[EM] Proportional Representation Systems I'd Support

Kathy Dopp kathy.dopp at gmail.com
Fri Mar 26 13:43:49 PDT 2010

On Fri, Mar 26, 2010 at 2:41 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax
<abd at lomaxdesign.com> wrote:
> Kathy, it seems that, to a degree, your thinking about proportional
> representation has been colored by the problems of STV as applied to
> single-winner elections. Let me suggest that you back up a bit and reflect
> on the purpose of representation in decision-making as distinct from
> decision-making itself. Single-winner elections represent a decision.
> Proportional representation does, it might seem, need to make decisions,
> too, but they are decisions of a different kind.
> Let's start with imagining ideal representation. There have been various
> proposals that would, in some aspect or other, be ideal. It was proposed
> (for a city at one point about a century ago), that those elected to a city
> council would have as many votes in council process as they received in the
> election. Without getting into gory practical details, could you agree that,
> to the extent that this could be done, it would be a kind of ideal
> representation?

Well that would certainly be a way of overcoming any effective
minority representation in legislatures by always making sure that the
representative elected by a majority made all the decisions. Not sure
if I agree necessarily with giving more votes to one legislators than
others, and that idea certainly is in sync with the way IRV/STV gives
more effective votes to some voters than other voters during the
counting process.

> However, for a peer assembly, there is another variation. The original used
> STV, but that actually complicates it as far as a qualitative understanding.
> Imagine that it is vote-for-one. If it is desired to create N seats, perhaps
> N is considered an ideal size for an assembly, and there are V voters, who
> vote for the candidate they most trust, we can assume. Any candidate who
> gets N/V votes (Q, the Hare quota) is elected.
> But there is a problem, obviously. There might be no such candidate, if
> there are enough candidates. And some candidates will get more than Q votes.
> Is it fair that they have the same voting power in the Assembly as another
> who only got the minimum?
> Lewis Carroll, studying STV in 1884, noticed that most voters really only
> had enough information to pick their favorite. So he got the idea, what if
> with any exhausted ballot (all candidates on it have been eliminated -- or,
> for that matter, elected, but by more than the quota of votes, so there are
> "excess votes") the candidate could recast the vote at will, "as if it were
> his own property.") So those holding votes could put together, collectively,
> assemblages of Q votes, electing seats that didn't make it in the first
> pass. He considered that this revoting power would be in the hands of the
> favorite on the ballot, I believe.

I personally prefer party list systems where the voters know in
advance what candidates will get any excess support, and where voters
can suggest a reordering of the list itself, rather than allowing
candidates to choose, although I suppose allowing candidates to choose
could be done in a fair, auditable way as well.

> Would you agree that, if this were done, it would be fair, that every voter
> would be fairly represented in the Assembly? Some directly, some indirectly.

Not sure what you mean by "this" exactly, but maybe so.

> The electors, I call the candidates holding the votes, vote publicly, so
> every voter knows where his or her vote went, and exactly whomo it elected.
> This is very, very different from a contested election, in which some voters
> lose. In this, all voters win. (Except for what can be called the "dregs,"
> which reduces to a very small problem with Asset Voting like this, and what

Well the benefit of Asset voting over party list voting might be that
the ballot is simpler and perhaps, I don't know, it'd be an easier
sell. Although there are lots of party list systems internationally
that seem to work well, and I haven't heard of existing asset systems.

> you would do is, if you want N seats, you'd allow the election of "as many
> as N + X seats." Where X is a variable determined from experience to
> represent the level of non-negotiable differences among the electors. If by
> some miracle they all agree, you actually get N + X seats, a small problem,
> maybe even not a problem at all.

Huh?  Wouldn't funding, office space, facilities in the legislaturs be
a problem if no one knows in advance how big the legislature will be?
Never heard of variable-sized legislatures before. Doesn't sound very

> But look what happens to the votes: This is an STV election! The only
> difference is that the vote transfers are in the hands of chosen electors,

If the STV method is used within asset voting, then I oppose it
strongly because STV has all the same counting flaws as IRV including
nonmonotonicity, unequal treatment of voters' votes, and not being
precinct summable.

