Voting 101

Voting Resources

Cambridge’s Proportional Representation Voting & Quota System

Cambridge has a unique voting system, and it's important that Samuel earns your #1 vote. Please review the following information to further understand proportional representation.

Proportional Representation (PR) is the method by which voters in Cambridge elect members of the City Council and School Committee. It ensures minority representation with majority control. Any group of voters that number more than one-tenth of the total population can be sure of electing at least one member of a nine-member Council, but a majority group of voters can be sure of electing a majority of the Council. In a PR election you may vote for as many of the candidates listed on the ballot as you wish, but you must rank the candidates in order of preference. (Adapted from the Cambridge Election Commission)

Step 1

Voters indicate their preference with #1, #2, #3, etc. votes, and cast their ballots.


Step 2

The “first count” counts candidates’ #1 votes. Any candidates who reach the quota are declared elected. The quota is determined by dividing the total number of ballots cast by the number of positions to be elected (9) plus 1, and then adding 1 to the resulting dividend. For example: If 15,000 ballots are cast, the quota will be 1,501 (15,000 divided by 10, plus 1).

Votes counted; Candidates A, B, C, D elected

Step 3

Any votes the elected candidates receive beyond the quota are redistributed to those ballots’ next indicated preference (#2, #3, #4, etc. votes). Candidates who receive fewer than 50 votes in the first count are eliminated and their ballots are redistributed to the next indicated preference. As candidates reach the quota through the addition of redistributed votes, they are declared elected and no more votes are transferred to them.

Candidate L eliminated; Extra votes redistributed; Candidates E, F, G elected


Step 4

After each additional redistribution, the candidate with the lowest amount of #1 votes is eliminated and their ballots are redistributed to the next indicated preference.

Candidate K eliminated; Extra votes redistributed; Candidates H, I elected


Step 5

This process continues until all candidates have been eliminated except the 9 winners.

Candidate J eliminated; Election over