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View Full Version : OT: need advice on voting system change, STV



Evan
05-09-2009, 08:58 PM
We have an election on Tuesday and one of the items on the ballot is a referendum on whether the province should institute the Single Transferable Vote system of electing candidates. I'm not going to try and explain how it works, partly because I haven't been able to find a completely clear explanation of how it is supposed to work. I know that some members in Australia and the UK have some experience with this and am wondering what they think of it.

??

Duffy
05-09-2009, 09:27 PM
Evan, I am sitting here in Sidney BC and offer the following. First, I am not at all sure how it is SUPPOSED to work. I lived in this province for over fifteen years, off and on, and worked as a civil servant for nine of them. Second, from extensive experience with the workings of the government, from the cabinet level down to the Regonal government, I can assure you that it WILL NOT work they way that they tell you it is SUPPOSED to work. It is a ploy to get a party into power, or keep it in power, when it can obtain strong support in densely populated ridings, but cant win the hinterland. Right now, in Ontario, the rest of the province is virtually a hostage of what amounts to the "city state" of Greater Toronto. This comparatively tiny "state" has nearly half the population of the Province. I feel that a similar situation exists with the Greater Vancouver "city state". In Ontario, Torontonians cant even pronounce Fort Francis, let alone give a hoot as to its problems, and I am certain that a close parallel exist here with Williams Lake, Mackenzie, Quesnel, or pick your favorite. Sorry, Evan, you touched a nerve, and I had to jump in, but I wish you luck on Tuesday. My advice would be to leave it alone, as it aint THAT badly broke! Duffy

Robin R
05-10-2009, 12:07 AM
Personally I will be voting to support the STV, not because I think it's a particularly good alternative, but because I think we need some form of proportional representation in BC. The problem is if the STV isn't supported this time round, it could be decades before there is another chance to change our voting system. If STV is adopted, it doesn't mean we are stuck with it forever, it can be changed to something else, as it seems appropriate.
I think things got off track in the process of deciding what system to adopt, there were much better alternatives proposed, so why pick this one.
If I understand you right Duffy, the change will result in rural ridings actually having some influence on the outcome of an election. Surely that can't be a bad thing, right now I feel like I'm voting just to exercise my right to, not because I expect to get any meaningful representation.
Currently we have what amounts to a two party arrangement, which results in wild swings in policy, as the newest party tries to correct what they perceive as the wrongs done by the previous administration.
Here is a link that gives an explanation as to why STV is worth supporting, this by Christie Clark, who voted against it in the last election. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UhccpzI4lbQ

Evan
05-10-2009, 12:37 AM
I don't want to discuss the merits or lack of them of the parties in BC, only the merit of lack thereof of the STV voting system. One of the things that I haven't been able to discover is how is your vote counted if you don't indicate any alternative choices and your first (and only) choice already has enough votes to win?

clint
05-10-2009, 12:48 AM
Some how my post come up on the wrong thread.. can't find delete button

oldtiffie
05-10-2009, 02:08 AM
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote_system

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Australian_Senate

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation

aostling
05-10-2009, 12:16 PM
Evan,

Can you vote in BC? It used to be that voting in a "foreign" election was grounds for loss of USA citizenship.

Teenage_Machinist
05-10-2009, 04:04 PM
Don't be too suspicious. But reading this woudl be good.

I think the idea is that it is easier for a third party to be elected, that your vote transfers to your second choice.

Evan
05-10-2009, 05:23 PM
Can you vote in BC? It used to be that voting in a "foreign" election was grounds for loss of USA citizenship.


It's almost impossible to lose your US citizenship now. There are a very restricted set of conditions that apply. Holding office in a foreign government isn't even enough unless you are in a capacity to make policy. I believe treason is still a reason as is conspiring to overthrow the US government. That's about it though.

I still want to know what happens to my vote if I don't put a second choice on it. What happens if my first choice has reached the set quota to win and my ballot is among those that are transfered for second choice counting? They cannot legally disregard my vote. The system makes it possible for a portion of the electorate to confound the vote by not making second choices. The ballots are not spoiled and must be counted but cannot be transfered.

wierdscience
05-10-2009, 05:35 PM
Enough of this plain vanilla democratic selection,give us something with flare.

A popular vote followed by the victor killing his/her rivals would be interesting and probably beneficial to the populace.

Maybe something with a feudal Japanese touch like the losing opposition leaders committing suicide?

