How will they count the votes under BC-STV?

One of the most common concerns or questions you hear when it comes to BC-STV is how the votes are counted and whether the extra math needed will make it take much longer.

Well, I found this great flow chart from the NEUTRAL Referendum Information Office that shows the process for calculating votes that will be used.

As you will see, it is quite simple and straightforward…

(Click to the original PDF)

BC-STV ballot flow chart

Will it take longer to count than our current system? Yes, because before any voter preferences can be taken into account and calculated (and potentially transferred) all the votes must be counted so that the winning threshold is known and a transfer value can be determined for each candidate.

However, that doesn’t actually answer the question on how the ballots themselves will be counted.

So I asked my wife, who volunteered in the 2006(?) Federal Election how the volunteers actually counted the ballots.

This was her answer:

#1: one person (my wife) takes the ballot out of the box
#2: she calls out the choice (“1 vote for George Burns”)
#3: A “ticker” tallies the vote on a sheet of paper.
#4: They add up the ticks (votes), validate and sign for the ballot box (at each table) and pass the results to the elections officials.

My hunch is that under a BC-STV system it would be my wife that would take the brunt of the hit. 🙂
The count, I think, would look like this:
#1: one person (my wife) takes the ballot out of the box
#2: she calls out the 1st preference (“1st preference vote for George Burns”)
#3: A “ticker” tallies the preferences on a sheet of paper.
#4: if there is a 2nd preference, she calls out the 2nd preference (“2nd preference vote for Christina Anderson”)…
#5: A “ticker” tallies the preference on a separate sheet of paper…
#7: The tallying continues for the ballot until there are no more preferences specified on the ballot.
#8: They add up the ticks (votes) for each preference, validate and sign for the ballot box (at each table) and pass the results to the elections officials.

So while it will take longer because each ballot will be scrutinized for a little longer per-ballot. The real difference in time would not be enormous.