of the condo owners.

Because the condos in the building have different sizes, each condo owner is assigned a weight corresponding to the size of their condo. For example, the weight of a vote may be the same as the square footage of the condo, and a person with a 2000 sq. ft. condo will have double the voting power of a person with a 1000 sq. ft. condo.

OpaVote now allows you to conduct election with weighted voting for all of the elections supported by OpaVote. You can do weighted voting with ranked-choice voting, the single transferable vote, Condorcet voting, or any our other voting methods.

Specifying the weights for each voter is easy. To add voters to an OpaVote election, you upload a plain text file with one email address per line. You can add a weight to each voter like this:, 4, 3, 2

Alice has a weight of 4, Bob has a weight of 3, Charlie has a weight of 2, and Diana has a weight of 1. If you don't specify a weight for a voter, we'll give that voter a weight of one. The weighted votes are counted as if that person had voted that many times. For example, Alice's vote will be counted as if she cast 4 separate ballots.

The weights must be integers (decimals not allowed) and our maximum weight is currently 1000 1,000,000. Let us know if you need a larger weight.

We don't yet support weights for code voters, but we'll be adding that soon.


  1. "For example, Alice's vote will be counted as if she cast 4 separate ballots." Can Alice spread her vote over two choices, rather than all four votes going to one choice.

    Alternatively, can Alice log in once and be presented with the same question four times and her four answers/votes collated into the one election.

    1. Hi Rob, you can't do that with weighted votes. If you want to do that, you'd need to use 4 voting codes (for code voters) or 4 email addresses (for email voters) for Alice.