[EM] Worst methods ever used?

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Wed Jul 16 10:44:06 PDT 2003

Kevin wrote:
> Maybe no one will be interested in this topic, but I wonder 
> if there are any
> thoughts on it.  (Was Borda ever used?)

Not for public elections, so far as I am aware.  It is certainly one of
the worst.

> The worst I think I've heard of is Brazil's open-list PR.  
> (You can vote either 
> for a party or for a single candidate within a party, which 
> also counts as a vote 
> for the party.  The seats are divided up based on each 
> party's share of the vote, and 
> the seats are filled in the order of who got the most 
> individual votes.)

Please explain why this is "the worst".  Many countries use closed party
lists - surely worse?  But no PR at all is worse again??

> Most voters vote for an individual, and are unconcerned with 
> parties.

I think this is an extremely questionable statement, and almost
certainly, not true.  Where democratic elections are held around the
world, the overwhelming majority use systems where candidates are
nominated by parties and electors vote by party.  NB Single candidate
nominations in single-winner plurality elections are "party lists of
one".   Support for a political party is a major factor in the voting
behaviour of very large numbers of voters worldwide.  I hesitate to put
figures on that because I have not reviewed the academic literature, but
maybe someone else on this list has done that.

> That means
> a candidate's "surplus" votes serve to elect candidates who 
> may not have any
> connection beyond party affiliation.  Parties can't 
> discipline candidates because
> parties aren't what earn votes.
> If you eliminate the surplus vote transfer, the method seems 
> practically
> equivalent to SNTV, which is not so good to begin with.

These criticisms are fully justified.  But that does not make party list
"the worst".


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