“Don’t let your future rest in the votes of 51% of 30% of the registered voters!”

Friend of a friend said this in a somewhat irrelevant-to-me context. But I’m working on a project at work that revolves around these sorts of numbers and let me tell you how hard these concepts are to put into sentences. My project actually adds another number in there:

I’m talking about percentages of yes votes cast by the portion of the 51% of 30% of registered voters who bothered to cast a vote on a particular ballot line.

heatherstonerDid I express that well enough for you to picture what I’m talking about? Probably not.

Say you have 1000 people eligible to vote at all. And only 300 of them are registered. And only 150 of them vote at all. And then you have a really long ballot, and the relevant ballot line is about 2/3 of the way through the ballot, at which point fewer than half of the people who started to fill in the ballot continue filling in the ballot. In order to succeed, the candidate on that ballot line needs a 60% yes vote of the votes cast on that line.  So we’ve got about 75 people filling in the ballot, still, at that point. So you need 45 voters to cast a “yes” vote on that line for the candidate on that ballot line to win.

45 people out of the 1000 eligible to vote. Does that strike you as a vote of real confidence? And this is your problem: how to make the yes votes on this line reflect a true confidence that the person on that ballot line is doing a good job.

No imagine that the ballot issue at question is somewhat esoteric. It’s not difficult to understand what “doing a good job” means; it just requires some research and a little learning that what you may think it the right metric of correct is not actually how you measure correct in this case.

How you would you make this into a real vote of confidence? How would you even explain the problem?



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