Download the vote results here.

The system you just used to vote is called Instant Runoff Voting (IRV). This system is used to elect the Australian lower house, the Irish President, and the London Mayor. For more information on IRV take a look at my testimony before the Maryland Senate on a bill to implement IRV. Also see a paper comparing First-Past-the-Post voting and IRV.

The system we use throughout much of the United States to elect our office holders to all levels of office is called First Past the Post (FPTP). If we used that system in this vote to choose the Council holiday beneficiary the winner would be the mere plurality winner after one count.

If the Council chose to donate to two or more charities or charitable causes this holiday season we could have used a system called cumulative voting or, in sticking with the method of ranking, we could have used the proportional representation system called the Single Transferable Vote. For discussion of each of these take a look at at An Experience Worth Knowing in PDF. Also see papers on Approval Voting.

When you take a look at the vote results you will see the following... 19 voters participated. The first count was looking only at voters' first preferences. After the first count all options that received one or less votes were eliminated. All voters that cast their first preference for one of those options had their vote transferred to their second choice. If their second choice was eliminated the third choice was used, and so forth. This process continued -- eliminating the option which was placed last at each count and transferring votes until one option won with more than 50% of the vote. I encourage you to read the papers linked above for more information if you are interested in how IRV works.