[EM] FW: APR: (5) Steve's 5th dialogue with Toby

steve bosworth stevebosworth at hotmail.com
Fri Nov 14 22:24:28 PST 2014

From: stevebosworth at hotmail.com
To: tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk
Subject: RE: APR: (5) [EM] Steve's 5th dialogue with Toby
Date: Fri, 14 Nov 2014 22:32:55 +0000

APR [EM] (5): Steve’s and
Toby’s 5th dialogue

To Toby and others from

Thank you for your
additional feedback.

Each paragraph of my most
recent replies and comments are simply tagged as S:

Readers who want a copy of
my draft article fully explaining how APR works should email:  stevebosworth at hotmail.com


Date: Wed, 12 Nov 2014 01:55:46 +0000

From: tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk

Subject: Re: APR: (4) [EM] Steve's 4th dialogue with Toby

To: stevebosworth at hotmail.com; election-methods at lists.electorama.com

Steve, and everyone else who is still


Here's my latest reply. My newest comments
have no tags before them.


>T: So if a party gets enough votes in the primary to form an
association, then they don't own it as such, but anyone can field candidates in


>>S: Yes. However, for APR's primary,
each applicant organization must specify any restrictions or qualifications
that any condidate >on its general election ballot would have to have. This
information would also help citizens to decide whether or not to rank a given


I'm unsure as to how this would work in
practice. What if a potential candidate finds himself in a position where he
does not meet the criteria for any association? Can he not stand? I suppose to
answer my own question, the geographical associations probably wouldn't have
such restrictions set by organisations. But in any case, what sort of
restrictions and qualifications can apply here? I'd want some possible


S: I am open to suggestions regarding such
restrictions and qualifications. 
Currently, I think the British requirement that candidates must first
deposit a certain standard amount of money with the relevant electoral
association would be a good idea.  They would
lose this deposit if they do not receive more than a certain percentage of the first
preference votes.  Equally or
alternatively, applicant candidates could be accepted provided they had
collected at least a set number of signatures supporting their candidacy.  


S:  Any
additional special qualifications or restrictions would have to be openly
declared on each organization’s application to become an ‘association’.  For example, some organizations might want to
require that their candidates would have previously been an officer of the
organization or that they had received a university degree.  Other associations might not add any
additional qualification knowing that not many would want to risk losing their
deposits or not be able to collect enough signatures.  Any lost deposits could also be a source of
income for the association to help it cover its own additional election
administration costs.


S:  Additionally,
a countrywide organization of ‘independents’ could be formed to provide an
association which would definitely not require any additional
qualifications.  However, I would expect
that this would not be necessary because many non-geographically defined
associations and perhaps all geographically defined associations would not
prevent independents from become candidates on their own lists.


>S: In practice, ‘write-ins’ only offer an opportunity to protest. APR allow
you to guarantee that you will have a positive vote that >continues to count
in the Commons.

>T: But APR also has write-ins.

>>S: Yes, if you mean the published codes for every candidate in the
country, some of which an elector may wish to write into >Section B.

>T: People might not need to use the option so much because of the
association they're in, but if I support several independent >candidates
that have chosen to stand in certain associations, then they might not all be
in the same one. 


>>S: No problem. You simply write-in
the codes of all the ones you favour and rank them.


You say it's no problem here, but it's still
awkward and you said yourself that in practice write-ins only offer an
opportunity to protest, even though it may be my only option if I support
independents. And see at the bottom for a fuller discussion on associations.

>T: People would want it to be secret which association they are in, because
it implies something about a previous vote.


>>S: Any person who feels this way
could choose not to participate in APR's Primary. By default, they would simply
continue to be >an official elector of their local 'association'.
Nevertheless, using this local ballot, they would still be able secretly to
rank as many >candidates from other associations in the country as they
might wish.


Yes, but it's still more complicated for a
voter to use the write-in method. Voters have to sacrifice their secrecy for a
"tailored" ballot.


S: Citizens would have a “tailored” ballot if
they had formed an Association of Independents during the Primary.  In any case, I doubt if any independent
citizens would find it overly “complicated” to writ-in the relevant codes of
the independent or other candidates in Section B of the Ballot who they want to
rank outside of the association in which they had become an official general
election elector.


>T: Under the system I described, each MP
would be equal with just one vote once elected. The election would be a
proportional >election using a version of STV or a proportional version of
approval/score voting depending on the exact balloting system. So it
>wouldn't be party list PR if that's what you mean.

