The Matrix Vote

The matrix vote is a voting technique involving a group designating particular team roles in a proportional government' it is designed to ensure fair and equitable power-sharing, particularly in situations characterized by conflict.

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Problems and Purpose

The matrix vote is a voting procedure by which many (or a few) can choose a team or executive, such that every person thus elected will be the one considered most suitable to that posting, while collectively, the executive is, in effect, a proportional, all-party, power-sharing, government of national unity.

The aim is to ensure power is shared in a fair and equitable manner. The matrix vote is ideally suited to conflict situations, as currently in Syria and Ukraine, for example. 

Origins and Development

A prototype was first put to the test at a public meeting in Belfast in 1986. More refined versions have been subject to further exercises, not only in Ireland but also, for example, in China.

How it Works

Any group of individuals could use this methodology, to choose a team, to elect an executive committee at an AGM, to choose an all-party coalition government, to choose a fair selection of parliamentary committee chairpersons, and so on.

The ballot paper is tabular, so the degree of choice for every voter is enormous. This encourages dialogue prior to the vote.

Analysis and Lessons Learned

Consensus voting procedures - the Modified Borda Count, MBC, in decision-making, the Quota Borda System, QBS, in elections, and the matrix vote in governance - can be the very catalysts of consensus; hence the generic name.

As implied above, numerous analyses have been conducted, in Belfast, Berlin, Dublin and Tianjin.

See Also

The de Borda Institute 


External Links d-it-only-took-90-minutes-1.2622796 


The matrix vote is the invention of the author of this entry, Peter Emerson, but it is based on the work of the late Professor Sir Michael Dummett, who in 1997 devised QBS, which in turn depolys the Borda Count, BC, of Jean-Charles de Borda, (1784) or, to be fair, Nicholas Cusanus (1435).

Lead Image: Kevin Smart/Irish Times