[EM] Associational Proportional Representation (APR)

Richard Fobes ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
Wed Oct 29 13:23:38 PDT 2014

On 10/27/2014 9:12 AM, steve bosworth wrote:
 > Hi Richard,
 > ...
 > I have attached PDF versions of all the attachments you wished not to
 > open because of anti-virus reason.
 > I look forward to our continued dialogue.

Steve, the following comments are based on reading the PDF file that 
describes your method.  (Thank you for sending a PDF version.)

Yes, you are correct in saying that improved primary elections would 
yield more-representative candidates for the general election.

The simplest way to improve primary elections is to use approval voting. 
  This means just changing the instructions to allow more than one 
candidate's name to be marked.  (I don't support the use of approval 
voting in general elections, but I would be happy to see it used in U.S. 
primary elections.)

Your suggested ballot is way too complicated!  Also, the marked ballots 
would not be machine-readable.  I can see ways to overcome these 
barriers, and still collect the information you want.  (The 
cross-district votes can be handled like write-in options within a 
fill-in-the-oval 1-2-3 ballot; you don't need a separate section for 
"bullet" voting [for just one choice].)

Yet the counting method you recommend has serious shortcomings.

Your counting method definitely has the focus-on-the-current-top-choice 
"blinder" approach that I've already described.

The reason you didn't understand my reference to "rounding" is that I 
chose an analogy that was not different enough from the topic.  So, 
please ignore my "rounding" analogy.

You offer a definition of a "wasted vote" and then claim that your 
method is the best way to eliminate wasted votes.  This tactic -- of 
defining a term and then claiming your method maximizes or minimizes the 
defined term -- is often used in election-method discussions, yet it's 
pointless because advocates of competing methods simply do not accept 
the definition you offer, and instead offer a competing definition.

Finally, yet most importantly, I'll point out a serious issue that you 
seem to have overlooked.

After your counting method is used, the number of voters who support 
each winning candidate becomes public knowledge – because it determines 
the "weighting" of each legislator's vote.  This knowledge, combined 
with the ability to vote for legislators in other districts, makes it 
financially profitable for "consultants" and thugs to bribe voters to 
vote for the legislators whose "backers" provide the most money.

Perhaps you think this kind of bribery is easy to detect and deter. 
It's not.

For several years, while I was writing my creative-problem-solving book, 
I lived in a low-income part of a university town and learned a lot 
about what goes on in a neighborhood that gets lots of police attention. 
  The police (and fire) events are just the tip of the iceberg.  The 
selling of votes would easily become commonplace in places where people 
are desperate, vulnerable, illiterate, poor, abused (without exceeding 
the legal limit), etc.

If my reactions seem to be excessively critical, and not supportive, 
consider that the best voting methods are the ones with the fewest 
flaws.  There is no such thing as a voting method with no flaws!

Regarding this issue, if you are not familiar with the table in the 
Wikipedia article titled "voting systems," then please become familiar 
with it, because it portrays the most common "fairness criteria" [my 
term] that I and others here refer to.

In your article you claim that your method is better than plurality 
voting.  I agree with that claim.  But that's not saying much.  Every 
method promoted here can make that claim.

You claim that your method is not vulnerable to gerrymandering.  I do 
not disagree with that claim.  Yet I'll point out that there are a 
variety of ways to eliminate gerrymandering.  In other words, your 
suggested approach is not the only way.

I understand why you like the method you propose.  It has some nice 
counting characteristics.  Yet a voting method has to be workable, and 
that involves issues such as machine-readability, incorruptibility, 
ballot simplicity, invulnerability to strategic voting, etc.

That's all I have time for now.  If you have further questions, or you 
don't understand what I've said here, just ask.

Most importantly, thank you for taking the time to learn about the many 
subtle issues that affect voting methods.

