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PoliticalSim Guide
for First-Time Users

electoral voting systems simulation

    Level Zero

  • Uncompress the download file.(1)
  • Open the file called Poli_Sim.xlm or PoliticalSim.xls.
  • Pull down the Elect menu to Cast Ballots.
  • On the Elect menu, choose Tally Votes and click OK.
  • View the results of your first Political Sim!

(1) Most versions can decompress themselves when you open the download file. Versions with a name that ends in “.zip” need a program such as WinZip or SuffIt.

Commands to Note

Level 1) Organize Menu

Get Cities command
Try the Checkerboard city for its evenly spaced voters. This will make it easy to see the results of each voting rule. Click a “✓” in the “Get Voters” box.
Cast Ballots and Tally Votes again to see the results.
Get Cities window

Get Cities window


Level 2) Create Parties

1) Register Voters menu

Do not put a “✓” in Redistribute. This will let you keep the voters in the checkerboard pattern while you change the percentages in each party faction.

For clairity, do not check Mix Factions Together.

On the right of this “dialog box” are 5 rows with 3 boxes in each row. The first column is for a party's name; the second is for its “Z level”, explained below; and the third is for its percentage of voters.

Try putting most voters, 60% to 80%, in the Blue party and make their Z=0. Then put the other voters in the Green party and make their Z=9. These Z levels make all Blue voters rank all Blue candidates above all Green candidates.*

* This works because the map is 6 units wide and 6 tall. It is less than 9 units from corner to corner. So the distance between Z=0 and Z=9 puts the Green candidates further from the Blue voters than each of the Blue candidates.

Register Voters Window

The X and Y dimensions are the width and height of the Map page on your computer screen. The Z dimension goes in and out from your screen and is shown only by the color of the voter or candidate. If you set parties at different Z levels and forget it, you will wonder why a candidate loses despite being close to many voters on the X-Y screen.


2) Nominate Candidates: A party's candidates ought to have the same Z level as its voters.

You can move each candidate by hand: Hold down the Control key and slowly click twice on a candidate, then move it along the X or Y dimension. You can also move candidates by directly changing their (X, Y, Z) numbers on the Register page. To update the map, hold the control key as you tap the = (equal sign) key.

Get Cities window
Distribute Candidatees window

Level 3) Test a New Constitution

Set Voting Rules: Now your're becoming a master of political designs. Select a voting rule from the list of proportional, semi-proportional and winner-take-all rules. Then set your rule's quota if needed.
Pick Voting Rule


Elect Menu

1) Cast Ballots

2) Watch Returns

The option to Show STV Transfers is worth watching when running a tally of Single Transferable Vote or the Loring Ensemble Rule.

Notice: Are winners all from 1 party? What is the pattern elected by the current voting rule: central, proportional fair shares, one-sided or erratic?

Single Transferable Vote, Simple Quota, 5 Seats
Here's a simple example with all voters and candidates at the same Z level in the Checkerboard City.

PoliticalSim can tally voting rules which require single-member districts but they do not work well in games. They require maps that show which district each voter and candidate is in by the shape of his or her symbol.

PoliticalSim can create new elections automatically, mesmerizing like a screen saver, we call it the “Lava Lamp” mode. To start it, select Run Research on the Organize menu and step through the dialog boxes. When you get to “News Coverage”, set the Number of Elections at 99 (or less if you want) and set “Record Results to Column” 0 (zero or blank). Although this mode was built for statistical research, you don't want to create dozens of statistical files while running it for amusement.