[EM] Iterative quota voting

James Gilmour jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk
Sat Feb 12 03:54:56 PST 2005

Jim  Ronback> Sent: Tuesday, February 08, 2005 5:44 AM
> I am very uncomfortable with complexity of the process used for 
> transferring surplus marks of the candidates in the STV counting 
> process. That counting process is very difficult for most voters to 
> follow.

It is probably the case that most voters in most countries do not understand the details of the counting process for
their local voting systems.  But long experience shows that they don't worry overmuch about that provided they
understand the broad principles and see that the outputs match their expectations.  STV-PR, with various complications,
has been in use for more than a century and doesn't seem to have caused too many problems for most voters who have used
it.  When the politicians in Ireland twice wanted to replace STV-PR with something much simpler (simple plurality) the
electors told them to get lost on both occasions.  The Irish electors may not have understood all the arithmetic, but
they understood the principles and wanted to keep what STV gave them.

> In BC they could easily be swayed to vote against 
> BC-STV on 17 May 2005 even though it is a big improvement over First Past 
> The Post. 

The principles and the underlying values are likely to be more important to ordinary citizens than the details of the
arithmetic.  If practical reformers concentrate on what matters to ordinary citizens those ordinary citizens will
probably come to the same conclusions as the citizens who participated in the Citizens' Assembly.

> Thus I was inspired to propose a different and simpler 
> counting method  which avoids fractions and incorporates some aspects of 
> approval voting. 

You MAY have come up with a PR voting system that is much simpler than BC-STV, but it is completely irrelevant.  It is
BC-STV or no change that will be on the referendum ballot on 17 May 2005.

> We should not underestimate the power of simplicity in being able to 
> convince the voter of the merits of a counting process which 
> is easy to 
> visualize. The counting process should be simply enough that the 
> majority of voters/ scrutineers can easily do it manually (especially 
> whenever electrical power is not available for computers).

The general principles of the STV counting process are easy to explain and easy to visualise.   I would challenge your
assertion that any vote counting process should be simple enough for a majority of voters easily to do it manually  -
that would rule out many of the voting systems in many countries.   Properly trained scrutineers can undertake an STV
count manually, and they have been doing that for more than 100 years.  They don't need computers, but a small
battery-powered calculator is helpful.

James Gilmour

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list