Posts by Tim McKenzie

  • Legal Beagle: A Story in Three Acts; or…,

    If there's a bill proposing to change hate speech laws, would it be possible to have a section added that applies penalties based on speech that occurred (including in Parliament) before the change, but only applies to those MPs whose votes were cast in favour of the third reading? You might want to exempt things the MPs said before they turned 18, and maybe even things they'd apologized for before the third reading or (if they didn't remember the offence at that time) as soon as it came to their attention.

    I feel that something like this would concentrate the minds of those MPs supporting the change and encourage clarity in the law, even if the main effect of the law change is going to be greater scrutiny of what may have already been illegal (or close enough to illegal to be investigated).

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Steelmanning hate speech reform,

    People who live in a place like New Zealand should not be made to feel that they do not belong

    I wish there were more MPs who actually believed this. I'm thinking, for example, of Willie Jackson's "Dan Bidois—he needs to go back to Italy", or some National Party thing I can't find now (maybe from Simon Bridges's time?) contrasting Labour's policy of giving criminals the vote with National's policy of deporting them (as if all criminals were immigrants; actually, I believe there's evidence that disporportionately few of our criminals are immigrants).

    And then there's Kris Faafoi's use of his ministerial position not merely to incite discrimination on the basis of nationality but to actually intensify the government's own discrimination on that basis. Answers like this encourage people to think of migrants not as people but as units of labour supply; if they were people, they'd need food to eat, clothes to wear, teachers for their children, and so on, thus increasing demand for labour, as well as its supply. And his treatment of automation as a substitute for labour, rather than a complementary good, reveals that he would prefer that New Zealanders be displaced from employment by machines, rather than that they be displaced from employment by migrants; thus he's treating migrants as if they're morally inferior to machines.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: The Government's Proposed…,

    If someone publicly said that a particular New Zealander of Ruritanian descent should "go back to Ruritania", in a context where the plain meaning was that the Ruritanian–New Zealander was unwelcome here, could that be an offence, either under the current law, or the proposed changes?

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: A draft submission on the…,

    For once, I have written my submission on a bill with enough time to spare to ... give you time to spot the typos ...

    I thank the committee for the opportunity to make a written submission on [the] Harmful Digital Communications (Unauthorised Posting of Intimate Visual Recording) Amendment Bill ...

    I am instead raising the following as something that the Committee may wish to think about, and seek further input [on] from departmental advisers.

    (Unless you cherish a certain superstition about prepositions, in which case you'll need to untangle this yourself.)

    ... fixing an issue that will arise ~~is~~ in a small number of prosecutions ...

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Election '20: The Special Votes,

    …all of which is very interesting if you’re not-a-fan of Nick Smith. With 34 National seats (and no changes to the number of electorates won by National) he misses out on getting back in on the list

    I think Maureen Pugh loses her seat first, so National would have to drop to 33 seats (without losing an electorate) for Nick Smith to miss out. If he does, though, I think Trevor Mallard will then be Father of the House.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: On the possibility of laws…,

    But the same law has also been used to convict someone for saying a war commemoration should commemorate the dead on both sides of the conflict and not just our dead

    Wait, what? Where can I read more about this? Did the conviction rely on the wording or context, or was the mere suggestion illegal? Criminally illegal?

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Voting in an STV election, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    For the rest of us, can you produce a real life instance where an STV election in NZ has produced an outcome you regard as unfair because of the counting system?

    In New Zealand? Probably not. As izogi pointed out, the vote data just isn't available. A little effort was made to have more vote data revealed for the first flag referendum, but the Electoral Commission believed it would have been illegal for them to reveal more data. (See http://offsettingbehaviour.blogspot.com/2015/10/flag-cycles.html .)

    That's not to say that there aren't perverse STV results in New Zealand; just that it's difficult to identify them, and even if you have your suspicions about a particular result, it would still be very difficult to prove its perverseness beyond doubt, without more data.

    However, Burlington in Vermont briefly used to elect its mayors using what they called Instant-runoff voting (IRV, which is basically single-winner STV, like we use for electing Wellington's mayor, for example); they released more complete vote data, so that, in 2009, although the result was "fair" in the sense that the rules announced before the election were, presumably, followed correctly, it was a somewhat perverse result in this way:

    The three main candidates were Bob Kiss, Andy Montroll, and Kurt Wright. Of those three, Andy Montroll was the first to be eliminated by IRV; then Bob Kiss beat Kurt Wright and won the election. But according to the preferences they revealed, 4067 voters would have been happier if Andy Montroll had won, compared to only 3477 who would have been less happy with that result; what's more, Andy Montroll would have won a similar preference comparison against Kurt Wright, and against all of the more minor candidates.

    Ironically, according to Wikipedia, more of a fuss about this result was made by Kurt Wright's supporters than by Andy Montroll's; apparently they felt that with 33% of first preferences (more than any other candidate) their candidate had been robbed of his legitimate victory, or something, even though, according to the preferences the voters expressed, he would have lost a two-way election against either of his main rivals.

    So instead of changing to a system that would have avoided the perverse result, Burlington reverted to a two-round sort of non-instant-runoff system that would have (if voters had expressed the same preferences) delivered exactly the same result, had it been used in 2009, only it would have taken longer, being a two-round system. (However, voter incentives may have been altered if the two-round system had been used.)

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Voting in an STV election, in reply to Steve Todd,

    the Aussies have completely ruined STV ... The parties also hand out how-to-vote cards which, I understand, most people follow. So, it would not have been too difficult for polling to reveal that a monotonicity violation was in the offing. Such violation could not be revealed in respect of, say, a Wellington mayoral election.

