About us


A blog: " De Borda abroad."  From Belfast to Beijing and beyond... and back. Starting in Vienna with the TEDx talk, I go by bus and/or train for more debates in Belgrade, Sarajevo, Istanbul, Tbilisi, Yerevan and Tehran, before flying - sorry about that - to Urumqi in Xīnjiāng, followed by more debates in Beijing, Tianjin, Hong Kong and Taiwan... but not in Pyongyang. Then back via Mongolia (where I was an election observer last year) and Moscow (where I worked in the '80s).

I have my little fold-up Brompton with me - surely the best way of exploring any new city! So I fly hardly at all; I go by train, boat or bus if possible, and then cycle wherever in each new venue; and all with just one plastic water bottle... or that was the intention!

The story is on:  https://debordaabroad.wordpress.com/2017/09/07/de-borda-abroad/


Inclusive voting app 



(Currently under re-construction.)


The Hospital for Incurable Protestants

The Mémoire of a Collapsed Catholic

 This is the story of a pacifist in a conflict zone, in Northern Ireland and the Balkans.  Only in e-format, but only £5.15.  Available from Amazon.



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The de Borda Institute aims to promote the use of inclusive voting procedures on all contentious questions of social choice.

This applies specifically to decision-making, be it for the electorate in regional/national polls, for their elected representatives in councils and parliaments, for members of a local community group, for members of a company board, for members of a co-operative, and so on.




The director alongside the statue of Jean-Charles de Borda, capitaine et savant, in l’École Navale in Brest, 24.9.2010. Photo by Gwenaelle Bichelot. 

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Won by One

Welcome to the home page of the de Borda Institute, a Northern Ireland-based international organisation (an NGO) which aims to promote the use of inclusive voting procedures on all contentious questions of social choice. For more information use the menu options above or feel free to contact the organisation's headquarters. If you want to check the meaning of any of the terms used, then by all means have a look at this glossary.

As shown in these attachments, there are many voting procedures for use in decision-making and even more electoral systems.  This is because, in decision-making, there is usually only one outcome; but with some electoral systems, as in any proportional ones, there can be several winners.  Sometimes, for any one voters' profile - that is, the set of all their preferences - the outcome of any count may well depend on the voting procedure used.  In this very simple example of a few voters voting on just four options, and in these two hypothetical examples on five, (word document) or (power-point) in which a few cast their preferences on five options, the profiles are analysed according to different methodologies, and the winner could be any one of all the options.  Yet all of these methodologies are called democratic!  Extraordinary!

« 2019-11 The Commons & 'no' to compromise | Main | 2019-8 Indicative voting in the Irish Times »

2019-10 Binary Votes are Orwellian


In 2003, the late Robin Cook tried to persuade the House to adopt preference voting, in vain, for “this would have required the technological development of a pencil and a piece of paper,” he said, “far too big a step for our parliament and its medieval procedures.” 

His efforts were prompted by a series of majority votes (on Lords reform) – which Lord Desai had warned would be “daft,” (Hansard, 22.1.2003).  They were indeed inconclusive.

So, Brexit.  At least, and at last, the House is now to have a paper vote.  (What about an e-vote?)  But the proposed indicative vote is not preferential.  It is still a number of majority votes.  So it is still binary, it is still “daft.”

Binary voting is Orwelllian: ‘this’ option good, ‘that/those’ option(s) bad.  In a six-option indicative vote on options A, B, C, D, E and F, if those who vote ‘yes’ to their 1st preference, say, option E also vote ‘yes’ for their 2nd preference option C, they will reduce the chances of their favourite, E.  So they probably vote ‘yes’ for E only, and ‘no’ to C and to all the others.   As if in their opinion, all the options which are not E are all equally bad.  Which cannot be true.  So the individual votes are not accurate representations of those MPs’ opinions; so the analysis of those votes, the collective will of all the MPs will also be inaccurate.  Binary voting in an indicative vote in a multi-option debate is, yes, “daft.”

A preferential points system is needed.  MPs cast their preferences for as many options as they wish.  Their 2nd preferences need not detract from their 1st preferences.  Those who cast four preferences give these options 4-3-2-1 points; those who vote for just one give their favourite 1 point; and those who cast all six preferences exercise 6-5-4-3-2-1 points.  The difference is always 1 point.  And, as Jean-Charles de Borda said of his invention, it “is only for honest” voters. 

“When there are more than two” options, a ranking system is “the best interpretation of majority rule,” (Oxford Concise Dictionary of Politics, Iain McLean, 2003, p 139).

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