This article by John Baker originally appeared on the de Borda Institute’s website.
On 2 September, 2013, Dublin City Council voted to name the newest bridge over the River Liffey the Rosie Hackett Bridge. What makes this a landmark decision is that it seems to have been the first authoritative decision taken by a public body in Ireland – and perhaps even in Europe – to have used the voting procedure known as the Borda Count, referred to in the Council’s proceedings as a Preferendum (Dublin City Council 2013a, item 24). This report summarises the process, analyses the results, and discusses some of the technical issues that arise with this method of voting. It concludes that the procedure was well suited to the task in hand.
The process for naming the bridge was referred to the Commemorative Naming Committee chaired by Councillor Dermot Lacey. According to Lacey (personal communication), the committee agreed from the start that it would use an open, participatory process to find a name, and invited submissions from the public. In the course of the process, it received thousands of items of correspondence, including official applications for 85 names. This initial list was narrowed down to about thirty through a consensual process within the committee, starting by eliminating names of people who were still alive or had died less than twenty years earlier, as well as figures who had already been honoured by a public naming. The resulting list was then further reduced by discussion within the committee, leading in stages to a list of seventeen and then ten (Dublin City Council 2013b).
The list of ten was reduced within the committee to a shortlist of five, using a version of the Borda Count vote among the six members in attendance. The final shortlist was put to the full council, where all fifty-one members participated in a Borda Count vote. Details of these votes are given below.