• Posted Feb 09 2017

When Votes Aren't Equal

One of the major tenets of modern democracies is that everyone has the right to vote and all those votes are equal. In practice, this is often not the case. While issues related to voting rights and access persist, the structure and design of the electoral processes of many democracies ensure that an equal number of votes in different areas of a jurisdiction does not result in equal representation. In most cases, they have been designed in such a manner to ensure the representation of all regions of a jurisdiction, while preventing major population centres from dominating the electoral system.

Electoral systems such as these have both advantages and disadvantages worthy of debate, but one reality is that it results in a different number of votes required to win a single seat, representative, or delegate. In practice, this means different votes carry different weight. A campaign interested in winning seats, representatives or delegates in such a system not only needs to understand this fact, but also must understand how these weights are calculated and how they can possibly change.

Put simply, while campaigns will always seek to have some presence in every region of a jurisdiction, more often than not, success doesn’t require campaigns to win all of them. To be successful, campaigns must focus on those regions and votes that are accessible to them and carry the most weight.

With that said, determining the accessibility and weight of different regions and votes is certainly easier said than done. Firstly, the rules and regions that define the value of a vote can change between campaigns. Whether it’s a redistribution of districts or a change in the rules of a leadership race, campaigns cannot rely solely on previous results to determine what regions to focus on. Secondly, voting preferences and intentions can obviously change significantly between campaigns and throughout a campaign.

To accurately assess the value of regions or potential votes, a campaign must be able to track their progress in real time throughout the campaign period relative to the overall projected turnout for a given region. While it can be more complex to develop a projection of turnout, the value of a single vote is ultimately tied to the number of votes that will be cast in that region. Whether through regular updates of membership and electoral lists, or through the scrutineering of actual votes casts, campaigns can ultimately understand the value of securing the next vote in a particular region. If the campaign has the technological capacity to recalculate this value on a real-time basis, they can adjust targets and redirect resources as necessary, and ultimately maximizing their engagement efforts and outcomes.

Candidate Cloud’s weighted vote technology has helped general election and leadership campaigns define and prioritize target seats and drive Voter-ID outreach and GOTV efforts on a real-time basis.  

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