[EM] Exhausted vs Wasted

Donald E. Davison donald at mich.com
Thu Nov 16 07:47:51 PST 2000

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 11-16-00
Dear Blake Cretney and List,

     Exhausted votes and wasted votes are two different types of votes.
     Exhausted votes happen when there is not enough choices made by the voters.
     Wasted votes are caused by the design of election methods or by some
design feature like gerrymandering, thresholds, and/or some quotas.
     Supporters of the Droop quota like to mix the two so that everyone
will blame the exhausted ballots for causing the wasted ballots, but this
is deception.
     The best way to reveal the wasted votes of a system is to remove the
exhausted votes. This is done by assuming every voter has ranked every
candidate. This should cause every vote to end up on one of the winning
candidates. Any votes not on winning candidates are wasted votes.
     You wrote: "So, if everyone listed all the candidates in order, there
would be no exhausted votes, no matter what the quota."
     You are corrrect to say that there will be no exhausted votes, but the
question of wasted votes depends on which quota is used. If the Hare quota
were used, there will be no wasted votes. All votes will end up on one of
the elected members. If the Droop quota were used, then one quota of votes
will be wasted, not ending up on any of the candidates.
     The Cambridge election has nine seats and uses the Droop quota, which
will be ten percent of the total votes. Therefore the DemoRepoMan is
correct to say that ten percent of the total valid votes were wasted.
     Now, the Cambridge election most likely had a number of exhausted
ballots, but ten percent of the total votes would still be wasted even if
every voter ranked every candidate in the election. Exhausted ballots
should not be used as a cover for wasted ballots.
     It is about time that the blame of wasted votes was laid on their
causes, on the election methods and/or design features.

     I include some text which covers the same subject from the single
winner section of my web site.

Regards Donald Davison,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - from http:www.mich.com/~donald
<B>Exhausted Ballots:</B> If enough choices were made, meaning that there
was always another choice for votes to be transferred to, the candidate
elect would receive one hundred percent of the votes cast in the race, but
in reality we can expect less total votes after each run-off cycle. This is
because some voters did not make enough lower choices and as a result their
ballots became exhausted. <BR>
     While we encourage voters to make as many informed choices as
possible, we must be understanding and realize that there may be reasons
why a voter may stop making any more choices. He may only be informed about
one candidate or take the example of an election in which there are three
candidates. A voter may regard one to be head and shoulders above the other
two, who the voter may regard as being equally average or equally bad. If
the voter only ranks one candidate, it is understandable and acceptable.
<B> Majority:</B> As the total votes decrease on each run-off cycle the
majority requirement also decreases because it is to be based on the total
votes of each cycle. This is valid because this rule is the same as in the
Top Two Run-Off method in which the majority is based on the voters that
show up for the following run-off election.<BR>
<B>Wasted Votes:</B> Exhausted votes are the choice or lack of choice of
the voters, but wasted votes are the result of negative methods and/or
design features that cause ballots to be disregarded and therefore wasted.
Some design features that waste votes are thresholds, gerrymandering, most
election methods, some types of quotas, etc.<BR>
     The quality of an election method and its design features can be
measured by the number of wasted votes the system produces. The less wasted
votes the better the election system. Bad design features will cause wasted
votes. The way to calculate wasted ballots is to assume that the voters
have made enough choices. The condition of enough choices will seperate
exhausted ballots from wasted ballots. With enough choices, all the votes
will end up on a winning candidate, there will be no exhausted ballots,
but if some votes do not end up on a winning candidate then the method has
wasted ballots and we can rate the method by how many wasted ballot it
<B>Vote of Confidence:</B> It is possible that one of the candidates had a
simple majority on the first tally or on the second, or when we still have
a few candidates remaining. For academic reasons the routine of running a
tally, dropping only the one lowest candidate, transferring the votes, and
repeating it over and over, should be followed until only one candidate
remains. This will leave a record that gives the final strength and
popularity of all candidates. The final candidate could end up with more
than eighty percent of the vote - that would be a good vote of

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 10-30-00
>On Sun, 29 Oct 2000, DEMOREP1 at aol.com wrote:
>> The below is from the 1999 election results (pdf document) link via
>> Due to the use of the Droop Quota, just under 10 percent of the
>> total valid
>> votes were *wasted*.
>I'm a little confused by what you mean by that.  Presumably, a ballot
>is exhausted/wasted when it normally would be transferred, but it
>lists no more candidates.  So, if everyone listed all the candidates
>in order, there would be no exhausted votes, no matter what the
>quota.  I don't know if the quota has any effect, but isn't the
>primary cause of wasted votes incomplete ballots?
>Also, consider that a voter will be less satisfied with the result,
>the further down his ballot a winner is found.  He doesn't suddenly
>become dissatified when the ballot becomes exhausted.  I may be
>over-interpreting your comment, but I've read this kind of thing from
>Donald Davison in the past, and I hope it isn't catching on.
>Blake Cretney

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