[EM] Bullet voting in STV-PR

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Thu Apr 10 14:28:01 PDT 2003

Markus wrote
> it's a matter of fact that many voters used bullet voting
> in the STV elections in New York City. Even authors who
> don't consider bullet voting to be a useful strategy write
> that bullet voting was a problem in NYC. For example,
> Belle Zeller and Hugh A. Bone ("The Repeal of P.R. in New
> York City - Ten Years in Retrospect," American Political
> Science Review, vol. 42, pp. 1127-1148, 1947) write:
> > A better job of education in the principles of P.R. and
> > in the mechanics of voting would result not only in fewer
> > invalid ballots, but also in meeting many fallacious
> > arguments against the system. Such a campaign should be
> > carried on by the schools, the press, the parties, and
> > civic organizations. The press was much more helpful in
> > the early days of P.R. than later in informing the voter
> > about the electoral process. Such information might show
> > that "bullet voting", or merely marking one choice, does
> > not, contrary to many allegations, result in giving minor
> > parties more representation. A ballot of this type does
> > not help the voter's favorite candidate any more than
> > a ballot marked with many choices; and if the favorite
> > candidate is defeated, the ballot is wasted.

This is very interesting.  It makes Shaw's comment about bullet voting all the
more difficult to understand.  Zeller and Bone have it right - bullet voting
confers no advantage in STV-PR.

> I guess that you have better access to papers on STV in NYC.
> What do they say about bullet voting in NYC? Are there papers
> on STV in NYC in the journal "Representation"?

No, I don't have access to any papers on STV in NYC.  I don't have a long run of
"Representation" - maybe there is a modern historical review in there.  There MAY
also be some useful papers in the McDougall Library at ERS HQ in London, but I am
in Edinburgh and am not familiar with contents of the library.  In her book "How
Democracies Vote", Edin Lakeman mentions the Zeller and Bone article from which
you quoted (above) and, for the other side of the argument, the book "Democracy or
Anarchy?" by F A Hermans (1941).  She also refers to a report by T H and D D Reed
on "The Government of Cincinnati 1924 - 1944".  Miss Lakeman made no reference to
bullet voting or other ploys.  As always, she was more concerned with fair
representation and the reasons why such systems were given up.


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