[EM] Request comments on MMP?

Alex Small asmall at physics.ucsb.edu
Sun Jul 27 09:50:02 PDT 2003

James Gilmour said:
>> To prove me wrong, all you have to do is go to southeast
>> Florida, take a
>> representative and statistically significant sample of
>> registered voters,
>> and try to explain STV to them.  If you get 80% to understand it, I'll
>> enthusiastically support STV.
> Why have you set the threshold at 80%?  What's wrong with 50% + 1?!!!!!!

Because in PR, it isn't enough to represent 50%+1 of the voters.  You want
to represent as many as possible.  If we can get 80% of Floridians to
understand it, we can get even more elsewhere ;)

But seriously, the whole point of PR is that you don't just represent the
50%+1 in each electoral district, you represent as many as possible by
electing multiple members.

>> votes.  A vote for a candidate is also a vote for the list,
>> and seats are
>> apportioned among lists using some quota system (Hare?  Droop?  Saint
>> Somebody?  I don't know).
> Now who's confused?   Surely you're not one of that 80% of Florida
> voters!!

There's a difference between not knowing the answer, and not understanding
it.  I simply haven't read up enough to know which formula they use, but I
could understand the formula if I knew what it was.

>>  The candidates elected from each  list are the
>> ones with the most votes.
> Interestingly, one of my sources describes the Swiss system as one of
> the most complicated voting systems in the world, in terms of the
> options the voter has.  Despite that, it seems to be understood well
> enough and significant numbers of voters do make use of its more unusual
> features.

A system can have many options and still be understandable, because the
likely consequences of each option are easy to understand.  A system can
have fewer options, and be hard to understand if the formula used to
compute the consequences is too intricate.

> Me too.  But remember the Swiss system is highly devolved and they also
> make much use of referenda.

Sounds good to me.

> Also they use PR to determine the
> composition of the Federal Council (government cabinet).  Is the USA
> ready for that?

That one will take some time to sell people on.  However, I'm all for
limiting the power of the executive.  Right now we have all the power in
the hands of a single person who acts like the office is his hereditary
birthright or something (oh, wait, it sort of is....), and we have a
Congress that acts like they're his White House Interns.


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