By default, in Belenios, the voter can select some number of candidates among a list, for example, she can select between 3 and 5 candidates among a list of 10 candidates, or vote blank, if blank is allowed. In order to accommodate a larger set of voting methods, Belenios now supports elections where the voters can give an order of preference or a grade to candidates. This mode is still experimental and we provide here some guidelines to understand what is currently offered.
Preparation of the election
On the page "Edit Questions", you need to tick the box in the insert that starts with "Alternative voting methods (warning, still experimental)" to activate this alternative mode.
You need to explain, for example in the field "question", that voters need to provide each voter with a number (1, 2, 3, ...) and explain what it means (for example, you may want that voters give 1 to their preferred candidate, 2 to the second, etc.).
Be careful, any number (between 0 and 255) will be accepted when submitting a vote. It is up to you or the electoral commission to decide when a vote is invalid or not.
During the election, voters give a number to each candidate. Any number is accepted (between 0 and 255).
After the tally
Once the election is closed and the authorities have used their secret decryption key, the raw votes are published, in a random order so that it is impossible to link a vote to the original ballot, hence it is impossible to link a vote to the corresponding voter. Note that ballots are shuffled in a verifiable manner before decryption so that any external auditor can still check that the result corresponds to the content of the original ballot box.
Let us explain how to understand the raw result on an example. As a result of the election, you will get something like this:
What does this mean?? This a list of list of votes, each vote being itself a list. Here, we have the result of an election with two questions and four voters:
- the first question has three candidates and received
the following list of votes:
- the second question has four candidates and received
the following list of votes:
- [2,3,1] means that one voter has expressed that she prefers the third candidate (giving him a "1"), then she prefers the first candidate (giving him a "2") and finally she likes the second candidate the less (giving him a "3").
- Similarly, [1,3,2] indicates that another voter prefers first the first candidate, then the third one, then the second one.
- What about [254,27,1]? You need to have rules for this. Maybe you will decide that this vote is just invalid. Maybe you will count it as "the voter prefers the last candidate, then the second, then the first one".
- What about [0,1,2]? Again, this is up to you to interpret the vote [0,1,2]. Since the default number associated to a candidate is "0", you may not want to consider this vote as invalid. Maybe this one should be interpreted as "the voter prefers the second candidate, then the third one and has no opinion on the first one".
You can see here that you need clear electoral rules, defined before the election, that assess which ballots are invalid and which are not.
Now that you have understood how to read the votes, you can apply any of your favorite methods (e.g. Condorcet, STV, majority judgement) to declare the winner(s) of your election. We do not yet provide support for this but it is planned for the next developments of Belenios.