Cumulative and Limited Voting ???

New Democracy donald at
Sun Nov 15 04:51:04 PST 1998


     Someone asked about Cumulative and Limited Voting. I forgot if this
was the list.

     Anyway, here is some text from my web site. I hope it reaches the
right person.

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<H3>Cumulative Voting</H3>
     The Cumulative Voting method also uses the entire election area like
in At-large Plurality. The Cumulative Voting method rules allow the voter
to use his ten votes anyway he would like to use them. He can put all ten
on one candidate - or two votes on five - or one on each of ten - or five
on one, three on another, and two on a third - you see the picture.<P>
     Cumulative Voting turns the election into a game for the voters - a
game the electors may not be able nor willing to play. Suppose there is a
twenty-one percent voting bloc in a city. Their just representation would
be to elect two members to a ten member council. If they underestimate
their strength and place most of their votes on one candidate they will
elect that one candidate but they will not get their just representation.
On the other hand they could try for three seats - more than their just
representation. Yes - I say they should try to elect three - it is possible
because the minimum number of votes needed to be elected will be less than
ten percent - so twenty-one spread over three candidates will result in
each of their three candidates receiving seven percent - this may win
because many other votes will be tied up in places in which the votes will
not be used to elect anyone - more wasted votes. The race for ten seats may
have thirty candidates. These last twenty candidates will have received
some votes each - these votes will not elect anyone - they are wasted votes
- therefore the margin needed to win will be lower for the other
candidates. Also - nine candidates will receive more votes than needed to
win. These excess votes will also go towards lowering the margin needed to
win. So seven percent most likely will be above the winning margin. As an
elector do you want to be forced to consider these games?<P>
     Consider a forty percent voting bloc - it should try for six seats and
majority control of the ten member council - can they get the six seats?
Yes - but they will have to be organized - more so if another forty percent
bloc is also trying for six seats.<P>
     Conclusion: Cumulative Voting will give more representation than
current methods. But it can turn the election into a chess board. It is
understandable if a group tries to reach for more seats - but if a group
does not know exactly how strong it is and tries for too many seats they
may lose seats and end up below their just representation. Each interest
group must watch the moves of all other groups and then act accordingly -
but it should not be neccessry for the electors to go through these
gyrations - too much trouble plus something could go wrong.<P>
     If I had only two options, cumulative or status quo, I would go with
cumulative voting, it is an improvement. This cumulative rule does increase
voter representation and does increase proportational representation.
Cumulative Voting is a step in the right direction but it only goes about
half way. This step is not big enough to give everyone their just
representation most of the time. Cumulative Voting is better than At-Large
Plurality but we should move further up the ladder. <P>
     Suggestion: I would like to suggest that the voters in a Cumulative
Voting election be allowed to make additional choices that would be ranked.
These ranked choices would be helpful in solving a tie and/or filling a
vacancy. But the method will need additional math rules that will make it
more complicated than it is already. Cumulative Voting should not be used -
any method up the ladder of Multi-Seat methods is better.

<H3>Limited Voting</H3>
     The Limited Voting method is the same as the At-Large Plurality method
except that the voters are allowed less votes than the number of seats to
be filled. The number of votes allowed will be a majority of the seats so
that the majority of the voters would still be able to elect a majority on
the council but the rest of the people are also going to be able to elect
members. For example - each voter would only have six votes in a ten seat
election. The majority will be able to elect only six - still a majority
but this is only just representation if the majority is also sixty percent
- if the majority is fifty or seventy percent then it is not just. The
balance of the seats will be voted into office by the balance of the
voters. Limited Voting does not have the gyrations of Cumulative Voting -
this makes Limited Voting better than Cumulative Voting but it also will
not give everyone their just representation all the time - let us move
further up the ladder.<P>
     Suggestion: I would like to suggest that the voters in a Limited
Voting election also be allowed to make additional choices that would be
ranked. These ranked choices would be helpful in solving a tie and/or
filling a vacancy.

<H3>Single Non-Transferable Vote</H3>
     I want to tell you about a multi-seat voting method that is better
than most methods being used today but this method is the simplest of any
being used today - simple is good. I call this method the Vote For Only One
- it is also known as Single Non-Transferable Vote(SNTV). This method is so
good that it is the base of the methods above it on the ladder. Bottoms Up
(Choice-Run-off), and Choice Voting all start with this method and then
make additional improvements.<P>
     It is a method that works very well by itself. Each voter only has one
vote. After the election the votes are counted and the top candidates are
the winners - as simple as that and yet the results are within the top
twenty percent rating of Full Representation. very close to the results we
get from Preference Voting - a more improved method.<P>
     The single vote for one candidate is the main source of improvement of
all the vote transferring methods above here on the ladder of election
methods.  The single vote improves voter representation up into the area of
80-100 percent - and inturn reduces the wasted votes down to ten percent
plus or minus ten percent. The math of the Preference Voting method merely
improves the last ten or twenty percent. The major work has been done by
the One Vote concept. Because it is so simple and has very good results I
must rate it better than Limited Voting. As an example take a look at an
election in which the first count shows the results of all the single

