[EM] The Global Fight For Electoral Justice: A Primer

Toby Pereira tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk
Thu Jan 5 08:13:15 PST 2017

Thank you for the response. Regarding levels of representation under STV, someone could rank just their favourite one or two candidates, or a few, or even all of them in order. So to me, there is no clear line of exactly what it means for someone to be represented. If there are only two parties with a realistic chance of getting any candidates elected, then someone might rank all their choices up to and including the preferred of the two main parties. If there are several other minor parties or independent candidates they prefer, this could mean something like ranks 20 and up for the main party they prefer. Is this person then "represented"?
And this brings me to my next point about complexity of ballot. Ranking candidates in order might sound easy, but it can be a lot of work when there are a lot to rank and a voter wants to make sure their vote is going to be counted properly (especially if their preferred candidates are unlikely to be elected). It also involve making often arbitrary choices between candidates of one party when someone has no real preference.
Also, if you are ranking quite a few candidates, it's possible you might accidentally miss one out, and that would mess things up as you have to start again from where the mistake was made. If I understand it correctly, the Scottish and Northern Irish ballots don't group candidates in parties on the ballot, so this makes it harder. But obviously that's not an intrinsic part of STV, just how it is implemented in these particular cases.
I can't see how the approval and score ballots can be seen as more complex. You might argue that score and approval voting won't be used for public elections in the UK, but I don't think the reason could be complexity relative to STV.
Approving in particular is much simpler than ranking. Just put an X in as many or as few boxes as you like and in any order. It's almost impossible to accidentally spoil an approval ballot, unlike a ranked ballot. Scoring is also simpler than ranking because it doesn't matter what order you score in. It doesn't matter if you accidentally leave someone out and notice later. You can just add a score in. And you haven't got to arbitrarily decide between candidates you have no preference between. You can give an equal score.

Specifically in the ballots I gave, complexity is cut by not having to individually approve/score every candidate from each party. There is still the choice to separately approve/score the one from your own constituency, but then the others are considered together. But with each constituency getting the say on the quality of their constituency candidates relative to their parties, the "best" candidates from each party should be the ones that get elected.

      From: James Gilmour <jgilmour at globalnet.co.uk>
 To: 'Toby Pereira' <tdp201b at yahoo.co.uk>; 'Erik Moeller' <eloquence at gmail.com> 
Cc: election-methods at lists.electorama.com
 Sent: Wednesday, 4 January 2017, 18:44
 Subject: RE: [EM] The Global Fight For Electoral Justice: A Primer
#yiv2750099806 #yiv2750099806 -- _filtered #yiv2750099806 {panose-1:2 4 5 3 5 4 6 3 2 4;} _filtered #yiv2750099806 {font-family:Calibri;panose-1:2 15 5 2 2 2 4 3 2 4;} _filtered #yiv2750099806 {}#yiv2750099806 #yiv2750099806 p.yiv2750099806MsoNormal, #yiv2750099806 li.yiv2750099806MsoNormal, #yiv2750099806 div.yiv2750099806MsoNormal {margin:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;font-size:12.0pt;}#yiv2750099806 a:link, #yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806MsoHyperlink {color:blue;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv2750099806 a:visited, #yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806MsoHyperlinkFollowed {color:purple;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv2750099806 p.yiv2750099806msonormal, #yiv2750099806 li.yiv2750099806msonormal, #yiv2750099806 div.yiv2750099806msonormal {margin-right:0cm;margin-left:0cm;font-size:12.0pt;}#yiv2750099806 p.yiv2750099806msochpdefault, #yiv2750099806 li.yiv2750099806msochpdefault, #yiv2750099806 div.yiv2750099806msochpdefault {margin-right:0cm;margin-left:0cm;font-size:12.0pt;}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806msohyperlink {}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806msohyperlinkfollowed {}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806emailstyle17 {}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806emailstyle18 {}#yiv2750099806 p.yiv2750099806msonormal1, #yiv2750099806 li.yiv2750099806msonormal1, #yiv2750099806 div.yiv2750099806msonormal1 {margin:0cm;margin-bottom:.0001pt;font-size:12.0pt;}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806msohyperlink1 {color:blue;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806msohyperlinkfollowed1 {color:purple;text-decoration:underline;}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806emailstyle171 {color:#1F497D;}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806emailstyle181 {color:windowtext;}#yiv2750099806 p.yiv2750099806msochpdefault1, #yiv2750099806 li.yiv2750099806msochpdefault1, #yiv2750099806 div.yiv2750099806msochpdefault1 {margin-right:0cm;margin-left:0cm;font-size:10.0pt;}#yiv2750099806 span.yiv2750099806EmailStyle29 {color:#1F497D;}#yiv2750099806 .yiv2750099806MsoChpDefault {font-size:10.0pt;} _filtered #yiv2750099806 {margin:72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt 72.0pt;}#yiv2750099806 div.yiv2750099806WordSection1 {}#yiv2750099806 TobyFirst a small but important correction to your second sentence.  In the graph of “voters not guaranteed representation” it is number of seats (vacancies) and not the number of candidates that is the determining factor.  Just a typo, I’m sure.  That graph showed the theoretical values, but the point of including the Glasgow City Council results was to show that STV-PR delivers better than those theoretical values, even in wards electing only 3 or 4 members.  For the 3-member districts, theoretical = 75%; mean actual = 85%.  For the 4-member districts, theoretical = 80%; mean actual = 90%.  That level of actual representation is very acceptable to me, though I would never recommend that STV-PR should be implemented with wards of only 3 or 4 in a densely populated city like Glasgow.  While you may not think there should be any artificial threshold to keep smaller parties out, my point was that in most of the implementations of PR that could deliver very high levels of overall proportionality, such artificial thresholds have been adopted for political reasons  -  that’s political reality.  In the version of regionalised MMP used to elect the Scottish Parliament there is no specified “percentage threshold”, but that threshold was cunningly concealed by setting the electoral regions and ratios at 17 = 10:7;  16 = 9:7;  and 15 = 8:7.  The relationship between the voting system and the number of parties gaining representation in the elected body (Parliament, Assembly, Council) is complex.  The use of STV-PR for parliamentary elections in Malta is instructive.  From 1921 to 1962 (11 elections) the numbers of parties nominating candidates varied from 4 to 8 and MPs were elected to the Parliament from 2, 3, 4, 5 or 7 of those parties.  But for the past 40 years of STV-PR (11 elections) only two parties have elected MPs to the Parliament although the elections were contested by 3, 4, 5, 6 or 7 parties.  STV-PR can give diversity or none, depending on the choices made by the voters.  In contrast, MPs representing 12 different parties were elected to the UK Parliament in 2015 by FPTP from single-member districts.  I would have to disagree when you say that your specimen ballots for score voting and approval voting are much simpler than an STV ballot for the same level of proportionality.  These ballot designs would be considered much too complicated for use in public elections in the UK.  In contrast, for STV it is just numbering in order of preference (choice), as many or as few as you wish.  And I would add that I don’t think any form of Approval Voting or Score Voting would be acceptable for public elections here.  James    
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