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The not-so-easy-to-understand voting process

British Columbia Liberal leadership candidates Christy Clark, from left, George Abbott, Kevin Falcon and Mike de Jong look on during a debate at the B.C. Liberal Party Convention in Vancouver, B.C., on Saturday February 12, 2011.

Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press/Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press

Explaining how the province's next premier will be decided is not for the faint of heart.

The Liberals' complex process has been likened to the 6/49 lottery, a round of poker and an abacus on steroids. Whatever the comparison, Saturday's leadership ballot has certainly never been tried in Canadian politics before.

Here's the deal in a nutshell.

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Voting takes place by phone or by computer from 5 a.m. to 5 p.m.

There are four candidates on the preferential ballot. Members vote only once. They are required to select a first choice for leader, a second choice and, if they desire, a third choice.

Each of the 85 ridings is worth 100 points, regardless of membership numbers. The winner must chalk up at least 4,251 of the 8,500 points available.

Points are accumulated by the percentage of votes a candidate wins in each riding. Forty per cent of the vote in a riding counts for 40 points, and so on.

If no one amasses a majority of points on the first round of counting, the candidate with the lowest total is dropped, and his or her voters' second preferences are thrown into the mix as first choices. The ballots are then processed again.

Should there be no majority on the second tabulation, the procedure is repeated, with another candidate eliminated, and second choices from his or her supporters added to the totals of the two remaining contenders, along with the third choices of the first candidate forced off the ballot.

At 6:10, Liberal organizers say they will announce whether the vote is going to a second round of counting, at 6:20 whether a third count is needed. The final proclamation of a winner is set for 6:30 Saturday night, 30 minutes before the Vancouver Canucks home game against the Boston Bruins.

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Duck soup.

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