Municipal PR Discussion

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This topic contains 40 replies, has 5 voices, and was last updated by  Mark Henschel 6 days, 13 hours ago.

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  • #27897

    Mark Henschel
    Participant

    George:

    Interesting stuff.

    Could you share the data/calculations you did re the percentage of voters who got a top choice elected?

    Intuitively your conclusions make sense. What it confirms to me is that even though the high-order and equal mandates that STV delivers are good (5-members generate 83% mandates) the overall representation performance is much better.

    I was wondering about the objective of your prediction calculation. If you have the vote already in, why not just run the weighted Gregory or Meek algorithm and actually know who won? I mean… we know STV respects top ranking preferentially and works hard to elect voters’ top choices whilst avoiding the vagaries of elimination as long as possible, right?

    #27901

    Steven Hurdle
    Participant

    @george

    I don’t think anyone here would advocate for small multimember wards with STV. If STV were implemented, it would likely be without wards. For instance the District of North Vancouver has 6 councilors and it would be a single ward. Most city councils are more than 6. Even rural districts usually have at least 4 councilors. The City of Vancouver has 10 councilors and so it would probably stay as one big ward (no changes to how it is already right now).

    I’m just starting this research now. It’s looking like most of BC is 6-seat municipal councils, with some quite a bit higher but several as low as 4. The municipalities with the highest populations tend to be 6-10, some even higher, and they’re a lot of the population but a small number of the total municipalities (BC alone has over 75 municipalities, so hundreds upon hundreds across Canada).

    I’d love for the entire municipality to be the district, but that’s not necessarily the way it will be. I mentioned district magnitude with STV at the municipal level because examples had been cited of some Alberta and Ontario municipalities being broken down into multi-member wards (which was educational for me, I didn’t even know that was a thing, I thought wards were always single member). But under either STV or CV, you’d get the most proportionality if the entire municipality was the district. With STV, larger district magnitude means reducing the quota. With CV, larger district magnitude means more votes per voter, which allows for more specific weighting of your support for each candidate that you cast votes for, and allows a great opportunity for “plumping” all your support behind one (or a small number of) candidates that otherwise have limited support and low likelihood of electoral success. So, yes, either way, the entire municipality as the district every time, please! 🙂

    You are mention a lot of strategic things from the party side of this and I think it is important to distinguish that campaign strategy and nomination strategy is different than a voter having to strategically cast their ballot.

    I get that distinction, and have tried to be clear when talking about a voter engaging in strategic voting, and candidates engaging in strategic nomination. Strategic nomination matters even when all you have is independent candidates, though. Someone considering putting themselves on the ballot (or staying on the ballot) must weigh the odds of their overall success. They may see a lot of other people on the ballot with similar policies to theirs, and that may discourage them from running. After the close of nominations, candidates typically have a small window of time to take their name off the ballot before the ballots get printed, and they may look at a crowded field and choose to drop out if the field is too full of people with views similar to theirs. Conversely, they may see very few people with politics similar to theirs, and that may encourage them to run (or stay on the ballot if they’re already running). So even if all you have are independent candidates, strategic nomination is still a thing. And it’s a thing with both STV and CV.

    And I don’t see it as an inherently bad thing. Strategic nomination is generally thought of as bad, but I have a contrarian view. I see strategic nomination as something that can help keep ballots shorter (fewer candidates in total), and can help smaller factions attract stronger candidates by improving the electability of their candidates. I know that’s heresy to some people, but that’s my view. 🙂

    #27902

    Mark Henschel
    Participant

    Steven:

    One correction.

    If you do your “Droops” it should become clear that as district magnitudes increase, the quotas — the actual number of votes required to elect — increase too. The quotas do not decrease.

    But what also increases with increasing district magnitude is the pool of available voters to elect.

    If you follow this to the ultimate conclusion — to a single district “at large” election — the number of votes required to elect approaches the ratio of total votes available/cast to the number of representatives overall (100% representation in the ideal). And all the while, the successful candidates are elected with roughly the same number of votes (also the ideal). Thus the real mandates of the elected reps increases with increasing district magnitude (along with inclusivity of representation and — if it matters — fairness for parties aka proportionality).

    One corollary of all this. It should be clear that STV privileges local representation. Local candidates with local support will be elected even with low district magnitudes. Indeed, local candidates (and parties) that lack sufficient common cause support to get elected in tiny single-member ridings have their chance to succeed improve with each increase in district magnitude whilst representation generally is improving as well. This was what the BC-CA came to understand and one of the reasons they settled on STV despite the fact that on the surface it seemed somewhat counter-intuitive.

    #27903

    Steven Hurdle
    Participant

    I was thinking of quotas as a percentage of votes cast, not as an absolute number of votes. So I was probably using the wrong terminology. What I meant was as the district magnitude increases, the effective percentage of the vote required to be elected drops under STV. And under CV, as the number of people to be elected increases, the more granular your ability to weight your support behind the people you vote for gets.

    What I find remarkable is how similar the net effect of both STV and CV is, despite extraordinarily different mechanisms to get there.

    One thing I like about CV, is the ability to express an equal preference for multiples candidates (eg. one vote each, two votes each, 4 votes each, what have you). That’s something most electoral systems don’t allow, but that CV does.

    #27904

    Mark Henschel
    Participant

    I’ve always considered that characterization of the quota to be pretty meaningless and actually seriously unhelpful as many look at those low percentages and relate them to the low percentages by which reps are elected under the FPTP silos… when these figures don’t relate at all.

    Ya dig?