Richard Fobes

On 10/27/2014 9:12 AM, steve bosworth wrote:
 > Hi Richard,
 > Thank you for your additional comments and observations below.I will
 > insert my responses into your text using *bold print*.
 > I have attached PDF versions of all the attachment you wished not to
 > open because of anti-virus reason.
 > I look forward to our continued dialogue.
 > Regards,
 > Steve
 >>  Date: Sat, 25 Oct 2014 22:01:14 -0700
 >>  From: ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
 >>  To: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
 >>  Subject: Associational Proportional Representation (APR)
 >>  I'm responding (via Bcc) to Steve Bosworth's earlier reply to my
 >>  responses, which he repeated in a direct message that is copied below.
 >>  I no longer have a copy of the forum message, so please pardon the
 >>  creation of a new thread about a conversation in progress. For context,
 >>  see below.
 >>  Steve, I only had time to quickly look at your two flowcharts (which
 >>  were in PDF format, in contrast to your ".doc" documents which I don't
 >>  open for antivirus reasons), but ...
 > *S:Please see the new PDF attachments.*>
 >>  I saw that your Associational Proportional Representation (APR) method
 >>  involves eliminating a candidate based on having the fewest number of
 >>  votes (after possible transfers of votes).
 > *S:The first candidate eliminated could not have received any transfer
 > votes because all elected candidate keep all the votes they have
 > received.These determine the weighted vote each rep will have in the
 > assembly.*
 >>  I favor methods that look deeper than each voter's currently top
 >>  remaining choice. I don't like methods that only look at one voter's
 >>  currently "top choice" at a time. Why? They have the same weaknesses
 >>  as plurality voting and instant-runoff voting (IRV), which look at 
 >>  candidate gets the most, or fewest (respectively) "votes."
 >>  *S:In the context of APR, I do not understand why looking at each
 > elector’s ‘top choice’ as the first step in the count would be weakness.*
 > ***APR allows each elector to guarantee that his vote will be added to
 > the voting power of the rep in the assembly either that he had directly
 > ranked or that his first choice but eliminated candidate had ranked (a
 > special use of Asset Voting) – every vote can be positive, no vote need
 > be wasted.Do you see any scientific basis for anyone to say that an APR
 > assembly would not be as representative as possible of all citizens?*
 >>  Methods that involve the transfer of each voter's vote are open to
 >>  strategic manipulations. You asked for more specifics. As a partial
 >>  answer, the election results are vulnerable to strategies that control
 >>  which candidates are nominated.Usually this manipulation involves
 >>  campaign contributions (with the real source of funds for "spoiler"
 >>  candidates being hidden).
 > *S:Perhaps you will see that APR provides no incentive to vote
 > strategically, e.g. APR’s special ‘primary’ election would greatly
 > reduce or eliminate the ‘manipulation’ you have in mind.In this primary,
 > each citizen could choose the ‘electoral association’ through which,
 > several months later, he will record his rankings of as many general
 > election candidates in the country as he may wish. Each would try to
 > become such a voting member of the association believes is most likely
 > to field the most attractive candidates.*
 > *This seems to remove any incentive to fund any ‘spoiler candidates’.*
 >>  All voting methods fail some fairness criteria, so yours does too.
 >>  Which ones? I don't know. That requires time-consuming analysis.
 >>  Although your method is not instant-runoff voting, it is similar enough
 >>  that I suspect it would fail many of the same fairness criteria 
that IRV
 >>  fails.
 > *S:Perhaps you will find that a careful reading of the attachments
 > alleys your suspicions in this regard.*
 >>  Of course you can correctly claim that there are no fairness criteria
 >>  for proportional methods,
 > *S:I see APR as satisfying the following ‘fairness criteria’ entirely:*
 > *1)**Each citizen has the same range of options both during the
 > ‘primary’ and the general election.*
 > *2)**One of these is to guarantee that his vote will be added to the
 > ‘weighted vote’ of the rep he most trusts, or which his first choice but
 > eliminated candidate most trusts.*
