[EM] Bullet voting in STV-PR

Markus Schulze markus.schulze at alumni.tu-berlin.de
Wed Apr 9 05:57:02 PDT 2003

Dear James,

you wrote (9 April 2003):
> Frederick Shaw ("The History of the New York City Legislature,"
> Columbia University Press, New York, 1954) writes:
> > No one seriously believed that 9% of the city's electorate were
> > extreme radicals. But how did it happen that two Communists were
> > elected in 1943 and again in 1945? Part of the answer lay in the
> > technique they developed. Realizing they could scarcely seat more
> > than one candidate in any borough, they instructed their adherents
> > to cast a single vote, without secondary preferences. "Bullet"
> > voting, as it was called, assured such candidates of a solid block
> > of votes.
> This sounds like a comment from a commentator who did not understand
> how STV-PR works.  A "solid block" of first preferences with other
> preferences marked too will have just as much effect as a "solid block"
> of first preferences alone.

I believe that Shaw has understood very well how PR-STV works. In
the same book, Shaw describes the strategy of the Democratic Party
as follows:

> After watching their candidates compete against each other in
> borough-wide elections in 1937, they evolved their own technique
> for obtaining maximum representation. Each borough was divided
> into the same number of zones as the number of councilmen it
> seemed likely to select. Within each zone the district leaders
> agreed upon a candidate. Then the entire slate was reviewed by
> the County Leader and Executive Committee, who ordered the party's
> adherents to follow an identical pattern of voting - i.e. the
> number to be placed beside each candidate's name in each zone
> was determined in advance. Proportionalists and their opponents
> agree that under this system in the 1939 election the Democrats
> massed their strength for optimum effectiveness.

Today, this strategy is known as "Vote Management." The quotation
above is very interesting because Vote Management has hardly been
discussed before the 1970s. The quotation above is the oldest
quotation that I have found where someone says that Vote Management
is a useful strategy even under PR-STV with the Droop Quota. In my
opinion, the quotation above shows that Shaw has understood STV at
least better than those authors who claimed that it isn't possible
for a given party to win additional seats by averaging the votes
over the candidates of this party.

(It is trivial that Vote Management is a useful strategy under PR-STV
with the Andrae-Hare Quota, under SNTV and under Limited Voting.)

(In Ireland, there are usually 3- to 5-seat districts. In the USA,
there were usually 7- to 9-seat districts. Therefore, in the USA,
not only the first preferences but also the later preferences had
to be averaged. Therefore, Vote Management in the USA differs a
little bit from Vote Management in Ireland.)

Markus Schulze

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