Jameson Quinn jameson.quinn at gmail.com
Mon Feb 6 03:02:19 PST 2012

2012/2/5 David L Wetzell <wetzelld at gmail.com>

> I wanted to add that if STV (3-5 seats) with Droop Quota were used
> consistently across the US that there'd be 50 states forming the
> super-districts and so if there were biases due to gerrymandering some of
> them would cancel out...
> Also, even though this system is not terribly 3rd party friendly, it
> should improve upon our current system some and it doesn't take a lot of
> 3rd party reps to make a difference in the House of Reps.
> Moreover, if the bicameral state legislatures were selected by both LR
> Hare 3-seats and a single-winner rule (insert your favorite here), then
> it'd make it so that what helped with gerrymandering in one branch would
> hurt in the other branch.  And there'd be much lower barriers for 3rd
> parties who'd keep the major parties from gerrymandering the "super
> districts" used for the House of Reps.

Agreed with all of the above.

> In fact, it might be a good thing to let the pretty darn proportionally
> elected state house of reps elect our US senators again!!!  Statewide
> campaigns are expensive and often driven by the manipulative mainstream
> media.  And if the state reps got to elect our US senators every 2 years
> then it would elevate even further the import of state reps elections which
> would direct people's attention more so to those elections where their
> votes are more likely to make a difference...

Agreed, but no chance this will happen.


