April 3, 2017

On October 24, 2016, Amherst College launched a process to select an official mascot. After 2,046 suggestions and 9,295 votes, we are the Amherst College Mammoths. You thought they were extinct? Think again. (Images courtesy of Amherst’s Beneski Museum of Natural History.) Audio captioned version

In instant-runoff voting, each voter ranks the list of choices in order of preference. The mechanics of the process are the same regardless of how many choices the voter ranks and how many are left unranked. In the mascot voting, voters could rank as many or as few choices as they wished. 

In the first round, the first choice of each voter is counted and used to order the five choices. Once all the first-choice votes are counted, if one choice holds a majority, that choice wins. If not, the choice that holds the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated. 

Ballots for the eliminated choice are reviewed and redistributed to one of the remaining choices based on the next preference on each ballot. The process repeats until one choice achieves a majority of votes. 

In the voting for the official Amherst College mascot, 9,295 alumni, students, faculty and staff cast a ballot during the election (March 20-31, 2017). Of these ballots, 191 ballots were cast without a first choice, leaving 9,104 ballots with a first choice.

Of those 9,104 ballots, “wolves” received the fewest first-choice votes (912). Those 912 ballots were then redistributed to the next choice. Of those 912 ballots, 53 did not indicate any further choice, leaving 9,051 ballots.

Of those 9,051 ballots, “fighting poets” received the fewest votes (1,881). Those 1,881 ballots were then redistributed. Of those 1,881 ballots, 170 did not indicate any further choice, leaving 8,881 ballots.

Of those 8,881 ballots, “valley hawks” received the fewest votes (2,756). Those 2,756 ballots were redistributed. Of those 2,756, 391 ballots did not indicate any further choice, leaving 8,490 ballots.

Of those 8,490 ballots, “purple & white” received 4,134 (48.69%) votes after redistribution versus the 4,356 (51.31%) votes received by “mammoths.” With the majority of 51.31% of the votes, ”mammoths” was elected the winning mascot. 

Learn more about the verified results of the election.