[EM] Voting systems theory and proportional representation vs simple representation.

Michael Rouse mrouse1 at mrouse.com
Sat Mar 13 13:57:49 PST 2010

On 3/13/2010 11:53 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote (after I snipped a bit):
> Attempts have been made to apply this to public elections. I forget 
> the city, but there was a proposal in the early 20th century to hold 
> an election for a City Council where, in the council, representatives 
> would exercise the votes they recieved in the general election. This 
> would have been, for the first time, true and accurate representation 
> before the Council. Because some council members would have many more 
> votes than others, others would have less; this would produce a more 
> representative result than a scheme in which votes are allocated to 
> seats equally, because smaller groups could still obtain seats. 
> (Assume a fixed number of seats. Suppose the top N vote-getters are 
> elected in a vote-for-one election. Look at the minimum number of 
> votes obtained by a candidate who nevertheless obtained a seat. In a 
> system which redistributes votes somehow so that a faction with 2Q 
> votes gets two seats, and Q votes are required to win a seat, and 
> there are N seats, compared to one where the top N candidates get 
> seats, with variable voting power, it's obvious that since for some 
> seats in the latter case, more than Q votes were obtained, some must 
> have less, and thus smaller factions get representation.)

I just wanted to point out a hero of mine from my home state, William S. 
U'Ren (Wiki article here: 
<http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Simon_U%27Ren> ). He was the 
father of Oregon's Initiative (1902), Referendum (1902), and Recall 
(1908) movement at the turn of the 20th century. He also campaigned for 
the popular election of U.S. Senators (well, okay, so there can be an 
argument about the usefulness of this), and helped establish the first 
Presidential primary (1910). (I think these dates are accurate.)

This is just background for my main point, though. Quoting Wiki, "In 
1912, he (U'Ren) proposed an amendment to the Oregon Constitution to 
essentially weigh each legislator's vote on proposed bills according to 
the number of votes he received in the last election."

The abstract from the New York Times of the period reads: "SALEM, Ore., 
June 29. -- It is a remarkable plan of government that has been evolved 
by the People's Power League for presentation to the people at the 
coming State election under the initiative. Its intent is to have all 
the votes cast in any election represented in the legislative assembly 
by proxy members whose voting power in that body shall be gauged by the 
number of electors who voted for them."

Article in PDF: 
(I hope that works,  New York Times links sometimes go to a login screen).

He didn't come close to succeeding in this particular endeavor, but he 
did show how a politician with a knack for thinking about election 
methods could alter the course of government. Unfortunately, he has been 
almost forgotten, even in Oregon, though every election cycle we see his 
handiwork in voter initiatives and referendums (only rarely is there any 
grumbling of recall, though it's still possible).

Michael Rouse
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