    Graeme, is it illegal for candidates to send out how-to-vote cards in New Zealand, or is it just not common practice here yet?

    In any case, if the claim is that failure of the monotonicity criterion is acceptable because it would not in practice affect voter incentives in New Zealand (despite Australia's experiences), then any rejection of a system on the basis that it lacks the later-no-harm criterion should be accompanied by evidence that it would in practice affect voter incentives in New Zealand.

    there is a trade-off between “refinements” in STV (improved treatment of surpluses, as with NZ STV; improved process of exclusion) and the cost in manageability – for example, very complicated election rules, computer programming, and reporting of results (…).

    In the single-winner case, I reckon the Schulze method would actually have simpler rules and simpler computer implementations than single-winner STV. Heck, the Wikipedia article on the Schulze method includes 17 lines of pseudocode implementing what it claims is "The only difficult step".

    As for reporting of results, they could publish a table showing how many voters prefer each candidate X over each other candidate Y. Each cell of the table could be colour-coded to indicate whether more people prefer X over Y or vice versa. Then, whenever there's a Condorcet winner, they'll stand out as a complete row of wins, and everyone will know that the Schulze method will elect that person.

    Even when there isn't a Condorcet winner, I reckon you could follow along at home, using only a pencil, paper, and the numbers in the table, to confirm that the announced winner is, in fact, correct according to the Schulze method. In comparison, in order to follow along at home with single-winner STV, you'd need to know how many people voted in each different way. With 39 candidates, there will be so many different ways people will have voted (many, many of them with only one voter casting that precise vote), that the amount of data would be overwhelming. Even with all that data, I don't think I could complete the calculations by hand before the next election, 3 years later.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Voting in an STV election, in reply to Steve Todd,

    I emphasise that I prefer later-no-harm because it gives ordinary voters the confidence to rank the candidates in their true order of preference.

    No matter how many times you say this, it still won't be true — unless, perhaps, by "ordinary voters" you mean people who have heard and believed mistaken analyses of their electoral system.

    If they thought their later preferences might harm their earlier preferences, they wouldn’t give them, and we’d be back to FPP again.

    Failure of later-no-harm means only that one of your highest-ranked candidates might do better if you refrain from listing remaining candidates; it is by no means automatic, just as the failure of monotonicity doesn't automatically manifest itself in every STV election. But your highest-ranked candidates might also do worse if you refrain from listing remaining candidates. So in practice, why would a well-informed voter want to refrain from listing their remaining candidates?

    In the absence of any examples in which the failure of later-no-harm might plausibly affect voter incentives, insisting on later-no-harm at the expense of monotonicity is like straining out the theoretical possibility of a gnat, while swallowing a known camel: it's one thing to wonder whether one of your favourite candidates might do better if you refrain from listing your less-favoured candidates; it's quite another thing to know in advance that there is a significant possibility that your absolute favourite candidate might do better if you and some like-minded voters give your first preference to another candidate, which is exactly what happened in the Division of Melbourne in 2010.

    As I said (implied) to Graeme, general society would need to be far more sophisticated than it currently is, for more intricate versions of STV to be imposed on them. At the moment, you find that greater sophistication / education in private societies, which is why I imagine Shultz-STV is being used in an increasing number of them.

    You seem to be suggesting now that the Schulze method might actually be an improvement on STV, but that general society is unlikely to be sufficiently well informed to accept it any time soon. You might be right; it's a much more defensible position than "it’s hard to imagine an informed electorate giving up later-no-harm", given that an informed electorate would probably baulk at the very real examples of non-monotonicity that come with later-no-harm.

    But then maybe the Schulze method is more generally acceptable than you might think. It's apparently already used by what was, for a year, consistently the most popular party in Iceland according to opinion polls (and is still neck-and-neck for the lead in more recent opinion polls).

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: Voting in an STV election, in reply to Steve Todd,

    I think you want STV with equality of preference. It can be done. David Hill’s STV program provides for it, but he only allows a maximum of 10 candidates having the same EQP. If you provide for much more than that, certainly 35 or more candidates able to have the same preference number, you get a “combinatorial explosion” that computers, even today, might not be able to cope with.

    In contrast, the Schulze method copes perfectly well with giving equal preference to multiple candidates.

    I will give you the courtesy of one more, more calmly expressed, response.

    Thank you; I have enjoyed thinking about voting systems again, thanks to this conversation.

    I have been arguing from the point of view of ordinary people voting in public elections.

    Your view of what a vote is is quite a reasonable mental model, given that we're using FPP, STV, and even MMP. But given the choice, would "ordinary people" prefer that votes belong to candidates, or that votes belong to voters? Would they prefer a system that tries to satisfy all of the voters' preferences, or only some of their preferences? These aren't merely rhetorical questions; I'm aware that many people often think differently from me. Are there any ordinary people who've made it this far through the discussion, and want to comment?

    I also now realise you were primarily talking about M-PV, whereas I was talking primarily about multi-seat STV.

    In that case, your claim that "There is no incentive for a voter to vote in any way other than according to his or her actual preference" is false in many, many more situations, and this is trivial for individual voters to exploit. It's called free-riding . If your favourite candidate is polling very well, then you can safely put them at the bottom of your preference list, knowing that other people's votes will elect them. Instead of your favourite candidate, put at the top of your preference list your favourite among the candidates you think might not win. Then your whole vote goes to trying to help them win, instead of only the fraction of your vote that would have been passed down from your absolute favourite candidate, if you'd put them at the top of your preference list.

    Lower Hutt • Since Apr 2007 • 125 posts Report Reply

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