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Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Voting for the final three

I wonder how many readers of this site understand how the preferential ballot on the final vote for the PC Leadership for Alberta on Saturday, 2 December, will actually work. I sure didn’t until I spoke to a worker at the campaign office of one contender. Reading some of the responses to “And then there were three” makes me believe I was not the only one confused. Here is the explanation I received.

All first choice ballots will be sorted into three piles. The candidate with the fewest votes will be dropped. All the ballots cast for that candidate will then be checked for the second choices. Those second choice votes for candidate “A” will go to his pile, those for “B” to his pile. That process, in the unlikely event of a tie, will decide the winner. To put this into the actual scenario, for those favouring Morton the way to vote would be first choice Morton, second choice Stelmach. That second choice for Stelmach would only go to him if Morton had been relegated to third place on the first choice votes. That is how to mark your ballot if you want a Conservative Premier for Alberta.

Posted by Bob Wood on November 28, 2006 | Permalink


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AND REMEMBER: If you want a premier that burns bridges instead of blowing up usable hospitals vote for Ted morton. and if you want a premier with balls that has an opinion instead of Mr. Dithers Lite! vote Ted Morton. and if you want a premier that will not cut 25,000 cheques to the stinking lieberal leader and not the conservative leader because of prudence as he said on Rutherford then vote Ted Morton and if you want a leader that didn't back Nancy Betkowski in 1992, come to think of it that's why he is such a Nancy boy now, well vote Ted and most of all if we want to be finally rid of the two bit keg and cleaver waiter Rod Love that gets 49,000 one phone call, for advice to the current govt. well vote Ted, lets flush this big toilet on saturday, send the turds of time down the North Saskatchewan.

Posted by: bartinsky | 2006-11-28 10:22:15 PM


Posted by: Norman | 2006-11-28 10:27:49 PM

Ummmm, isn't that always the way preferential ballots work?

As for your "actual scenario", I'd be careful of strategic voting.

Look through the history of elections decided by preferential ballot, and you will find all sorts of examples of the pre-election "third place" candidate winning (in this case Stelmach), by squeaking through the first round (for any number of reasons) and then receiving a tonne of second round votes from all the strategic voting of the other two candidates' supporters.

My tendency is to just vote for the candidate(s) I think will best do the job -- that way I don't feel guilty when the mathemagic of election counting doesn't go my way.

Posted by: teddy | 2006-11-29 12:52:40 AM


I think you are still a little confused about how the preferential balloting works.

The only thing you can do to help Morton win is vote for him as your first choice. Your second choice (Stelmach vs Dinning) has absolutely no bearing on Morton's chances since your second choices will only come into play in the event that Morton places third in the first round (i.e., after he has already been eliminated). All you will have done is help elect Stelmach over Dinning in the second round (which may or may not be what you want).

Now, what you really need to do is get the folks who vote for Stelmach and Dinning to put Morton second, since -- assuming Morton makes it through the first round -- it is one of their second votes that will count.

Someone in the other thread also mentioned putting Morton as first and second; but that is pointless since once the ballot is in the Morton pile, it will not be double counted, and you will simply have wasted your second round vote (assuming that the ballot isn't deemed spoiled).

Posted by: kalcon | 2006-11-29 1:13:55 AM

best guess - it is going to come down to Stelmach and Morton and possibly on the first ballot. If the softer Dinning voters (and perhaps others among them as well) do a reality check, I think a lot of these will put Stelmach first.

With Pham going to Morton and the "heavyweight" federal MPs coming to to boost Morton, the sand is shifting.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-11-29 7:42:48 AM

Ted Byfield's Sun column on Sunday addresses the issue of the Quebecois "nation" resolution and a potential undesirable side-effect of it. Without actually mentioning Morton by name, he presents another reason for choosing Morton. Ted for Ted.


Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-29 8:46:45 AM

Nobody really knows where Morton stands on Law S-3(2005) and it is even less clear for Stelmach.

This law has a great deal to do with national unity as regards not only the country but also Alberta.

Harper allowed this law to fly - so why wouldn't Morton line up behind this.

Art Hangar abstained from the vote on "the motion" and this should be saying something.

Alberta is past ready for this debate on national unity - so lets get it out there. Perhaps it will be Morton or perhaps it may well be someone else under a totally new party at the next provincial election.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-11-29 8:59:24 AM


"Alberta is past ready for this debate on national unity - so lets get it out there. Perhaps it will be Morton or perhaps it may well be someone else under a totally new party at the next provincial election."

Fair enough. It will not be Dinning. It is a "firewall" issue. Morton remains the best choice of the three.

Posted by: Brent Weston | 2006-11-29 9:09:04 AM

for my part, I believe that the best way to go for the next two years is to have Stelmach at the helm with a strong contingent of Morton. Dinning/Love et have to go this time around.

