[EM] Election layering effect (or why election-method reform is important)

Ted Stern araucaria.araucana at gmail.com
Fri Apr 27 12:48:26 PDT 2012

On 27 Apr 2012 12:26:11 -0700, Richard Fobes wrote:
> Recently I realized that in our Declaration, and in our discussions,
> we have failed to explain and explore the "amplification" effect that
> occurs as a result of, for a lack of a better term at the moment,
> "layering."
> Here is how I explained it in the proposal I referred to earlier:
> "Winning an election with less than half the votes might seem like a
> small unfairness, but the effect is huge because of a layering
> effect. Although each Congressman typically got a ballot mark from
> about one out of two voters in the general election, he or she got a
> ballot mark from only about one out of four voters (based on
> cross-party counting) if the Congressman competed against a strong
> candidate in the primary election. Another layer occurs because only
> slightly more than half the members of Congress need to vote in favor
> of a new law to get it passed, so just those Congressmen got ballot
> marks from only about one out of eight U.S. voters, which is about 12%
> of U.S. voters. Yet even more layers are involved because most
> Congressmen first serve as state-level officials, and the state-level
> election process similarly filters out the problem-solving leaders
> that most voters want. Adding in two more layers to account for
> mainstream-media influence and low voter turnout easily accounts for
> how each law passed in Congress represents the desires of only 1% of
> the U.S. population."
> (The full proposal is at:
> http://www.the99declaration.org/4408/ban_single_mark_ballots_from_congressional_elections?recruiter_id=4408
> )
> I'm interested in any ideas for how this concept can be explained more
> clearly, especially if someone can think of an appropriate analogy or
> metaphor or diagram.

Here's an analogy:

       The task is to approximate the number 0.4445 to the
       nearest integer.

       If you start by rounding to the nearest thousandth, you get

       If you then round to the nearest hundredth, you get 0.45.

       If you then round to the nearest tenth, you then get 0.5.

       Then if you round to the nearest integer, you get 1.

       But 0.4445 is closer to zero than one, so you end up being
       wrong by more than one-half.


> Richard Fobes
> ----
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araucaria dot araucana at gmail dot com

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