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

steve bosworth stevebosworth at hotmail.com
Sun Dec 14 07:23:51 PST 2014

Re: APR (8): Steve?s 8th
dialogue with Juho (Steve)

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

> Subject: Election-Methods Digest, Vol 126, Issue 14

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

> Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2014 08:57:48 -0800

> Today's Topics:


> 1. Re: APR (7): Steve?s 7th dialogue with Juho (Steve) (Juho Laatu)

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


> Message: 1

> Date: Fri, 12 Dec 2014 18:57:42 +0200

> From: Juho Laatu <juho.laatu at gmail.com>

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

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

> Subject: Re: [EM] APR (7): Steve?s 7th dialogue with Juho (Steve)

> Message-ID: <EB933F13-303A-4BE1-9250-9B9EF8714926 at gmail.com>

> Content-Type: text/plain; charset="utf-8"


> > On 12 Dec 2014, at 16:55, steve bosworth
<stevebosworth at hotmail.com> wrote:


> > J: The key difference in my description above was that there would be
no primary. The right of a grouping to participate would be decided by other

> >
S: Would you be willing to spell out these ?other means? and explain how they
would be as effective as the ones offered by APR?


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?


> > J: ? and geographical proportionality more exact. I could use also
the idea of representatives with different weights.

> > 

> > S: Of course I would be happier with this but it seems that these additions
from APR could undermine the ?geographical proportionality? which you want.


> APR does not support geographical proportionality, but it could be
enhanced to do so, or some features of APR like weighted votes could be
introduces in geographically proportional systems.


> > S: Yes, in practice, traditions can slow progress but it would help
me to understand your values better if you could specify the long term ideal
electoral system for your country toward which you would like your country to
move as fast as possible.


J: What I wrote describes pretty well how I would like to change the system (in
the next reform within few years) even if traditions would not slow the
progress. This approach includes some tendency to keep the system understandable
to the current voters and avoiding the risks of too radical changes at one go.
One cannot change the population, so one has to serve it, taking into account
what its thinking patterns are.


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


> > J: Better political and geographical proprtionality can be achieved
in many ways, with or without APR. For example by allowing also small groupings
to win seats (seats allocated at national instead of regional level, and no
cutoffs in some countries), and to improve political propotionality within the
parties using ranked votes (in STV style).

> > 

> > S: APR?s Primary provides an automatic mechanism by which ?small
groupings? can win seats, as well as determine where the ?cutoffs?, if any,
will be. How would your preferred mechanisms avoid making these decisions


J:  Also other systems than APR can be
proportional and allow small groupings to get representatives. APR could allow
also groups that are considerably smaller than 1/n of a representative body
with n seats, because of the weighted votes. This would be difficult for
systems with equal weight representatives. They can be accurate though (not
arbitrary), to the level of one representative, without any additional tricks.

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

> > J: Geographic proportionality may be quite exact at district level,
but if those districts are large (as typical in multiparty countries),
geographic proportionality within those large districts may be poor. Geographic
proportionality is typically considered good because it supports local
representatives that are close to the voters and they represent the values of
those voters better that representatives that have no connection to that area.

> >
S: How do you answer the argument that APR has the advantage of providing an
objective test of the extent to which these ?local representatives? are (or are
not) ?close to the voters and represent the values of those voters?, i.e. a
test of what you report as ?typically considered? by some unknown source, based
or not based on evidence.

> ………………………..


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.

> > J: ... I believe the system [APR] also gives those voters that reveal
their preferences somewhat easier or more efficient ways to influence the



J:   Note that systems that emphasize privacy
typically make it impossible to the voters to reveal how they voted. Being able
to hide how one voted is not enough to meet this criterion.


> > S: APR is one of these systems.


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. 


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.


 Does this solve the secrecy problem for you?




> > > > S: Do you not see that APR?s Primary would make it easier
for new additional parties ?associations? also to field candidates and that
this would allow them and their electors to benefit more, both qualitatively
and from the exact proportionality offered by APR?

> > > 

> > J: I think this can be achieved also without a primary. APR may have
some nice ideas on how this process could work, but it is possible to achieve
similar kind of results also with much simpler arrangements.

> > 

> > S: Please give me details of these ?much simpler arrangements? that
you have in mind.


