Different uses for voting need different types of voting.

Median Voer Process for setting budgets

Voting Table and Cards

Hylland-Zeckhauser rule
The Tools Page links to many websites with free and low-cost election software and services.

The workshop using Tabletop Tallies has an easy way to adjust budgets.

(For secure election services, TrueBallot, Inc. helps labor unions, associations, Native American tribal organizations, homeowners associations and cooperatives, public entities, and other organizations.)

The following was for a budget workshop with 20 to 50 people.

You can make a table that is low cost, light weight, easy to store and move. Cut 2' by 4' boards from a 4' by 8' sheet of corrugated plastic such as Coroplast. Make columns 2' tall and 2 inches (5 cm) wide.

  Voting Cards - draft

  • Card templates may be downloaded for printing half inch, two-thirds inch or one inch squares. The large cards are much easier to handle and that's important because while voters grope to understand the dynamics of this voting system, they don't want to fumble with the mechanics too. But big cards need big tables or more tables. The Word files are zipped together with an Excel worksheet for printing a table's scale of budgets.
  • Each voter's cards need a distinctive letter so he can find and move them.
  • One card from each voter may be placed beside his name on a voter ID board.
  • The templates have cards for 50 voters with A through Z in upper-case and lower-case. (Q was omitted because it was confusing when underlined.) Pairs of letters or other symbols may be needed for more voters.
  • The letters on half the cards are underlined for use as weights. For positive card voting the underline can be disregarded or used to identify an additional voter. For distinguishing voters it is best to print the plain and underlined versions on different colors of paper.
  • If the cards are printed on assorted colors of "card-stock" paper, the voting table becomes a colorful mosaic. The templates have fancy borders around each card when opened in Word2000 and plain borders when opened in Word 6.0.
  • It is best to print both sides of the paper. Do test prints on plain paper to adjust the left and right margins so the letters align on front and back. For example, this Epson needs 0.24 left and 0.26 right margins instead of 0.25 and 0.25.
  • Professor Zeckhauser recommends giving each voter two or three times more cards than there are budget columns. This moves voters to place votes in a variety of sizes. For positive card voting the value of all cards must be close to but not more than the fraction of the budget waiting to be allocated -- so set the printed $ scale on each table accordingly.
  • Cutting the cards is tedious but a paper cutter helps. Slice between the rows across all but 2 or 4 columns. Then rotate the paper 90 degrees to slice between the columns. Cut the last columns into 2x2 squares. The last cards are cut most easily with scissors.
  • Fold up one corner to make the card easier to pick up.
  • Finally, put each set of cards in its own small zip-close bag.

More aspiring card makers could try for thick cards and then cards which hang together in squares and columns by jigsaw-puzzle shapes -- an apt symbol for this group process.

Voting Tables - draft

Several small tables can be better than a large one. Each shows items within a small range of costs. The table charting high-priced items may start at $100... rather than at zero. But the scale of inches to dollars (length to money) must be the same on every table used in a vote because the cards must have consistent value.

We've used plywood covered with dark-green plastic from a hardware or gardening store, and divided with string or ribbons into 8' columns each about 3 inches wide. That is wide enough for a 6 by 6 square of half-inch cards or a 4 by 4 square of two-thirds inch cards or a 3 by 3 square of one inch cards. Larger votes may be folded to fit the width available.

Dollar scales along each side help voters estimate each item's current median budget. The more departments, the wider the tables must be (at least 3 %2A number of columns %2A card size), and the more voters, the longer they must be (at least 1.5 %2A number of voters %2A card size for positive-card voting, more if negative cards are used).

A professional facilitator might want a special table top -- a sheet of plywood cut along a diagonal and rejoined on its 8' sides. The joint line in this trapezoid marks a medium-size budget. Budget levels are labeled along the 4' ends of the table. The plywood can also form a rectangle for voting on budgets that are all about the same size.

 ________            _________
|\       |           \       |\
| \      |            \      | \
|  \     |             \     |  \
|   \    |              \    |   \
|    \   |               \   |    \
|     \  |                \  |     \
|      \ |                 \ |      \
|_______\|                  \|_______\
0       $10         0      $10      $20


For secret ballots let voters drop their cards into jars or boxes. Then tally the cards on a table, a tic sheet or a computer. But the voters cannot see and respond to the rise and fall of each budget. So this secret ballot can serve only as an advisory poll which tells how many people want each budget to rise or fall and how intensely they want that change. But most voters feel a vote of 4 cards is 4 times as strong as a vote of 1 card if they cannot see the squares. A computer ballot allows secrecy and responsive interaction.

Voting also could be done with stickers on a wall, numbers on paper, or icons on a computer screen. (PoliticalSim has graphic ballots for some other rules but not yet for H-Z.) The table is the best way to let people gather around and talk while they place cards and watch the action. (Sounds like roulette doesn't it? It is a fun way to poll a meeting; but it is not random gambling.) If a record of voting is required, an overhead camera can periodically record the changing pattern.

Table Mk ii Notes

All budgets on a table must be about the same size. A huge budget must be split into two or more columns. Large and small budgets will have their own tables and cards, which may not transfer between tables. This limits voters' ability to optimize spending but is necessary to make table voting practical.

Table size in feet and inches: Blocks cut from a 2x4 are 1.5" cubed. The channels must be more than 1.5" for 2 sqrd votes: one block atop another and both turned 45(. Turned 45( (1.5")^2 = 2.25" 2.25"×2 = 4.5" sqrt(4.5") = 2.12"

Channel rails sliced from 1x4 boards are 0.75" wide. 2.12 block + 0.75 divider = 2.87" per column. That's 4 columns per foot; 16 per 4' wide plywood table. (A 2" border on each side keeps voters from bumping blocks off.)  Other project rules

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