[EM] Filling a vacancy in STV:

Donald Davison donald at mich.com
Fri Nov 7 20:48:02 PST 2003

From: "R.G.'Stumpy' Marsh" <rmarsh at xtra.co.nz>     11-06-03

`Stumpy' wrote: "With STV the results could be recalculated with
preferences for the original winner ignored. There's a chance that could
upset the rest of
the seats though."

Donald here:  Removing the preferences of a winning candidate can upset the
still sitting members, so a rule needs be added to protect the current
sitting members.  In effect saying that no sitting member can be eliminated
during the recount.  This will elect all the sitting members plus one to
fill the vacancy, which is the intent of the recount.

This `election' is merely to fill one vacancy, it's not a recall election
of the other members.  The current sitting members won their seats in the
first count and have the right to expect to keep their seats during any
routine to fill the vacancy.

It is not acceptable to fill the vacancy by using only the next preferences
of the votes that elected the now vacant member.  The thinking in using
only the votes of the vacant member is that these voters elected this
member and therefore only they should elect the replacement.  This is
erroneous thinking because it is not proper to regard one quota of voters
as a single-seat district and on top of that elect the single seat by
Plurality (FPTP).  To do so will result in the new member being elected by
only a minority of the votes of one quota, something on the order of 25% or
so (because we can expect a large percentage of exhausted ballots, studies
prove this to be true).

Besides this method does not take into consideration the near quota of
votes left on the first runner-up in the first count, the excluded votes,
the votes that have yet to elect anyone.  After all, this is suppose to be
proportional representation in which all votes are to be taken into
consideration when electing a body of members.

The now vacant member won his seat because he was closer to a full quota of
votes than the first runner-up.  The replacement should also be closer to a
full quota than 25 %.

It is best to recount all the ballots, then we can expect the new member to
be elected by a near full quota if not a full quota.

The vacancy of a member is a big change in the ballots.  It is a different
election and we must accept different results.  We can keep the sitting
members the same by using a rule to protect them, but the replacement most
likely will be different than the vacant member, we must accept that, we
cannot keep everything the same, we cannot expect to get a clone of the
vacant member as a replacement.

The city of Cambridge filled a vacancy using only the votes of the vacant
member.  The first runner-up of the original election sued the city.  The
suit called for the elimination of Preference Voting as the election method
to elect the city council.  At the time, Cambridge was the only city in
America that used Preference Voting and now it was running the risk of
losing that right in the State courts.

The city survived the suit, but they should treat all votes equally and use
all the votes in the recount, including the exhausted, the excluded, and,
of course, the votes of the now vacant member.  This can be done best by
merely changing their method of filling vacancies to:  Going back to the
original ballots, eliminating the now vacant candidate and any original
losing candidates that no longer wish to be candidates, and doing the count
over, but with the rule that no current sitting member is to be eliminated.

The Cambridge vacancy occurred because a member of the council was indicted
on criminal charges, so why would you want a clone of someone who is up on
criminal charges?  Why indeed?

Have you noticed that the term `First Runner-Up' is an oxymoron in
Cambridge and any jurisdiction that only uses the preferences of the votes
that elected the now vacant member.  First Runner-Up usually means the
person that will fill any vacancy, but in Cambridge, most of the
preferences supporting the First Runner-Up are excluded in the election of
the replacement.  Go figure.

The answer is political.  There is a very good chance that the leading
candidate of the next preferences will be someone of the same political
party or faction and so the political bosses have fixed the rules of STV
such that their candidate will win the replacement election even if by only
twenty or thirty percent of a quota.

That's the sad thing about STV, over the years it has acquired too many
corrupt rules and practices and the people who advocate STV refuse to see
any corruption in STV.  Sad indeed.


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