Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Testing preferential voting 

This year, the Oscars are using a preferential voting system to determine the winner in the Best Picture category on March 7. Although attempting to understand the system can seem like trying to divine the secrets of cold fusion, the process is actually logical -- sort of.

... (skipping long explanation of preferential voting) ...

What all this means in practical terms -- apart from a lot of slips of paper -- is that, because it's unlikely that auditors will work their way past most voters' fourth or fifth choices before arriving at a winner, it actually could be preferable for a film to garner a lot of second- and third-place votes than to be a polarizing choice that splits evenly between first-place votes and, say, eighth- and ninth-place on the ballot.

That, in turn, means a movie could pull a Bush v. Gore -- win Best Picture despite not getting the most first-place votes.
I swear, I looked at that for the longest time thinking Bush v. Gore was a movie I hadn't seen. Otherwise, I have no idea what that last sentence means. Do we really know what people's second choice was in 2000?

It appears that this method, at least in the writer's eye, will lead to less edgy pictures being made for fear of that love/hate vote. Does it also work that way in politics?

(h/t: Eric Barker.)

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