J:   See my first comment above on how one could
avoid the primaries and achieve "association formation" by other


S:  In contrast to APR’s Primary, that “100000 comment”
would seem to make it more difficult and less proportionate for establishing
new parties.   Please give more details
addressing each of the claimed advantage of APR’s Primary method listed later
in this post. > 

> > S: I have not asked for a ?generic answer? but feel that it would be
helpful if you would describe your preferred alternatives to each of the following
claimed advantages offered by APR:


J:  Yes, I can at least comment on the
properties one by one (and I think I have already commented all of them at some
level). I may not have an alternative module for APR in each specific point.


S:  Please see below.

> > J: All systems have some problems, rounding errors and there may be
tradeoffs when trying to meet many different requirements at the same time. It
is very much ok to trade between all different requirements so that the overall
quality of the system (taking also into account practical limitations like the
political environment) will be maximized.

> > 

> > S: Tradeoffs are only necessary if 2 or more relevant values
conflict. The only 2 that I see as potentially in conflict are: A) the desire
to maximize the representation of each citizen by the rep she most trusts, and
B) the desire to have a legislature that is most likely to make laws based on
evidence and rational thought. Because ?A? by itself could theoretical produce
mathematically a dictator in the legislature, ?B? has prompted APR?s 10% limit
on the weighted votes that can be retained by any rep. This means that any law
would have to be agreed to by a group of reps who together have more than 50%
of the weighted votes, i.e. at least 6 reps.

> > 

> > Do you see any additional values or yours that are potentially in
conflict and which would require more tradeoffs in your preferred electoral system?
If so, please explain.


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? 
You have not yet described your preferred system in enough detail for me
to see that it is any simpler than 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?  Also, your above “10000” proposal is not sufficiently
detailed to be clear.

> > J: Working methods could certainly be improved also in APR, since I
guess it is still pretty much a draft method.

> > 

> > S: Perhaps mistakenly, currently, I do not see any remaining flaws in
the most recent ?draft? of APR. Please tell me about any that you see and
suggest any corrections.


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.


> > J: In my terminology, I think you are saying that APR's political
proportionality could approximate the results of geographic proportionality
(fully or to some extent) if the voters so wish. ?

> > 

> > S: Yes.

> > 

> > J: ?That is different from implementing geographic proportionality (that
guarantees each region its proportional share of the seats).

> > 

> > S: I now understand that your ?geographic proportionality? will be
entirely determined by the number of citizens who happen to live in the
relevant district. Do you accept that this means that in some cases, some of
these citizens will not be able to help elect any candidate that they like or
trust. Please explain why you want to deny these citizens this APR option.


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.


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?


J: … but
may add complexity, or alternatively remove geographical proportionality (that
may be wanted for some reason).


S:  Surely, the small added complexity would
affect only those citizens who would welcome it.


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.


> > J: Scientific method can be used in a very rational way. Same with
any logical and sensible discussions. Political and social discussions often do
not pay much attention to respecting such rigid practices.

> > >

> > S: Do you give highest importance to ?evidence and rational thought?
in your own ?political and social discussions??


J:   I try to respect the "rational
thought" criterion (in all discussions where that approach makes sense).
"Evidence" is just one rational tool among others.


S:   I want to assume that you do because you are
freely engaging in our dialogue. If you do value ?reason? as defined below at
the end of this post, we both want to discover an electoral system that
maximizes the chances that rational laws will be made. If so, I would very much
appreciate it if you would detail your constructive criticisms of my above
explanation of how APR would be such a system.


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.

I have not asked for a “generic answer” but feel that it would be helpful if
you would criticize or describe your preferred alternatives to each of the
following claimed advantages offered by APR: 

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.

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 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.

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, including yours. 

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; 

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.

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.

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.> >
J: The scientific method and Wikipedia are good examples of areas where people
have been able to expand such rational practices also to discussions of a
group. Political discussions may include some individuals with rational
thinking and argumentation, but as a whole, political debates are something
else. The best strategy in political discussions (if one's target is to win the
debate in question) usually is not that of rational argumentation.

> > 

> > S: Winning is not the most important thing for me. Instead, I hope we
can work together to discover the most rational and practical electoral system
in the defined sense. What do you think?


> Yes, I think the whole EM list is based on rational discussions. People
also defend their own viewpoints and their favourite methods sometimes a bit
more than what rational discussion practices would require, but in general this
list has good traditions in being open, constructive and rational. 
S:  Yes.

> Juho


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