Tactical voting

Consider this hypothetical election: there are 100 blue voters and 100 red voters. There are 6 candidates, 4 of which are blue and 2 are red. Each voter is allowed to vote for 3 candidates. If all 100 red voters vote for the 2 red candidates and no other, the each red candidate will receive 100 votes. If the 100 blue voters each cast 3 votes, but distribute them equally among the 4 blue candidates, each blue candidate will receive 75 votes. The 2 red candidate will be elected, along with 1 blue candidate. The red voters, who cast only 200 votes, nevertheless win an election against blue voters who cast 300 votes.

The conditions for this tactic to succeed are narrow. If there were only 1 red candidate, he would receive 100 votes and be elected, but he would then be out-voted by the two blue winners. If there were 3 red and 3 blue candidates, and each voter allowed to vote for 3, there would be no advantage in concentrating the votes. One side must have more acceptable candidates than the number of allowed votes.

The only case where this might be useful on our ballot is the race for the governing board of Tempe Union High School District. Because there are three seats open and four acknowledged (follow the time line to Aug 29) left-wing candidates — Hodge, James, Montero, and Reesor — the vote for them may be scattered. Conservatives, if they can agree on three candidates, may win by concentrating their votes on those three.