[EM] Steve's reply: IRV et al v. EPR

Abd ul-Rahman Lomax abd at lomaxdesign.com
Sat Jul 21 04:54:27 PDT 2018

On 7/20/2018 8:18 PM, Andy Jennings wrote:
> On Mon, Jul 16, 2018 at 12:35 PM, steve bosworth 
> <stevebosworth at hotmail.com <mailto:stevebosworth at hotmail.com>> wrote:
>     *From:*abjennings at gmail.com <mailto:abjennings at gmail.com>
>     <abjennings at gmail.com <mailto:abjennings at gmail.com>> on behalf of
>     Andy Jennings <elections at jenningsstory.com
>     <mailto:elections at jenningsstory.com>>
>     *Sent:* Monday, July 16, 2018 5:26 PM
>     *To:* steve bosworth
>     *Cc:* election-methods at lists.electorama.com
>     <mailto:election-methods at lists.electorama.com>
>     *Subject:* Re: [EM] IRV et al v. EPR
>     Steve,
>     Andy,
>     Thank you for responding so quickly.I will respond immediately in
>     line after each of your questions and points.
>     A:I like the idea of a PR system based on majority judgment, but
>     have some concerns with this method.  Are you proposing that the
>     different elected legislators have different voting weights in the
>     legislature?
>     S:Yes.
> I looked at the article again and I do see it mentioned that the 
> members will have votes of different weights on the council.  I'm not 
> sure how I missed it the first time.  You may want to consider 
> re-emphasizing it at the end
If taken simply and literally, it's a Really Bad Idea. The concept of a 
peer assembly, where all members are equal in voting power and other 
rights (such as the right to enter motions, object, etc.) is 
fundamental, except in narrow situations. For example, in share 
corporations, all shares have equal voting rights, except as otherwise 
specified, i.e., some kinds of shares may not have voting rights. 
("Preferred shares" may not, oddly enough, but those shares enjoy the 
right of preferential distribution on dissolution. The controlling 
shares lose in a bankruptcy, less so the preferred shares. It's fair.)

It's basically unnecessary, there is a better way to equalize primary 
election votes and decision-making voting power. However, as I have 
mentioned, an Assembly has the right to make its own rules and may 
create rules allowing, say, tie-breaking votes, or other conditions 
where what I've called the"dregs," unassigned votes, may be exercised by 
electors or someone chosen by them. "Observer electgors" may be allowed, 
and in an enumerated vote, observers may have a fractional vote. This 
would only be formally counted on a formal call for enumeration by any 
full seat.

Attempts to bind the Assembly by creating rules that the Assembly may 
not disregard are actually forms of dictatorship. An Assembly must be 
free. Trusting rules in the place of people is, again, a Bad Idea, 
primitive thinking. Yes, rule of law was an advance over the arbitrary 
exercise of state power, but rule of law is also what I call 
the"dictatorship of the past." Consensus organizations run afoul of it 
when it is considered to take a consensus to overrule a consensus. It 
creates, in actual practice, minority rule, where the status quo favors 
a minority. Constitutional systems have this problem, where the 
constitution overspecifies procedure.

I've gone around and around on this, and always came to the principle 
that the majority always has a right of decision. Sometimes this must be 
exercised very carefully, because the goal in democracy should be and 
ultimately must be consensus, not mere majority, or the community is 
weakened and divided.
> .
>     A: If so, I've heard that idea before, and I think it's clever but
>     probably unworkable in practice.  I doubt that it would integrate
>     well with the parliamentary authorities (e.g. Robert's Rules of
>     Order) that legislatures actually use to get things done.
It could be done, particularly as a tweak. However, the exact 
implementation is better left to the Assembly, which has the right to 
rule on membership issues. Routinely, a chair may effectively pass a 
question or issue a ruling by stating "If there is no objection, X." Any 
member may object. If there is no objection, nevertheless, any member 
may, at least in the same session, move reconsideration, being 
considered part of the majority (unanimity, actually) that approved the 

In a reasonably aggregated Asset Assembly, it would be rare, my opinion, 
that much more than a single seat's quota of votes will be dregs. The 
election rules may make it easier to compromise for the dregs. If dregs, 
electors holding unassigned votes, can function in a limited way, and if 
they have the right to withdraw assigned votes, they can safely assign 
their remaining votes to some compromise.

The basic Asset idea creates an electoral college whose members are 
public, identified voters. It is the electoral college that fully 
represents the complete electorate, all that voted, so the Assembly is, 
then, properly, a trusted servant of the College. It is in the College 
that, literally, *no vote is wasted.* And if a voter wants to go to the 
trouble of participating, the voter may register as an elector and 
participate, subject to the rules as may be necessary to maintain order.

