One former member of the panel said the new Archbishop was being chosen by a process of elimination. Once a number of candidates have been chosen, they are ranked in order of preference by members in a blind vote. The name with the least votes drops out. The panel then votes again, and again, until one man has the 11 votes necessary for a two-thirds majority. – The Sunday Telegraph
In brief, the Crown Nominations Committee uses reverse rank elimination and on the last elimination a two-thirds majority (11 of the 16 members).
This method is guaranteed to work in the sense that it produces a final candidate who receives 50% or more of the vote. An exception to the guarantee: it could stall if all candidates were tied. Reports are that Bishop Welby was won the final elimination and won it with the required two thirds majority.
The CNC is required, however, to produce two ranked candidates. By convention the Prime Minister selects the top ranked candidate who is then appointed by the Queen.
Reports are that the CNC has not been able to produce a second candidate. What does this tell us?
Let’s presume it uses the same reverse-rank elimination process to select the second candidate. The process can fail in two ways, as mentioned above:
(1) You reach an elimination round in which all candidates are tied and none are eliminated. A re-vote could be taken. As long as voters stick by their rankings nothing happens.
(2) You reach the final elimination with two candidates but neither musters a two-thirds majority. A re-vote could taken. As long as voters stick by their rankings nothing happens.
The second is the more likely. Indeed, it is easy to imagine when there are two evenly divided camps each with their own favored candidate.
In the past the CNC was divided the lines of Anglo-Catholic and evangelical lines. And yet the process produced candidates. Specifically it produced a pattern of alternating between Anglo-Catholic and evangelical Archbishops. That could be the result of an agreement to take turns giving a two thirds majority.
The CNC is divided along other lines now and it appears that agreement now longer is viable, and another one has not been worked out short of locking them in a room until the produce a result.
What does it mean when you read that this bishop or that archbishop is in disfavor with many of the members of the CNC? In the context of reverse elimination it could mean that the candidate is eliminated in an early round. It could even mean that voters are not giving their true ranking and rank a candidate low to increase the chance they are eliminated early and their preferred candidate’s chances improve. Voters are not required to vote their true preferences.
Even so, the members of the CNC do know something about each other’s preferences. And they’ve discerned more as votes have taken and candidates eliminated — even though votes are blind.