   Number One Vote Count from the 1995 council election in Cambridge Mass.
               A ==============================2264==============
               B ===========================2087===========
               C ==========================2041===========
               D =======================1780==========
               E ======================1728========
               F =====================1690========
               G ====================1608========
               H ================1391========
               I ============1239========
               J ===========1204========
               K =====564===
               L ====458==
               M ==284=
               N =166
               O 121
               P 92
               Q 55
               R 43
               S 38
            plus 10 Written-In equals 18863 Total votes
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    Results    A ======================================|
   when down   B ======================================|
     to ten    C ======================================|
   Candidates  D ======================================|
     after     E ======================================|
    working    F ======================================|
  the math of  G ============================1837===== |
  Preference   H ======================================|
    Voting     I =========================1523=====    |
               J ============================1864===== |
     Notice that the top ten at the start are still in the race after the
candidates are reduced down to ten - that is how close the first count can
come to the final results. Also notice that ninety percent of the number
one vote count went to these same ten candidates. Cambridge only elects
nine so candidate(I) was dropped on the next count - but top eight out of
nine is still very good.<P>
     Robert Winters lives in Cambridge, Mass and is active in elections in
that city - which since 1943 has had a proportional representation method
of electing their city council. Robert Winters says: "One thing that every
PR-STV advocate should understand is that Number One votes are still almost
the whole game. Lower preferences generally only play a role in the
election of the last one or two seats, but those seats may hold the balance
of power".<P>
     When the people have a good method like Vote For Only One for electing
a council the people will show that they are not screw ups. The people
picked the top ten before the numbers were crunched by the math of
Preference Voting and they picked them all with a majority of a share -
that is excellent voting by the people. It is this one policy of voting for
only one candidate that allows these people to look good and it is the
policies of your systems, imposed on the public by the politicians, that
makes your people look bad - it is the systems that screw up - not the
     Suggestion: I would like to suggest that the voters be allowed to make
additional ranked choices. These ranked choices would be helpful in solving
a tie and/or filling a vacancy. But if more ranked choice are made then it
is only one small step to go from SNTV to Bottoms-Up(Choice Run-Off). This
step can be taken by merely using the ranked choices in a run-off routine.
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<H3>Bottoms Up/Choice Run-Off - One Vote Plus Run-off Feature</H3>
     If we were to take the above Vote for Only One method and add a
run-off feature we would have a better method - it goes by the name Bottoms
Up or Choice Run-Off. We add the run-off feature by allowing the people to
make a number of choices when they vote. In the event their first choice is
dropped their vote is not dropped - their vote is salvaged and transferred
to their next choice. We keep dropping the new lowest candidate and
transferring their votes to the next choices on the ballots until we end up
with the number of candidates that is equal to the number of seats we are
going to fill. In this method all the voters can have their vote end up on
a winning candidate and thus they will all be represented. This run-off
feature will make an additional improvement in voter representation to the
improvement already made by the Vote for Only One method. Choice Run-Off
can also be used for working a single-seat election race. We would merely
keep dropping the new lowest candidate until only one remained.<P>
     In the Cambridge election the last nine candidates were dropped in
order from candidate S on up - none of the low nine were able to collect
enough of the transferred votes during the run-off cycle in order to jump
ahead of another candidate nor to end up in the winners' circle. But
candidate J did receive enough run-off votes in order to jump ahead of
candidate(I) and go on to be the last winner. Having the run-off did change
the results of this election. This method, the One Vote Plus Run-off
Feature, would have elected the same candidates in the Cambridge election
as were elected. The One Vote part elected eight candidates and the run-off
elected number nine.<P>
     The next improvement is to take these same choices that the voters
have already made and use them to transfer surplus votes over a share. A
share is the total votes in an election divided by the number of seats to
be filled. This is also known as Hare Quota. Some candidates may receive
more than a share of votes on the first tally - these candidates have a
surplus of votes needed to be elected. It may seem that we do not need any
additional improvement after seeing that the run-off produced the same
results as the actual election - but people who voted for a candidate with
a surplus are entitled to elect more candidates than the one. Consider the
real possibility of one candidate receiving two shares. There has been a
report that one candidate received three shares of votes. These voters
should be allowed to elect two candidates. One share of surplus votes
should be transferred to help other candidates get elected.<P>
     The run-off feature is the biggest improvement because there are two
and one half times more votes in need of a run-off than surplus votes in
need of a transfer - but we should make both improvements. When we add
these two improvements to the Vote For Only One method we get a method that
is called Preference Voting. The term Preference Voting has its greatest
name recognition in the United States. Internationality the term Single
Transferable Vote, the same method, has greater name recognition.
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