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Mathematics LibreTexts

2.9: What’s Wrong with Borda Count?

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    You might have already noticed one potential flaw of the Borda Count from the previous example. In that example, Seattle had a majority of first-choice votes, yet lost the election! This seems odd, and prompts our next fairness criterion:

    Majority Criterion

    If a choice has a majority of first-place votes, that choice should be the winner.

    The election from Example 8 using the Borda Count violates the Majority Criterion. Notice also that this automatically means that the Condorcet Criterion will also be violated, as Seattle would have been preferred by 51% of voters in any head-to-head comparison.

    Borda count is sometimes described as a consensus-based voting system, since it can sometimes choose a more broadly acceptable option over the one with majority support. In the example above, Tacoma is probably the best compromise location. This is a different approach than plurality and instant runoff voting that focus on first-choice votes; Borda Count considers every voter’s entire ranking to determine the outcome.

    Because of this consensus behavior, Borda Count, or some variation of it, is commonly used in awarding sports awards. Variations are used to determine the Most Valuable Player in baseball, to rank teams in NCAA sports, and to award the Heisman trophy.

    2.9: What’s Wrong with Borda Count? is shared under a CC BY-SA 3.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by David Lippman via source content that was edited to conform to the style and standards of the LibreTexts platform; a detailed edit history is available upon request.