[Election-Methods] RE : Taiwan legislative elections and referendum

Jonathan Lundell jlundell at pobox.com
Tue Jan 15 08:32:18 PST 2008

On Jan 15, 2008, at 7:40 AM, Kevin Venzke wrote:

> The rule that a majority of voters must vote is unfortunate because it
> means that by showing up to vote "No" you can cause the proposal to
> succeed.
> But in my opinion, to avoid government abuse of referendum, they  
> should not
> pass or fail only on the opinions of the voters that the government  
> was
> able to convince to participate.
> If I choose to not vote in a referendum for some issue, I want this  
> to be
> interpreted as "have the government make this decision" not "let the  
> other
> voters make this decision."

Reasonable people might differ on this question, but at the very least  
it's ambiguous (though implicit in the rules). This is a kind of  
quorum rule, really. The Green Party of California had a similar  
problem with their General Assembly rules for treating abstentions.  
The old rule:

7. Abstentions are not counted in calculating the percentage vote;  
however if 20% or more of those voting abstain, the proposal fails.

This rule is rather extreme, as you can imagine, giving a rather small  
minority veto power by abstaining, where they couldn't defeat a  
proposal by voting no, and in fact somebody noticed that and used it  
that way.

I proposed new language, which was adopted by consensus:

7. Abstentions are not counted in calculating the percentage vote. The  
minimum number of affirmative votes required to pass a proposal shall  
be the voting threshold times the decision-making quorum.

The language is a little abstract because the "voting threshold" is  
variously a simple majority, 2/3 or 80%, depending on the question.  
"Decision-making quorum" distinguishes this quorum from a different  
quorum that's required to open a meeting, not relevant to this  

The result is monotonic, while assuring that a proposal can't pass  
without a baseline amount of voters willing to affirmatively approve  
it. My rationale for this particular arithmetic is that it's the  
number of votes required to pass a proposal when only a quorum is  
present and nobody abstains.

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