>>S: Do you accept that such a system would be less proportional than
APR, as well as being less able to guarantee to each citizen >that their
vote will continue to count in the legislature through the rep they directly or
indirectly most trust?


I don't think it would be significantly less


S:  Why
have any less proportionality?


If we use a PAL type system, then the
candidate you vote for would still have a ranking of the other candidates, so
your vote is still likely to count.


Perhaps, but why prefer PAL when APR would seem to achieve what you want
more efficiently and completely? e.g. APR gives complete proportionality and allows
you to guarantee that your vote will count, not just “likely” to count.

>T: What I mean is that if every supporter of party A casts a single party
vote, this would count as a single vote for every member of >that party. If
that party has 30% support, then they would get 30% of the 650 candidates. If
every supporter of party A simply voted >for the local member of that party,
then they would get a similar number of candidates elected. It might not be
exactly the same and >there might be some wasted votes where people vote for
a candidate in a constituency where that party isn't popular. But this is the
>sort of situation where a party vote would be advisable. But also I left
open the possibility for candidates to delegate votes (such as >in PAL), so
in such a case the votes wouldn't be wasted.

>>S: As I understand the above, APR seems to solve all of the above
problems. Please explain, if you do not agree.


Possibly it does, but what I'm saying is that
APR isn't necessarily the only system that solves these problems.


Yes, some other systems help solve the problems to some degree but APR
would seem to solve them more completely, efficiently, and simply.


>S: Perhaps you will see that APR’s
complementary use of ‘Asset Voting’ allows citizens who only have the time or
ability to identify >one candidate to trust, still to be sure that their
vote will continue to count in the Commons. If all of the candidates you have
ranked >are eliminated on the first ‘provisional’, your first choice but
eliminated candidate will pass on your ‘default vote’ to the weighted >vote
of the MP he or she trusts most. See Endnotes 2, 3, 4 & 7.

>T: Yes, and that's why I also suggested Quinn's PAL system, so I'm not
entirely against delegated votes.


>S: Please let me know if you do not see
how APR achieves benefits much more simply.

>T: It is arguably simpler because there would be no quotas or surplus votes
to worry about and any extra support is simply kept by >a candidate. But
under PAL the complexity is not in the hands of voter as it's calculated for

>>S: If you agree that APR both solve
the problems you have in mind and is simpler than PAL, why prefer PAL with its
extra >complexity and inability to guarantee to each citizen that his vote
will continue to count in the legislature through the weighted vote >given
to his most favoured MP.


I don't think the difference in complexity
between the two systems is huge or indeed the most relevant issue. 


What is “the most relevant issue” for you?


I also think that proportionality would be
fairly accurate over a large number of MPs like 500 or 650 whatever
proportional system you use. The main difference is the ideology of your system
that allows individual representatives to have up to 10% of the power, which I
will address again below.


Does “ideology” here mean anything other than the value placed on
guaranteeing that each vote can continue to be positive, that no vote will be


>T: For example, you could probably modify any version of STV for the
job. In the recent discussion on EM about ranked-ballot >party-list PR, I
suggested that you could take any STV method and each party would effectively
split into clone candidates. So if >there are five candidates to be elected
and my party preference is A>B>C, this would translate into


S:  Does not the fact that we are
talking about elections with hundreds of candidates, each of which could
receive rankings from any number of the millions of citizens to elect 650 MPs,
with each MP perhaps having a different weighted vote, remove any practical
relevance of the above considerations? 
This seem especially true with APR because it allows each citizen to
guarantee that his vote will be added to the weighted vote of the MP he most
trusts (within the 10% limit)?


And >you could probably do a similar thing here except that each
clone isn't a different candidate but more power for the same >candidate.
They should be able to work with fractional candidates, ….


S:  If simplicity is import for
you as it is for me, why would you want to introduce “fractional candidates” to
your system?


…. or alternatively you multiply everything by, say, 10 so having 12
>of a candidate elected would mean 1.2. This might be too complex ….


S:  Yes.


….  though, and in practice PR
methods are likely to converge >rather than diverge over a large number of


>>S: Please explain why you still don't
think APR solves the above problems more simply.


Well, I didn't say that. In fact I explicitly
said after discussing other possible methods that they might be more complex
and not give particularly different results in practice.


