# [EM] Re: Election-methods Digest, Vol 2, Issue 42

Alex Small alex_small2002 at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 29 10:57:49 PDT 2004

```As to whether an election method is random/stochastic/non-deterministic/insert-preferred-term-here:

> Steve Eppley wrote:
>> Aren't all the voting methods we've been promoting
>> both anonymous and neutral? Doesn't that mean
>> none of them are entirely non-random?

My understanding is that anonymous and neutral methods only need a non-deterministic component to break ties.  When I analyze methods mathematically (e.g. my never-ending quest to prove that Strong FBC is impossible) I simply leave aside the issue of ties by specifying that the method yields a definite winner determined uniquely and deterministically from the ballots submitted except "in rare cases", where "rare cases" is made more precise depending upon the mathematical framework that I'm using.  Usually those "rare cases" can be determined from symmetry conditions, e.g. if every voter swapped candidate A with candidate B and the profile of the electorate was left unchanged then that means neither A nor B can win, so either some other candidate wins (e.g. A and B are tied for last place) or no candidate wins (i.e. A and B are tied for victory).

>> Man, this stuff has got me really worried. It's just scary how unconcerned
>> the Republicans seem about having a verifiable vote-counting process. It
>> doesn't seem unreasonable at this point to fear a slide into a
>> dictatorship, that is, a loss of all democratic accountability, by means
>> of voting machines which routinely falsify the result in favor of the
>> ruling party.
>Read about Diebold - could be the Reps are DELIGHTED with what they have got.
>Puzzle is why the Dems are not making more noise.

I don't buy all of the conspiracy theories, but I would agree that there is something that looks fishy about the Diebold stuff.  Having worked at polling places, I would say that it isn't enough to be honest, it must be COMPLETELY OBVIOUS TO ANY AND ALL OBSERVERS that you are honest.  A 100% honest process, run by the most honest people around, with completely unbiased equipment, would still be completely unacceptable if the processes aren't transparent.  That's why I support the call for paper back-ups with electronic voting.  Even if (hypothetically) the world's finest technical experts assured me that they weren't necessary, I would still demand them because it must be obvious to everybody else that it's an honest process, not just obvious to the finest experts.

It will be interesting to see how things work out in Nevada this year.  They're supposedly using touch screen voting with voter-verified paper backups.

>My justification for bicameral is that there should be one
>geographical-representation body and one ideological-representation
>body. That is, one districted and one at-large proportional
>representation.
>
>I think there's still value in having a local district representative
>who is more likely to be available to _you_, the local constituent.

There's a much more pragmatic argument in favor of bicameralism and geographic representation:  However strong the arguments in favor of a unicameral legislature elected by PR, the simple fact of the matter is that most people will be reluctant to embrace it.  And in a system of representative government, any legislative scheme must be acceptable to the electorate.  People who support proportional representation (e.g. me) will have much more luck selling it if they avoid the issue of unicameralism, and avoid calls for a completely PR legislature, and simply suggest that one of the 2 chambers be elected by PR while the other remains (at least for now) elected from single-member districts.

I've gone back and forth in my mind over whether the upper or lower chamber should be elected by PR.  On the one hand, it makes a certain amount of sense to elect the chamber with the more frequent elections by PR, if the goal is to get the most accurate representation of the electorate.  Also, the PR districts will be smaller geographically if the house has more members, since few people propose doing PR with a single state-wide district electing dozens of members.  On this list, most people seem to think that district sizes between 5 and 20 members would be good, although there is obviously disagreement on what the ideal number within that range is.

On the other hand, I do see 2 arguments in favor of using PR for the upper chamber instead.  The first is that the upper chamber is usually more powerful, at least in the US (in most other countries the opposite is true), and the second is that if you want to preserve localism, the smallest districts will be obtained if the lower house is the one elected from single-member districts.

In the end, I come down in favor of electing the lower chamber by PR, but I can understand the arguments for the other approach.

election-methods-electorama.com-request at electorama.com wrote:

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