A simple method of electing a proportional representative legislature or any multimember body

Hello, I am a new member but have been thinking very seriously about improving US democracy for several decades now. It has long been obvious to me that first past the post single member districts electing multimember bodies has been a dubious and problematic system, for reasons I suppose everyone here well understands. It tends to create a two-party duopoly (or even single party system)–though it is worth noting that Britain’s Parliament has had third parties exist and survive, though rarely prosper, for hundreds of years. Speculation, which I suppose expert people on this site might be able to ground more firmly, is that the US Presidential system tends to tighten US votes to the two party “choice” more firmly. In any case it is rare in US representative bodies to have more than two parties and since the Civil War it has been the same two parties for the most part, with some fairly brief and local exceptions (Hello, People’s Party AKA the Populists! And some other examples, but darn few). But duopoly does not get to the root of the problem as I see it–I see it as a failure to achieve positive representation. That is, every voter should know that their vote counts toward achieving representation they want for themselves, as they see fit, even if they are in a minority in some district where they live. If someone votes for a state legislature they should be able to add their votes to other voters in the state, even those living far away, to combine forces in proportion to their numbers. If we have proportional representation then the legislature represents everyone, while under FPTP–or any system that elects a single winner and does not somehow permit the losers to consolidate and gain some representation, note that this applies to single district winner AV and IRV and ratings votes just the same–many voters are simply losers, failing to get any representation directly dependent on their vote at all. To be sure, insofar as Americans are satisfied to be either Democrats or Republicans, they are “virtually represented” when they lose in their district by other politicians from other districts, but these representatives have no constituency link to the unrepresented. Consider that in 1776, British officials and pundits rejected the notion that American Colonials were not represented in Parliament in London–in those days, very few Britons in the homeland had the vote either, and the Colonials were all “represented” in Westminster just the way voteless poor folk were, by the discretionary wisdom of their betters who took their interests into account justly, as they saw it from above. This answer did not satisfy the Patriots, nor should it have. American democracy is a work in progress, and we should not stop with solutions that seemed advanced and revolutionary in the 18th century but have since become somewhat outmoded.

Of course all around the world, other nations have adopted proportional representation in various forms, but we are often told we cannot have it here because it would not “suit” us. When someone tries to suggest it might work fine for us, we get objections along the lines of “a proportional system can work for Denmark or Belgium, but the United States is far too big; PR requires people to have faith in parties which we despise, and gives party officials power to create “party lists” that determine who is a candidate and in what order they will be elected by your party vote. You can’t vote for an independent if we have PR! What about the interests of people in particular districts; districts would be abolished or be very large. It is just un-American!”

Therefore, aiming at achieving what I call positive representation, my thinking has taken US conditions as a starting point and aimed for a system suitable to the USA. I find when I try to present these ideas, many people assume things must be true of my proposal because they are so of other PR systems, but I came at it with a clean sheet approach.

For years I have thought mainly in terms of bodies where the number of districts is exactly, or nearly exactly, half the number of seats in the body–and this resembles MMP. But more recently I have realized it is not as necessary as I thought to have this doubling, we could do it with smaller numbers.

Note that as in MMP I would retain the existence of districts. Generally when I present this, I am thinking in terms of retaining FPTP single seat districts, not because I love them in themselves, but because if included in a comprehensively proportional system they can work well. This site strongly advocates for AV, and I argue that straight AV is just incompatible fundamentally with PR, because the information about which of several candidates a voter approves is actually the single one they would most like to elect is lost unless the voter bullet-votes, and if everyone did that the system would turn into FPTP plurality. Well, if we were to modify AV so as to have a special provision to indicate which of the many choices approved the voter does favor the most, AV could then serve quite well to elect the district representatives. The important thing is for each voter to be able to say which single choice is their favorite, because that is what we need to know for a positively representative proportional system.

So in the usual form I think of it, voters vote exactly as they currently do in the USA, with certain provisions extending it a bit. I think it is important that any voter anywhere should be able to vote for any party that is running anywhere in any district relevant to the office–that is, anywhere in the city in a city council race, anywhere in the state in a state legislature race, anywhere in the nation in a House of Representatives race. (I expect to post sometime about a specific different approach to House elections to be scrupulously Constitutional, at some sacrifice in perfect proportionality and being forced to take a different tack to justify it–if the Constitutional issues preventing true national consolidation of the House votes hold as I fear they probably do, we cannot have this last extension). So added to the familiar limited candidate ballot we typically see, are some lines offering the option of voting–instead of for a personal candidate as usual–a party that is not running a candidate in one’s own district but is elsewhere. Most states I believe still continue the practice of having a write-in line on the ballot in some form (Nevada however does not; here if someone is not on the ballot you cannot vote for them–one can vote for None of The Above, but that goes nowhere and does nothing, even if a majority were to vote that it would have no actual effect, it is basically just a way of registering “I’m abstaining from voting on this office because everyone sucks.” Such closed ballots could be a fatal stumbling block for this system and so I suggest we simply mandate they not be closed, by providing for write in options which would be much more meaningful in a positive representation framework). I think there would be considerable advantage to be gained by permitting people to vote for registered (or write in) candidates in another district–that kind of vote abstains from voting on who represents one’s own district primarily, but that is a legitimate choice.

So as we are familiar, we can cast a single vote for a candidate actually running, or instead for a party that is not running a candidate here but is elsewhere, or even write in a candidate who is running very far away. In addition to providing the party options and the write in line the state or Federal government should have a central registry of all candidates and parties, and issue unambiguous identification codes for each, so that a voter can research this and write in a code to clarify exactly who and what they are pointing at off ballot.

But they get just the one vote. And whoever wins the plurality wins representing the district.

Here is the difference though. After district ballots are tallied, the state (or Congress, or the city) tabulates the totals for each party. Voting for the person in the race is also a vote for their party–unlike MMP there is no separate party choice (though the list of parties inactive locally could include the active ones, so a voter could support the party while pointedly excluding supporting their local candidate; they could do the same by voting for a party candidate outside their district). My theory here is that if one trusts an individual candidate enough to vote for them, one should trust their partisan affiliation too.

We can then quite straightforwardly calculate the proportional share each party wins of the nominal number of seats in play. I strongly favor using Hamilton’s rule for this rather than Jefferson or other methods, because Hamilton’s greatest remainder method is the most inclusive and will thus result in spanning the electorate most broadly, with the maximum number of factions included with at least one representative. The results would not be catastrophic if a more stringent and limiting method, the worst in that respect being Jefferson’s, were used instead, but Hamilton’s rule has some technical advantages in calculation as well, and is quite simple to explain to skeptical voters.

However we compute it, we then compare the number of seats each party “should” win via PR to those that were won on a plurality basis. Typically, some parties (one or both duopoly parties if people keep voting that way) have more seats won by district plurality than their share would be proportionally. So, on the theory that an extra seat for one party is a loss for another party, we multiply the total excess of seats for the favored parties over their proportional share by 2, and add this number to the nominal number of seats and thus districts in the house, and refigure the proportional share of all parties in this larger house. Typically this single step brings the larger overhanging parties up to match or exceed their plurality wins, while the shortchanged parties pick up the bulk of the added seats.

