[EM] APR (7) Steve's 7th dialogue with Toby

steve bosworth stevebosworth at hotmail.com
Tue Dec 2 01:41:06 PST 2014

  APR (7) Steve?s 7th dialogue with Toby  

From: election-methods-request at lists.electorama.com

> Subject: Election-Methods Digest, Vol 125, Issue 34

> To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com

> Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2014 10:54:03 -0800

> ……………………> 

> Today's Topics:


> 1. Re: APR (6) Steve?s 6th dialogue with Toby (Toby Pereira)



> ----------------------------------------------------------------------


> Message: 1

> Date: Sun, 30 Nov 2014 18:54:00 +0000 (UTC)

> From: Toby Pereira <tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk>

> To: steve bosworth <stevebosworth at hotmail.com>,

> "election-methods at lists.electorama.com"

> <election-methods at lists.electorama.com>

> Subject: Re: [EM] APR (6) Steve?s 6th dialogue with Toby

> Message-ID:

> <282666171.3324543.1417373640157.JavaMail.yahoo at jws11130.mail.ir2.yahoo.com>


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To Toby (and everyone else reading) from Steve.


feel free to ask Steve to email you a copy of his draft article explaining APR.

T:  I've cut a lot out of this to make it
more concise. There's a lot we don't really disagree on, a bit of repetition
and a few minor issues that probably don't warrant further discussion.


> >>>2S:? No, the main reason for APR’s Primary is to provide an
additional opportunity for each citizen to clarify their own scale of political
values by being prompted to consider through which civil society ?association?
their own vote would be most efficiently channelled, i.e. which association is
most likely to run attractive candidates.? Each association placing its list of
candidates in Section A of its own Ballot is only the simplest way for each
group of official electors to vote.? This is a brief way of recalling the
arguments for associations and APR?s Primary repeated below in 14S:, 20S:,
21S:, & 23S:



T: I'm
not going to discuss exactly how PAL determines which MP represents which
elector because it's not something that I see as a necessary part of the
process. I think a citizen should be free to choose an MP to contact as they
wish on the specific area that they want to contact them about at the time. I
see no need for a rigid connection between elector and MP. MPs might have their
own areas of expertise and interest, and I might want to contact someone about
something outside my own MP's areas of interest. In general, if I supported a
party, I would probably contact my local party MP, but this wouldn't always be
the case.

S:  If this all you want then APR and PAL would
seem equally to satisfy your own personal preferences.  However, unlike APR, PAL does not also allow each
other citizen to guarantee that his or her own vote will continue most
efficiently to help shape the binding decisions of the state, i.e. each citizen
who knows more exactly his or her own scale of values and those of the
associations and their candidates.  Why
deny other citizens this guarantee?


T:  This is one reason why I generally speaking
prefer proportional approval and score systems to STV systems. In
approval/score systems, your opinion of all candidates is taken into account in
the electoral process, so it should give a more accurate proportional result


S:  How can it be “more accurate”?  With an approval/score system, none of your favoured
candidates might be elected.  Thus, your
one vote might be wasted. In contrast, APR allows you to guarantee that one of
the MPs is either most favoured by you, or is most favoured by your most
favoured but eliminated candidate. 


 T:  In
STV, it just starts at the top of your list and only goes down as far as it has
to, so it takes less into account. For example, some people might be lucky and
like a lot of MPs that their vote hasn't been transferred to. Some people might
be less lucky. STV can't take this into account. Approval/score systems can do
this better.


S:  Unlike APR, ‘luck’ is a necessary feature of
approval/score systems.  


T: ……..
while unsure at the moment, but I think it could work. For example, if I'm
happy to delegate to my preferred candidate, I simply cast a vote for them.
This counts as a maximum score (say 10 out of 10). This candidate has a
pre-declared score for other candidates, and this is taken as my score for
them. Alternatively I could score the candidates myself. Those I ignore would
just score 0. My own scores could be prepared in advance in some manner to
simplify the election process for the voter. For example, I could prepare a
vote anonymously in advance on an official computer, and when I enter my
ballot, ………


S:  Again, in effect, APR gives you essentially
these same options.  What advantages
would this, as yet to be worked out system, have over APR?



