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

Toby Pereira tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk
Wed Dec 3 15:14:19 PST 2014

Steve (and others)
As usual my new responses have no tags.
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 overall.  
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.
I suppose this comes down to how you define proportionality. I would argue that the most proportional result is the one that gives the best equalises representation across all the voters. For example, if one voter equally likes candidates A, B and C, and another equally likes A, B and D, then with two to elect, I think most people would agree that AB is the best result. However, STV-type methods (including APR) would be indifferent between this and any other result such as AC (AB might end up as the elected result due to a particular counting method, but ideologically STV is indifferent). AC would greatly favour one voter of the other even though both would be fully satisfied with "their" own representative. One voter has been lucky because they happened to also like the other voter's representative. The other voter was less lucky. This is why I think it is a limitation of voting systems for a person's vote to be tranferred to a single candidate such as in STV and APR and ignore all their other preference information below the transfer point. Taking into account scores given to all candidates allows a method to give a more balanced and I would argue more proportional result.
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.
As above, luck does exist in APR because it doesn't consider how much you like the elected candidates that your vote has not touched. Approval/score systems (some of them at least) can create a balanced result using all this information.  
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?
I've pretty much defined the system above. I haven't explicitly said which proportional score system would be used, but there are a few out there, and I don't think it's vital to this discussion to go into the mathematical detail. The advantage would be what I have said above - every voter's rating of every candidate is considered to ensure the most balanced and proportional result possible.  
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.
Well, I'd want it to be possible for a voter to cast a relatively complex ballot without having to do all the work on the day in the polling station. My above descripton was an attempt at a method, but I'd be happy for any improvements. I'd want the same if APR was implemented, because it would be quite awkward to rank, say, 20 candidates from different association on the day, for example.  
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.
They wouldn't be denied the right to vote or have their vote wasted. They could have their vote transferred to another of (for example) UKIP's candidates. Another way of looking at democracy is that every citizen should have equal power. But because there is only a certain amount of space in parliament, we have to limit it to 650 (in the UK) people having 1/650 of the power each rather than 60 million having 1/60 million each (which we might call "full democracy"). 650 people having equal of power is closer to full democracy than 650 people having differing amounts of power - some having a lot more than 1/650, and therefore even further away from the true democratic right of 1/60 million.
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.
One doubt in particular is that there is, I think, a very real possibility that celebrity politicians would dominate. While parties might get several candidates elected, most of the power might be with the few famous candidates. I've said this before, and I'm yet to be convinced otherwise.  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.
You have seen it! We have discussed a couple of points on it. http://tobypereira.wordpress.com/2014/07/30/electoral-reform-3-a-reasonable-way-of-electing-mps-proportionally/ 
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:  
S: 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. 
I'm not sure this bond is such a good thing. I think politicians should want to appeal to as many people as possible, by using good arguments rather than just appeal to the people that have voted them in by appeasing them. This is another reason to prefer a system that looks at a voter's ratings of all candidates rather than them having just one MP that they've helped elect.  
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?
As above, I don't think APR would be superior to a proportional system that gives all MPs equal power, or to a system where voters and MPs aren't bound to each other specifically. It would still form a diverse legislative body representing different people's needs, but it just wouldn't give different MPs different amounts of power. 
> >>>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).  
Right. I must have incorrectly thought that this was all provisional upon people voting with their association in the general election. But this seems a very strange system. An association could have a lot of support in the primary, but lose most of that before the general election. In this case they would still be guaranteed a set number of MPs, but they would just have a very small amount of power. On the flipside, an association might do poorly in the primary and only be eligible for one MP, but then have a massive gain in support. APR would force all the supporters of that association to be represented by one MP who would have a disproportional amount of power. I don't see any advantages to this.
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.
I hadn't really considered the bribing/coercing side of things. But this is one problem of not having a secret ballot. And while people can go against their association in the general election, it seems that the number of MPs from each association is fixed regardless of how much support they get in the general election. To me, the association part of APR looks worse now to me now than it did before.  
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 other?
It would be interesting to see what results came out of it.
But in general conclusion, your own comments on the association part of APR have turned me further away from it. I think it's unnecessary, and also with people often wanting to go against their association in the general election, I think it's unhelpful. And while people can go against their association, the primary fixes the number of MPs the associaton has, so this bribery and coercion you talk about can make a difference. Number of MPs not just amount of power is important, including when it comes to having allies in parliament and also having voices in the media.
With the differing power part, you like to frame your questions as "Why would you deny people democracy?", but I don't think that's particularly helpful. There's more to it than that. As I say, I think democracy is a means to an end, rather than the end itself - the end being good legislation. I think under APR within an association the bigger names will still get more power and be able to dominate their colleagues. Celebrity will count, and not in a good way. And as I discussed, MPs have a disproportional amount of power over citizens anyway just by being in parliament, so giving some MPs even more power increases this inequality further. This is just another way of looking at it in terms that would make APR less proportional than a system that gives all MPs equal power, to turn the argument around the other way.
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