These make up seats (which will often be the entire delegation of smaller parties) are then chosen from the strongest candidates who failed to win a plurality race for that party. For the larger parties these will be generally the second place winners in their district races, for many though not all small parties, they will be candidates with perhaps ludicrously small vote counts–but they do represent other people from many districts who supported their party, and they are the strongest vote winners in their party, so there is no reason to prefer a different choice. Since they are make up winners, they do not displace any plurality winners and so questions as to their legitimacy would be muted. Such representatives will after all be few in number in the body–though with a closely balanced legislature, they could still play crucial roles.

I have considered having the make up seats chosen from among the strongest performing districts from each party, period, even applying proportional rules to have more than one added from a district where that party already won the plurality seat too. But upon reflection, each party will want to maximize its footprint across the districts.

In the version where we don’t compute the overhang of the overrepresented plurality winning parties but simply double the legislature so there is an average of two per district, it will often happen–always, if the voters overwhelmingly continue to vote for one of two parties–that a party will win more seats than they ran candidates; this must happen if we have a doubled legislature (as say electing 870 US Representatives from the 435 districts) and a party wins the majority; they can’t have run more candidates than there were districts, but now they are entitled to more than that. There would need to be a system for approving supplemental candidates in that case–I recommend developing the practice of deputy candidates, a person named by the actual candidate as their right-hand agent. In a campaign this person might become well known to the voters, much as US Presidential races deploy their Vice Presidential candidates, and normally be legally entitled to serve as the now-elected representative’s proxy in many situations–running the home district office while the representative is in a legislative session or on committee, vice versa returning to the capital while the elected official is back home mending fences and campaigning, to coordinate the capital office, handling constituency issues, perhaps being permitted to vote as the representative’s proxy on the floor or to serve on committees. In the event a party won more seats than it ran for, the top scoring candidates could “clone” themselves by nominating their deputy to also serve as a representative. They would be known to the home constituency, and having been deeply involved in both the campaign and legislative business (in a case where a deputy from a previous session is present when their party wins with large returns in their district) they can credibly be seen as equivalent to the strong candidate the people voted for and a suitable representative of the same constituency in their own right. There are other ways to go of course, such as the party having a pre-declared list the voters can take into account when considering their choices, or simply giving the leading vote winners double votes in the legislature.

These doubling issues are less likely to come up if we have an overhang-correcting top off approach of course. Just as I favor Hamilton’s rule over Jefferson’s (or even say Huntington-Hill) because it maximizes the number of parties and hence the number of voters with some direct representation, it seems plain that when there are party candidates who stood for election and lost the plurality available, they should be the first pick for filling out top off seats, because they spread the party footprint into the most districts. This is in the interest of the voters too; it is not crazy to have two representatives of the same party from one district, but it is not as much a benefit to those who did vote for that party in those districts as it is to the smaller number in the districts where they came in second to have one instead of zero.

At some point some virtual representation is inevitable; not everyone can have a representative of their own choice in their own district. But even the voters who don’t get a representative from their district have direct influence on the delegation that did get elected with the help of the votes of these outliers in “hostile” territory (I do hope for a net rise in civility and open mindedness among the representatives, but competitiveness is inherent in any democratic system when there are serious issues at stake). Therefore these minority supporters will not be completely forgotten and can consider themselves usefully engaged, and the more districts the party they do support has, the closer the nearest one will be.

So consider the simplicity of this system! Each voter can focus on simply supporting the candidate and party they most believe in, and should any bloc of voters who have hitherto supported a given party or candidate have reason to feel they are being taken for granted and shortchanged, they can jump ship and run a rival candidate. As long as their total number is great enough to elect one representative, it is worthwhile for them to volunteer, canvass, speak out, and hold rallying events, so grassroots support will be easier to drum up. The dread chill of “what if we lose?” hanging over competitive FPTP politics will be dispelled and the more festive, communal aspects of political organizing can take the lead with less fear–“we” might be disappointed not to do better, but very likely can expect some heartening wins on some scale or other.

What is the purpose of alternate choices in voting systems, if not simply to cover for the downside of one’s most favored candidate losing? If instead everyone knows they will get something out of their efforts, there is no need for backup votes for fall back alternatives. Instead, everyone shows their hands and the game is played as dealt.

It is often said it would be disastrous to have PR unless some kind of special measures are taken to prevent too much party fragmentation. I think that is bunk though. If voters specialize in dozens of boutique parties, each one narrowly gauged to a narrow range of people–that is toxic if those people were to proceed all alone to hold all power. But they don’t hold all power, just their share of it, and to get anything done in the legislature, someone has to cooperate with someone. Whichever subset of these fragmented parties meet with one another first, and negotiate mutually beneficial deals to agree to support, will get to a working majority first. Furthermore I think in reality people will join or divide on different issues, and majorities passing legislation on one topic will not be the same combinations as those who join to pass another law on another issue. Thus collegial cross-connections between diverse groups will be fostered and grow deep and strong, with representatives understanding that a friend on one issue will be a foe on another, and learning there is no profit in bearing grudges about the latter instances (depending on the nature of the issue of course; there are issues where the wrong action deserves scorn, anger, and even perhaps hatred; we can hope that majorities will tend to avoid electing people capable of really terrible decisions but of course history would want a word with us if we did!) A different model of how a legislature should operate, replacing the centuries old alternating one party dictatorships notion where “a majority is needed to form a government” (as they say in parliamentary systems where the legislature is really also the executive).

I am looking to a new kind of legislature, where the membership is from much more diverse classes and backgrounds than our system has tended to favor, grooming cookie cutter law school students of a certain limited range of backgrounds to believe they are entitled to represent everyone else, and demanding any outliers elected from different backgrounds to conform to their rules and adopt their mentalities and interests. If any group of sufficient size can drum up enough support to send their own representative to the capital, then the legislature might be much closer to a cross section of the whole city, state or nation

Or not perhaps. The representative is not the constituency after all, and the constituency is not the representative. We are familiar with the dark side of this; cooptation and betrayal are cynically believed to be practically synonymous with politics as such, and this lies behind a stance of deep suspicion and contempt for politics as an inherently dirty and cynical game. The stance that the nonpartisan is automatically more virtuous than the partisan, or that people in the middle are automatically superior in both morals and wisdom because to be an outlier is to be dysfunctional has done much damage to our institutions and bids fair to do more. But there is a bright side to representation as well. It is the job of the representative to become expert in esoteric aspects of both law and lawmaking, while networking with other representatives to form communities of interest to get useful things done, and what is most lacking is the strong tie of the representative to their constituency. Let that be strengthened, so they know they cannot throw any of their supporters under any buses and all negotiations proceed with the best interests of their various backers in mind, and perhaps it is not so necessary scientists should be represented by scientists, or schoolteachers by schoolteachers, or factory workers by a factory worker, and a professional class trained and experienced in negotiations as such might be just the thing these people would want to vote for and support. I think the healthy balance will be found with a mixture, various party representatives being a mix of professional negotiators and grass roots delegates.