In two years, we will have a much better idea of what these two can do/have done and at that point, we can come to a decision of whether or not we are looking at a strong, new candidate with a totally new party. I could really care less what politicians say - I'm interested in what they actually do when they have the opportunity to do. In two years, they will both have the opportunity to walk the talk and Alberta will continue to move ahead.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-11-29 9:23:38 AM

With Stemach there will be no firewall. Also there will be no changing to Morton unless Stelmach screws up big for the PCs. Like the Mayor of Calgary, once in office, Alberta Premiers can stay for a decade if the PCs survive provincial elections.

My vote goes to the Alberta Alliance if anyone but Morton wins, if Ralph Klein, Jim Dinning, and Joe Clark are Tories I'm done voting Tory. I want Conservatives in government.

Fiscal conservatism flows naturally from conservative social policy. Fiscal conservatism may be an election plank for Dinning but liberal social policy eats fiscal conservatism for breakfast.

Posted by: Speller | 2006-11-29 10:12:02 AM

I only have one rule in any election ... always vote for the candidate who promises to spend the least amount of my money.

Listening to the Liberal-style attack ads on scary Morton that have been playing on the radio this morning has convinced me even more that Morton's the guy.

I'd be willing to give Stelmach a chance. He seems like a pretty decent guy.

A Dinning win means I'm switching to the Alberta Alliance.

Posted by: Set you free | 2006-11-29 10:45:45 AM

If things don't work out (I really doubt things will go all to hell) under my scenario, then Ted always has the opportunity to resign at any time, become the leader of the Alliance (or whatever) and gear up for the next provincial election. By this time he will have a known track record of doing. He is already backing away to mellow down what was really meant by the "firewall".

If my scenario happens to go nowhere and if the federal situation goes south, then I am ready to seriously go to a very new, strong quasi-separation party with a very strong leader. We are not that far from having one emerge, I think.

If it turns out that is Ted at the helm and Ed in the strong position - that's fine. If things don't move along, then my position will be the same as above. Only the party is not likely to be the Alliance but time will tell.

Posted by: calgary clipper | 2006-11-29 10:48:02 AM

now we have that great defender of the Alberta treasury little gary marr endorsing Jim Dithers and shitting on Ted on the radio. Well wouldn't that be just awful if we couldn't cut those 428,000 cheques to our friends like kelly charlabouis anymore. The first thing Ted Morton would do once in power is clean out garbage like gary saving Alberta millions down the road. And a sidenote,, have an in on Bay street, the word there in the top of a certian bank is run from Jim and run fast.

Posted by: bartinsky | 2006-11-29 11:56:31 AM

I've talked to a lot of people close to a lot of campaigns and this race and no one can figure out how Ed can jump over Ted, and then jump over Jim to win this. Even if Jim's 2nd choices all go for Ed, Ed won't get them unless he can close and surpass the 10,000 vote gap between himself and Ted (assuming there are no more new votes for Ted, and who thinks that's likely?)

A lot of Jim's early support will be looking around for a safe place to land after the "failure to launch" last Saturday. And if they imagine a province in which Ed Stelmach is the PC Leader and Dave Bronconnier or Anne McLellan is the Liberal leader, they'll quickly be supportin' Morton!

Posted by: Doug | 2006-11-29 12:58:58 PM

go to the anyone but dinning site and find out about Dithers Lite hobknobbing and passing around their mojos in south calgary lieberal land last fri. and if anyone needs any more convinving to put the run on this rogue, well look who he has working for him. duane lingenfelter. ask any expat sask workhorse here in the patch and they will fill you in on the sultan of salt water and his past

Posted by: bartinsky | 2006-11-29 4:54:34 PM

If you actually don't care who wins if Mr. Morton places third in the initial count, for example, if you plan at that point to go join the Alberta Alliance party, then it doesn't matter who your second choice is.

On the other hand. If there is some candidate who you really don't want to see win, even if Mr. Morton places third in the initial count, then your second choice should be the person who isn't the candidate you really don't want to see win.

So, for example, if you really don't want to see Mr. Dinning in there, even if Mr. Morton isn't, then your second choice should be Mr. Stelmach. Yes that means that Mr. Stelmach might score up the middle, but I can think of worse things, such as Mr. Dinning winning.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-11-29 10:39:27 PM

And frankly, if you do plan to go join the Alberta Alliance party, then your second choice should be the one you would rather run *against*, presumably Mr. Dinning.

But in my opinion, the waters are very murky here. We're talking about skating on thin ice. I honestly think that, since this is a properly designed three-phase preferential ballot, that the correct thing to do, almost from a moral sense, is to pick your most preferred candidate as your first choice, and your otherwise "not least preferred" candidate as your second choice.