> instead of being determined by a ranked ballot. Each vote only is used once
> to actually elect. That's the "Single" in "Single Transferable Vote."
> For fairness, in single-ballot STV for proportional representation, as a
> ballot is part of a quota for election, the ballot then counts fractionally
> for any subsequent uses.
> The non-monotonicity of STV arises in the last seats to be elected, it
> arises from elimination before all the votes have been considered.
> Basically, to ensure that a vote is only counted once (If we imagine that
> instead of N votes being divided up and reduced fractionally according to
> excess votes, the pile of ballots can be physically divided -- and that's
> actually done in some STV implementations -- though it's not as fair as
> uncovering the next preference and casting fractional votes for it, so each
> ballot gets its fair share of representation), it is only allowed that one
> vote at a time be "active." But that's a practical detail.

The nonmonotonicity and non-precinct-summability of both IRV and STV
arises due to its unequal treatment of voters' votes. I strongly
oppose any method that treats voters' votes unequally in the counting

> You should realize that those who are elected before eliminations, with STV
> (and this includes IRV!) are obviously appropriate winners.

Yes. I agree with that.

> The flaws arise
> in elimination rounds. Get rid of eliminations, but sequentially pick
> winners, that problem disappears, and you are left with only the problem
> that if you use a single ballot, there will likely be seats where nobody
> gets the quota. So what do you do?

Not sure about that. Depends on if the reallocations if treatment of
votes is equal for all voters or not I suppose.

> You can't hold a "runoff election," and here is why: Some voters already got
> their candidate. A runoff under these conditions has no way of knowing who
> "won" and who didn't. You only want those who didn't "win" to be able to
> vote. Asset Voting avoids this problem. Every ballot is available to be
> voted. (I would recommend that every candidate be required to designate a
> proxy, to vote for the candidate if the candidate becomes unavailable.
> Consider how much easier this would be than holding a special election! And
> that choice would be public record, I presume. No surprises.)

If asset voting is *not* like STV and is monotonic, precinct-summable,
fair and equitable etc. I would probably not oppose it, but personally
I prefer the party list system with voter ability to alter the list
order based on Condorcet counts better.

> Asset will work with STV, and my prediction is that not too many will use
> additional ranking on the ballot. It probably becomes unnecessary. Asset
> would also work with IRV! It would make IRV into an excellent voting method.
> No majority, no election, runoff of some kind. If holding a runoff is a
> problem, it would be obvious who could be blamed for it! Candidates who were
> unwilling to compromise. If that's a majority, I'd say this electorate has a
> problem! Normally it won't be.

If IRV/STV counting methods are used, I oppose it due to its
inequities and the vagaries the inequities cause.
> STV for proportional representation, even with eliminations, is much better
> than multiseat methods in use. But I'm hoping that we can look at ways to do
> it even better, and what Asset would do is to create a penumbra of electors
> that stand between the voters and those who are actually elected to the
> Assembly. They generally represent the voters to those whom they elect. This
> "Electoral College" is *fully representative,* along the lines of that old
> proposal for a city council where the winners exercise the number of votes
> they got in the election. They are public voters.
> And there goes the need for campaign financing. Spending a lot of money to
> get elected would become a suspicious action! Rather, increasingly, electors
> would not be candidates with a chance of winning, except in small
> jurisdictions. They would be people, your neighbors for the most part,
> interested in helping see that the people are represented in the Assembly.
> You would know them personally, almost always. You could talk to them. And,
> because it's known who they voted for in the actual seat elections, they
> could talk to the seat holders directly, as people with real political
> power, the power to elect, known and identified.

Don't know about that. It sounds nice. Gotta get back to more coursework.



Kathy Dopp
Town of Colonie, NY 12304
"One of the best ways to keep any conversation civil is to support the
discussion with true facts."

Realities Mar Instant Runoff Voting

Voters Have Reason to Worry

Checking election outcome accuracy

More information about the Election-Methods mailing list