Polity by Rob Salmond

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Polity: Australian election: Dust and Diesel

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  • Paul Campbell,

    Nevertheless if you want your vote to be counted best you have to rank all 40 people - a lot of people find this quite intimidating (it might be easier if one could do it online, moving names up and down to rank them, rather than trying to remember if you've used '23' before, then erasing '4' after changing your mind and having to renumber them all ....).

    I agree that NZ STV is the right way to do it, the fairest way - I'm just trying to point out that practice, from the voter's point of view is less than ideal, there's a lot of grumbling ....

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2575 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to Paul Campbell,

    I must continue to disagree, Paul. People need only rank-order as many of the candidates as they feel able to / know something about, in the order in which they wish to see them elected.

    Click on this post at What if ... Dunedin? https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2010/08/22/why-not-the-stv-voting-sytem/ and scroll down to my reply to 'ro', dated September 22, 2010 at 7:54 am. Have a read, then click on the link to the table showing the example mentioned, of how a vote might be used in NZ STV elections.

    As I know you already know, a little bit of each vote "sticks" (as you once put it) to any successful candidate you have ranked, until there is nothing left of your vote. The voter in this example has helped elect 6 candidates (say, out of 14), and will be very satisfied about that. The other successful candidates will have been elected by other voters - in PR/STV elections, there's enough room for everyone.

    I would like to be able to vote online, too, but the vote-security problems seem to be insurmountable at this time - but that's another issue.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd,

    "Should Australians be outraged that the seat split didn’t follow the vote split?

    "If you win the popular vote in a democratic election, shouldn’t you normally expect to win the election as well, whether you’re a leftie or a rightie? And if you tie the popular vote, shouldn;t you also tie the seat split?

    "Is there any good, democratic reason not to expect this?"

    In answer to the last question, "No, there's not, Rob."

    As you have pointed out, the problem is single-member seats combined with the distribution of a given polity's population.

    The answer for Australians is to adopt STV (NZ / Meek's method) in large multimember electorates, and to do away with above-the-line voting. (MMP does not meet the constitutional requirement that MPs be directly elected by the people.)

    I won't expand on this suggestion too much now, but this is basically how it would work. Firstly, South Australia becomes one 11-seat electorate. Then, in descending order--

    NSW (47) is divided into three 12-member and one 11-member electorates;
    Victoria (37) 2 x 12 and 1 x 13;
    Queensland (30) 3 x 10;
    Western Australa (16) 1 x 16, followed by--
    Tasmania 1 x 5 (constitutionally guaranteed even though entitled to only 4), and
    the ACT and the Northern Territory both 1 x 2 = a total of 150.

    The organisation promoting this model, Electoral Reform Australia, give a number of advantages for it--

    1. Minimum quota variation within and between states;
    2. Proportionality - apart from Tasmania and the Territories, every electorate has a quota of less than 10% and more than 5%;
    3. Increased choice of candidates;
    4. Redistributions are eliminated, or made much easier to carry out;
    5. MPs servicing electorates - sharing responsibilities; voters will much more likely be dealt with by an MP of the party for whom they voted.

    Although not guaranteeing it, this model would almost always ensure that the party winning the most votes would win the most seats. However, even with 12 large district magnitude electorates, slight upsets in votes/seats outcomes could occur on occasions, but would very likely even out across the country at any particular election.

    Too many candidates facing the voters? There wouldn't need to be. Abolishing above-the-line voting, introducing fully optional preferential voting (as in STV elections in NZ), requiring candidates to stand for election in their own state (of usual residence), and increasing candidate deposits, would ensure the number of candidates on any ballot paper in any electorate would be perfectly manageable.

    I would also add that by abolishing above-the-line voting and adopting Meek counting, all successful candidates would be elected with a quota of votes. This would greatly reduce the number of exhausted votes, which leads to the last one or two candidates (in current Senate elections) in each state being elected "without quota" (unavoidable with manual counting, even if computer-assisted).

    This model would also overcome the problem of electoral stasis, being "a condition that can arise when an electorate cannot realistically change its political composition, regardless of the swing occurring in a general election." [Wikipedia - Issues affecting the single transferable vote.] (The main cause of electoral stasis in party-based, albeit candidate-centred, elections, is small 3- to 5- or 7-seat electorates.)

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd, in reply to linger,

    "And so what if it does? It might let more progressive elements into our Parliament too. (Mana, for example.) It certainly will lead to a greater diversity of views being represented. Additionally, if there’s more chance of some tangible result from voting for minor parties that actually represent voters’ views, more voters will be engaged."

    Well said, linger. It seems to me Craig Young's concept of democracy is not as developed as it should be. Very disappointing.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Hugh Wilson,

    Australia's celebrity psephologist Anthony Green is speaking in Wellington tonight in case anyone was interested:

    https://www.ipanz.org.nz/Event?Action=View&Event_id=498

    Melbourne • Since Feb 2013 • 147 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    MMP does not meet the constitutional requirement that MPs be directly elected by the people

    How? Each list is published, the people vote for the list as a whole. If you don't like a list, don't vote for it, there are plenty to choose from.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    The trouble with STV in local elections (and possibly in national ones) is that it's a personal popularity contest, which can easily turn into a stupidity contest.

    Local government would be far better if we had a list system similar to MMP and a mayor/leader elected by councillors.

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    a mayor/leader elected by councillors.

    In Australia that leads to excitement as different factions/parties make and break deals with each other over who gets to be the mayor and for how long. But it still beats the Auckland mayoral contest.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1097 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    How? Each list is published, the people vote for the list as a whole. If you don't like a list, don't vote for it, there are plenty to choose from.

    The legal system and common sense are not even second cousins, they're almost different species. Both use language to express reasoning, but that's about where the resemblance ends.

    My understanding is that votes must be cast for a specific person, not for a list of people. So STV is allowed because I vote 1:Bob, 2:Sam, 3:Chris, each preferential vote being for a specific individual. In the senate the rules are different, since there have been multiple senators per electorate (state) right from the start. But with a list system I am not voting for a person, I'm voting for 1:the list made by party X, 2: the list made by party Y, and so on. That is considered too indirect.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1097 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to Moz,

    In Australia that leads to excitement as different factions/parties make and break deals with each other over who gets to be the mayor and for how long.

    I once lived in Leichardt, when card-carrying Trotskyite Nick Origlass was Mayor. There were no purges of intellectuals or the bourgeoisie, and no deaths could be directly attributed to his holding the office.

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 4566 posts Report Reply

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