All these politicians vowing to "fight" for the people,well hop to it.Pistols at 20 paces?

Evan
05-10-2009, 07:41 PM
The other thing I want to know is how in heck can they do a recount? It sounds like it would be totally impossible to duplicate the count sequence since it is time dependent.

oldtiffie
05-10-2009, 09:35 PM
Australian Senate voting et al:
http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/senate_count.htm

http://www.aec.gov.au/Voting/counting/index.htm

http://www.aec.gov.au/

http://www.google.com.au/search?hl=en&q=australian+electrol+commission&meta=&aq=0&oq=australian+electr

Evan
05-10-2009, 11:13 PM
Thanks especially for that first link. That has easily made up my mind even though I still haven't found out what happens if I don't make a second choice.

This is the first detailed explanation of precisely how the vote counting takes place in the STV system. What a joke! It makes a mockery of the "One person, One vote" concept. It allow you to not just indicate a second choice candidate but to also have a fractional portion of your vote applied to as many candidates as you are allowed to vote for on the ballot. The result of this is that special interest groups can cast unified block votes across several districts with all such votes counting toward all such special interest candidates at once.

Not only that but the system is so complex that according to the vote count description


Counting for the Senate takes longer than the House of Representatives because of the complex nature of the counting system used. It is some weeks before all Senators are declared elected.

You have got to be kidding me. WEEKS???? SO it means that recounts are effectively impossible, as I suspected.

dp
05-12-2009, 01:22 AM
This is the craziest thing I've ever read on voting. It is absurd. Beyond absurd. I'm surprised it didn't originate in the US where really crazy election laws are the norm. Canada is doomed.

Greg Parent
05-12-2009, 10:53 AM
I hope the BC referendum on a STV passes into legislation. It will act as an example to help with the changes needed at the federal level. First past the post does not reflect the will of the majority. It is a distortion of the public voice on many levels.

Evan
05-12-2009, 11:05 AM
I cannot see any advantage to the STV system and a serious number of disadvantages. The current system isn't great but that doesn't make any alternative better. The STV system appears to allow for block voting to have a much greater influence than it currently does because of the conglomeration of up to seven ridings into one voting district. We will, for example under such a system, have two choices per party to vote for whereas in the greater Vancouver district each person may apportion their vote among seven candidates per party. That will give disproportionate weight to the votes in the large districts and completely shut out the rural districts.

mark61
05-12-2009, 11:26 AM
Enough of this plain vanilla democratic selection,give us something with flare.

A popular vote followed by the victor killing his/her rivals would be interesting and probably beneficial to the populace.

Maybe something with a feudal Japanese touch like the losing opposition leaders committing suicide?

All these politicians vowing to "fight" for the people,well hop to it.Pistols at 20 paces?

This idea would sure make all these computer chair political genius's think twice about filling the net with their BS!

LET US DO IT!
:)

mark61

Evan
05-12-2009, 01:24 PM
First past the post does not reflect the will of the majority.

Where did that name come from anyway? It isn't a horse race and it has nothing to do with how fast you get votes. The person with the most votes wins. That seems simple enough. The fact that the vote may be split among a number of parties is a consequence of allowing anybody to run for office. That also seems fair enough.

I really smell a disinformation campaign on the part of those promoting the STV system. This is especially so after listening to some of the ads that are running up 'til today. Anyway, I have to go vote against it today. I voted against it last time because I couldn't find any clear information about how it worked. This time there is more information online and now I know I don't like it.

I sure hope it is turned down again. If it isn't I predict some long drawn out court battles in the future which will go to the Supreme Court and will probably even result in some elections being overturned in the future. In other words, a total mess. ( I am being nice).

Willy
05-12-2009, 02:28 PM
The "first past the post" or highest number of votes system of voting works well in a two party system.
When you have six candidates running, as I do in my riding, it almost guarantees that the candidate that has the most votes and wins, will also be the person that the majority did not vote for.
Unless of course you end up with a bunch of turkeys running for office that don't get many votes (like that never happens).

The main thing to remember in any election is to vote early and vote often.:D

Evan
05-12-2009, 03:51 PM
When you have six candidates running, as I do in my riding, it almost guarantees that the candidate that has the most votes and wins, will also be the person that the majority did not vote for.


