[EM] PR via self-chosen districts?

Allen Smith easmith at beatrice.rutgers.edu
Sun Jun 11 10:46:14 PDT 2006

Please note changed subject line.

In message <001001c68d78$f45f5c40$0200a8c0 at u2amd> (on 11 June 2006 18:03:25
+0100), jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk (James Gilmour) wrote:
>> Allen Smith Sent: Sunday, June 11, 2006 4:21 PM
>> I had an idea a while back, which I suspect others probably 
>> have had before me but I haven't been able to locate much on 
>> (probably due to lack of time to look thoroughly, just as I 
>> haven't had time to reply to some emails on and off this list 
>> - sorry!), for how to do PR with single-member districts. 
>Yes, but why try to invent something completely untried and untested when
>we already have a voting system that would answer the problems, is in
>current use, and for which we have a great deal of practical experience in
>several different countries around the world?

Because it's interesting to think about? For people who don't like STV, for
whatever reason?

>> Instead of district assignments based on geography or any 
>> other essentially arbitrary criterion (for elections to a 
>> multimember body governing a particular set of voters, as 
>> opposed to a non-arbitrary criterion of voters being only 
>> allowed to vote in elections for individuals/bodies governing 
>> them), allow individual voters to decide what district they 
>> are in.
>Stephane from Canada has written extensively about a PR system in which
>electors are allocated to non-geographical districts.

Thank you, I'll take a look for that.

>> In the US, for 
>> instance, most geographic assignment of districts takes place 
>> by either the current majority party or a bipartisan, not 
>> multiparty, commission, Iowa being about the only exception - 
>In all countries for all elections the electoral district boundaries should
>be determined by an independent Boundary Commission.

I agree, with said commission having to follow rules ensuring, as well as
(approximately) equal numbers of voters, for geographically defined
districts compactness and contiguousness.

>> and even in Iowa, the decisions of the nonpartisan body they 
>> use (which is unfortunately advised by a _bipartisan_ 
>> commission) can be overriden by the legislature (or the 
>> judicial system, of course).)
>Yes, even in the UK where we have such independent Boundary Commissions,
>they produce recommendations (after extensive public consultation, which
>includes inputs from all the political parties) which the legislature has
>to pass into law to make them effective.  But at least if the government
>makes changes, that blatant political interference can be seen for what it
>is, and if there is enough public opposition, the legislature can throw out
>the government's attempted manipulations.

Doesn't work if the legislature supports the government, and is kept in
office by said boundary manipulations. (I note that in parlimentary systems
the legislators are the ones who appoint the government in the first place,
making _effective_ disagreement between legislature and government
rare. This can happen in other systems, of course - e.g., the US federal
government currently.) Eventually, the government can get overthrown through
either peaceful means (as in, the boundary manipulations finally aren't
enough to do the job vs a sufficiently angered public, a court steps in, or
whatever) or non-peaceful means.

>What I meant was that there is a lot of relevant experience of STV-PR
>provided you are prepared to look around the world to different countries.
>Then you'll find that STV-PR has been in use for legislature and city
>council elections for many decades and that there has been extensive
>analysis of its effects.  To access some that, just type "single
>transferable vote" into your favourite search engine and you'll have links
>to some 199,000 pages.  Of course, not all of those pages are equally
>useful or informative.  And in reviewing all that technical discussion and
>debate, don't loose sight of the big questions: "What is the purpose of
>this Denver election?"  "How can we most quickly and effectively bring
>about the desired change?"

I'm not arguing against the usage of STV-PR for the Denver city
council election. That's why I changed the subject line.


Allen Smith                       http://cesario.rutgers.edu/easmith/
February 1, 2003                               Space Shuttle Columbia
Ad Astra Per Aspera                     To The Stars Through Asperity

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list