A voting system named for French physicist Jean-Charles de Borda, who proposed it in 1770. In a Borda count election, voters rank candidates in order of preference, and a number is assigned based on their ranking. For instance, if four candidates are running, then a voter's first choice is given a score of four, their second choice a score of three, and so on. After the voting ends, each candidate's scores are added and the winner is the one with the highest score.

The biggest problem with the Borda count method of voting was pointed out by de Borda himself: "My system is only for honest men." For instance, suppose four candidates are running for office, Candidate A and B from the major parties and two independent candidates C and D. Suppose hard-line supporters of Candidate A select the following ranking:

  • Candidate A (4 pts.)
  • Candidate C (3 pts.)
  • Candidate D (2 pts.)
  • Candidate B (1 pt.)

At the same time, an equal number of supporters for Candidate B then do a similar thing for their candidate:

  • Candidate B (4 pts.)
  • Candidate C (3 pts.)
  • Candidate D (2 pts.)
  • Candidate A (1 pt.)

Both groups are attempting to tip the voting scores against the major opposition, but the surprise result is that C wins the highest score by coming in consistently second.

Contrast with approval voting, another voting system designed to take third parties into account.

Same as: ordinal ballot

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