>     S:Given that, unlike all the other methods, EPR thoroughly
>     guarantees the principle of one-person-one-vote, I would be very
>     surprised if anyone could sustain the claim that it violates
>     Robert’s Rules of Order.Please explain the specific concerns you
>     have in this regard.Also, even if this principle were incompatible
>     with these rules, I would say: so much the worse for these
>     rules.This would require these rules to be suitably modified.What
>     do you think?
> Have you been in a meeting run by Robert's Rules?
I have served, both as a chair, and as a parliamentarian, though I was 
never formally trained. In my view, the duty of the chair is to empower 
the members. While I would rule a member out of order, I would also 
advise the member how to do what they wanted to do, within the rules. 
That had nothing to do with whether or  not I agreed with the member on 
this or that issue. It was about empowering the community, in using 
deliberative process to maximize consensus, which creates stronger 

> There are lots of votes, and each one usually takes less than 10 
> seconds.  ("All in favor say aye.  Those opposed say no.")  If the 
> majority is obvious, the chair will say "The ayes have it," or "The 
> noes have it," and we're done.  It relies on everyone's voice being 
> about the same volume and everyone having an equal vote.  I think a 
> voice vote is not really legitimate in a weighted legislature unless 
> it's unanimous
So "without objection" would still work. If the exceptions to equal 
voting are rare and limited, it could still work, and weighting would 
only be done with a roll call vote. Under most rules, I think, that 
takes a majority vote, or some rules allow some specified percentage of 
the assembly to require a roll call. In a roll call vote, it would be 
easy for the clerk to weight votes, even all of them (i.e., if electors 
are allowed to vote directly, say by internet voting, then "normally 
assigned votes" to seats would be deweighted by that fractional vote, 
representing the removed elector.

I strongly advise anyone supporting Asset to keep implementation simple, 
leaving tweaks that complete the principle of "no wasted votes" to the 
maximum possible, for Assembly rules, later. Right now, we don't have, 
in any assembly, anything approaching full representation. Moving to, 
say, 95% full would be a revolution.

> If the majority is not obvious to the chair, or is challenged by 
> anyone in the body, they do a rising vote. ("All those in favor please 
> rise."  Count.  "Be seated. Those opposed please rise."  Count.)  It 
> takes a minute or less.

Right. Roll call takes slightly longer.

> How should a weighted legislature do a quick vote?
> A) Do a voice vote, and if it's not unanimous then do a rising vote 
> with everyone holding up a sign with their vote weight, and have 
> someone add up all the weights instead of just counting the number 
> standing?
> B) Do every vote by computer?
No, not every vote, only votes where a roll call is requested, per the 
rules. But, yes, using computers. Smart phone app, with terminals 
available. Not every kind of issue. Questions of privilege, if a vote is 
required, would be decided by the number of persons present and voting.

> Honestly, lots of votes are unanimous, so if a group gets good at it, 
> it might not add that much time.  But with any vote that's close, it's 
> going to take five minutes instead of one.  In any case, that's just 
> the one thing that's on the top of my head.  I've never studied 
> Robert's Rules, only attended meetings.  I'm imagining there are other 
> things in the book that need to be changed to work with a weighted 
> legislature. Maybe I am wrong.
Whenever the assembly is so divided that it's close, rush to decision is 
a Bad Idea. With an Electoral College, full weighted voting becomes 
possible. That's all. If it is merely an Assembly rule, all kinds of 
things can be tried with little harm, because the majority can change 
the Rules at any time. Asset would create the data and the body of 
registered public voters ("electors") to make direct-representative 
democracy possible.

Existing election systems and strong-party democracy have created 
conditions where we don't trust our representatives. So we want to bind 
them with rules, not realizing that they then become experts at evading 
restrictive rules. Lack of trust in "politicians" is a core problem, and 
it is not solved by "throw the bums out," which simply creates more 
politicians appealing to knee-jerk responses. Asset throws the issue of 
representation back on the public, totally, and makes the primary issue 
one of "whom do you most trust." Period. No other strategy needed, and, 
yes, you can vote for your next-door neighbor, or that movie star, or a 
professor, or *anyone you choose* -- including yourself, if you want to 
spend the time on governmental issues.

(An election code should be free on request, a number that can be 
entered on a ballot to designate an elector. Listing the code in a 
directory should require a small fee to cover costs. $5? Whatever the 
cost is for a single phone-directory type listing in a cheap, newsprint 
booklet. An on-line directory of all registered electors should be free, 
and accessible from any smartphone. Computer voting stations would have 
access to that directory so that voters can verify their entry is the 
right person. Canvassed votes would have a listing available showing all 
votes by precinct. Some secret ballot election systems allow 
identification of the voter for legal purposes. It's done with paper 
ballots by having the voter sequence number on the back of the ballot; 
when votes are counted, physically, the back is not visible, but if a 
need arises to audit the election, the voter can be identified. Details.)

> I'm all in favor of finding an expert on Robert's Rules, or someone 
> becoming an expert, to figure out such changes.  (Also other changes, 
> like using other voting systems for making council decisions.)  We 
> could also talk about writing a whole new parliamentary procedure to 
> implement new things, but then you'd want someone who was even more of 
> an expert in parliamentary authorities and parliamentary meetings to 
> make sure you're meeting the needs of a working parliament.
No, we should concentrate on voting methods, our purpose, and leave 
Assembly procedure to the Assembly. Have you ever seen a full public 
vote on the Rules of a deliberative assembly?

Deliberative assemblies use simple majority rule at present. Weighted 
voting is a tweak on that which moves toward "majority" as referring to 
majority of the voting public rather than majority of Assembly members. 
But I prefer, greatly, to create a "trusted assembly" and empowering 
them, fully. In legal matters, I may designate a proxy and I have never 
burdened that proxy with many specified "rules." Choose someone you 
trust, then *trust them*. Otherwise, life becomes very complicated and 
simply doesn't work. Choose well and then trust your choice unless you 
have strong reasons, or simply no longer trust the person, then choose 
someone else. If I can't find anyone to trust, I'm probably the problem.

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