Meanwhile this is accomplished with a voting system no more complicated, and hardly different than, the one we have now. People cast a single vote for what they want, the dust settles in their districts with the weird fluctuations we are used to and quite probably a lot of the professional politicos might win those races as they do now. But where FPTP fails to elect fair shares, these are taken remedially from the same mix of candidates. The math involved in calculating Hamilton’s method winners is fairly simple and straightforward, much more so than the arcane juggling of quotas and figuring out which votes to transfer from a quota-beating one in STV, and while my math background is pretty good and I am a fairly culturally knowledgeable person, I have to admit a lot of the terms and arguments I find here are complete mysteries to me. But showing that the total votes cast divided by the baseline number of seats to be filled is a quota, and dividing each party’s total by that quota, to get a number with a whole and fractional part, and say "the party gets the whole number, and then of the seats left over, the largest fractions left over get one more seat each, is methodically simple.

Thus, it is less esoteric and much easier to do, yet the fidelity of proportionality is greater. If districts are either a necessity or a convenience, we keep them, and I do think they can play a vital role. But the dark side of districts–that they can be badly apportioned (as was generally the case, invidiously against city dwellers, for most of US history) or gerrymandered, and even when well laid out in terms of fair balance of population must drift out of alignment as differential demographics raise and lower populations, shift neighborhoods, and change in general can render these districts a rather haphazard proposition. But with PR across the board, any imbalances or overconentrations are taken of naturally and automatically. No group can be gerrymandered out of relevance.

Do note that several people here believe that with AV and other better single-winner methods (though not IRV), there is a consensus bias which encourages representatives to cater somewhat to the minority as well as the majority, somewhat increasing proportionality.

I’d rather have somewhat consensus-biased PR to avoid plurality-only districts. It doesn’t seem so bad to either combine Approval with your choose-one PR method, or use Approval PR and leave it to the voter’s discretion to bullet vote or compromise.

Might be unconstitutional, so there should be an “opt-out” option on the ballot.

This is essentially a kind of semi-open list PR system then.

This is easily true in a Presidential system, but in a parliamentary system, there may be a long time before a government can be formed, and the voters give no clue of the compromises they want, letting politicians potentially go against the will of the people, which further stokes populism, etc.

It sounds like you’ve reinvented PLACE Voting,.

What this method misses is any ability to nominate a specific 2nd choice individual if the 1st falls. Many here oppose purely party-based PR, and this is only a few steps up. This is where even Approval PR or STV do better.

I don’t know if I will have time to keep up and properly address all reasonable or interesting challenges or not, and I am learning the mechanics of the site. Apparently I can select individual passages and address them piecemeal, so I shall start with that, though I also mean to give more specific examples to illustrate what I mean in terms of real world examples.

Working with real world examples, application of forms of the basic method–vote for one somehow (approval plus the power to indicate a single favorite, with the default assumption if someone either opts not to do that or voids an option to do that by “overvoting” in that column that they do favor the approved option that got the most approval votes as their prime choice–then counting all the prime choices one person, one vote to determine proportionality and leveling up the body membership, drawing from the strongest performers for each faction from the losers of the district choice votes) I have found that generally speaking, the vast majority of voters will in fact get at least one representative of their prime favored coalition of candidates.

It is remarkable by the way, considering how the simple description of the process seems to privilege candidates banded together in system-wide parties over individual independents, how many independents with no coalition beyond their district do in fact manage to turn up as winners, doubly so considering the “don’t throw your vote away” incentives that presumably discourage independents from running in the first place and discourage voters, even those sympathetic to them, from voting for them even if they prefer them to a duopoly candidate (or competitive seeming third party candidate–IIRC in Arkansas in 2014, more voters voted for Libertarian candidates than for Democrats!) I have specific proposals to revamp the basic foundation, legally and organizationally, of what a party is that builds on the presumption that the elections are fundamentally contests between individual candidates. And would note that if we pretended parties did not exist at all and that every race was between a local set of individual independents with no ties to any others recognized, we can still meaningfully distinguish between plurality (or AV or IRV or multimember district STV) victor totals and overall proportionality–it just degenerates to every candidate being a party of one, but it is still meaningful to use overhang computation and leveling up with top-off additions to achieve proportionality (if we know who the first choice of each voter is, that is). I’ve actually looked at the Nevada Assembly 2018 race through that lens (it helps here that Nevada elects only 42 members to the Assembly!) In this case, it would not be meaningful to approach proportionality by say doubling the seats to 84 members in that race by the way.

If in fact the dynamics of such open competitive forms result in high integrity of the coalitions to their stated or demonstrated objectives, voters know from experience who can be trusted to stick to their program, and which program is closest to the one they themselves believe in. Hopefully voters learn lessons from paying close attention to a process they are guaranteed a stake in, and become sophisticated in recognizing when compromise is necessary and gauging the level of gains in policy outcome they do win versus the appropriateness of the larger society prioritizing their interests governing the degree of support they ought to get, and the party system stabilizes with each group having high confidence in their representatives because they do pretty much what they would do if they were in government directly. So, a group that elects one and one only out of hundreds is still vastly better off, because balance of power dynamics in the governing body can easily put a relative handful in a position of high leverage (as I can show with many House of Representatives elections based on the same voting pattern as historical but with positive representation) and whether or not they are ever called upon to be key members of a coalition around a specific policy, they have a right by presence in the body to speak and be heard and register dissents.

A lot depends on how the body is organized; right now for instance it is clear the single person Speaker of the House and Senate President Pro Tempore offices give these persons far too much unchecked power; we need to examine how to workably spread power around in these bodies so that “forming a majority government” is not necessary; rather essential business that must go forward (passing a budget, approving judges, etc in US style separated powers, forming the basis of the authority executive power is accountable to in parliamentary systems as in Britain as well) can go forward but with appropriate checks dependent on degree of consensus.

It certainly does happen that a fair number of voters, enough to account by their combined numbers for several representatives typically, fail to cohere enough to get any footprint of representation directly at all. At some point in any representative system of government we need to declare the job done. In our current FPTP we have to assume that purely virtual representation of partisan voters by winners who gained nothing toward winning their place in other districts is fully equivalent to their having won representation directly accountable to them, so if I deplore that I can hardly be comfortable with even just a relative handful who win no direct representation and I am not—but the fact remains that almost everyone does win direct representation, as opposed to the third or more, often majorities in a district, who don’t under FPTP. I am uncomfortable with what seems to be the illusion to me that presumptively “middle” and therefore presumptively virtuous candidates are expected to win seats with the secondary or tertiary or even more arms-length second or third or lower ranked choices of substantial numbers, and we count those wins as though they had the full unqualified support of all those who approved them; I am dubious about the dynamic of reflecting that many approval vote winners will know a large portion of their supporters will have also supported other candidates. It will be very easy for these leading winners to pretend that their support is firmly for themselves as the prime choice and the process plays blind man’s bluff of turbulent shifts in victory if the voters are discontented with this, and freezes into a centrist orthodoxy at best. Such a mediocracy might be preferable if it is guaranteed to lock out dangerous extremism, but I think we are seeing today that a system that is touted precisely because it is supposed to do that can easily be captured by an extreme anyway, and pretend to the mantle of actual majority support in doing that.