 > *3)**The voting power of each party in the assembly would be exactly
 > proportional to its support by electors because this power would result
 > from combining all the weighted votes of its members.*
 > yet I believe your method involves underlying
 >>  algorithms that can be applied to a single-winner method, and that
 >>  related single-winner method has to fail some fairness criteria.
 > *S: I would very much appreciate you explaining this because it seems to
 > me that its counting method is clear -- contains no ‘underlying
 > algorithm’ that would not be fair.*
 >>  As for the method's proportional aspects, the use of sub-groups --
 >>  called "associations" in this case -- introduces what can be thought of
 >>  as similar to the mathematics of "rounding" numbers too early (instead
 >>  of waiting until all the calculations are done, and then rounding).
 > *S: Again, perhaps you will find that the ‘associations’ only help to
 > expand the number of attractive candidates from the points of view of
 > citizens voting in APR ‘primary’.Also, APR never needs or wants to
 > ‘round’ it numbers.*
 >>  Expressed another way, both the Republican and Democratic parties 
in the
 >>  U.S. are heavily controlled by the same relatively few people, and the
 >>  result is that voters do not control either political party.
 > *S: The fact that APR citizens will elect all the reps in a given party
 > would seem to mean that they also have a good chance of largely
 > ‘controlling’ each political party.*
 > I believe
 >>  that in Canada each party nominates a candidate using voting at a
 >>  convention, but admission to the convention requires paying a fee, so
 >>  that too prevents a majority of voters from controlling any political
 > party.
 >>  Looking into the _distant_ future, voting methods will handle
 >>  calculations deeply in ways that do not involve any extra layer of
 >>  subgroups or rounding, and possibly without involving political 
 >>  In the meantime we are stuck with subgroups such as the "electoral
 >>  college" for U.S. Presidential elections, and parliaments/Congress/etc.
 >>  that add an extra voting layer (compared to the future when voters
 >>  eventually will directly vote on issues of concern). Why not begin now
 >>  to get rid of the need for subgroups?
 > *S: Perhaps you will reconsider some of these hopes in the light of
 > Endnote 6 to the attached draft article.*
 >>  I am not saying that your voting method is bad. It might be quite good
 >>  for some voting situations!
 >>  I'm just saying -- since you specifically asked me -- that my 
 >>  is to skip over slight improvements and jump ahead to advanced voting
 >>  methods that look deeply into ballot preferences (beyond one current
 >>  "top" choice at a time) and that avoid the need to segment voters into
 >>  subgroups.
 >>  For further context I'll say that years ago a group of people within a
 >>  local food co-op came up with a very carefully designed way of electing
 >>  a group of "representatives" for the purpose of having them make
 >>  decisions instead of letting all the members vote on important
 >>  decisions. In spite of how well-designed and "fair" (neutral) the
 >>  process was, neither the people who wanted the co-op to sell a few meat
 >>  items nor the people who wanted absolutely no meat in the store were
 >>  willing to let such a group make a decision about that issue. The point
 >>  of this example is that each layer of decision-making -- even if it 
 >>  adjusted at every election based on the ballots -- does not truly
 >>  provide proportional representation. As for what a truly proportional
 >>  solution to that "meat" conflict would have been, I'm not sure. Selling
 >>  fewer meat items than what a majority of voters wanted would still fail
 >>  to represent the members who didn't want any meat sold. (It was not
 >>  clear who was in the majority, and probably a middle third of the
 >>  members would have been OK with certain meat choices but not other meat
 >>  choices.)
 >>  Ultimately voters don't care about the process. That's why so few
 >>  citizens "do the math" to discover why they are not represented by the
 >>  people "they" elect. This same dilemma applies to all the voting
 >>  methods discussed here. Here we are not only "doing the math," but we
 >>  are developing "the math" relating to voting methods. Let's eliminate
 >>  extra layers and stop using "start-at-the-top" blinders as we look at