>T: So it's a matter of whether MPs having
different amounts of power is considered desirable or not.


>>S: What is your current answer to
this question. Given APR's somewhat arbitray limit that no MP must have more
that 10% of all >the votes cast in the country to compose his own 'weighted
vote', and that any MP that receives more votes must publish exactly >how he
has non-returnably transferred his exta votes to his trusted fellow members, do
you see any problem with the MPs having >somewhat different voting powers?

>>S: Do any disadvantages remain with APR in your opinion? Please

OK, we'll get to the nitty gritty now.


>T: I think the main question of your
method, as has been said before, is whether people would like the whole
differing power thing. 


>>S: What people? Would not each
citizen want their favourite MP to have proportionately more voting power in
the Commons?


What people?  The citizens.  And for your second question - not
necessarily, because it also means that other people's favourite MPs might end
up with a lot of power. So in advance of any given election, I wouldn't necessarily
see this as an advantage as it could work against as well as for me. Also, as
has been said, it's likely to be "celebrity" MPs that gain this extra
power, so it might end up being style over substance. So I can imagine a lot of
people not being in favour of this.


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: In practice, I would guess that the
main effect would be that within a particular party, the better known
candidates would just end >up with more power than the lesser known ones. 


>>S: None would have more than 10% of
the vote.


10% is a lot. in a house of 650 MPs, it's
equivalent to one MP having 65 seats to himself.


S: Yes, but is not this only fair given that
at least 10% more of all your fellow citizens trust that MP most to represent


>T: The parties themselves would probably
be largely unaffected by that aspect.


>>S: I do not think we can say
'probably' or 'improbably' because APR would allow much greater freedom of
exact expression, >certainly much more than the current FPTP system in the


We have to make some sort of speculation as
to what would result from your method or how do we decide if it would be any


From a democrat’s point of view, it would be “good” because it fully
respects the voting equality of each citizen. 
At the same time, this respect and equally helps to provide the social
and political conditions which would maximize the possibility that the
sovereign laws will accord with the tentative conclusions of the widest
possible evidence based rational deliberations of a people. 


But while it would clearly be more expressive
than FPTP, I don't think that's saying much and it's not a system anyone on
here would argue for.


S:  By
“here” do you mean all the contributors to EM? 
In any case, I trust you will eventually make your reasons for such a
view clear.


But the point I was making is that if party
members rank other members of the same party in the top ranks (which is likely
since it would be public), ….


S: No. All citizens’ votes during the general
election are entirely secret.


…. or if party voters don't delegate but rank
party members themselves, then the proportion of the power taken by a
particular party wouldn't be affected to any great extent by who in my favoured
party I vote for.


S: No, because each of us only has one
vote.  Consequently, your vote will have
only the weight it should have as it is added to the weighted vote of the party
candidate (and effectively to the party) you most trust to represent your scale
of values.


But since the more famous party members will
get more top votes from the electorate, there will be a power shift to the
better known politicians within a given party.


Quite possibly, and what would be wrong with that?  Perhaps these top candidates being more known
has given their electors more evidence based reasons for trusting them.  Consequently, their electors have the
positive satisfaction of having made a contribution to the political process
themselves.  If these MPs betray this
trust, APR gives these citizens and easy and efficient means to punish them
during the next election.


>>S: Currently, what is your prime
value which would presumably guide your definition of a 'good thing'. For me,
its maximizing >democracy by ensuring that every citizens' vote can be
positive, that no vote need be wasted.


I'd say something along similar lines. I know
you'd argue that allowing differing power causes less wastage, but it also does
a lot more besides.


What is this “a lot more besides” that you fear?


But it's difficult to put in a nutshell
exactly what I want from an electoral system.


S:  If
at some point you discover that you can put in a nutshell, I think that would
greatly clarify our dialogue.


>T: Looking at it that way, I'd argue
possibly not as it could tip the favour in the direction of celebrity over
substance. The big names >would be hard to shift and would become entrenched.
You could still have the same basic system (associations, proportional
>representation), but without the differing power. I also think it probably
wouldn't be necessary with 500 MPs. If there were two MPs >and one person
had 80% of the support, you could argue that it would be unfair for them both
to have equal power. But with 500 >and with many candidates standing on
basically the same platform I think it's unnecessary and probably won't change
much other >than the balance within parties, keeping the better known MPs
with more power as I say.


