[EM] Vote Management

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Fri Apr 11 15:31:26 PDT 2003

> James Gilmour said:
> > This may be a defect, but we must keep it in perspective.

Alex commented:
> First, I meant it as a more technical post rather than an opinion post.  I
> merely observed that some systems exhibit a particular property while
> others don't, and contemplated the question of whether there were systems
> I hadn't thought of that were free from that property.
> Second, I use the term "party" rather loosely.  It could mean a group of
> politicians seeking to maximize the number of people elected from their
> little circle, or it could mean a group of voters with common interests
> trying to maximize the number of candidates representing their interests.
> In a candidate-based system like STV, those voters might cut across
> nominal party lines.
> For instance, there are groups in the US that encourage female candidates
> of any party to run for office, believing that their interests will be
> advanced by the presence of women in elected office, irrespective of
> partisan label.  We might analyze a PR system to see how people concerned
> with electing women could maximize their representation, just as we could
> analyze it to see how it affects people concerned with electing Democrats,
> Republicans, environmentalists, civil libertarians, pro-war politicians,
> etc.

This is exactly what STV-PR was devised to do, ie to give PR of whatever voters
wanted, as reflected in their responses to the candidates who offer themselves
for election.  The "constituencies" of voters that emerge through the voting
process (ie the groups of voters whose votes secured the election of particular
candidates) are almost certainly complex coalitions rather than simply
supporters of specific political party tickets.   In this context, these
"constituencies" of voters are your "parties".

> So, I still maintain that the notion of a party, if applied to the voters
> rather than the politicians, is useful for ANALYZING a PR system.  After
> all, the goal of PR (as I understand it) is to accurately reflect the
> spectrum of opinions held by the voters.

Yes, the real issue should be analysing how well the voting system has given the
voters what they want (or at least, what they voted for).  But there are several
problems.  One is that only the political party labels are readily available.
Of course, you can see immediately which candidates are men and which are women.
You may even know the candidates' religious affiliations (very important in some
parts of Scotland) and know their ethnic origins.  But what you do not know,
unless you do a special exit-poll survey, is what motivated the voters to vote
in the way they did.  And you need this information for the full list of
preferences each voter marked.   Was it traditional political party loyalty?  Or
candidate gender?  Or religious affiliation?  Or environmental policy?  Or
locality?  Or some important national issue?  Or some important local issue?  Or
some complex amalgam of all of these?  That is why one must always be cautious
about interpreting the results of STV-PR elections.  What we do know is that
STV-PR uniquely gives the voters the freedom to make these choices.  The success
is more difficult to measure.

> I suspect that it is possible to devise non-list PR systems that don't
> give like-minded voters reason to worry about whether they're spreading
> their support too thinly among candidates or not thinly enough.  I suspect
> that Proportional Approval Voting is one such system, and I'm curious if
> other such methods exist.

I cannot help here.  Vote management is an interesting technical point, but in
the overall scheme of things, I don't think it is a big issue.

As an aside about "maximising" women's representation, the objective of European
activists is to secure the election of equal numbers of men and women (even
though there are more women than men in the electorate).  The most effective way
of achieving this one objective is to use closed party list PR, with a single
national list for each party, with compulsory zipping, ie
man/woman/man/woman/etc or woman/man/woman/man/etc.  This is the current policy
of the "gender" equality campaigners in Europe.  To me, it is a complete denial
of democracy.  I would be quite happy with a council or parliament where 60% or
80% of the elected members were women, PROVIDED that was the free and
representative choice of those who had voted.


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