> dlw
> On Sat, Feb 4, 2012 at 9:48 PM, Bryan Mills <bmills at alumni.cmu.edu> wrote:
>> On Sat, Feb 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM, Jameson Quinn <jameson.quinn at gmail.com>wrote:
>>> 2012/2/4 Bryan Mills <bmills at alumni.cmu.edu>
>>>> > From: Bryan Mills <bmills at alumni.cmu.edu>
>>>>> > To: David L Wetzell <wetzelld at gmail.com>
>>>>> > > If there are 3-5 seats STV then the number of candidates won't
>>>>> > proliferate
>>>>> > > too much and there'd be 5-7 places to vote.  This would keep things
>>>>> > > reasonable.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > To get reasonable proportionality with only 3-5 seats per district
>>>>> > you'd probably need to go to an MMP system, with all its added
>>>>> > complexity.  Otherwise Droop proportionality doesn't buy you much
>>>>> over
>>>>> > FPTP; with 5 seats the Droop quota measures to a precision of ~17%,
>>>>> > and the remaining 17% in each district is still susceptible to
>>>>> > gerrymandering.
>>>>> >
>>>>> Not much?
>>>>> The goal here is not perfectionism wrt proportionality.
>>>>> The goal is to increase proportionality and to increase the number of
>>>>> competitive seats
>>>>> and to reduce the cut-throat competitive nature of US political rivalry
>>>>> between its two biggest parties
>>>>> so they can't dominate the other and have more incentives thereby to
>>>>> work
>>>>> together on the many issues that need work.
>>>> I'm doubtful that 3-5 candidate districts actually would "increase the
>>>> number of competitive seats".  Each major party ends up with 1-2 safe
>>>> seats, and at that level of granularity gerrymandering and geographical
>>>> polarization are still significant enough to render the last seat
>>>> non-competitive in most districts.  (It would increase proportionality
>>>> somewhat - by transforming some of the safe-by-gerrymandering seats into
>>>> safe-by-Droop-proportionality seats - but you seem to be arguing that
>>>> proportionality isn't as important as competition.)
>>>> Suppose we have two parties with a 50/50 split and 5 seats per
>>>> district, with one party more popular in urban areas and one more popular
>>>> in rural areas.  And suppose that the district lines are drawn such that
>>>> 4/5 of districts are slightly more rural than average and 1/5 of districts
>>>> are more urban than average, so that the 5th seat in each district becomes
>>>> relatively safe as well.  (We can do this fairly easily using geographical
>>>> boundaries by centering 1/5 of the districts around cities.)
>>>> Scale that up to 400 legislators (80 districts).  What do we end up
>>>> with?
>>>> 320 "natural" safe seats guaranteed by Droop proportionality (160 for
>>>> each party)
>>>> 80 gerrymandered-safe seats for the rural party
>>>> 20 gerrymandered-safe seats for the urban party
>>> First, your numbers add up to 420. I think you meant 64/16 for the safe
>>> seats, which is only a 56/44 advantage, not 60/40.
>> Oops!  I had started calculating with 500, then switches to 400 and
>> forgot to update some of the numbers.  You're right, I should have had the
>> gerrymandered seats at 64/16, and that does give a 56:44 advantage rather
>> than 60:40.  (Of course, if you throw in some third-parties the whole
>> analysis changes too; the 50/50 example is meant to be representative of an
>> idealized two-party world.)
>> Note that the "safe" seats would still swing if there were a swing in
>>> national mood of around something less than 8%, not something less than 25%
>>> as in single-member districts. And the more highly-gerrymandered the map
>>> is, the tighter that margin, and so the greater the chances of it
>>> backfiring against the gerrymandering party. Gerrymandering is a fine art,
>>> but 8% doesn't leave a whole lot of room to play with. Considering safety
>>> margins and misfires, I doubt that the gerrymandering party could get
>>> anything close to the 6% representation advantage your (corrected) numbers
>>> suggest. So, while 2-3% unfairness is still a problem, I think it's a big
>>> step up from where we are.
>> Hmm, interesting.  So maybe that's not as much of a concern as I thought;
>> I'll have to give it some more consideration. I don't think it solves the
>> problem of multiple axes of policy preference, though, and 16% is a lot of
>> voters to leave unrepresented in the multiparty case.
>> Now, despite a 50/50 natural split, the rural party has a 60%
>>>> supermajority.  And, of course, if you draw the district lines differently
>>>> you can do the same thing for the urban party.
>>>> So there's still relatively little hope that a system with such small
>>>> districts would produce a party-proportional legislature.  As you point out
>>>> elsewhere, it might still be possible to get an ideologically-proportional
>>>> legislature if you can get the parties themselves to shift ideologies.
>>>> > If you assume two major parties with ~40% of the electorate each, that
>>>>> > means that the 5th seat in each district is noisy -- but it's not
>>>>> > random noise, it's systematically biased by the parties' voting
>>>>> > strategies and the choice of district boundaries.  Larger districts
>>>>> > allow finer-grained Droop quotas and thereby reduce that noise.
>>>>> dlw: Smaller districts engender less opposition from those in power.
>>>>> They keep the constituent-legislator relationship more so.
>>>> Absolutely agreed that smaller districts engender less opposition from
>>>> those in power.  That's because smaller districts don't fix the biases that
>>>> keep them in power.
>>>> They do maintain the constituent-legislator relationship, *for the
>>>> subset of voters who voted in favor of the legislator*.  For the remaining
>>>> Droop quota of un- or under-represented constituents the nonexistence of
>>>> the constituent-legislator relationship is also maintained.
>>> Here's my chance to plug PAL representation<http://wiki.electorama.com/wiki/PAL_representation>,
>>> which does PR but uses existing-sized districts and preserves a specific
>>> constituent-legislator relationship for all but (up to) one Droop quota of
>>> voters.
>> Hmm..   Interesting, but it seems too complicated to me.  It's got all
>> the complication of delegation, approval, and STV - with a bit less voter
>> burden on the approval side since only the candidates have to pick approval
>> thresholds - plus the variable quota and elimination procedure, which
>> doesn't have a strong intuitive interpretation to me.  Maybe if you can
>> find a way to simplify the counting algorithm - or a way to explain it with
>> a more intuitive connection - but otherwise I think it would be too
>> difficult to get adopted.
>>  > >> But if we assume that partial rankings are effective, there's
>>>>> still the
>>>>> > >> strategy/computation tradeoff to deal with: allowing truncated
>>>>> ballots
>>>>> > >> still doesn't help with favorite-betrayal, and STV variants less
>>>>> > >> susceptible to favorite-betrayal are also less susceptible to
>>>>> efficient
>>>>> > >> counting.
>>>>> > >>
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > dlw: Truncated ballots may not end favorite betrayal, but it'll