>>S: Again, no MP would have more than
10% of the votes. Also, APR would seem to maximize the scope for each citizen
to >decide which candidates have and do not have 'substance' from their
point of view. This is what I take a full democracy to require.


But as I also said in my short follow-up
e-mail, while I may vote for my favourite candidate, I don't necessarily want
them to have more than 1/650 of the power.


S:  Why
not if you trust him or her most?


But I don't know who else is going to vote
for them, so I might end up picking a more obscure candidate from my favoured
party in order to balance it out. You can't assume that just because I vote for
someone, the more power they end up with, the better for me.


S: Of course, certainty of personal gain in
politics is not available with any system, no matter who you vote for.


Taken to its logial conclusions, it means
everyone who votes for one candidate wants a dictatorship. 


S: No, not those who respect others, or who (like
myself) acknowledge their own fallibility, and believe that the best laws will
most probably be made in the context of the widest possible evidence based and rational
debates between initial opponents.


If my favoured candidate has more than 1/650
of the vote, I might be quite happy for it to be transferred to my second
favourite, or my candidate's own next choice.


Consequently, tell me if you would be interested in receiving a draft
revision of the article you already have. 
This draft would allow each citizen who has help to give more than the 10%
limit to their most favoured MP, instead to have their vote transferred to
their next low preference candidate. 
Perhaps you would want to re-draft this option to apply to any votes
extra to one 650th.


The other point is that if some candidate
ends up with far more than 1/650 of the power, then it's because there's
something about that candidate that caused people to vote that way.




If it's that they've got popular policies,
then clearly other candidates would stand on the same basic platform, so votes
would not be wasted by being transferred.


Perhaps not wasted with regard to that policy only but perhaps wasted
with regard to other values, concerns, and policy issues dear to the electors’


Popular policies encourage candidates to
stand under those policies. 


Also, APR would provide the best evidence of what is truly “popular”.


Ultimately it's legislation itself rather
than the people who pass it that is important. And it's safer to have a set of
views in the hands of several people rather than one.


S: We agree on this principle but MPs are a
necessary means to this end.  At the same
time, APR would seem to be the most efficient electoral system for guaranteeing
that the resulting MPs will pass “good” laws in the eyes of most citizens.


The back and forth beyond this point of the
discussion is a bit bitty, so rather than reply to all the individual bits,
I'll make some general points. The next few points were about the associations
so I'll summarise my view on them.


I think it is a problem that by picking an
organisation I will lose some secrecy in order to get a particular association
ballot. You argue that it doesn't matter anyway because even using a
geographical ballot, I can still rank whoever I like. However, it is clear that
this is more complicated for a voter. 


What “complication” do you have in mind? – Section B of the Ballot? Or APR’s
Primary and its resulting “associations”?


S: Yes, ranking any candidate codes in
Section B of the ballot is slightly more difficult than simply ranking one or
several of the candidates listed in Section A. 
Still the continuation of the vote of each citizen who can’t, or does
not want, to use Section B will still be guaranteed by APR.  Also, any citizen who does not participate in
the Primary because he thinks it is too complex or for any other reason will
still be able to vote in the general election. 


S:  However,
I doubt very much that there are very many citizens incapable of using Section B.  Section B guarantees that each capable
citizen will be able to maximize the efficiency of their vote.  This is to say that APR enables both the capable
and the less capable to take full advantage of the benefits offered by APR, limited
only by their respective strengths and weakness.  At the same time, I think every independent
voter would have little difficulty in making a list of the codes of the
independent candidates he wishes to rank in Section B of his ballot on election


S:  In any
case, is APR’s above slight extra complication more or less than the extra complications
of your preferred system?


If not, there would not be any point in
associations and everyone could just vote how they wanted with a geographical
ballot.  So I do need to give up secrecy
for this simplicity.


S: Am I correct in reading your above “if not”
to be calling into question the presumed extra benefits offered by APR’s
Primary and  its resulting ‘associational’
element.? In fact, your next phrase
seems to deny that any such benefits exist:  “I'm not in favour of the association method.”


S:  If
so, let me explain that in my view, APR without its Primary and its resulting
association 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


S:  At
the same time, the recognition of such associations would encourage more attractive
candidates to seek to represent them and to be ranked by their respective


S:  Thus, in addition to all the political
parties and all the geographical areas, many interest groups could apply
(professional, business, labour, environmental, ethnic, religious, etc.).  The recognition of these associations would
provide an additional democratic channel for more enthusiastic participation in
the political process by citizens. 


