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ACS Election Procedure

March 15, 2010 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 88, Issue 11

In the 2009 ACS election for directors-at-large, five candidates ran for two positions (C&EN, Nov. 23, 2009, page 7). Directors-at-large are selected by councilors, with each councilor having two votes. A total of 700 votes were cast; vote tallies are shown along with the maximum proportion of votes each candidate could have received.

Dennis Chamot 221 ≤ 63.1%Valerie Kuck 157 ≤ 44.9%Howard Peters 153 ≤ 43.7%H. N. Cheng 113 ≤ 32.3%Ray Dickie 56 ≤ 16.0%

The number of councilors voting was not reported. If each councilor voted for two candidates, there would have been 350 voters. If some councilors voted for only one candidate there would have been more than 350 voters. Thus, one needs to divide the number of votes each candidate received by a number greater than or equal to 350 to determine the percent of voters voting for that candidate. According to current bylaws, the two candidates (Chamot and Kuck) who received the most votes were elected (plurality). Only Chamot could have been elected by a majority (greater than 50%) of the voters. Kuck was not favored by a majority of the voters, receiving less than or equal to 44.9% of the votes cast.

A method is proposed to carry out elections in which two or more candidates are elected with each being elected by a majority of the voters. The method (multiple choice or instant run-off) involves voters prioritizing their votes, in the current case, specifying first through fifth choices.

The method is somewhat more complicated than the simple run-off method when only one candidate is elected, which is the current way ACS presidents-elect and district directors are elected if there are more than two candidates for that position. The 2009 election in which Nancy Jackson was elected president-elect from three candidates is an example of this procedure.

The procedure in outline form for the election of two candidates under discussion here is as follows: The first director-at-large is elected by a majority in exactly the same way a single candidate would be elected from five candidates. Then all the votes for the candidate just elected are removed from the voting priority list of each voter. The second successful candidate is then determined in exactly the same manner as the first using the new prioritized list of each voter. Thus, both candidates are elected by a majority. If more than two candidates are to be elected, the preceding procedure is repeated until the required number of candidates has been elected, each by a majority of the voters.

If one believes in election by majorities, ACS elections procedures should be changed.

Wendell L. Dilling
Midland, Mich.



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