So, in fact if we are going to follow through on as much positive representation as possible, a third round is needed. Having topped off a body determining how to level up the minimally qualifying factions to a proportional share of power, some voters and their ragtag favored candidates are left over.

Mechanically, at this point I think asset voting should prevail. All groups have a remainder of vote share that is not satisfied (this can often be a negative number, especially if we use Hamilton’s rule for its maximum footprint of foot in the door representation, with the mechanics of whole number assignment magnifying a given party, great or small, beyond its strict fractional share). Determining the best method of reconciling these fractions of unsettled support is something I have not fully resolved yet, but if we leave it up to the voters having to try to foresee the pattern prior to the election, their inability to predict where the dust settles exactly will often make their stated ranking of preferences, if they can do that, irrelevant.

Since I have never applied AV in these models, it might be AV offers good solutions not on offer with a single choice as was my default starting place. In the AV with indication of prime choice version, I use AV so far only in the first round, to determine the district winner only, then ignore the alternatives in sorting out a proportional outcome, but perhaps if we simply eliminate the registered choices of those who have won direct representation linearly, by the simple expedient of dropping their votes and freezing their representation, then determine another leveling up of the body to allow for those who failed to cohere enough to have won any representatives at all yet to win in proportion, or with a guaranteed minimum, then consolidating all their asset votes in rounds somehow can settle the matter fully. But of course even this will leave a remnant.

Not using AV before, I settled on Asset voting–the candidates who won some votes but belonged to groups (including groups of one only, registered independents or write-ins who voted for themselves and perhaps got a handful of friends or family to vote for them too, down to write ins who voted for themselves or joke candidates who get just that single vote) that won no direct representation at all could simply be encouraged and facilitated to, on the public stage, bargain to their heart’s content with one another to scrape together the strongest coalition to be awarded the last seat or three.

One catch I noticed is that typically, the already “satisified” parties that won one or more seats already still have remnants so large that they gobble up these seats; excluding them from the asset accumulation scramble results in the final winners of these consolation prize seats being far overrepresented, even counting the belated line up of others who sacrifice their own claims to govern someone else winning and hopefully being grateful and considerate in power. Letting the whole set of remnants compete on a level field (even with restrictions such as satisfied parties being unable to move their remnants around, on the theory that the voters trusted them on the basis of their stated platform and goals, and are entitled to see that support stay put, so that their various sized remnants might govern which of them the unelected candidates can elevate to another seat, but they can’t reach down into that group to handpick and anoint one of them shifting votes downward) the already satisfied groups tend to monopolize increments in body membership ostensibly created to cater to the non-represented as their proportional share. So I could use some further honing here!

As noted, I have yet to consider what simple AV among the unsatisfied only might indicate, and using that takes the decision out of the candidate hands and leaves it in voter hands. But the advantage of Asset voting in the final round is that the candidates can respond to the unpredictable final situation on the ground, whereas it would be necessary to hold another election to let the electorate, the vast majority of whom are already satisfied fairly, intervene. With secret ballots there is no way to hold a special final election among only those voters who got noting directly. But their candidates they did vote for are by definition exactly that category! So letting them wheel and deal as they see fit strikes me as the best policy.

Certainly this has challenged me to think more about this final phase of cleanup, which has presented me with serious conundrums. In my default, single choice for a district plurality race (with option to opt out to the larger party system and forego influencing the local contest directly) there is of course no direction on who to fall back on…but this is because the vast majority, if they are tactical enough to focus on voting for someone likely to be in a group that gets at least one seat, which is not terribly difficult to do, are satisfied by something better than a fallback choice.

For the remnant who are not, if there is no asset or ranked choice alternative recorded, there is no better alternative than to trust the persons they did choose to support in the general election to do the bargaining for them, on their behalf. Whether these people, with many or few votes, are trustworthy to do that is under the control of the voters who chose them, to know who their candidates are, what their track record and interests are.

One advantage of employing asset voting in the mix appropriately in fact is that it gives voters a concrete basis for evaluating these candidates with an eye to future elections. Under the simple positive representation system, the vast majority of voters get to see how their choices perform in the legislature and trim their preference sails accordingly over the next two years. If we use asset voting to anoint some fragment of the remaining tiny candidates to serve there also, the fragment who voted for them get this educational experience as well. The rest at least are able to observe and judge how their outlier choice candidates handle this one shot real world exercise, so absolutely all voters get to see Nth party candidates perform beyond mere rhetoric in at least a limited degree.

Thus asset voting does count as a secondary choice mechanism, albeit one the voter does not control absolutely–but on the other hand is more flexible and able to adapt intelligently to the situation on the ground that emerges from the election. And in this limited sense, absolutely every voter does count.

If on the other hand we rely exclusively on approval voting or ranked choice or score voting and rigorously forgo asset voting, we can be quite sure that a much larger number of voters will fail to get direct representation for their prime choice, and that AV or RC will be lost by the wayside, eliminated with no effect beyond the possibility that the numbers thus tossed aside will be published as a historic footnote (and guide to future strategy to be sure). AV is better than RC in this because the process of unpacking ranked choices and computing with them is laborious and expensive, and likely to be completely forgone and thus the information in the ranks tossed aside unexamined and lost to historical evaluation, while it is simple to just publish the totals of AV, if not their detailed pattern of combinations. Note that throwing away, by not evaluating where it is not “necessary,” the combination information is a major loss of information in itself though.

It won’t freeze necessarily. If the voters dislike the way the compromise winners act, they can stop voting for them, and the process devolves back into a two-sided contest, except both sides can run multiple candidates.

Two alternatives are to either let the candidates publish a ranked list of preference that a voter’s vote goes down, so everyone knows who a candidate would “trade to” before the election (this is basically PLACE Voting.) The other is Optional Asset Voting, where a voter must expressly authorize the trading of their vote.

Overall, I will encourage you by saying that your proposal leaves far less room for abuse than plain Asset Voting, since only a few seats at most are at the mercy of bargaining politicians.

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@Keith_Edmonds has posted the following criticism of party list methods such as MMP:

I mention this because your proposed system also has a party list element.

Partisan votes undermine the whole idea of a representative government. We vote for people not parties for a reason.

A Google search for PLACE voting which I am unfamiliar with came up empty–rather the first links were apparently to a description but one closed to me, as the Medium site (which I intend to pay for as soon as I resolve my current income problems) is behind a paywall. My own brother posted there, which led me to other pages which exhausted my five per month limit of free views, so I cannot look there. Also a site search here for PLACE also found only offhand references that assumed people know what it is. But fortunately scanning one of two fora threads mentioning it turned up this reference, oddly not pulled up directly by the site search, which I am reading now:

It is quite apparent to me that this method is nothing like what I offer in mechanics, although indeed I have already found some ideological values statements I endorse very strongly.

