Cambridge Civic Journal Forum

August 16, 2012

More Fun with Ballots

Filed under: 2011 Election,Cambridge,Central Square,elections — Tags: , — Robert Winters @ 9:45 am

More Fun with Ballots (June 23, 2012, updated Aug 16, 2012 with additional Central Sq. results)

I recently installed Cambridge’s municipal (PR) election tabulation software (ChoicePlusPro) on a new Windows 7 computer and thought I might run a few tests tonight during the Red Sox game just to see if everything was OK. Everything checked out, but you have to understand that when I get to playing around with ballot data, there’s no way I’m going to just run a standard test and shut down for the night. So…..

I decided to chop Cambridge up into neighborhood districts (imperfectly, along precinct lines) just to see who would be elected "mayor" in each of these districts using only the ballots from precincts within these artificial districts. I didn’t try to balance out the population, so the populations vary significantly. Here are the results:

East Cambridge (1-1, 1-2, 1-3): Toomey wins an absolute majority in the First Round, 880 out of 1638 ballots – no contest.

Area 4 Plus (2-1, 2-3, 3-1, 3-2, 3-3): Simmons (714) over Toomey (630) out of 1763 ballots.

Cambridgeport (2-2, 5-1, 5-2, 5-3): Davis (835) over Simmons (585) out of 1811 ballots.

Riverside (4-1, 4-3, 8-3): Reeves (333) over Cheung (271) out of 808 ballots (a very small district).

Mid-Cambridge (4-2, 6-1, 6-2, 6-3, 7-3): Cheung (897) over Seidel (695) out of 2165 ballots.

Avon Hill & Agassiz (7-1, 7-2, 8-1, 10-2): Cheung (813) over Davis (609) out of 1697 ballots.

West Cambridge (8-2, 9-1, 9-2, 9-3): Maher (1258) over Cheung (1132) out of 2839 ballots.

North Cambridge (10-1, 10-3, 11-1, 11-2, 11-3): Cheung (1411) over Maher (990) out of 3124 ballots.

That takes care of all 33 precincts in the city. You can also look at various other "districts" to determine who might prevail as "mayor" using the 2011 ballots from those precincts. For example:

Greater Central Square (2-1, 3-2, 3-3, 4-1, 4-2, 5-1, 5-2, 6-1): Simmons (1618) over Cheung (1498) out of 4083 ballots.

Narrower Central Square (3-3, 4-2, 5-1): Cheung (562) over Simmons (523) out of 1420 ballots.
Note: The top five in the 1st Round were (in order): Cheung, vanBeuzekom, Simmons, Davis, and Reeves.

It should also be mentioned that if the 2011 City Council ballots from all 33 precincts (citywide) were used to elect a "mayor", the result would be:

Citywide (all 33 precincts): Cheung (6827) over Simmons (4586) out of 15,845 valid ballots (15,971 total).

If anyone would like me to investigate any other "districts", just let me know. I can also provide the full transfer reports for each of these artificial contests. – Robert Winters

There was a request to run the ballots for the 25th Middlesex House District (Alice Wolf’s seat), so here are the last few rounds of those results (5,342 valid ballots, 5,374 total):

Candidate Round 13 Round 14 Round 15 Round 16
Cheung, Leland 117 1445 268 1713 336 2049 318 2367 ELECTED
Davis, Henrietta 107 1020 134 1154 234 1388 369 1757 DEFEATED
Decker, Marjorie 117 838 55 893 116 1009 0
Seidel, Sam 93 779 105 884 0 0
vanBeuzekom, Minka 29 705 0 0 0

Of these, only Marjorie Decker lives in the district. – RW


  1. Just in case it was not clear in my account, these artificial “elections” were done using the same ballot transfer process as Cambridge’s municipal elections. The only difference is that rather than electing a body of nine or six members, we are electing just one. This is also known as Instant Runoff Voting.

    Comment by Robert Winters — June 26, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

  2. Bob,

    Who would be the “mayor” of the 25th Middlesex Representative District – Alice Wolf’s seat – those 13 precincts in the middle of the city?



    Comment by bill schmidt — June 27, 2012 @ 5:24 pm

  3. I can run the Wolf precinct pretty easily, but I’ll have to use the old district since that’s the one in operation at the time of the municipal election when the ballots were cast. The precinct numbers are the same, but they have changed somewhat. I’ll run it now. It should be quick.

    Comment by Robert Winters — June 27, 2012 @ 6:07 pm

  4. The results for the 13 precincts in the 25th Middlesex House district are now posted above.

    Comment by Robert Winters — June 27, 2012 @ 6:40 pm

  5. So that would be 6 people who represent all 11 wards (just based on the “mayor” vote).

    We really need to go back to the Alderman system.

    Comment by Joe Aiello — August 16, 2012 @ 3:36 pm

  6. I can’t go along with the Alderman idea. In an at-large system like we have in Cambridge, it will usually be the case that a few candidates are very popular in several “districts,” e.g. Leland Cheung in 2011. If their votes were restricted to only one district, then other (weaker) candidates would prevail in the other districts.

    This is pretty much how it works in a system with district councillors (or alderman). For example, if Mayor Daley were seeking a district seat in Chicago, he would probably be able to win in several districts – beating other popular candidates in those districts. He can’t, so the less popular (but still relatively popular) candidates prevail.

    Comment by Robert Winters — August 16, 2012 @ 3:51 pm

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