[EM] consumable votes for a legislature

raphfrk at netscape.net raphfrk at netscape.net
Fri Mar 3 18:00:19 PST 2006

There seems to be a lot of focus on reform of the method of electing 
representatives to a legislature but little info on reforms for the 
method of voting in the resulting legislature.  Even a perfectly 
representative legislature will still face the problem that one "side" 
or the other will be in the majority and so policy will be biased 
towards that side rather than towards the middle ground.

I was thinking of the following:

First, elect a representative legislature and then ..

Each representative gets allocated 1 vote at regular intervals while 
holding office, say once a month.
If the representative is not reelected or resigns, he can transfer any 
unused votes to someone who was elected
There would probably be a cap on how many votes a representative can 
hold, say 1 term's worth
Voting in the legislature is carried out in rounds.  In the first round 
those in favor of the motion vote and in the second round those against 
The rounds are continued alternating between those in favor and those 
against until one side decides not to commit enough votes to outweigh 
the other side
Votes against the motion are worth W times more than votes in favor, so 
those against have an advantage
A representative may allocate all, none or some of his votes
In the event of a tie, the motion is passed
If the motion is passed all votes cast on both sides are consumed, 
otherwise none of the votes are consumed

This helps minorities to get bills passed.  Even if the majority did 
not want to pass a bill, they may not consider it worth wasting votes 
to block it.  Also, they would risk the minority vetoing their bills 

Also, the fact that it is not costless to vote would mean that 
representatives would only vote for bills they care about.

Some characteristics of the system:

*A large enough majority can lock out a minority.

The size of the majority required is


If W was set to 3, this would give 75%.

A party with 80% in a system with W set to 3 can just pass any bill.  
No matter how many votes the minority commits, they will just lose all 
their votes.

The vote would be something like (A is large party and B is small party)

A votes 10% in favor -> score is 10-0
B votes 5% against -> score is 10-15
And so on until
B has voted 20% and A has voted 61% -> score ( 61 - 60 )

Result is the bill is passed and A has 19% left and B has 0% left.

This means that A can now pass bills unopposed.

However, A used up alot more votes than B which might matter if B makes 
gains at the next election.

*A minority can block all bills being passed

This is similar to the previous example, but party B would be slightly 

A party with greater than


can block all bills.

If party B had 30 votes and party A has 70 votes, then B could block 
any bill by just voting 24 votes against and A could not anything.  
There is no cost to B in doing this as votes are only consumed if the 
bill is passed.

The reason that votes are only consumed when a bill is passed is to 
prevent a party from just running a slightly different version of the 
bill over and over.  This would eventually deplete the votes of the 
other parties as they vote against each of the copies.

The higher W is set, the smaller a minority that has an effective veto.

*Minorities may need to make sure to hold back some of their votes to 
prevent a bill they used votes to pass from being repealed immediately.

For example, assuming party B has 30 votes and party A has 70 votes, 
party B must have at least 25% of the remaining votes after the vote to 
guarantee that the bill cannot be repealed immediately after passage.  
This would mean that they could only vote 6 in favor of a bill as that 
would leave them with 24% and party A with 68%, giving them 26% of the 
new total.

Having said that, if party A didn't veto the bill, then it would be 
pointless to just repeal it immediately.

*In a rigid party structure, it would devolve to a veto by any party 
with 25% of the vote (depending on W)

Hopefully, there would be some degree of reasonableness.  If any party 
wants to get stuff passed they need the other sides not to veto their 
bills in turn.

More importantly, the possibility of fellow party members deciding not 
to vote for the veto at a later round adds some risk that a 
representative might end up wasting votes voting against a bill that 
the representative doesn't actually care about.

There is pressure to defect from vetoing bills you don't care about, 
even if the party tells you to.  Unless everyone stands in line and 
blocks it, everyone who votes against it loses votes.  This means it is 
a potential cost to the representative without the benefit of 
preventing a law being pass that the representative thinks is bad.

However, if the representative does care about a bill, voting against 
it either blocks it or at worst weakens his "opponents" as they have to 
put up 3 votes for every vote he puts up.

*combining bills should be able to get most past a veto

It might be possible to get a bill passed that is being vetoed by 
combining it with a bill that the vetoing party supports.  This means 
that the two (or more bills) combined, in the opinion of 75% of the 
representatives represent an overall improvement.  Some might think one 
or two of them are bad, but they all agree they the costs are worth the 
benefits of whichever of the bills the particular representative 
supported.  This should move the law in the direction of benefiting 
everyone (or at least benefiting the representatives).

Hopefully such action would not be necessary for small bills or bills 
that only affect one area/demographic.

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