Writing these up has taken me many hours and is probably not directly on close topic, though it involves hashing out values foundations and details of mechanics that are relevant and address some misunderstandings I am responsible for being less than clear on. The length of my reply is colossal and I will edit them into posts focused on separate points that have emerged instead, which will take time! But be more focused and clear in format I hope.

You would probably be amazed at how much text I just struck and stored elsewhere! Onward, and I will be studying PLACE but it looks entirely different from anything I have said in mechanics, though motivated by similar philosophical considerations to a great extent indeed.

Over time, as we deliberate here and I learn more of the details of how various systems might actually work in practice, I might come around on my reluctance to recognize AV approaches as “positive representation.” Right now they all look like ways to arrive at superior but still compromised limited ranges of reasonable expected outcomes that disparage legitimate voter wishes; I need to understand how it is that everyone can register a reasonably proportional voice in the process without being sidelined as “too immoderate” which practically just means “less popular.” I certainly don’t want to replace tyranny of the majority with tyranny of a minority, but I actually think uncompromising “represent everyone to the maximum degree possible without compromising proportion” is the only approach that can be fully acceptable to a democratic mentality.

[quote=“AssetVotingAdvocacy, post:4, topic:404”]
Two alternatives are to either let the candidates publish a ranked list of preference that a voter’s vote goes down, so everyone knows who a candidate would “trade to” before the election (this is basically PLACE Voting.) The other is Optional Asset Voting, where a voter must expressly authorize the trading of their vote.

Overall, I will encourage you by saying that your proposal leaves far less room for abuse than plain Asset Voting, since only a few seats at most are at the mercy of bargaining politicians.[/quote]
I look forward to learning and thinking more. Already I have worked up a lot of enthusiasm toward accepting AV to decide all single seat races, provided voters can where relevant indicate their prime choices, and have come to think there is no need to restrict prime choices to one, if voters will accept that the more prime choices they approve in that category the lower a fraction (inverse linear) their votes will count toward the proportional outcome.

That is, if I pick one prime choice of my several approved local candidates, it counts as one for the party of my prime picked candidate globally in the proportional reckoning. But if I pick, two, three, or as many as I like as prime, I accept it as fair that my single AV for each, in the global proportional reckoning, is reduced to half, a third, or 1/n as the case may be, on the grounds that I am presumed to mean that all of these options are close to equally acceptable to me, and thus indicate the range of what I will support, and what I will not by omission. If I have a strong preference for one over all others, I should stick to one prime vote therefore, and if I do many I am declaring my indifferent approval of all and splitting my vote to support these all. That way, we sum up the prime votes to a total equal to the number of voters and the meaning of “proportional” is plain and conventional.

Meanwhile every prime vote combines with every second tier equally as one each AV for the local contest. The district voters collectively choose AV winner in classic fashion.

The global proportional phase then sums up the variously discounted or not Prime votes. We can deliberate about whether voters who skip the Prime portion should be deemed to recuse themselves as agnostic and unconcerned about partisan outcome, or count them by treating their local AV ballot as though it were a prime phase choice, spreading all their approvals as equal fractions toward the total, or choose whichever of their AV choices won the most votes in their district or in partisan alignment, systemwide, and count them as supporting that. ideally I want all voters to make one choice and stick to it in Prime, but there is no reason to demand this of them if we can figure out which of those options above is best policy to follow.

The discrepancy between total AV wins, now flagging each winner with their partisan alignment for party win totals, versus proportional arrived at via Prime votes, governs top off scale (or alternatively, compensating shares of a doubled or 50 percent or whatever fixed percentage of district votes–here in Nevada we might say 21 make up seats to make a fixed total of 63–I would urge more though, there are reasons I started with doubled) which should bring the overhanging AV district win parties in line and bring up the shortchanged other parties to strict proportion.

We need to think now of which party candidates should make up the list from the votes cast. Again I want to stress since there seems to be some confusion on the point, there is no “party list” for makeup seats–rather it is the same roster of district candidates, chosen by the metric of strongest district performance, who make up the list with no party discretion.

I might also favor relaxing the rule of how make up candidates are chosen to make voter choice thriftily using the same votes three times (for district win, proportionality determination here separated into the Prime list, and finally make up identity) just the default, with parties and coalitions having the right to make up their own rules–the parties are deemed to have earned the right to their share and we could let them opt to also define who in excess of AV district wins will be elected as they like–it is another criterion voters can factor in in deciding which parties and candidates best represent their values after all. But even if we allow party lists, or post-election leadership discretion, or a committee formed by the AV winners if any, or one formed of the non-winning candidates, as free form options, by default the make up is by voter choices, not party, and so party lists are not necessary to the system.

As I began this reply, the final matter of topping off again to enable maximum feasible representation of all by AV or some other determination process should the non-represented after first top off amount to a fair share of a seat or more is in progress, and I had not settled on just how before expanding my thinking to consider AV options.

As I just explained above, not at all, and even if we relax and allow it as an option a party can choose and be judged for, it is not necessary for all parties to do it even if some choose to.

Perhaps as I am finding in reading posts on this erudite and technically informed site, there are technical definitions which would encompass the make-ups by default or always chosen from voter favored candidates in the district races as a “kind” of party list. But the invidious connotation is “oh noes, you are empowering parties and parties are bad!” And the mechanical implication is that parties have made lists, either for voters to vote on or for them to accept as is and factor into their partisan choice. Neither is true, because the choices are the same as those nominated. Indeed the question of nomination and qualification for the ballot, or less favored but still votable modes of qualification, needs to be addressed–I’d begin and perhaps conclude with a nonpartisan nomination by petition (with angles to allow anonymous modes perhaps at a discount of individual weight, to allow people who have reason to fear retaliation for stepping out of line politically to nevertheless nominate someone, along with a power of nominated candidates to name coalition partners in other districts by collective unanimous decree of the properly nominated coalition members, all this to give people a way around intimidation and retaliation) as the baseline, and perhaps allow alternate modes to be developed on a case by case basis.

I clearly value partisan identity, though I snipped out important caveats and qualifications and hope to demonstrate empirically how even totally independent candidates with no alliances at all can still hope to be elected, based on real world election return data. In general though people identify with parties for good reasons, some of which might go away with positive representation, others which will get only stronger. But none of them are because this system compels candidates or voters to think partisan; true maverick independents will find the way open for all they can convince should trust them with the power to be elected along with partisans.

So if nonpartisans can in fact be elected, clearly it is not correct to say the system depends on “party lists” by any reasonable definition!

Oh dear. Surely it has not escaped your attention that vice versa, people also vote for parties and not persons for reasons too? Ideally we want both, or at any rate the discretion to choose one or the other case by case, and I think my approach opens the way to that maximally, though again I might not be thinking on a rigorously theoretical high enough level I suppose.

I am meaning to write a topic on what parties are, and why it is that democratic electoral systems always seem to lean on them. Hint, it is not because some secret Illuminati masters have foisted it on us. As any student of US history knows, the Patriot/Framer generations widely shared a deep deploring of party spirit and factionalism, and had a touching faith that US republican institutions would elevate worthy, wise, broad spirited and patriotic citizen-leaders who would forego party spirit for the good of the nation and their home states and communities, and thus be totally unlike the corrupted Parliament of Britain in that respect.

