Multi-Voting Math (or N/3)

Multi-Voting, also known as N/3 multi-voting, N/3 voting, dot-voting and sometimes mistakenly thought to be identical to nominal group technique, is a technique used by small groups to quickly select a subset from a broader set of options. This democratic approach allows team member to cast a finite number of votes, with few restrictions (e.g., individuals can’t “plump” all of their votes on one single candidate), for their options of choice. Ultimately, the process yields a rank order. Some options, the ones with zero or few(er) votes are de-selected, so that the team’s attention can be focused on the surviving options. Multi-voting can be done iteratively to further winnow down the options.

Most multi-voting math is reflected in the “N/3” moniker, which represents the formula for determining the number of votes each team member is allocated. This number is purposely less than the number of total candidates. The math follows:    

multivoting Some considerations:

  • If the number of calculated votes gets too large, for example 20 or more, then it may be prudent to artificially limit the total. Voting (and tabulating) can become unwieldy when such a large number of votes are extended against the number of voting team members.
  • Good N/3 math does not eliminate the need for good selection criteria and rigorous, critical discussion before voting. And remember the N/3 technique is about (rough) prioritization and reduction of the candidate population, it is not a magical means of picking a “winner.”

There are 2 Comments

Dave's picture

To clarify, the actual number of voting "people" has no bearing on this math - it is simply a function of the number of valid ideas that have been generated and are to be voted on, correct? And the logic in your example to dismiss any idea with < 4 votes is based on what?

MarkRHamel's picture

Hi Dave,

Thanks for the comment. You are correct, the number of voters has no bearing on this math. The idea of dismissing candidates with less than a certain number of votes is a rule of thumb. Of course, folks have different size thumbs. Here is a resource that reflects some guidance (page 4) - As you will see, I rounded up from the suggested 3 to 4 votes. I don't think that would be reckless.

Best regards,