[EM] STV seat count, and start small and locally

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Sun Feb 26 09:25:45 PST 2012

I changed the title of this thread because the previous title lost its 

My reply starts about one screen down ...

On 2/24/2012 1:01 PM, Kristofer Munsterhjelm wrote:
> On 02/23/2012 11:24 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> Kristofer Munsterhjelm asks: "... why do you propose rules that would
>> make it harder for third parties to grow?" ...
>> What I promote is VoteFair ranking. It includes a PR-related portion --
>> called VoteFair partial-proportional ranking -- that gives
>> representation to third parties that represent enough voters. This
>> aspect of VoteFair ranking specifically makes it easier (not harder) for
>> third parties to grow.
> Yes, proportional representation would make it easier for third parties
> to grow. On the other hand, in an earlier post, you suggested STV (which
> is a PR method and thus one would expect to have the same purpose as the
> VoteFair ranking) be used with two seats instead of three or five.
> In a five-seat district, assuming Droop proportionality, any group of
> more than a sixth of the voters can give their candidate a seat.
> However, in a two-seat district, the group has to grow to exceed a third
> of the voters to be sure of getting that seat; thus, smaller groups
> could be splintered (either maliciously by gerrymandering or simply due
> to bad luck), if there are few seats.

I'm picturing double-size districts and electing two representatives per 
district.  STV can use the ballot info to get that part right.

However, getting fair proportional results beyond two seats per district 
(for any voting method) requires asking voters to indicate their 
favorite political party.

That additional party-preference information then enables additional 
proportional seats to be filled.

Using STV to fill more than two seats would lead to very unfair results 
in some situations.  Those situations don't exist now, but they can (and 
I believe would) arise if the voting system changes (such as adopting STV).

> Since the quota constitutes a sort of effective threshold, a two-seat
> system would make it harder for a party to grow than would a five-seat
> system, since the party would have to become a lot larger before
> starting to win seats. Not as hard as in a single district system, of
> course, but that's not much of a compliment.
> You could compensate for the disproportionality on the local level with
> proportionality on a greater level, like MMP does, but then you couldn't
> use the "start small and locally" strategy because the compensation
> mechanism would have to be present from the start.

Any election-method change can start at the (U.S.) state level.  If that 
works, it can be adopted by other states.  If the results are better, it 
would be hard to stop the change from happening at the national level.

Something similar happened with women getting the right to vote in the 
U.S.  Initially four western (less-important) states tried it.  The 
predicted disasters did not occur, so other states adopted it, and soon 
thereafter Congress made the change.  (Other nations, including Canada, 
had already given women the right to vote before it was adopted here.) 
(Interesting perspective: Voting started as a way to count how many men 
would be fighting on each side of a fight if fighting broke out, and 
that's why women initially were not counted.)

Currently the tiny state of Rhode Island is so frustrated by what goes 
on in its state legislature that it is ripe for election-method reform. 
  That state is so small that it is more "local" than the Los Angeles area.

In other words, I agree that reform must start at the "local" level, but 
I think that some state-level changes would fit your idea of "local". 
(I don't know if there are cities that are ripe for proportional 

I'll add that here in the state of Oregon there was a ballot measure 
about adopting an "open primary", so there are opportunities to adopt 
election-method change at the state level if it's the right change.  (It 
failed; I opposed that change for what I hope are obvious reasons.)

I continue to be impressed by your/Kristofer's questions and comments, 
so I'll add that you have asked good questions here, which makes it 
worth the time to reply.

Richard Fobes

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