[EM] Question for STV-PR supporters

James Green-Armytage jarmyta at antioch-college.edu
Wed Jul 16 07:11:01 PDT 2003

Alex asked:
>> I have an honest question for people who think that STV-PR and related
>> methods are the best way to implement proportional representation in
>> public elections.  I'm not trying to be combative, I'm just curious.
>> How many members should a typical legislative district elect?  I doubt
>> anybody would seriously propose using STV to elect 
>> representatives for,
>> say, a 50-member district, since the number of candidates 
>> might be a few
>> hundred.  Obviously voters wouldn't have to rank all 300 candidates or
>> whatever, but the ballot would still be pretty imposing.
>> So what district size would you recommend?  Or, what is the typical
>> district size in places that use STV-PR for public elections?
	I agree that STV can be used for a district of any size. The main
tradeoff in district magnitude seems to be between proportionality and
connection with local / regional areas.
	That is, the higher the district magnitude, the greater the
proportionality, but the less connection between representatives and a
particular geographic region.
	So in any case it is a matter of deciding the relative value of those two
factors. Maybe in some situations geographic association is unnecessary,
so you will want to go with the highest possible district magnitude, i.e.
one district.
	Personally, I like to see PR with a district magnitude of at least 10
seats, and I would tend to prefer more than that rather than less.
	I agree that a paper ballot for a large-magnitude district might be kind
of expensive. For example, if you had 50 seats, you might have upwards of
500 candidates. I've always imagined those kind of things on some sort of
computer interface (with paper printouts etc., of course). That is, a
user-friendly interface with various panels and buttons and whistles, one
where you can search through the candidates by first name, last name,
party, rank them as you go along, change your rankings, add write-ins or
search from some kind of secondary list of candidates, and so on.
	I agree that it might be a little expensive to put such machines to work
all over the country, but hey, who can put a price on democracy, right?

-- James

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