The Borda count is a family of positional voting rules which gives each candidate, for each ballot, a number of points corresponding to the number of candidates ranked lower. In the original variant, the lowest-ranked candidate gets 0 points, the next-lowest gets 1 point, etc., and the highest-ranked candidate gets n − 1 points, where n is the number of candidates. Once all votes have been counted, the option or candidate with the most points is the winner. The Borda count is intended to elect broadly acceptable options or candidates, rather than those preferred by a majority, and so is often described as a consensus-based voting system rather than a majoritarian one.
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The Borda count was developed independently several times, being first proposed in 1435 by Nicholas of Cusa (see History below), but is named for the 18th-century French mathematician and naval engineer Jean-Charles de Borda, who devised the system in 1770. It is currently used to elect two ethnic minority members of the National Assembly of Slovenia, in modified forms to determine which candidates are elected to the party list seats in Icelandic parliamentary elections, and for selecting presidential election candidates in Kiribati. A variant known as the Dowdall system is used to elect members of the Parliament of Nauru. Until the early 1970s, another variant was used in Finland to select individual candidates within party lists. It is also used throughout the world by various private organizations and competitions.
Several variants and related rules are:
- Modified Borda count - a variant used for decision-making.
- Quota Borda system - a variant used to attain proportional representation in multiwinner voting.
- Score voting - a system in which voters can assign any score to any candidate, not just a list of pre-specified scores 0, 1, ..., n − 1.