STV doesn't fix that. It just obscures it by making it impossible to tell how many votes a particular candidate actually received. With STV we will never know how many people actually voted for a particular candidate, only that they reached the "quota". Further, even if your vote helped to elect a particular candidate it is then transferred to another at a "reduced value" and can help to elect another, and another, and another....

2ManyHobbies
05-12-2009, 06:06 PM
The devil is in the details. Being in a system that is basically ruled by two parties and the winner having been determined to be the party perceived to have screwed up the least in the immediate past, I can see a benefit to the STV (it in theory opens up the door for more parties). The system you describe Evan doesn't sound like what I remember reading about though. I always thought/figured that you have something like N candidates for 1 seat and X votes required to win. Everybody votes for 0-N candidates in order of preference and a tally of primary preference is taken. If a single candidate has more than X/2 votes, they are declared winner. In the case that no candidate has more than X/2 votes, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and all ballots with that candidate in the position of primary preference automatically are tallied based on secondary preference (still one person one vote). If a candidate now has better than X/2 votes, they are declared winner, if not, the next to last (well the new last) candidate is now eliminated and the tally is recalculated once the ballots are recounted by the next available preference. Tally/recount continues as an instant run-off until somebody gets more than X/2 votes. What I read about didn't exactly deal with single vote ballots, but you would either have to reset the win condition to more than (X-B)/2 where B is blank or have to handle a theoretical situation where 4 candidates each take home 25% of the vote and thus nobody wins. In such a condition, if you don't force a re-vote, then you have a plurality win condition where some really spooky fringe people can get elected that wouldn't have a shot in a simple majority system with followup run-off elections.

I've never heard of fractional votes. That makes me cringe almost as much a ballot casting order or some otherwise insane counting scheme. Essentially it sounds like the later you vote the more likely your ballot may count for multiple candidates you like, and less so if you vote earlier.

Picking people to hold 5 offices out of 9 candidates is something you do at a homeowners association where nobody cares enough to contest the outcome in the first place.

I myself am partial to benevolent monarchs appointed by and disposed of though the careful study of history books deposited by time travelers ~200 years in the future.

Evan
05-12-2009, 08:14 PM
According to the information on the method of counting for the election of the Australian Senate it is the same system as is proposed for BC.

Fractional Votes:



Surplus votes
Candidates who receive a quota, or more, of first preference votes are immediately elected. The surplus votes of candidates who receive more than the quota are transferred to second choice candidates. Because it is not possible to determine which votes actually elected the candidate and which votes are surplus, all the elected candidates' ballot papers are transferred at a reduced value.

Transfer value
The transfer value of the elected candidate's ballot papers is worked out by dividing the number of surplus votes by the total number of the elected candidate's ballot papers.


That means that effectively every person that voted for that candidate as first choice get to vote again for second choice at a "reduced value".

What is so wrong about that is that those who voted for a loser as first choice don't have their votes transferred to anybody and so have less voting power than those that voted for a winner.

2ManyHobbies
05-12-2009, 09:05 PM
If that is right, the implementation they are calling STV is merely a means to concentrate voting power in urban areas. Ick.

Evan
05-12-2009, 09:14 PM
That is precisely the effect it will have.

Evan
05-13-2009, 06:12 AM
The Single Transferable Vote proposition was defeated. The exact numbers aren't in yet but it wasn't close this time. STV is a dead duck in BC. The Liberals, which are the conservatives in BC, have a majority as well.

The speculation on the news is that the voters turned it down because they couldn't find any clear answers about how it was supposed to work. I talked to a few people in town yesterday and they confirmed to me that was their reason for voting against it. When I explained a few of the details (thanks to Tiffie's link) they were astounded and relieved they had voted against it.

Thanks for entertaining my questions.

digger_doug
05-13-2009, 07:16 AM
I get all my canadian political news from 3 sources, they
come cross the lake quite well when I swing the anntenna north....

Royal Canadian Air farce
The Rick Mercer report
Ron James

None covered it or even mentioned it.

Good to hear it was defeated.

aostling
05-13-2009, 05:07 PM
The Liberals, which are the conservatives in BC, have a majority as well.


I've been assuming that Stephen Harper and his Conservative Party are somewhat equivalent to the Republican Party here. Is this not so?

Evan
05-13-2009, 05:23 PM
That is correct, whereas the conservative party in BC at the provincial level is named the Liberal Party. The agenda and politics of the the federal Conservatives and the provincial Liberals are similar. It one of those doublethink things...