Then these same worthies immediately split into what we today recognize as plain parties, Federalist and Anti-Federalist becoming soon relabeled as the Democrat-Republicans. And if you read the polemics of the day, each side was profoundly convinced that the other guys were a bunch of low-down, weaselly, mean-spirited and irresponsible scoundrels, but they themselves remained the paragons of republican patriotic virtue they looked forward to.

Eventually, painfully over time, it was gradually recognized that the American two party system was here to stay, and that citizens relied heavily on it in their electoral choices, and that the outcome was quite dynamically democratic and stably republican, and it was even possible, grudgingly and with reservations, to understand that in their deluded, misled, dangerous and confused and demagogic way, the Other Guys were believe it or not, actually patriots also capable of deliberating toward reasonable agreements for the common good. Every time something emerged that was deplorable, it was all due to partisanship of course, and virtue on paper remained that of the noble man who elevated himself above party. But in fact the entire machinery of government from city councils to the highest levels of the Federal system was permeated with party as a plain reality, and even a lovable one.

Such a blanket statement as yours plainly sets aside the actual reality of how every known system that results in an actually more or less democratic approach to governance over the past two centuries and more, in favor of a normative claim that has never been manifested as pragmatic reality. Or perhaps we can discuss some obscure cases you might want to adduce and figure on how to extend them to cover such nations as the USA or any modern nation of any substantial size.

But if I rattle off a list of any nations that have been notable pioneers or routine practitioners of routine democratic republican governance in any significant degree, I would have quite a long list before I came to any cases I can think of (none at the moment, remind me) where the system did not evolve parties of some kind, clearly recognizable as such.

I’ve already indicated how the district single vote plus proportional alliance share with some kind of level up proportionalizing approach can in fact elect candidates with zero recognized partisan affiliation whatsoever, with no concession to partisan identity being legitimate at all. I hope to have the chance to lay out a concrete example or two (I have long ago done the math on Nevada Assembly based on 2018’s votes for instance) where I both show it can work with coherent benefits even among a people who somehow conform to the Federalist Papers notion of the wise council of nonpartisans, improving on the benefits of separate district races without negating them, and at the same time how much better off we actually are in practice, given that these superhuman demigods above party do not actually exist, with frankly recognizing the positive and useful role recognized faction plays, and how to organize the rules so that party spirit, when it is the chosen option of a group of people for their own reasons that clearly do not have to be demonic, serve both the factionalists and the wider common good, and are curbed from the abuses we are all too familiar with, which I contend stem mainly from the very limited degree of representativeness FPTP allows and the way it lends itself to elitist gatekeeping.

And frankly, I think this mythology of “Party Bad, Vote for Good Candidate Good!” ideology is a major piece of that very gatekeeping machinery, that leads to quite bad solutions preempting good ones.

Such as, ubiquitous drives for term limits, which strike me as mindless at best, Nevada’s ridiculous “None Of The Above” ballot option which goes nowhere and does nothing good, only undermines the idea that a decent republican system is even possible, and the late fad for party-bashing via so-called “open primary” drives, such as California and Washington’s appalling top-two system. I have been pretty shocked and glum to learn that actually, Louisiana’s approach which makes the open vote the general election, is actually the one far better lending itself to proportional, inclusive, positive representation outcomes–provided we get rid of the majority requirement and runoff phase, but rather use the open general vote for positive representation delegations instead. The notion that parties should have their hands tied only makes sense if we assume there are by nature and forever will be a duopoly, and we would do well to deregulate and decouple parties from state institutions–not to forbid them or even discourage them, but leave them to be the useful tools of legitimate voter interest they can be in a positive system.

But yes, by all means if we “mature” enough, if that is what it is, to go beyond and above party faction, we want our system not to depend on it, and I think that is true of the system I am presenting and deliberating here.

Simply pretending that the only problem with democracy is that some wicked persons “invented” party, and somehow in well over two centuries no one has been clever enough to rid themselves of this Frankenstein’s creature, instead of recognizing and understanding how it in fact evolved to serve legitimate and important voter interests, and how attempting to ban it just leads to circling Robin Hood’s barn with laborious pantomimes covering for the actual existence of party anyway, forbidden or not, does not seem to lead to any useful insight into how reasonable and workable governance can actually happen among mortal human beings.

If we can understand how party came to be, we can reengineer its operating system for our best uses, and perhaps then figure out how to develop some alternative superior approach to negotiating collectively shared divergences of interest and priorities between different groups of society. Aproaches other than pretending some of these groups are more inherently worthy than others and imposing aristocratic despotism in republican guise.

Having not done this feat of social engineering arriving at the replacement of party just yet, I predict in any healthy functioning democracy it is here to stay in some form, and we do better to recognize that and optimize it.

You are not wrong but you clearly do not get it. Parties are inevitable but that does not mean you have to put them more into the process than necessary.

Some information here Asset Voting and Government Formation

I have read up on PLACE and will briefly state that indeed as I surmised, it does in its values preamble touch on many key values points I think deserve high priority (in addition to holding that it is important for people to be able if they’ve a mind to to vote outside their district or for a party/coalition of independents without opting to vote for a personal individual candidate, for reasons of circumventing invidious vote suppression or limitation campaigns (that in real life often involve outright political terrorization or milder but serious deterrents, such as employer blacklists) aside from that harm avoidance consideration, it is just a value that voters should be free to effectively set their priorities as they like. The reasons for continuing to maintain local districts (remember I evolved my notions facing US conditions, and there are others that hold more globally too) should not become a norm saying one must always prefer to align with local options and priorities. People live in lots of places for lots of reasons–I grew up a US Air Force military brat for instance, and no one asked me or even my father if I wanted to move to the next posting or not. (My Dad I suppose had some discretion, but of course he had to prioritize his career interests, not subjective notions of where he might prefer to live). So while community values are important and should be respected, it is also important to leave each voter free to set their own priorities and not load their dice for them. If I am a Scot living in Cornwall or London or Belfast for reasons of career or family choices, I should still be able to vote for Scottish National Party if they strike me as the bees knees, never mind no one else in the riding wants to and there is no SNP candidate on the ballot! (Note that this might lead to addressing the annoying fact that even very large top offs in the British Parliamentary elections do not eliminate the large overhang SNP creates–if Scots, or non-Scots who admire and approve SNP’s platform, all over the UK can weigh in approving SNP, the party national proportion might rise to match their high count of district wins, or reduce the overhang to the degree that the correction bringing say the Tories into line with their national proportion takes care of their overhang too. Or, suppose as I said in my Profile, I would like to vote for a Progressive Scientists party, which nowhere in any district polls more than a handful of percent, but nationwide collection of these expat votes can elect say someone like Stephen Jay Gould or say Neil DeGrasse Tyson to Congress, it should be my business and no one else’s I leave the local issues where I live up to the other people I live among. With AV approaches of course I can do both, weigh in on who my House Rep is in Northern Nevada, and also elevate Kip Thorne or someone of that stripe to Congress perhaps. Whoever has worked on PLACE then was thinking on very similar lines to me.