To do otherwise, it seems to me, is to disrespect the democratic process, and I'm not in the mood to do that right now ;-)

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-11-29 10:48:59 PM

You know, I'm not impressed with my ability to explain this so far. It's such a simple thing, and yet I keep tripping up on details. Please allow me to try once more.

Step 1

Decide which candidate you would most like to see win, and pick that candidate as your first choice.

Step 2

Decide which of the remaining candidates you would least like to see win.

Step 3

As your second choice, pick the candidate who is not your most preferred candidate from step 1, and who is also not your least preferred candidate from step 2.

There you go. Ba da bing, ba da boom.

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-11-29 11:00:42 PM

Now that we've got the structural basics out of the way, once you understand that, the whole exercise can be simplified to this rule: Your second choice should *not* be the candidate who you would *least* like to see win.

Hmm. I've got it: (1) Most, (2) Not Least.

I think I'll write that down ;-)

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-11-29 11:33:49 PM

I was pleasantly surprised to see Ted Morton doing well and I hope he wins. Jim Dinning seems like a weazel without conviction. Morton is likely to shake things up or at least I hope he will and maybe he'll set some precedents for the rest of the country in terms of health care reform and CPP reform. Good for him. I'm also glad to hear that Jason Kenney has the rocks to go out and support him.

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-11-30 8:45:46 AM

Jim Dithers is on Rutherford right now, this nancy boy actor would be better to move to hollywood he is such an actor think of the money he could make there. He reminds me of the old WKRP skit where Authur Carlson was running for mayor of Cincinatti and Johnny Fever was his manager. He took a stand that was firm yet flexible on everything

Posted by: bartinsky | 2006-11-30 9:24:34 AM

That was a great episode.

Posted by: Howard Roark | 2006-11-30 9:40:36 AM

Deductive reasoning by an engineer brought Vitruvius to exactly the same conclusion as my more intuitive stab in the dark: first choice Morton, second choice Stelmach. That second choice is as much an anti Dinning vote as it is pro Stelmach, though I have a lot of respect for Stelmach. Thanks Vitruvius.

Posted by: BobWood | 2006-11-30 11:43:29 AM

I agree Bob: the intuitive thing has always seemed, well, intuitive to me. The second choice is an anti-vote cast against the candidate you least like, via voting for the candidate who isn't the one you least like (not counting the one you most like and picked first).

I suspect that the reason it is difficult to formalize the intuitive in a simple statement is because there's a natural double-negative involved - "not least" - and that just doesn't seem simple to people on the first read.

Hey, here's an idea I just thought of. What if instead of picking preference via numeric 1, 2, 3 ordering, you voted by picking "Yes" for one candidate, "No" for some other candidate, and "Maybe" for the remaining candidate. Heh ;-)

Posted by: Vitruvius | 2006-11-30 2:20:45 PM


Ted handled himself with dignity, poise, character and substance, despite battling a cold.

On the issues, he's continued to be completely consistent, and that was reflected again in his answers tonight. From healthcare to infrastructure, from democratic reform to a "big tent" Ted had firm, clear, and conservative positions. When Ted speaks about complex issues such as an Alberta Pension Plan or the oft-cited reforms needed in the equalization program, Jim offers no alternatives, no innovative solutions, no answers. He merely pooh-poohs. Not good enough.

Jim also criticizes Ted as someone who will keep people out of the party, several times using the traffic cop's "halt" gesture as if to suggest that some people aren't welcome in the party. This is a manufactured criticism. Ted has never indicated people won't be welcome. He has the support of ethnic leaders, large city and small town voters, MLAs and former MLAs from the north, south and centre, from both big cities and from farms and towns, business people, farmers and ranchers, teachers and artists. The ideals he stands for and the reforms he is pushing are the same ones espoused by Stephen Harper and the same ones embraced by the voters who sent 28 Conservative MPs to Ottawa in the last election. And already Ted is reaching out to all wings of the party. He was the only candidate to acknowledge the contributions and commitment of the other two finalists and the only one to mention the other first ballot candidates.

When dealing with issues such as Alberta's position in the nation, the character of leadership, the rights of people, the dreams of Albertans, Ted talks from his heart. Jim reads his talking points.

Posted by: doug | 2006-11-30 7:14:37 PM

Ummm, Bob and Vitruvius:

Why complicate things? 1) Pick the candidate you like the best. 2) Pick the candidate you think is second best. Is that so difficult to understand?

Why frame your second pick as a non-choice for the candidate you think is third best?

Posted by: sam | 2006-12-01 5:49:49 AM

Mark up one more vote for the Alberta Alliance IF Dinning wins tonight. I hope that Albertans have better sense than to vote for a man who couldn't even manage the calgary health Region. I wonder who did actually benefit from the General and Holy Cross Hospitals fraud. If I had wanted a Liberal premier I would have voted Liberal in the first place.

Posted by: Doral Hemm | 2006-12-02 6:23:40 PM

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