[EM] APR (8): Steve?s 8th dialogue with Juho (Steve)

Juho Laatu juho4880 at yahoo.co.uk
Sun Dec 14 10:07:43 PST 2014

> On 14 Dec 2014, at 17:23, steve bosworth <stevebosworth at hotmail.com> wrote:

> J: I think I already mentioned some. One could for example require a new grouping to collect 10000 names of supporters. If it does so, it will get the right to nominate a list of candidtes. APR has two phases, first to get to the primary (or maybe anyone could nominate any number of candidtes??) and then to the actual election. The approach that I mentioned above would be simpler (and simplicity may nean efficiency).
> S:  Why 10,000? Would the central electoral commission collect or coordinate these applications.  Would all such nominations appear on all general election ballots? Would such a “grouping” have any other official functions?  Would such groupings have equally or more advantages than APR’s associations as again listed later in this post?

The number should be large enough so that there will not be too many groupings, and small enough to allow many enough to run. The collected supporter lists would be given to the central electoral commission. In elections with numerous candidates I would favour "blank" ballots that do not list the candidate names at all (one could write candidate numbers in the ballot instead). The grouping would exist only to nominate a list of candidates in the election (maybe becomes a proper party if it gets some seats). The newly formed groupings would be treated in the election exactly the same way as the old well established parties.

> S:  But can you not outline the “ideal” system towards which you are working?

I don't have any ready made "ideal" system that I would promote. I may have various improvement proposals for different societies with different background, existing method and preferences. And also improvement proposals for different theoretical system proposals (generic or society specific).

> S: Without you exactly explaining a method you have in mind, we cannot say whether it is or is not arbitrary.

No specific method in my mind. But for example a basic closed list, with no cutoffs, and proportionality counted at top level, and that allows also small groupings to participate in the election (e.g. after collecting supporter names), would be proportional and not in any arbitrary way, and would allow also small groupings to win seats.

> S:  Any APR citizen who is bribed or coerced to seem to reveal preferences as a result of the Primary, can easily vote secretly for completely different preferences in the general election, i.e. they have not reveal their true preferences in the Primary.  Thus, their general election vote is secret.

Yes, but to my understanding also the primary has influence on the outcome of the election as a whole.

> J:  No, APR makes it possible to the voters to prove how they voted. They could prove that e.g. by showing their association specific ballot paper to other people.
> S:  Now I see why you mistakenly believed that APR does not meet this criterion?  Like all other secret voting systems, an APR elector can only complete his ballot by himself at his local polling station and leave that secret ballot in the box at that station, i.e. unseen by anyone else until it is officially counted by the agents of the electoral commission. Thus, like all other secret voting systems, it would be impossible for him to reveal how he had voted except by choosing verbally to report this to someone else.

To my understanding voting in the primary is not secret.

> This could be achieved as follows:  Firstly, as a result of the Primary, the central electoral commission would have a list of all registered voters in the country.  This list would include both the residence address of each voter and the “association” in which each is an elector (i.e. the association which will also produce its tailor made general election ballot for its elector).  Before the general election, the commission would ensure that each district’s electoral administration had also received all the different ballot papers for each of its residents who have become official electors for associations other than the geographically defined one in which they reside as a result of their participation in the Primary.  Thus, on general election day, each resident citizen would receive their own association’s blank ballot paper to complete in the secrecy provided by their local district’s polling station.

Also here it seems that the primary is far from secret. The actual election day voting could be secret, maybe with some extra effort, if the voters can freely deviate in whatever way from whatever limitations their association specific ballot sets on them.

>  Does this solve the secrecy problem for you?

I think the primary is still not secret, and it will influence the outcome of the election, e.g. by allowing or not allowing some associations to take part in the actual election.

> S:  In contrast to APR’s Primary, that “100000 comment” would seem to make it more difficult and less proportionate for establishing new parties.

If you feel that it is too difficult to establish new parties with some required number (of collected supporter names), then you should lower that number. The number should be low enough so that it is not a too difficult task to collect the required number of names to any grouping that may have sufficient support to win one seat.

> J:   Yes, there are many design decisions to make. One very typical one is simplicity vs. complexity with some added features. Simplicity makes the system easy to understand and use to regular voters and thereby improves the democratic process.
> >
> S:  Yes, simplicity is very important. Please remember that APR allows a citizen simply to vote for one candidate if they see its other options as too complex.
> How would the system you have in mind be simpler?

Most methods that are in use today seem simpler than APR.

> You have not yet described your preferred system in enough detail for me to see that it is any simpler than APR.

I don't have any such system that I would propose as "preferred to APR" (only some comments on the details of APR).

> For example, how is your “geographic proportionality” to be achieved without the complicated and somewhat arbitrary work of “boundary commissions“ that may produce “safe-seats”, sometimes by “gerrymandering?

Your comments seem to refer to the US style single seat districts and district formation process. Geographic proportionality (more or less detailed) can be achieved also by other means, e.g. by using large permanent multiwinner districts.

> Also, your above “10000” proposal is not sufficiently detailed to be clear.

I explained it more above. Ask for further details if it is still unclear.

> J:  I think you can read all my comments either as doubts about if the design decisions are the best possible, or as more neutral questions wondering if the system could still be improved, or as questions to you on what kind of system you really want, and how those needs could best be met.
> S: Yes, but I have not yet understood any of these as exposing a flaw.  Correct me if I am mistaken.