All that said, the mechanics are entirely different–it is basically a form of STV where the voters do not “rank” so much as input optional guidance, and the structure of vote transfer is determined by candidate negotiations before the election. That is not a terrible system, and it might be worth considering while I beat my head against the wall against what I call Positive Representation, and if it results in effective, pragmatic Positive Representation close enough for government work (ha ha) then I should perhaps go join this movement instead. But mechanically and conceptually, I think my approach is far simpler and easier to understand–trying to be considerate of AV advocacy here, and finding it thought provoking, I consider mild complications not present in the basic system I came here with.

In that system, and even with small complications accommodating AV making it a little less simple, there are no “transfer votes.” Plurality FPTP or AV (with prime choice indications added, or perhaps it will seem to me upon consideration that my fallback notion of discounted support for multiple parties with no prime choice spelled out will amount to close enough to PR for acceptably positive outcome, but I really like decoupling the global proportionality from the local district race as much as the voter cares to, and that requires supplemental marking) or IRV or STV or any other thing I don’t know of yet that determines single winners or multimember by any number of means can all serve well enough, if after that we can declare a meaningful (and for best results) proportional set of outcomes systemwide. Then the ranks of membership are filled up to make the total proportional drawing primarily (exclusively or by default optionally versus other sources a party or coalition might substitute) from the district candidates suitably ranked who lost the district race but evidenced the strongest support for each faction assigned total seats. At no time does any transfer happen, unless it does in the district process, or we devise a transfer method for final top off for maximum voter inclusion reserved or open to non-winners in the first two steps. In PLACE essentially all transfers are asset vote based with a bit of voter nudging, optionally, which complicates the ballot with write in alternatives–in my system there is an optional write in option too, to enable the value of voting outside your district box for a specific person known to be running to the voter.

So, values and goals are quite similar, philosophical concerns are parallel to those the site I referenced express, and some mechanisms kind of rhyme in places, but overall they are quite different, and in the vanilla form of voters casting a single vote as though they were only voting for a FPTP single district winner, it is far simpler in voting mechanics than any of the systems I have seen on offer yet–just slightly more complicated than vanilla FPTP single rep per isolated district systems, and that only by expanding the ballot options to include voting for parties only or writing in a non-district or write in local candidate, which latter is pretty standard in many venues already and has been for hundreds of years. I’d add some administrative infrastructure to support voter effectiveness, such as central registries of candidates and affiliations, and any asset vote administration is another race but conducted only among ballot vote winners and their designated factional organization if any.

So mechanically it is pretty much night and day. Not the same nor even similar. So far the closest existing system I have heard of is MMP, but it is not that exactly, it is simplified and streamlined versus standard MMP.

Oh, and worth mentioning, unlike most PR systems in practice, no damned hurdle quotas! The purpose of hurdles seem clearly to me to placate and mollify the established big parties by setting up barriers to their facing sharp competition, whereas giving the voter “somewhere to go” in small or large numbers is a major value I think we must enable. Which is why also apparently almost uniquely want to urge Hamilton’s method as the PR means of choice here, because it is most inclusive, and also conceptually simple to explain and easy to automate on a spreadsheet and demonstrate the simple mechanics of to skeptical voters. But mainly for the maximal inclusiveness, to guarantee the maximum representation of an electorate directly for a given number of offices to be won.

Can I have a no-fluff rundown of how your system works and a few worked examples? I am not really interested in reading 23 paragraphs…

I think you are not getting that I have thought very hard about how to open the process up to make partisan affiliation optional and not essential, and that such affiliations are less essential in this approach to positive representation than in existing FPTP, sidestep the dependence on party inherent in traditional PR, and no more, and probably less pragmatically essential, than with other more complex methods here mentioned, including AV. It is hard for me to see how much farther one could reasonably go to enable people who have an aversion to partisanship to do without it–provided they understand that party is a tool and not a devil or monster, and forgoing it may put them at a disadvantage others legitimately enjoy because they choose to use it legitimately. Trying to say people in a democracy should not use party, subject to reasonable checks and regulations and cleverness in enabling what is legitimate and useful without favoring what is specifically dangerous and bad about, is like saying people who understand calculus should not use math because it puts the innumerate at a disadvantage–they certainly should not play fast and loose with misleading manipulations or intimidate with their pretensions of superiority —“you don’t understand analytic geometry so you can’t possibly understand, just trust me, I’m an expert!” But their ability to leap to confidence and assurance of the correctness of inferences because they have done the math should be proven in the pudding, and concrete considerations can often explain by analogy what is unclear in erudite and little known theory frames; so it is that persons adept at political organization (not me, I note, in this metaphor I am like someone who never quite got the notion of fractions trying to critique a calculus based argument) should be left free to use the tools that work for them.

Meanwhile the burden is on the person who makes such a categorial statement as “partisan votes undermine the whole idea of a representative government” to explain in what sense they mean this and why this is either a more democratic or otherwise better perspective to take than my saying the voters can make what values priorities they please govern their choices. Perhaps your link shall clarify what you rest this sweeping claim on, as I might guess perhaps the often heard notion that “the voter should not expect the representative to be a rubber stamp of their preferences and wishes but rather be trusted to exercise broad discretion, and therefore partisan identity ties the hands of that discretion and is therefore against the representative principle.”

Actually in my abortive history MA program I was called upon to read Bernard Bailyn’s Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, where I distinctly recall it was often the practice of colonial communities to send their delegates to representative bodies with extremely stringent instructions to present the community mandated views and viewpoints and priorities, and not at all to free form it, often requiring them to refer back to the community for clarification as much as practical. Now I am not presenting that as the normative example to follow either, just saying there is in fact a range of practices and viewpoints and what some voters want is not what others might want. It’s democracy if the people can effective in getting their voices heard proportionally, and not democracy to the extent some animals are more equal than others.

To me, the representative principle is a means to the end of effective democratic outcomes, and again it is up to the values of each voter what degree of rigid adherence to ideology versus creative expression they want their representative to show.

The reality principle says we don’t always get what we want and have to reflect on how to negotiate the real world with real people and reconsider what our important goals and aims are actually in that light. I think to replace the perspective that it is up to each voter to learn the world as they experience it and adjust their expectations, and that humanity’s great survival trick is that with social integration of separate individual perspectives we are all smarter and more capable to the degree we communicate and cooperate creatively, with a prescription as to what kind of representative everyone ought to want, one size fits all, is to throw away much of the human potential that is our main grounds of hoping we can survive this challenging world together with some style and grace.

This humanistic consideration is not my only grounds for adhering to democratic principle, but it is a major one. We evolved as an egalitarian, informally consensual democratic species, and I think one approach to greatest human happiness is to figure out how to approximate that again while retaining the ability to wield the highest technology and master the most abstruse specialized knowledge. Yours for a Star Trek Gatherer-Hunter norm society!

Now I will look at the linky and see if I come back with egg on my face for being dense and missing something I should have respected better.

You are talking about Score Voting here. Directly measure voter utilities for each winner-outcome. You may oppose consensus PR, but there are even forms of Score PR that tend towards the proportionality you seek.