T: ………it
gives me something like a 10-digit code that the system saves against that
ballot. That wouldn't count for anything but then I can just write in this code
on my ballot paper in the election. Obviously how it would work is up for
discussion and we'd have to consider all possible security concerns.


S:  Please explain exactly how you would want it
to work.



> ?> S: It seems to me that the fundamental question is, do you want an
electoral system that treats each citizen equally or not? In the above, you
seem to >want one that happens to give you some advantage over others, that
allows your vote mathematically to have more decision-making power than another
>citizen?s vote with whom you disagree. How would you justify that?

> ?T: > You've missed the point here. You phrased your own question in
terms of voters' wanting to have their own candidate to have lots of power -
i.e. a selfish advantage for them??..

>>>5S:? Such a ?want? need not be ?selfish?, it might only express a
desire for equal respect in an election for each elector.? In addition, some
citizens ?want? may be entirely altruistic, a desire for their own concept of
the ?common good? to be proportionately represented.

T:   Maybe,
but this part of the discussion is purely about whether people in general (who
have no specific interest in electoral systems) would like the idea of
differing power for MPs. And for many, the gains of having someone they like
with more than the average MP's amount of power might be outweighed by the fear
of someone they hate having this extra power. It's something I might consider
(and see below on UKIP).

S:  Any electoral system you propose could
produce some MPs you “hate”.   The only way APR could elect them is if a
sufficient number of your fellow citizens favoured them.  You seem to want to deny these citizens their
right to vote, or at least to make a system that will ensure that their votes
will be wasted?  Is this so?  Also, remember that APR allows you to
guarantee that your vote will be added to the weighted vote of that MP who will
work hardest and vote against those MPs that you hate. 


>>>6S:? Please give me your reasons for thinking that proportionate
representation by any candidate within the 10% limit could be ?too much??

T:  In the UK, we have the United Kingdom
Independence Party (UKIP). UKIP is largely dominated by one man - Nigel Farage.
Under your system, most of the UKIP votes would be for him, and it's possible
he could even get somewhere near the 10% [limit]. Some people consider him to
be a nasty man and UKIP to be a nasty party. And I think all this power for one
man in the party rather than spread out over several MPs could be a more
"scary" state of affairs…..


S:  I also oppose Farage.  However, how could you justify making some of
his supporters waste their votes?  Also,
remember that even in the worst case scenario, UKIP’s weighted votes in the
Commons most probably would also be opposed by more than 50% of the weighted votes
in the Commons. 

T:  ….Of course, if we had APR as a
system, the political climate in general would be different, so this might not
happen in practice…..


S:  Yes.


T: …. So
as I think Juho said, it would be interesting to see it tried out on a smaller
scale. So instead of replying to all your following individual comments on the
differing power part of APR, I will say that I'm open to the possibility of it,
but I still have certain doubts. ….


S:  It would help me understand your “doubts” if
you would describe your imagined worst case scenario that might be produced by
using APR.  Also, please describe your
preferred alternative electoral system that would entirely avoid this “scary”
outcome, while still fully respecting each citizen’s vote.


T: ….If I
was writing my blog post again (the one that formed part of this discussion), I
probably would mention APR as a system that has possible benefits.


S:  Please send me a copy of your “blog”.  I have not seen it.


> T:> I suppose I might say that the goal is to maximise societal
utility. I would generally argue for proportional systems because I think they
would help to do that. I think they would help to create a more dynamic
political landscape for one thing, but I think APR might hinder it in that the
celebrity politicans might become hard to shift and hog the power.

>>>15S:? By what process do you have in mind for arriving at an
operational definition of ?societal utility?.? For myself, I see APR as
providing an essential element of the wider optimal institutional arrangements
for a society to make binding, evidence based and rational decisions for
itself.? I would expect such tentative sovereign decisions largely both to
define and to serve such ?societal utility?.? The other optimal elements in my
view include: a parliamentary rather than a presidential constitution,
publically funded university education for all able citizens desiring it,
freedom of speech, press, and association, the removal of poverty, etc.