    #27907

    Steven Hurdle
    Participant

    @Mark,

    I guess since we’re used to thinking of the popular vote in percentages, and proportionality in percentages, it creates a tendency to think of STV quotas in percentages. Rightly or wrongly! 🙂

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve never associated the false majorities of FPTP with the lowest percentages winners under STV get. That’s an interesting connection that you’ve drawn, I’ve never drawn that connection before.

    #27909

    Mark Henschel
    Participant

    I didn’t draw that connection but I had to deal with people who did incessantly and criticized STV on that basis.

    But tell me. Did you always understand that STV mandates (via the quotas) increased with increasing district magnitude?

    That connection I found on my own. It wasn’t something that my brother revealed from his work on the BC-CA.

    And I don’t ever see anyone else citing it. Do you?

    #27916

    Steven Hurdle
    Participant

    @Mark

    But tell me. Did you always understand that STV mandates (via the quotas) increased with increasing district magnitude?

    That connection I found on my own. It wasn’t something that my brother revealed from his work on the BC-CA.

    And I don’t ever see anyone else citing it. Do you?

    The math behind STV hasn’t been on my radar for years, including this particular aspect of it, so I’m not the right person to ask this question of. I did a deep dive into STV’s math in 2004-2006, but afterwards stepped back as I now trusted the math so I instead focused on the principles behind it all.

    One of the reasons I’ve become excited about CV is that it touches on a lot of the same principles for me. Both STV and CV accommodates independent candidates well, introduces intra-party competition, allow a voter to weight their support for different candidates, allow a voter to participate in the election of multiple candidates, and more. Despite their differences in how they function, they’re surprisingly similar when it comes to the principles they touch on. I’m quite intrigued by CV’s additional ability to allow a voter to express an exactly equal preference between multiple candidates if they wish to, even while weighting support for other candidates lower or higher.

    But CV does all of the above with mechanics that are vastly easier to explain, which appeals to me after 13 years of referenda on STV! I’m weary of defending STV’s complex math, to people who can’t even fully explain FPTP and yet don’t subject FPTP to the same level of scrutiny. But I think I could explain CV to anyone, even in 30 seconds while handing out leaflets. I remain a fan of STV, but I’m admittedly reluctant to campaign for it. Now if I were in your shoes and we could switch to STV with a city council willing to play ball, that would be different. But if I had to fight to get support for STV on the books, and then subsequently fight to get city councils to adopt it, that’s a bridge too far for me right now. Unfortunately, because it’s an awesome system. But I think in CV I’ve found a system that meets a lot of the same principles, and in most provinces would be an easier sell to incumbent politicians and the public. That’s very exciting to me.

    BTW, it’s super cool that your brother was a member of the BC Citizens’ Assembly! I’m forever in their debt for introducing me to STV, which was the key to switching me from someone who was suspicious of PR to someone who was an ardent supporter.

    #27917

    Mark Henschel
    Participant

    I’ll take that as a no.

    #27933

    Steven Hurdle
    Participant

    @Mark

    I’ll take that as a no.

    I don’t recall noting that myself or it being pointed out to me, no. It’s possible that was on my radar at one point, only to be lost to the mists of time since I last did a deep dive into the math over a decade ago. But, sure, take it as a no. Why not? 🙂

    #27958

    Mark Henschel
    Participant

    Designs and implementations explicitly and implicitly embody, express and effect certain principles. The consequences — all the consequences, both intended and inadvertent — are important and deserve scrutiny before and after… but preferably before.

    In an ecology of single-member districts we agonize over the relative equality (or considered inequality) via our boundary examinations. Rep by pop. One person one vote. We take these seriously, even to the point of taking decisions to the Supreme Court (ie Saskatchewan 1991).

    We are also concerned about the centripetal tendencies of power which in Canada we see growing into toxic leader-centric culture both in our parties and in our legislative assemblies.

    When we contemplate a profound change to our fundamental democratic institutions — which is what we are doing when we seek to change our electoral system — it behooves us to test the lines of cause and effect to understand the connections between how we elect and these other attributes of our democracy.

    Many Canadians share with me a concern about concentration of power, the accompanying exclusion and about the discrepancy and discrimination demonstrated in our legislative assemblies. Less than half of voters get a rep of their choice and amongst those who do there is an often vast difference in relative mandates between representatives.

    The introduction of multi-member districts is a necessary condition for improving inclusion to acceptable levels. But unless specific design features are included, multi-member districts will exacerbate the concentration of power at the top and power inequality at the representative level. And unless and until decisions in our assemblies are not by vote of elected representatives the relative legislative power of each rep is critical to them, voters and democracy.

    This is a matter of principle. And these are principles to which Fair Vote — and the PR-based push for electoral reform — have turned a blind eye… not that voters have.

    To my knowledge STV is the only inclusive electoral system that intentionally — as part of its essential design conceit — empowers elected representatives with strong equal mandates and which set representative democracy on a definite trajectory towards a fundamental notion of a democratic ideal: every voter gets a rep and every rep represents a similar number of voters. Rep and voter empowerment and emancipation.

    For me, that perspective was made clear through looking at Droops over increasing district magnitudes and focusing on the votes and the voters.

    And it’s not like this is arcane or difficult maths. In truth, the Droop equation is no more complicated than the “skill-testing” questions we all had to solve to win a prize from the cereal companies.

    So. The maths pointed me to the principles but they aren’t the arguments for choosing STV, the principles are.

    And I’d be happy for you to describe how CV attains equal legislative power and empowers us via an empowered cohort of representatives. You might have to show me the maths. 😉

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