 >>  each ballot.
 >>  Thank you for your interest in my opinion. I hope this helps, either to
 >>  refine your ideas or to refine ways to "sell" whatever method you like
 >>  best. (All of us here are learning how to "sell" our favorite 
 >>  BTW, thank you for creating the flowcharts. They do help clarify your
 >>  method. (Alas, graphics on websites seem to be the only way to make
 >>  flowcharts easy to view, so they are not suitable here in this forum.)
 >>  Richard Fobes
 >>  On 10/22/2014 6:54 AM, steve bosworth wrote:
 >>  > Hi Richard,
 >>  >
 >>  > Sorry for the late reply. I've been travelling.
 >>  > Thank you for your several criticisms, comments and suggestions.
 >>  >
 >>  > I've *injected my responses within the text of your email bellow, 
 >>  > bold print*.
 >>  >
 >>  > I hope you will see that some of the problems you mentioned are 
 >>  > within the full explanation of my proposed system (Associatonal
 >>  > Proportional Representation (*APR*)) that I have fully described 
in the
 >>  > attached article with its illustrative 2 flow charts and 3 tables.
 >>  >
 >>  > In the light of the more complete information provided, I very 
much hope
 >>  > you will be able to find the time to respond to the additional
 > explanations.
 >>  >
 >>  > Thank you,
 >>  > Steve
 >>  >
 >>  > > Date: Tue, 2 Sep 2014 09:10:10 -0700
 >>  > > From: ElectionMethods at VoteFair.org
 >>  > > To: stevebosworth at hotmail.com
 >>  > > Subject: Re: (2) "Severity" of failing
 >>  > >
 >>  > > Steve Bosworth ~
 >>  > >
 >>  > > Thank you for your interest in my opinion.
 >>  > >
 >>  > > Getting to the point of your question, your election method 
 >>  > > single-winner voting concepts
 >>  > *S: No, in effect, APR**is entirely a multi-winner system, e.g. 
to elect
 >>  > the 435 members of the US House of Representatives or the UK House of
 >>  > Commons. *
 >>  > with proportional representation concepts,
 >>  > *S: APR's giving different 'weighted votes' to each rep depending 
on how
 >>  > many citizens had ranked them would provide complete individual
 >>  > representative and party proportionality.*
 >>  > > which means that the well-known fairness criteria do not apply.
 >>  >
 >>  > *S: I know of no such criteria which APR would not satisfy.*
 >>  > > Your idea sounds intriguing. Yet it would encounter time-related
 >>  > > issues,
 >>  > *S: Please explain.*
 >>  > especially strategy issues,
 >>  > *S: Please explain.*
 >>  > if it were converted into an actual
 >>  > > election method -- that involves ballots.
 >>  > *S: Perhaps you will see that these issues have been solved by the
 >>  > detailed presentation of the 'actual method' and the paper 
'ballots' to
 >>  > be used by APR, and explained by the attachments.*
 >>  > >
 >>  > > The single-winner aspects basically match instant-runoff voting,
 > so the
 >>  > > same fairness-criteria failures would apply.
 >>  > *S: No, because it is not an IRV system.*
 >>  > >
 >>  > > As for the proportional part, your method would tend to elect a few
 >>  > > celebrity representatives who are supported by "the media"
 >>  > *S: Given APR's 'electoral associations' as selected by citizens 
 >>  > before the general election through APR's special 'primary election',
 >>  > the relative influence of 'celebrity' and the 'media' might be much
 >>  > reduced. In any case, the article stipulates that any very 
popular rep
 >>  > who receives more than 10% of all the votes in the country would be
 >>  > required to publish exactly how he will pass on all of his 'extra 
 >>  > to his trusted fellow reps.*
 >>  > and the
 >>  > > other representatives would tend to be "fringe" types who are
 > supported
 >>  > > by fewer voters. Note that this is a tendency, and would be 
reduced to
 >>  > > the extent that it's noticed, which means that most voters 
would not
 >>  > > notice this tendency.
 >>  > >
 >>  > > Alas, my time is limited, so I can't offer more feedback at 
this time.
 >>  > *S: Thank you again for your time.*
 >>  > > I hope this is helpful.
 >>  > >
 >>  > > If you want more opinions, I suggest that you present the idea 
on the
 >>  > > Election Methods forum.
 >>  > *S: I keep trying to find out how to do this but have so far 
failed. Can
 >>  > you please explain how one contributes to this forum?*
 >>  > >
 >>  > > Richard Fobes

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