T:  Essentially I want laws that are fair,
logical, consistent, non-arbitrary etc. When there is a debate on a piece of
potential legislation, I might take a side. The side I take is unlikely to be
related to where the majority of the population stand on it. That is to say
that a democratic process doesn't always produce the "best" result.
Of course, other systems are likely to produce even worse results. So I would
want a system that is likely to produce legislation that fits my above
criteria.  I think a more dynamic
electoral process that isn't dominated by two parties will help. So that's why
I'm in favour of proportional representation. But would APR produce even better
results than a system that gives all MPs equal power? I don't know.



S:  What do you think of the reasons I have given
explaining how APR is most “likely to produce legislation
that fits [this] criteria”?  Please
consider again the above at “<<<<15S:”, the below at “*S >S:”,
and especially the last paragraph of the following:


APR, more
than other systems, would seem to assist the development of a much closer
identity between each elector and his representative, a more intense personal,
ideological and mutual bond.  This would
seem to contrast, on average, with the more defuse and vague relations between
the agendas of each elector and the representatives elected by other systems. 


Again, the
evolution of these closer relationships between electors, associations, and
representatives would grow partly as a result of the time between the two
elections.  Firstly, the “bottom-up”
Primary might prompt more electors to start to familiarize themselves with the association’s
officials, activists, and other potential candidates of their preferred
organizations.   Thus, each APR
representative is more likely to have been known and explicitly favoured by his
electors at least several months before the general election.  Consequently, the ideological fit between
each set of APR’s associations, electors, and representatives is likely to be
much closer than that between each set of parties, districts, electors, and representatives
in other systems.


As a
consequence of this bond, the focus of each APR representative’s work both
within the assembly and with his electors and association is more likely to be
clear.    This increases the probability
that each elector of a given association’s representative(s) will also be
represented more efficiently in the assembly, that the quality of
representation offered by APR is likely to be better than that provided by
other systems.


Moreover, a
legislative assembly composed of such different, clashing and well focused reps
would seem more likely to provide an optimal debating and negotiating chamber
for the production of laws based on evidence and rational thought. This is
because it would more accurately reflect the real variety and intensity of
people’s concerns.  If so, this assembly
would also be better able to respond to the imperative to form a working
majority in the assembly in order to produce wise legislative solutions to
problems, solutions also agreeable to a majority of the people.  The fact that each APR representative, on
average, is more likely to be focused and trusted by his or her electors would seem
better to enable them also to arrive at any necessary compromises between the
contending parties and representatives to achieve their common ends.


S:  We agree that the “side” in such a “debate”
that each of us should take would not be determined by the distribution of
votes in the Commons but on the “force of the available arguments based on the
critical evidence and rational thought”. 
What do you think of the above case I have made for seeing APR as providing
an essential part of the optimal conditions for the production of the type of “laws”
we both want?


> ?T:? > I'm still not 100% convinced. …………………….


>>>18S:? Remember that the number of MPs that each ?association? (e.g.
?movement? or ?party?) will elect has been determined in advance of the general
election by APR?s Primary.? Also, the candidates for a given association could
individually or collectively ?predeclare? that, if elected, they will, in
effect share all their combined votes equally.

T:   Is
this correct? Assuming people don't go against their chosen association between
the primary and the general election, then I agree that the proportion of power
that an association will have has been determined in advance………


S:  No, each association’s proportion of MPs is entirely
determined by the Primary but its proportion of the weighted votes is entirely
determined only by the general election.


T:  ….. An association might have 2% of the
electors, but that doesn't mean they'll have 2% of the MPs, because they might
all vote for one candidate in the association who then gets all the 2% of the
power. ……..


S:  Let me correct your above 2 sentences: The
exact number of MPs each association must elect during the general election is
entirely determined in advance by APR’s Primary (as fully explained by page 6
and Endnote 5 in my article).  The
combined weighted vote of an association’s MPs elected later during the general
election is entirely determined by the number of citizens’ votes given to them
directly or indirectly (see pages 5 & 6 and Endnotes 3 & 4).


T: …. So
as far as I can see, they still might be left without allies in parliament.


