Voting Systems Toolbox - Input Format

This section describes how to get the vote data into the program.

There are may ways to collect votes, so there are two different ways to specify the input (more details below):

For the current version, it is assumed that the information has been entered in a spreadsheet such as Excel that can save 'comma seperated value' files, although the information can be entered directly.

For example, a voter ranks their most to least favorite colours from the following colours:

 Blue  Green  Orange  Red  Violet  Yellow

Say a voter prefers Green, second choice is Red, third choice is Blue, and doesn't really care about the rest.

Rank ordering

In rank ordering, the vote is expressed in the order of the choices:

 Green  Red  Blue      

This gets a little cumbersome to enter, so every name can be replaced by a label (these can be more than one character):

 Blue  Green  Orange  Red  Violet  Yellow
 b  g  o  r  v  y

Thus the vote can be expressed as:

 g  r  b      

Candidate ordering

In most elections, the voter will have filled out some sort of form:

 Blue  Green  Orange  Red  Violet  Yellow
 3  1    2    

where a 1 means first preference, 2 means second preference, etc., so the vote can be expressed:

 3  1    2    

Vote input format

This is specified in terms of a spreadsheet - see next subsection for doing it as a file.

The first row is one of:

rank ordering
candidate ordering

to specify which ordering is used (the word ordering can be left off, as everything after the first word is ignored). It is most important to get this right, as otherwise the votes will be scrambled.

The second row is the word:


in one cell followed by the list of names, one per cell.

If rank ordering is used, the next line is the word


in one cell followed by the list of labels, one per cell. Do not use the string "0" consisting of the single digit zero as a label. If candidate ordering is used, omit this line.

Then each row represents one voter, with the some sort of voter identifier in the first cell, the only restriction being that it be unique per voter, followed by the vote in either rank ordering or candidate ordering, as specified on the first line.

Say that we have the voter above, called Voter_A, and another voter (Voter_B) who has the preference:

Red, Orange, Violet, Yellow

Putting it all together, these votes can be represented as (using the two ordering methods):

 NAME  Blue  Green  Orange  Red  Violet  Yellow
 LABEL  b  g  o  r  v  y
 Voter_A  g  r  b      
 Voter_B  r  o  v  y    


 NAME  Blue  Green  Orange  Red  Violet  Yellow
 Voter_A  3  1    2    
 Voter_B      2  1  3  4

Now simply save this as a ".csv" (comma separated value) file, and run the voting software on it.

File Format

This is simply like the spreadsheet, with the cells replaced by commas, so the above two examples would be as follows (filenames are in Italics):

rank order


candidate order

NOTE: this form was broken in version 0.3 (although the version with 0's to fill the gaps did work). It is fixed in 0.4 onwards.

The software can handle trailing commas, and also zero to fill the gaps, so either of the following would also work:

rank order


candidate order

Now go to the section on running the program to process this data.

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