I have not noticed any "flaws" in the sense that it would have something obviously wrong. Many of its design details can be disussed in the sense that method developers and societies may have different preferences.

> J:  If voters cannot change the district that they vote in, it is possible that they do not trust any of the candidates of that district, but they could trust candidates of some other district. In my previous mail I explained how voters might be able to change their district. …
> S:  Would they have firstly to move house to the other district?  If so, this would not be practically possible for most people, and certainly more difficult than relevantly participating in APR’s Primary to achieve the same result.

I think I said "either or".

> J:  … In addition it is possible to develop systems that both implement geographical proportionality and allow voters to vote candidates of other districts (such systems are however probably unusual). I don't want to deny voters this option, but I might opt not to support it in many practical systems since it does not add very much, …
> S: If you “deny voters this option”, you do not know how “much” it would “add” or subtract.  It least we know that without this option you would be denying equality of respect to some of your fellow citizens and this violates a fundamental principle of democracy.  How would you justify this violation?  Of course, if you are really a “traditionalist”, you might see this as a “violation” of someone else’s ideology, not yours.  What do you think?

I didn't see any other violations than not letting voter of district A vote for candidates of district B. I don't see how this violates "equality of respect" or "a fundamental principle of democracy".

> S: Other than your desire to conform to a “tradition” in your country, I do not think you have explained any other “reason” for retaining your so-called “geographical proportionality”.  Please correct me if I am mistaken.

I don't have any specific "desire" to conform to tradition. I have tried to explain the reasons why many systems today use geographical proportionality. The most obvious ones are the interest to guarantee proportional representation to each region, and to avoid bias towards favouring the most central areas/cities.

> J: I think I have commented on all points at some level. At some points I have given general answers to cover numerous points. Please indicate if there are some remaining key questions left.
> S:  Please see my above questions as well as the ones relating to the following claimed advantages of APR.  However, since I already asked about these in our 7th dialogue, perhaps you would prefer to delay your detailed responses to these questions in order to give you time to collect your thoughts.  If so, please let me know and I will look forward to a continuation of our dialogue at a later date.

If you have some specific questions or points where you need comments, you should point them out to me.

> 1)  Unlikely your preferred system, the fact that APR allows each citizen to guarantee that their own vote will continue mathematically to count in the assembly through the weighted vote of their most favoured rep would seem maximally to encourage all citizens to participate politically.
I don't have any "preferred system". Many systems do guarantee approximate proportional representation. APR introduces some additional exaxt mathematical nature to this. I don't think most voters require exact mathematics but an overall understanding that the system is fair.

> 2) Also, APR would probably provide more attractive candidates and thus a closer ideological identity between each citizen and his rep. APR’s associational structure would seem to assist, on average, the development of such more intense personal, ideological and mutual bonds than the more defuse and vague relations between the agendas of each elector and the representatives elected by other systems, including yours.
The idea that voters may decide which associations are allowed to participate in the actual election may be popular. I'm however not convinced that it would also technically make some stronger bonds between the voters and the parties (i.e. other reasons than the exitement of an additional round). The added complexity may also make some voters less interested.

> The evolution of these closer relationships 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 existing members 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.
The length of the process could be interesting to some voters and uninteresting to some. One must assume that part of the voters are on the edge of whether to vote or not. Most societies try to make as many voters vote as possible. Therefore a simple and effortless voting process is often good.
> 3) APR’s Primary discovers which voluntary organizations should be officially recognized to have a proportionate extra political status and electoral function. The recognition of these associations would provide an additional democratic channel for more enthusiastic participation in the political process both by these associations and their electors. This recognition also gives each association and its elected rep(s) an opportunity to plan and to focus their combined resources more efficiently to help shape the binding decisions taken by the state. Thus, representation is made more efficient by also being supported by the activities of each citizen’s preferred and officially energized association;
The mentioned alternative of collecting name lists of supporters puts the burden of determining the groupings that will participate the election to the groups themselves.  APR puts that burden on the voters. Some voters would like this, some maybe not (because of the need to participate more). Each society should pick the approach that suits them best.

> 4) Rational political thinking by the body politic is also likely to be assisted by the important additional knowledge discovered by the Primary. It would more reliably discover the degree to which each previously well known, less know, and unknown ideology, party, interest group, or club is, or is not, relevant to the real concerns of the people. This knowledge would enable all citizens, associations, potential candidates, and representatives more efficiently to plan how each can help to shape the laws.
Representation of multiple groups is often considered to be a good thing. Also other techniques than APR exist.

> 5) Because APR’s ‘associations’ would have some communication and mobilization resources that are entirely independent of celebrity, the richest sections of society, and the mass media, this would probably help reduce the relative power of these sometimes anti-democratic forces in determining how people vote. This is because many citizens could more firmly, securely, and independently use the following opportunity provided by APR: to see their favoured association and its representatives as providing an essential part of the best way to promote and protect their own abiding interests and values.
Same answer as to the previous point.

> 6) Moreover, a legislative assembly composed of such different clashing, yet trusted 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 (please see the definition of “reason” at the end of the previous post). 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, i.e. 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.
Same answer also here.


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