Get hands on with STV at Monday’s Making Sense of Elections workshop #ImagineBelfast (updated with result)

Mock STV count dessert ballot paperThe Imagine Festival of Ideas and Politics begins on Monday (14 March) and runs through until Sunday 20 March. As previewed a few weeks ago, the theme of the second year of this festival is to Start Making Sense.

In conjunction with Stratagem, I’m running the first event at 10am tomorrow in The Duncairn Centre for Culture and Arts – Making Sense of Elections. It’s a hands on interactive workshop that aims to demystify the election process and will take participants behind the scenes to allow them to staff a polling station before moving to run the count centre to elect some mouth-watering candidate desserts using PR-STV.

  • The Cream Party are fielding two sugary candidates – Pavlova and Tiramisu – but have they been damaged by recent news stories about the level of sugar in our diet?
  • The seasonal Christmas Pudding has a fight on its hands to win in a March election!
  • Local favourite Apple Tart, the sole candidate for the Pastry Party, is apparently confident of a large slice of the first preference vote.
  • And outsider Cheese Board is running as an Independent, a cross-community alternative to the messy world of Desserts, offering new politics for the modern dinner table.

Of the ten candidates, who will get their just desserts?

Imagine Belfast 14 March programmeAt the end of two hours, participants will have cast their ballots for the ten desserts, verified them, counted them, and declared the six winning candidates in our demonstration of the Single Transferable Vote ahead of May’s Assembly election.

If you don’t know your transfers from your exclusions, or remain quizzical about quotas and why the process seems to take so long, book one of the remaining spaces and come along in the morning. We can promise a multi-stage count, arguments over doubtful ballots and maybe even a speech from a winner or two.

(The event can be repeated, so if your organisation would like its staff or stakeholders to get a grip with the wonder of STV and understand the process that elects our MLAs, councillors and MEPs, please do get in touch.)

There are lots more thought-provoking and enlightening events and activities in the full festival programme. And don’t forget FactCheckNI’s digital fact checking contest on Friday night at 5.30pm in Oh Yeah Music Centre followed by the Great Big Politics Pub Quiz at 7.45pm in the Black Box.

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Poll clerksUpdate – With turnout of 63.33%, 85 valid votes, 10 invalid votes, and a quota of 13, the following first preference votes were recorded.

Apple Tart (Pastry Party) 15
Banoffee (Fruit Party) 9
Cheese board (Independent) 11
Cheesecake (Egg Party) 11
Christmas Pudding (Fruit Party) 2
Crème brûlée (Egg Party) 13
Fruit Salad (Fruit Party) 2
Pavlova (Cream Party) 12
Tiramisu (Cream Party) 7
Dropping ballot in boxTrifle( Fruit Party) 3

  • Apple Tart and Crème brûlée were deemed elected in Stage 1.
  • Apple Tart’s surplus was transferred in Stage 2 (transfer value 0.13) but no further candidate was deemed elected.
  • Christmas Pudding was excluded in Stage 3 but no further candidate was deemed elected.
  • Trifle and Fruit Salad were excluded together in Stage 4 which put Pavlova over the quota.
  • In Stage 5, Cheese Board, Cheesecake and Banoffee were deemed elected under the quota, but above the [total active vote / one more than the number of unfilled seats]. (In layperson’s terms you could also understand that the transfer of Pavlova’s slim surplus was deferred as it was too small to affect the order of the bottom two continuing candidates, which would have led to the exclusion of bottom candidate Tiramisu, leaving only three continuing candidates which would logically be elected.)