S:  Also, I see both the time and function
separation between the Primary and the general election as more conducive to
thoughtful political participation on the part of citizens.  Each citizen while choosing their voting
membership during the Primary is prompted to clarify their own scale of values
and to decide on which organization is most efficient in promoting and
defending this scale.  


S:  This time gap also gives each association
time to invite and to finalize the list of candidates who wish to represent
it.  It also gives some time for
potential candidates to decide and prepare for the general election.  Later, the general election additionally
prompts each citizen more carefully to rank the individual candidates by
considering which ones are more likely to work and vote for laws and policies
in accord with the citizens own aims and concerns.


So I do need to give up secrecy for this
simplicity. So to ensure a more level playing field, I'm not in favour of the
association method.


 S: Please explain why you
still think there is an unavoidable conflict between “secrecy” and “simplicity”
in APR.  Also, please clarify why you see
APR as offering less than a fully “level playing field”.


There is also the point I made that if I am
voting for independents then they are likely to be in different associations,
so I don't really gain much (or any) simplicity by giving up secrecy.


S:  I’m
perplexed.  Given that APR offers
complete secrecy when voting for candidates, you seem also to want the option
of being a secret elector in an electoral association.  Of course, this should not be offered by any
system.  Even if you remain an elector
within your currently defined geographical association, the fact that you are a
registered voter in that constituency will be in the public domain.


S:  Perhaps
instead you only want to be a registered voter within an association that gives
other people no idea of your own ideological leanings.  If so, in addition to simply remaining a
voter within your constituency, you would also have the option of leading or
help others to form a countrywide organization of independents which you would
rank during APR’s Primary.


And if I'm a party voter, I can simply pick
my favoured member of a party anyway, and go with their delegations (which will
be within the party so not greatly different from if I rank them myself). So
the simplicity gained by the associations is not enough to make up for the
added complexity of an extra election and the loss of secrecy in my voting.


Sorry, I have not yet understood either your concern here or its
presumed remedy.  Please explain again,
e.g.  what do you mean by “delegations”?


>>S: At the same time, do you not want
to allow other citizens to express their own values in one of the more
efficient and complete ways offered by APR?


They might feel pressured into it. The
thinking might be "I don't want to give up secrecy, but I want to
participate properly in the main election. What do I do?"


S:  I’m
still confused.  Where is this “pressure”
coming from?  What “secrecy” do you imagine
has to be “given up” in order to “participate properly”?


I wouldn't want people to be put in that
position, especially considering as I explained above, the gain in simplicity
probably wouldn't be that much.


S: What “gain in simplicity” are you thinking


So my conclusion is that nothing is really
gained by allowing some MPs to have more power than others. 


Again, I’m perplexed.  Perhaps I’ve
missed how you arrived at this conclusion that wasting or misdirecting peoples’
votes is not important.


Candidates would still stand on the popular
policies anyway, ….


S:  Don’t
you believe that an electoral system should also allow candidates to “stand on …
policies” that are initially not popular?


.… and it would be safer for this platform to
be in the hands of several MPs rather than one MP who could "go


S:  How
is it “safer … in the hands of several MPs” who could less exactly represent
their electors than if this several could also be composed, at least partly, of
some very popular MPs with weighted votes within the 10% limit?  Given the 10% limit, theoretically the
minimum number of MPs who could together control a majority of the weighted
votes in the Commons would be 6, i.e. the 6 most trusted by a majority of


People vote for individual politicians only
as a proxy for their own views, so there's no real loss to democracy to have
these spread out over several MPs rather than in my one favourite politician.


S: I accept that some citizens would not care
if their vote was shared between several MPs. 
However, I do not yet understand why any of these same citizens would
mind all or more of their first preference votes increasing the weighted vote
of their most trusted MP.  Do you?  


S: At the same time, some other citizens
(like me) would object to any dilution of their vote by a system that could needlessly
give their votes to MPs other than their most trusted ones.  If so, this would amount to a ”real loss to democracy”.


I also think that the primary election to
decide the associations involves too big a loss to secrecy and puts people in a
secrecy/simplicity dilemma. I also don't think they gain enough simplicity to
warrant the complication of an added election.


S: As already indicated above, I really need
you to explain these views more completely because I would like fully to understand





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