WTF is Condorcet?

This post may look to be boring. Election systems, you ask? How can those be at all fun? Well, dear reader, you are wrong. This is going to be the most epic post of your life and you are about to get SCHOOLED in so much politics that you will be able to impress your entire family next year at Christmas when they question what good a Canadian Studies/Art History/English degree will get you in life. Ahem.

AMS Council decided a few years ago to hold elections via Condorcet voting, instead of First Past the Post (FPTP- like how you vote in a government election). Due to UBC fucking over the AMS by underestimating how long it would take to implement a new elections system, AMS Council had this huge debate over FPTP vs Condorcet last night. UPDATE: Someone saved the day and now we’re now using Condorcet after all!

Below are our interpretations of the two systems and how it would work out in real life/pop culture land using Twilight and Glee. Yes, we fucking just did that.

First Past the Post aka Edward vs Jacob

The love triangle is abundant in pop culture, even if its usually culminated with the exact wrong couple getting together. Take Twilight for example. Team Jacob or Team Edward has divided giggly tweens around the world, and this is a perfect example of when first the past is a good system.

For some reason that we can’t quite understand, Bella is keen on Edward (ok, yes, the vampire sex scene in Breaking Dawn was quite amazing), the no-fun vampire who wants to get married and then isolate Bella from everyone she knows.

We think that Bella would have a lot more fun, and well, actually be ALIVE, if she was with Jacob. Plus, he’s hot. Like, super hot. Who would want to cuddle with an icecube when you can cuddle with a hot water bottle? Yeah, we thought so too.

no photoshop required.

So whether you’re Team Edward or Team Jacob, if the AMS Elections had a ballot asking you who Bella should choose, first past the post is fine. There’s only two choices, and whoever gets the most votes wins. This is like the race for VP Finance, although the candidates look too similar for us to deem one Jacob and the other Edward. It is also like the race for BoG (pick two) and Senate (pick five). Obviously, Sean Heisler is Jacob in this scenario (has anyone else noticed how buff he is?). [Editor’s Note: Sean Heisler got Chris Eaton from Enrolment Services on the phone in AMS Council at 10:30 AT NIGHT so he could talk to the EA about the elections system. For this, we deem him this year’s first Dreamboat. Re-elect him, he obviously uses his connections well. See below.]

Condorcet Method aka Rachel vs Jesse, Puck, and Finn:

The pop culture love rectangle is more of a complicated scenario, in which a girl who thinks she isn’t all that pretty (yet totally goes all wannabe-third wave feminist with Terry Richardson) has an endless supply of adorable men at her disposal. Unlike Edward and Jacob, fans are not as maniac (read: partisan) about who they prefer and learn to adapt to like the new love interest. And when they’re gone, well, you’re left with distant fond memories of a love that wasn’t really lost.

i'm a jesse man myself, and this moment in "hello" is possibly my favourite glee moment ever.

FPTP brings about more partisan candidates, while preferential balloting yields more centrist candidates. In Condorcet, you get to rank the candidates in order. Whoever is found to be the most likable candidate will win, and this is why joke candidates like Aaron Palm can beat Tim Chu. The candidate chosen is usually the one most people won’t complain about. If people are voting on issues (and since we don’t have slates, they are basically voting on issues), the candidate who has the more palatable stance will be favoured with Condorcet. For example, think of Puckleberry, Fichel, and St. Berry (really? REALLY?)

this was taken from a real fan forum. who says we don't do research?

For some voters, they may think that Rachel really really really needs to be with someone as talented as herself and would vote like this:

  1. Jesse
  2. Finn
  3. Puck

While others may think that anyone with a great talent will outshine her. They’d vote like this:

  1. Puck
  2. Finn
  3. Jesse

Another issue could be their religion. Some voters may think that Rachel really needs to mate with a Jew, and would prefer Puck. However, Finn has said he will raise Jewish babies and they’d rather see that than nothing:

  1. Puck
  2. Finn
  3. Jesse

Regarding stability, voters may just want to make sure someone stays on the show long enough to love her:

  1. Finn
  2. Puck/Jesse
  3. Jesse/Puck

And it goes on, and on. The extreme Puck lovers will vote for Puck and the extreme Jesse lovers will vote for Jesse and the normal Finn lovers will vote for Finn. But, let’s say that there are more Jews on campus who would prefer Rachel have Jewish babies.  In a FPTP system, let’s say the result was 43% for Puck vs 40% for Finn vs 17% for Jesse. Puck could win with the most votes, even though if you added Finn and Jesse’s number together, more people voted to NOT have Puck than those who did. FPTP doesn’t mean you need a MAJORITY of votes (51%) it just means you need the MOST votes (which in this case is 43%).So while Puck may win with FPTP, most students wouldn’t be happy with this decision, because 57% of them voted for Not Puck.

