The Beauty of the Single Shot

14 Aug 2018 10:19 am
Posted by: Krista

Holy hell, there are a lot of crazy primaries going on right now. Without commenting on any specific primaries, I want to talk to you all about the beauty of the single shot for multi-seat races*. I know, I know, you’re rule followers at heart, so when it says Vote for 2, you vote for two. But here’s the thing… you don’t have to!

(*This is also great to know for the General election where you can single shot the Democrat and liberate a seat in a Republican district–I’m looking at you, LD17!)

I was talking to a lovely mom last week about the drama in one of the LDs, and she told me who she liked and how she hoped her candidate would win one of the House seats.

ME: (nodding) Yeah, I love her, too… You can always give her a single shot.
OTHER MOM: Wait, what’s that?
ME: It’s like giving her two votes.
OTHER MOM: Oh… (long pause) I wish I’d known about that before I turned in my ballot. I would’ve done that.
ME: ?!@?!

And then there was that time when I was meeting with a candidate who said she knew about the single shot strategy but never understood how it worked… ARGH!

Okay, here’s the lowdown. The single shot strategy works because it adds a vote to the candidate you like without adding a vote to another candidate.

Still don’t get it? Here’s an example… we have three candidates running for two House seats in District 31. Because there are two seats, each voter has UP TO two votes. There are three voters, holding up to six votes total. The candidates are Smith, Jones, and Doe.

Voter A remembers seeing a sign for Jones in the neighbor’s yard, and he’s mad at the neighbor for leaving his trash bin on the street for the last two days, so he votes for Smith and Doe.
Current vote tally: Smith = 1; Jones = 0; Doe = 1.

Voter B can’t remember who the candidates are and randomly votes for the first two on the ballot. On Voter B’s ballot, the first two candidates listed are Smith and Jones.
Current vote tally: Smith = 2; Jones = 1; Doe = 1.

Voter C really loves Jones, but Jones and Doe are running as a slate, so Voter C votes for both of them.
Current vote tally: Smith = 2; Jones = 2; Doe = 2.
Total votes: 6
Winners: TIED

And we have a three way tie, it goes to a recount, there’s no change, and it goes to whatever tie-breaking method Arizona has, if any, probably a game of Rock, Paper, Scissors.

But remember Voter C, who really loved Jones? What if Voter C had given Jones a single shot?

New vote tally: Smith = 2; Jones = 2; Doe =1.
Total votes: 5
Winners: Smith and Jones

See? The single shot made all the difference. Smith and Jones win, there’s no recount, there’s no tie-breaking game of Pin the Tail on the Donkey or whatever Arizona does to break a tie in a legislative race. (If you know what it is, feel free to tell me. I can’t be bothered to look it up.)

Now, multiply that by the numbers of actual voters, say 90,000 voters for the whole district and UP TO 180,000 votes. You get something like this:

30,000 voters cast votes like Voter A (Smith and Doe).
Current vote tally: Smith = 30,000; Jones = 0; Doe = 30,000.

30,000 voters cast votes like Voter B (Smith and Jones).
Current vote tally: Smith = 60,000; Jones = 30,000; Doe = 30,000.

30,000 voters cast votes like Voter C (single shot Jones).
Current vote tally: Smith = 60,000; Jones = 60,000; Doe = 30,000.
Total votes: 150,000
Winners: Smith and Jones

And that, my friends, is the beauty of the single shot.


You can find Krista Pacion on Twitter or Instagram as @kristabellerina. You can also catch up with her on

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