>>>>> help with
>>>>> > > it.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > I don't see how; please elaborate.
>>>>> >
>>>>> This is essentially the same arg that IRV does not end the fact that
>>>>> some
>>>>> will still on occasion be pressured to betray their favorite.
>>>>> But it'll be of less consequence when it happens.  It won't be 3rd
>>>>> party
>>>>> dissenters, it'll be the supporters of a major party that does
>>>>> not position itself near the true political center who get pressured to
>>>>> betray their favorite and that in turn will pressure the major party
>>>>> to adapt or die.
>>>> Are you saying that favorite-betrayal isn't a problem when those forced
>>>> to do it belong to a major party?  I hope I'm just misunderstanding your
>>>> point, but it sounds to me like you're describing a system like FPTP but
>>>> with major-party spoilers substituted for minor-party spoilers.
>>>> > >> With an implicit "first-preference" approval, it has the same
>>>>> problem as
>>>>> > >> traditional STV (i.e. IRV), namely of unduly rewarding
>>>>> > favorite-betrayal.
>>>>> > >> With an implicit "all-ranked" approval, the overall system would
>>>>> likely
>>>>> > >> violate later-no-harm with much higher frequency; by expressing a
>>>>> > >> preference between two dispreferred candidates one might
>>>>> unintentionally
>>>>> > >> put the higher of the two in contention.
>>>>> > >>
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > dlw: I'd say empirically we'd see just how high of a frequency LNH
>>>>> would
>>>>> > be
>>>>> > > violated.  Jameson Quinn had a hard time coming up with a
>>>>> pathological
>>>>> > > example for IRV3/AV3 and I imagine it'd be similar for the above.
>>>>>  The
>>>>> > 1st
>>>>> > > stage would reduce the number of candidates to N+2 and it seems
>>>>> likely
>>>>> > that
>>>>> > > the N+2nd and N+3rd candidates in terms of "all-ranked" approval
>>>>> are less
>>>>> > > likely to be among the N winners.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Hmm, ok.  I'm operating on the assumption that voters will vote
>>>>> > strategically if doing so is easy, and will vote approximately
>>>>> > honestly if strategic voting is difficult.
>>>>> >
>>>>> okay.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > We're taking the top S+k winners and running some ideal STV method on
>>>>> > them; let's try to find an "easy" strategy.  Here's my idea:
>>>>> > 1) Gather a set of related parties to form a majority-coalition.
>>>>> > 2) Have the coalition propose exactly S+k candidates.
>>>>> >
>>>>> good luck coordinating that..
>>>>> 3) Ask coalition voters to vote for all of the coalition candidates in
>>>>> > any order they choose.
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Since a majority of candidates approve of every coalition candidate
>>>>> > and disapprove of every competing candidate, the coalition candidates
>>>>> > win the approval vote.
>>>>> > By adding the "approval" phase to the STV election, I'm able to turn
>>>>> a
>>>>> > simple majority into a 100% supermajority.
>>>>> > Is there a flaw in my strategy?  (I don't think there is, but I may
>>>>> be
>>>>> > missing something.)  If not, we'll either need to abandon a fixed
>>>>> > limit on the number of candidates or we'll need something more
>>>>> > sophisticated than a simple approval-vote to filter them.
>>>>> >
>>>>> dlw: It's not realistic.
>>>>> You'd need to have serious intra-party discipline to keep the no. of
>>>>> candidates down to S+2
>>>>> and to get a majority of voters all to vote for all of that S+2
>>>>> candidates.
>>>>>  That is a serious coordination problem.
>>>>> But if it did happen then it'd "work" in terms of making the leading
>>>>> coalition of parties cast a broad net that strongly met the needs of
>>>>> most
>>>>> people.  This would be much better than a bunch of non-competitive
>>>>> single-winner elections.  In that case, we're in DINO land.
>>>> By "strongly met the needs of most people" you appear to mean "met the
>>>> needs of a bare majority of people marginally better than the
>>>> alternatives".  My concern is that in this scenario 25% of the electorate
>>>> would benefit substantially, 25% would benefit marginally, and the
>>>> remaining 50% would be arbitrarily worse off.  That's essentially the same
>>>> worst-case behavior as the current majority-of-majorities setup, but with a
>>>> simpler strategy required to implement it.
>>>> That being the case, I think we'd be better off with small-district STV
>>>> than with large-district STV with this sort of approval-based filtering.
>>>> > >> It may well be that these issues are all less severe than in the
>>>>> > >> deterministic alternatives to STV, but I still think they're
>>>>> enough to
>>>>> > >> merit consideration of nondeterministic alternatives.
>>>>> > >>
>>>>> > >
>>>>> > > In terms of the US's political culture, nondeterministic
>>>>> alternatives are
>>>>> > > not going to happen anytime in the near future and we need
>>>>> electoral
>>>>> > reform
>>>>> > > ASAP!!!!
>>>>> >
>>>>> > Sadly, I think both nondeterminism and STV share the "not going to
>>>>> > happen in the near future given political culture in the US"
>>>>> > classification, given that US law requires single-winner FPTP
>>>>> > elections for federal representation and the major parties (who
>>>>> > control the legislature and benefit greatly from FPTP) have no
>>>>> > incentive to change that law.
>>>>> dlw: STV need not end 2-party domination.  Reforms that do not end
>>>>> 2-party
>>>>> domination are more fit in the US and should be the only ones pushed.
>>>>> And, as I've shown, it's implementation can be simplified.
>>>>> Thus, it can become a  political jujitsu issue, whereby it is more
>>>>> rational
>>>>> for those in power to accommodate than to resist the proposed change.
>>>> The belief that the 2-party system can accurately reflect voter
>>>> consensus relies heavily on the assumption that voters' differences of
>>>> opinions correlate sufficiently well with a single dimension of
>>>> variability, so that tending toward the center along a single axis produces
>>>> centrist results on all issues.  I do not accept that assumption: in my
>>>> experience, Americans disagree along at least two axes that do not
>>>> correlate perfectly (fiscal policy and social policy).
>>>> > So as far as I can tell the only option for meaningful reform is a
>>>>> > constitutional amendment, and that means reforming 75% of the states
>>>>> > as a first step.  This is not a short-term process.
>>>>> I think one could argue that the current law requiring single-winner
>>>>> elections is discriminatory twds minorities, and adopted under bad
>>>>> circumstances, and thereby unconstitutional.  This would not require a
>>>>> constitutional amendment.
>>>> I think you're perhaps overly optimistic about the willingness of
>>>> courts to overturn election law.  But we'll see - I'd be thrilled to be
>>>> proven wrong about this one.
>>>> ----
>>>> Election-Methods mailing list - see http://electorama.com/em for list
>>>> info
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