1 Like

Well gosh, I am not sure how you get me talking about Score voting from that quote. I didn’t talk about any voting methods whatsoever in that quote, but rather addressed the issue of the uses of parties to voters, and that there are many options different voters might want for the relationship between themselves as voters and their elected representatives. Some might want to just pick someone they vaguely hope they can trust and let them deal with the issues and not care to even pay attention to what those issues are or how they deal with them, others might want to straightjacket their representatives to a very definite and detailed program of action and not deviate without a damn good reason and explain it very promptly if they do.

Anyway not a word there about score/rating approaches versus binary AV versus a single vote for a single choice versus ranking or STAR or PLACE or any of that.

Did you perhaps quote the wrong post? I am pretty bewildered by that response of yours!

Meanwhile, no, the point of this topic is to show that a simple single vote in a single district race vote can result, with no more ratings or rankings or guidance about transfers or any of that in a positively representative proportional legislature. And that achieving that accomplishes what strikes me as legitimate and important about the benefits of AV or RCV or scoring or whatever, without requiring any of those elaborations, because the important thing is that the voter can get someone elected they have confidence in and that the power of the various factions in such a legislature is proportional to the number of voters who have specific interests they wish to see implemented somehow. Give us that, and we get intelligent consensus building, and we get elimination of the spoiler paradox, and we get neutralization of the dangers of voting in isolated districts. And all it takes is some kind of top off procedure to get proportionality, and the simple FPTP single winner take all system is transformed. Without ranking or scoring or even multiple approvals.

So there are other values perhaps that such a body would not affirm and advance, and any objections I have to AV or scores or whatever might relate to me failing to appreciate I share those values and am selling them short, or might be that I don’t share those values.

Again, I certainly was not doing that in the post you quoted. But I can better understand why you were replying, to a different post to be sure, in this way.

Let’s back up a bit. I think I shall start a new topic though on the same basic subject since I seem to have obscured this one a bit. The fundamental reform proposal I have is a serious one, and for practical purposes I am interested in improving it with modifications such as AV where appropriate. But I mean also to point out that we don’t need AV, or RCV, or Scoring, or STAR, or PLACE, or any of these options, to effectively attack the root reasons US democracy is badly implemented. So, the basic system can be and has been presented without any of these other reforms, to show what can be done just by making the multi-member body proportional. This thread probably remains the right place to talk about how to reform my own proposal to incorporate virtues of the other approaches such as those recommended here, but it does bother me people keep trying to tell me “I am really thinking X Y or Z” when actually what I am saying is not that at all, and often not even close.

So, I did suggest a compromise with AV replacing the FPTP default basis of my system for the district seat determination, and the compromise I suggested looked like it might be the same thing as Score/Rating voting. But it is not! The two tier check off option (as it would appear on a paper ballot) superficially resembles two levels of support for candidates, High and Moderate, versus Ignore. But if interpreted as a score vote, it would give different results in the district races than if read as I presented it–for in the district vote, determining which of several persons, as opposed to parties, would win the status of representing that seat was as I presented it, to be won on the basis of a straight approval vote, transferring any votes in the Prime column over to the District vote column to take their place alongside the latter, not counting more there–whereas the voter could vote in Prime for options not meaningful in the District column at all, for a party not contesting in that district at all, or a person running in another district; these don’t transfer into the district race AV because they have no meaning there. Then, you may recall the original concession I made to AV involved the Prime column being restricted to one vote–my intent being to ask the voter to choose one and one only, to provide the necessary information to get the proportional shares each party should get; relaxing that restriction provided voters understood putting more marks there would cause each vote cast there to be reduced to a fraction. At no time do the two columns of votes act as score votes, both are Approval votes, with different though generally overlapping approvals on them.

Now it might be a nifty idea to move on to Score voting and reflect on whether that might be better for the goal of filling up the District seats versus AV–or default FPTP! Or any other system one might name. I haven’t thought these alternatives through yet.

But it remains vital for the voter to be able to signal which single party is their favorite to run the body–again, unless someone can show me how whatever passes for “Proportional” derived from score, AV, or whatever. And it remains not so important how the district offices are won, although I can anticipate some trouble brewing with any method that does not link pretty tightly to votes positively cast for the party in each district.

However the voter is enabled to vote for the district candidate then, perhaps indeed with score instead of AV, perhaps some other way entirely, their numbers–grouped by the parties the candidates are affiliated with–are compared to the proportional share the party earned, and top offs done to bring the body into proportion with that proportional distribution. If you can show me just giving the district voters the power to apply a single score vote, and the outcome be exactly the same as guaranteeing PR the way I have been, I would be most impressed. But I think you can quickly see the results cannot be the same. Or you could convince me that the goal of the proportional body is not as good for the voters as what would emerge from a different system.

But please don’t say what I did propose was something it was not!

I am working now on a simple pure description with no preamble of philosophy, for a new topic to be headed by that. When I have the formatting of the examples worked out for plain quick presentation you will see all this.

Can you or anyone tell me how to put a table of some kind in these posts? I just tried uploading an Excel spread sheet–that Did Not Work.

8 3 4
1 5 9
6 7 2

Hmmm. Using direct HTML, I was able to create the above. Not sure if there is a Markdown shortcut or not.

<table>
 <tbody>
  <tr>
   <td>8</td> <td>3</td> <td>4</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
   <td>1</td> <td>5</td> <td>9</td>
  </tr>
  <tr>
   <td>6</td> <td>7</td> <td>2</td>
  </tr>
 </tbody>
</table>
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That will be helpful, though to get things posted in reasonable time I might have to just fall back on line by line typing. If there is a way to specify fixed width fonts one can sort of kludge out something by hand without code

Alpha one 1 
Bee   two 2

Hmm that seems to work. Let me see if I can paste in a couple lines from an existing spreadsheet and see what happens:

D R L G
Alabama 7 693498 1255925
Alaska 1 82927 185296 15028
Arizona 9 946994 1131663 82282 5637

WOW! That works! now we are cooking! I can get it rightly laid out in Excel and then paste it, and it does this thing with little pipes; perhaps I can show it…

|||D|R|L|G|

| — | — | — | — | — | — |

|Alabama|7|693498|1255925|||

|Alaska|1|82927|185296|15028||

There, I had to quote each line separately, but if I just remove the quote carets or whatever they called, the greater than signs, I get

|||D|R|L|G|

| — | — | — | — | — | — |

|Alabama|7|693498|1255925|||
|Alaska|1|82927|185296|15028||

… a mess. If i just stick to pasting
|Huey|Dewey|Louie|Ratatouille|
|Freedonia|Ruritania|
No, we can’t free form type in the format and expect it to work, it just works with a paste from a spreadsheet, but thank heavens it does that somehow I don’t understand.

Now is it proper site protocol to just start a new clean sheet topic or would that be topic spamming? This one is cluttered with philosophic stuff I think important to discuss somewhere but kind of dialectical, also taking away from the core concept–in directions that ought to be explored but creating confusion apparently, on all sides, so I’d like to clean sheet it and use this topic for such discursive free form stuff. Should I be asking moderators this question?