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

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Wed Feb 29 14:02:47 PST 2012

On 02/26/2012 06:25 PM, Richard Fobes wrote:
> 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.

I'm not entirely sure what you're saying. If you're saying that you 
can't have more than two seats per district and still have 
proportionality unless you use party list PR, that's obviously wrong. 
But if you say that you can use an MMP compensatory mechanism to get 
proportionality beyond the effective threshold, then I get what you're 
saying. So I'll assume that :-)

> 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).

I think you said minor parties could get undue power in three-seat 
district STV with the two parties + minor situation that you have today, 
but I also guess that's not what you're referring to (since you say 
"those situations don't exist now").

So what kind of unfairness are you envisioning? STV with five-seat 
districts seems to work where it's been used, in the sense that it does 
produce multipartyism and the voters don't complain about vote 
splitting. At least if they do, I don't know it.

MMP is a solution. The Norwegian parliament even combines MMP-like 
top-up with party list PR: if a party gets more than 4%, and the party 
gets a disproportional outcome from constituencies alone, then they get 
a share of the seats allocated for the purpose of compensating for that 

But if you're going to use MMP, why then use STV at all? Why not use 
party list (since you're going to ask the voters their party 
preferences) or Condorcet + MMP (since the MMP part can handle the 
disproportionality of single member districts just like it can the 
disproportionality of two-member districts)? Questions of where you draw 
your tradeoff line - in this case, of two members per district instead 
of one or five - can be very useful in understanding, and so I ask.

(I tend to think that, all other things equal, seats allocated to STV is 
better than seats allocated to party list, because STV gives 
proportionality by what the voters want, not just proportionality per 
party. Party list PR is easier when the district sizes get large, but 
that's a matter of how many candidates you should have in each district 
before any residual disproportionality will have to be accepted or be 
handled by party-wise top-up.)

> 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
> improvements.)

I know too little about US politics to comment, but if you're right, 
that's good, and I hope your strategy can work :-) Do you have any 
specific plans on how to advocate substantial electoral reform in Rhode 

> 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.)

Was that a partisan or nonpartisan open primary?

> 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.

Thank you :-)

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