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How many ways can you look at a proportion?: cross-community vote transfers in Northern Ireland after the Belfast Agreement

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The single transferable vote is a method of election that allows voters to mark candidates in order of preference. Votes that are not required to elect a candidate are passed to the next candidate in the voter's order of preference. Results of this kind of election give us data about the degree to which voters of a given persuasion are willing to pass their vote to a candidate of a different persuasion. Measures of voters’ willingness to pass a vote to a candidate of a different persuasion are of particular interest in places such as Northern Ireland, where communities differ by religion and national aspiration, and agreed new political institutions are based on cross-community power-sharing. How we quantify this voting data may depend on the questions that we want to answer, of course. But, to understand changes in how the voter orders her or his preference, one may need to ask several questions, and to quantify the results of the election in more than one way.

Keywords: Median difference; Pooling; Proportional representation; Proportions; Voting patterns

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Quintiles Ireland, Dublin, Republic of Ireland 2: Dublin City University, Republic of Ireland 3: University College Dublin, Republic of Ireland

Publication date: January 1, 2010


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