Using Condorcet, students are allowed to rank who they want Rachel to be with, and more students are happier. Looking at the issues and how they voted, Finn was a consistent second choice with both Puck and Jesse lovers. At the end of the day, we can all just agree that Finn is the best option because he can both sing and play sports, doesn’t outshine Rachel, will raise Jewish babies, and isn’t going to leave her.

This is like the VP External race. The Knollies will vote for Rory, the Greeks will vote for Katherine, and the Hacks will vote for Mitch. The winner will probably be Katherine or Mitch. They are both very similar and have a lot of experience, so it’s hard to differentiate between them. The second place votes from the Knollies, Frats, and other random students will probably seal the deal as to who wins this race. (UBC Insiders did a council poll and actually found there to be different results using Condorcet vs FPTP in only this race, watch for their post coming up). The VP Academic race is the same. Matt will get the Greeks, Jennifer will get the Knollies, and Justin will get everybody else. The winner will probably be determined by whoever gets the most second place votes.

8 thoughts on “WTF is Condorcet?

  1. Cheryl

    technically, according to judaism, rachel will have jewish babies no matter who she procreates with.

    nonetheless, fab post! harry potter referencing on the next one? s and i could help!!

  2. A Greek

    I don’t think it’s accurate to predict the Greek system voting one way or the other this year. I suspect people may be over estimating the credibility (and perhaps, more importantly, the social capital) of certain executives in successfully promoting an oft-touted Greek slate. You have to keep in mind the other executives of the AMS who have historically shown to be at loggerheads with certain other people on their team, are also Greeks, who this author believes, if they chose to exercise it, could have far more impact than the aforementioned executive.

    My impression so far is that a healthy dialogue is taking place in the Greek system about who is the best candidate for students, who understands the Greek system and won’t throw us under the bus with a moments notice and finally, if they are Greek themselves, it serves to further re-assert the 2nd criterion I listed.

    Let’s take a few examples to illustrate the point:

    1) Katherine Tyson did not initiate a sorority and hardly anyone knew her in the chapter she chose to pledge with, let alone the system, as she was mostly consumed with AMS stuff and from what I hear, some illness that hampered her ability to get involved at the time. As a result, Mitch has just as good of a shot at capturing the so called Greek vote (I’m still assuming we vote as one which is a bit of an erroneous assumption, but whatever) as Katherine does.

    2) In the race for VP Finance, you have two Greeks: Elin, a Beta and Arash, a Kappa Sig. But for some reason, only Arash has been identified with the purported Greek slate, yet Elin has just as good of a chance of capturing these votes and will make a strong effort to do so.

    I’m just sayin. It’s too early to pigeon hole Greeks. They are diverse in opinion, much like the rest of our UBC community.

  3. Greek II

    As a highly-involved Greek, I can say with certainty that being a so-called “Greek candidate” does not guarantee Greek support. As A Greek stated above, we care about their stance on Greeks, but that is not the only criterion upon which we base our votes. In fact, there is at least one Greek that will not be supported across the board by the fraternities and sororities (oooh, which one??)

    Further, while she’s been so-touted by the media, I don’t think any Greeks (with the possible exception of members of the sorority she pledged) consider Katherine Tyson to be a member of the system.

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  5. Rory Breasail

    I don’t understand on what basis I’m being pideonholed as some fringe candidate. The main thing that differentiates me from Katherine and Mitch platform wise is my willingness to talk about tuition fees. It seems to me that something is fundamentally wrong with our student politics if somehow a desire to see lower tuition fees has become a radical position.

    In this past year as an Arts Councillor, I have worked closely with numerous members of the Greek system. This collaboration has been extremely productive because of the foundations of mutual respect these relationships are based upon. I worked extensively with Ben and Elin during Land Use Plan lobbying and continue to work with both of them on the Referendum Committee. My conflict with Bijan has in no way been a conflict of me against Greeks. Rather, it has been and is a conflict of people who are looking out for students and those looking out for themselves.

    I would encourage members of the Greek system to get in touch with me if they feel they are not being represented, I want to hear from you what you want to see in a VP External and an AMS executive more generally –

  6. Johnny Harpoon

    next time the people of BC are asked to vote on electoral reform, i hope this blog ends up on the CBC to inform voters the difference between FPTP and whatever alternative gets cooked up.

    <3 <3 <3

    AMS confidential, i love you. if i could marry both of you gals at once in a delicious, honey-drenched kinda-gay-but-not-quite threesome wedding, i'd be down like dinner.

  7. Maayan

    Loved the descriptions of FPTP and condorcet! If we’d had this a couple years ago, convincing council to adopt condorcet would have been a piece of cake.

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