S:  Whether a given MP has or does not have “allies”
in the assembly should only be the result of the different ideological positions
of the MPs and their different skills at freely creating and negotiating alliances
with each other.  The job of an electoral
system is to ensure that all citizens are mathematically and qualitatively
represented in the assembly.  Of course,
it should also encourage such alliances but it should not attempt to
manufacture them.


*S:  >S: 
Let me try to explain more fully why I think that APR without its
Primary and its resulting associations would only be a second best APR option.?
APR?s Primary and associations allow all citizens to give a proportionate extra
recognition, standing and political function to the most popular organizations
of civil society. Citizens know these organizations through their work,
profession, and/or daily lives and activities throughout the year. As a
consequence, these organizations (associations) have some communication and
mobilization resources that are independent of the richest sections of society,
celebrity, and the mass media. These living connections help people better to
know how to vote and how otherwise to participate politically in accord with
their own valued life experiences. These relations would enable many citizens
to choose the sufficiently popular organizations that would become the official
electoral associations as a result of APR?s Primary. Each such citizen would
rank highest the organization that accords best with his own values and interests.

I think APR, would also help to reduce the relative power of the rich, the
media owners, and celebrity. This is because APR?s Primary allows each citizen
instead to channel their vote through the civil society organization (and its
candidates) he or she sees as most consistently working to promote and protect
their own abiding interests and values.? This would make mass media, celebrity,
and money somewhat less important in determining how people will vote.? (Also
see 21S:,23S: & 26S: in the previous post)

T:  I would certainly hope that any reasonable
voting system would encourage citizens to become more engaged with the
electoral process anyway. Possibly the association system would also help a bit
on top of this, but it still encourages rigid thinking/lazy voting? to the
extent that people are encouraged to some extent to vote for candidates purely
in the association that they have voted for in the primary. …


S:  I do not understand why you think APR would “encourage
rigid thinking/lazy voting”.

all, any citizen that participates in its Primary has chosen to do so and then they
are prompted to devote additional time and effort to study and consider the districts
and the many civil society organizations in order to rank some of them to
become an elector in one of them.  This
additional effort would seem not to be a sign of “laziness” and these many prompted
considerations would instead seem to challenge rather than foster “rigidity”.  


T: ….With
a standard geographical ballot, they are obviously also presented with a set
list of candidates, but they are not made to feel that they should vote for any
of them on the basis that to do otherwise would be some sort of a U-turn. …


S:  I expect that there would be 3 different
types of citizen that would participate in the Primary:  one purely enthusiastically, one bribed, and
one coerced.  The enthusiast would
happily see the Primary as liberating them both to help increase the political influence
of “good” organizations, and to allow their own vote in the general election to
be added to the weighted vote of their most trusted MP.   The
enthusiast would also see Section B of APR’s general election ballot as freely
allowing them secretly  and guiltlessly to
change their mind in the light of any new thoughts, arguments or evidence
received after the Primary.


On the
other hand, some citizens may have been either bribed or coerced to join a
particular association.  The bribed could
welcome the opportunity to make some money, especially because they could
securely calculate that the secrecy of the general election will, in practice,
allow them still to vote according to their own preferences, not as promised to
the briber.   Similarly, the coerced
could see the general election as allowing them, in practice, to escape having
to continue to support the association into which they had been coerced.  Both of these participants in the Primary
would also welcome the “U-turn” opportunity offered by Section B.



T: ….But
this is something that I would also like to see in practice on a small scale,
to see if the advantages outweigh the disadvantages (added complication of an
extra election and possible encouragement of rigid thinking).


S:  Exactly what kind of evidence do you think could
be collected from such a “test” in order to prove the questions one way or the

>>>24S:? If so, given all the above explanations, would you also agree
that APR offers more of what you want than does PAL?

T:  Well, PAL isn't the only option for me (as
discussed above). There are some good arguments for differing MP power and for
APR's primaries that you've made, but as you can see I still have some
concerns. I'd like to see it in practice. But if I had to pick an election
system right now, I probably would still on balance go against differing power
and associations!


S: If so,
how would you justify your alternative electoral system which also would waste
at least a few citizens’ votes, both mathematically and qualitatively?

> Toby


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