[EM] Historical perspective about FairVote organization

Kristofer Munsterhjelm km_elmet at lavabit.com
Thu Mar 14 01:06:40 PDT 2013

On 03/13/2013 10:48 PM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
> At 03:16 PM 3/13/2013, Richard Fobes wrote:
>> For the benefit of those who don't understand why FairVote promotes
>> IRV (instant-runoff voting) in opposition to many forum participants
>> here, I'm posting this extract from an excellent, well-written, long
>> message by Abd.
>> On 3/13/2013 11:46 AM, Abd ul-Rahman Lomax wrote:
>> [not copied]
>> I'll add that in Canada the FairVote group directly advocates STV and
>> European-based PR methods, not the stepping-stone IRV path.
>> (BTW, please don't confuse the similarly named FairVote and VoteFair
>> names.)
> I certainly won't.
> Yes, STV is a far more sensible method, under certain multiwinner
> conditions. However, the essential problem does remain, premature
> elimination as a result of vote-splitting in first preference, further,
> there is the problem that Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) identified in the
> 1880s, that voters don't necessarily have adequate information to
> properly rank more than one candidate. Hence he proposed what we now
> call Asset Voting, as a tweak on STV.

The good thing about multiwinner methods is that as the number of seats 
go up, the proportionality constraints matter more and more and the 
wiggle room between those proportionality constraints become less. So 
the more seats you have, the more bizarre the base method can be as long 
as it meets the proportionality criteria.

STV meets Droop proportionality, which is its proportionality criterion. 
If you have a great number of seats, you're pretty much bound to have 
some minorities be large enough that they'll proportionally get what 
they want.

Of course, this logic also goes the other way, so mutual majority for 
single-winner is a more loose constraint than DPC in the 10 seat case, 
thus making IRV comparatively worse compared to Condorcet than say STV 
with 10 seats compared to CPO-STV with 10. There's also the problem that 
ranking very long lists of candidates becomes a chore, and if there are 
many seats, there also are many candidates. The Australian way of 
turning STV into a party list method is one way of "solving" this, but 
in my opinion, that cure is worse than the disease.

> With Asset Voting, candidates aren't actually eliminated; rather, they
> aren't elected yet, but they can exercise the votes they hold, to create
> winners, thus converting the voting system into a *deliberative
> process.* In theory, if two candidates are holding votes for the last
> seat, and can't come to an agreement, they can choose *someone else*,
> who might not have been a candidate at all!

How does the process work? Is STV run through one round, and then the 
candidates to be eliminated are asked where to transfer their votes, and 
then STV is run through the next round, and then the candidates... and 
so on?

Also, I haven't heard of Asset being used in public elections, but I 
know of something similar where candidates provide a ranking of their 
own. This was used in Fiji, for example, before the coup. One common 
complaint about this is that it takes power out of the hands of the 
voters. That is, the parties make backroom deals about whom to support, 
and then the voters' votes are "hijacked" in the direction of the allies 
against the voters' wishes.

How does proper Asset handle that? I've heard counters to the effect 
that "if you don't trust your favorite to manage your vote, then you 
shouldn't trust your favorite with policies either, and so you shouldn't 
vote for him". But in a similar way to how a majority of a majority is 
not a majority, the closest political candidate to your closest 
political candidate may not be your next-to-closest political candidate. 
Each link weakens the connection to the voter. Similarly, party pressure 
can be applied to the candidate's ranking of other candidates, but not 
as easily to the day-to-day workings of that candidate.

I guess Asset itself is not as susceptible to this problem if the 
candidates are free to declare where their votes should go, instead of 
having to commit ahead of time. But does it weaken it enough in a highly 
competitive environment with party discipline?

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