STV for party candidate lists?

New Democracy donald at
Sun Jul 26 09:29:34 PDT 1998

Dear Herman Baun,

     First let me thank you for writing. You have given us something to
chew on. Please do write again.

     You do not wish to use STV because the results may be different with a
different number of seats. That is true but I feel that the STV error is
small and will be lost in the greater error caused by the difference
between how the 3000 party members would vote and how the 770,464 voters
would vote. The 770,464 voters, if allowed, will rank the candidates far
different than the 3000 party members. You must accept the greater error
because it is the system you must work within.

     I would suggest that you also accept the smaller STV error so you can
use STV to rank the candidates. I contend that the error caused by STV will
be less than the error caused by the elimination run-off order. Any
changing of the STV order within the first 14 will not change who gets
elected from your list. Change in elected members will only happen if and
when some candidate slips out of the first 14 and some other candidate
slips in. This is an error but I feel that it is small compared to the
larger error of the elimination run-off and to the greater error of 3000
votes vs 770,464 votes.

     It is best not to use the elimination order to rank more than one
candidate because it does not give equal power to all votes. An example may
explain my viewpoint: Suppose your party had one candidate that was head
and shoulders above the rest - and that candidate received fifty
percent(1,500) first choices. That candidate will receive the number one
ranking on the list - good for him, but that is not the problem. The
problem is that the first fifty percent of the voters will have only placed
one candidate on the list. All the other positions on the list will be
determined by the second fifty percent. And those positions will elect 13
of 14 members. These results should clearly show that the voters are not
being treated with equality by the elimination run-off order.

     If you say that you do not have a single candidate that will pull
fifty percent of the vote then I say that every case you do have of a
candidate with surplus votes is a case in which voters are not receiving
the full value of their vote. Some candidates do gain sizeable amounts of
surplus votes. In a recent election in New Zealand, a women candidate
received more than three quotas. If you had a candidate like her in your
elimination run-off those three quotas of voters would only be able to rank
one candidate when they should be able to rank three. If we are to rank
more than one candidate we must use a proportional method - STV is best to

     I agree with you when you say that: "The order in which seats are
assigned however differs when the number of seats is varied." This is a
lesson I wish the supporters of the Droop Quota would learn - but I

     Is it possible for you to give an estimate list before the election
based on the number of seats you expect to win - and then adjust the list
after the election based on the actual seats your party has won? Or, are
you locked into the list you have given before the election?  If so, you
should still go with STV.

     You gave another objection to STV when you wrote: "However, STV
normally does not produce a ranking order of the candidates; after all, in
principle each candidate is finally elected with a number of votes that is
exactly equal to the election quota."

     Your statement is not exactly true. There will be enough
differentiation between candidates in order to produce a ranked order.

     One: We will have candidates with surplus votes. These candidates can
be ranked according to highest number of surplus votes. If two are tied we
look to the next choices of the votes of these two candidates.

     Two: We will have candidates that reached quota from the transfer of
the surplus votes. If more than one candidate reaches quota, then we rank
them according to the highest number of votes over quota - before the
excess votes are transferred a second time.

   Three: We will have candidates that reached quota from the transfer of
votes from the eliminated candidates. These candidates can be ranked
according to the order of the eliminated candidates. If two or more
candidates reach quota on the same transfer then again we look at the votes
over quota.

    Four: About 7 of the top 14 candidates will not reach quota because of
exhausted ballots - provided the Hare Quota is used. These candidates are
to be ranked according to the votes they each did receive.

    Five: We have the eliminated candidates. These candidates are to be
ranked according to the number of votes they had when they were eliminated.

     All the above can be avoided if you can sway your country to use open
party list - or better yet, use STV in the one election area. But, in the
meantime you must work within the system.

     If you use STV to rank your list you will be setting a good example
and pointing the way for other parties and the government to use STV in the
future - your step two.


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