Can someone please confirm my existing beliefs for me?

Single winner IRV has been beaten to death with arguments and evidence… but multiwinner STV seems a LOT harder to refute. Sure, it comes down to IRV in the single winner case, but Australia’s Senate has more than 3 parties and lots of the anti-IRV arguments break down when applied to STV.

Asset seems possible, but it is a huge reach. I find the current PR discussion on this forum to be impossible to follow. Yet somehow because of its ties to IRV, I cannot accept STV. Would you please give me some evidence for why either STV is bad or why PR is fundamentally bad?

Evidence that challenges my existing beliefs will not be considered.

Well, one problem specific to multiwinner STV is that it is quite vulnerable to Hylland free riding and vote management. Essentially, voters often have an incentive to follow strategies dictated to them by political parties, making it so that ranking their party members honestly is often bad strategy and may lead to your vote having no impact on the election whatsoever. Again, I will link to this paper by Markus Schulze:
You may not follow all of it, but you should be able to follow some of it, especially chapter 4, which contains the more damning criticism of STV.


Well, this may affect how you think about voting in general. The purpose of elections fundamentally has nothing to do with ‘giving a voice to minority camps’. The purpose of elections is in fact to keep control away from a certain minority camp. (However what would be a ‘purpose’ to many could be an ‘aversion’ to a few.)

Voting Systems Are Supposed To Be Idealistically Agnostic. But Score Voting Is The Best

Ah, science at the Center for Election Science!

Seriously, I hate and despise IRV as much as you I think, and while STV, like almost any other approach including reviving the Divine Right of Kings has definite advantages over our current FPTP Single Member in Separate Districts method, I dislike its clunky mechanics.

To run some “challenges” you will not accept past you first thing, just to be a bit irritating, one “virtue” of STV that ought to appeal to people other than me here is that it requires zero recognition of party organization. That is, if there is a decently open form of nomination to get candidates out there without kissing the ring of some party boss! Given the candidates can be voted for, by write in if necessary (and possible; one cannot do this in Nevada for instance) then the system operates to elect winners in the district with no reference to party affiliations if any. This appeals to many people, not just on this site. As you know by now it cuts no ice with me whatsoever; I am not hellbound to saddle a system with unnecessary partisan reckoning by any means, and certainly not to privilege some crony party insiders…but in the technical terms I have been chided to hew to, STV operates without any of that.

I have just posted in response to @AssetVotingAdvocacy a post at my own topic involving many things, but a major feature of it, which I will boil down for your convenience here, is exactly how perverse STV can be. Now to be fair to this form of RCV, I chose a particularly extreme case, and further it is based on historic election data that is of course not at all representative of how people might actually vote if they had RCV as described. And to make the problem of arriving at nearly definitive assertions of what the outcome would be, I made some pretty rigid assumptions about how people would in fact rank their choices. But this is not unreasonable, as a benchmark test of the behavior of the system as an approximation of PR!

So to bottom line it, the electoral scheme is Congress deciding to make PR (for a certain flaky value of PR) reality for the US House in a Constitutional way, by continuing to apportion 435 districts proportional to Census data population distribution, then mandating that after states form as near equal population districts with their apportionment as possible as currently done (in fact, just using the same districts in place in the 2010s cycle) that voters shall be given ranked choice voting and the districts shall each elect 2 Representatives–thus, the House of Representatives soars up to 870 members. An even number is unfortunately the necessary outcome of this system of course. Thus all US voters vote in approximately equal population districts, for the same number of Representatives by the same system, STV, and equal protection and other court and custom and constitutional mandates are all preserved quite meticulously.

Unfortunately, two seats per district is pretty coarse grained, whereas getting 870 members of the House is pretty large. This is a bullet I personally think we ought to bite, to govern a nation as large as the USA with decent levels of representation, but compromises would be possible–for instance changing the baseline number of districts to say some odd number like 301 (better to find one near there that has many divisors; I suspect that number is prime) and mandating 3 reps per district, or even fewer districts with 5 each–note that the equal protection aspect means Wyoming gets the minimum district standard, whereas keeping the total well below 1000 means few districts for the larger states, thus introducing new larger discrepancies in district population overrepresenting the smaller states–I like entirely different approaches myself!

So, with that system in place, assuming people vote in fact with the same partisanship they did in real life in 2016, the assumption is that every party worth noting runs two candidates per district, in each one where a given party showed up at all historically, and the same voters who voted for a given party candidate vote their first choice one of these two, and their second choice is the other candidate they personally favor less from that party. So people who voted Libertarian historically vote for one of two Lib candidates in their district, half for the same candidate actually running historically, and half for the hypothetical partner/alternate depending on how we look at it, and so on for every other party I can discern in Cook’s report for 2016 House race district by district, enhanced by my typing in by hand from the US House Clerk’s official summary of the state Federal office races to expand ‘other’ including all the parties and independents I previously identified as potentially viable to get someone elected under other schemes.

The Droop quota for a 2-member district is 1/3, whereas we assume the votes historically for one candidate are split into halves for first choice, except for independents who have no partner/competitor. Thus for one party candidate to get a quota right out the gate, the party vote for that party in that district historically would have to be over 2/3. But then the remainder over 1/3 would all consolidate in the other candidate of that party and we would get a cascade instantly electing both on the spot, and finishing the job for those districts. The next step is to see what effect starting to pare off the smallest candidates would have, whether it raises anyone over a quota before we come to their party and start eliminating those candidates…

I went pretty meticulously over the steps in my other posts, and I stand by the final outcomes which I share here again:

444 426

That’s it! No third parties, no independents, emerge as elected at all. I do think the Libertarians, and Greens even sometimes, might have tipped some balances, the former either making a district that would have been 2 D become D & R, or one that would have been D & R become 2R, and perhaps some larger Green votes tipping it the other way–maybe; districts with strong L votes tend to lean Republican anyway, and vice versa for the stronger Green districts (which are much rarer too). The Constitution Party, and some oddballs like say the Michigan state Working Class party, might have tipped some balances too. A handful of districts teetered depending on what the second (third, for small party instead of independent) choices of voters supporting small independents, little parties and write ins would have done with their lower choices, which was imponderable to me so I just treated them as exhausted thus lowering the Droop Quotas, equivalent to supposing their choices would go evenly to both duopoly candidates.

The total number of districts where such imponderables as “who do Libertarians or Greens list as their third choices?” that I resolved by presumptive fiat are quite small.

Now look at that outcome again. The Democrats come out ahead of the Republicans, though it is close–would that be reasonable?

No, it would not. The fact is, the Republicans got more popular votes than the Democrats that year in these races, overall, and neither won a majority. Naturally any system that concentrates the outcome down to just two major parties will automatically give the majority to one or the other (with an even number of seats, a tie is also in the cards, and if we push every possible claim to lower the Democratic share, I think maybe a tie might be in the cards–far less likely the Republicans get 436 or more to control the House). But when we look at all the cases where the numbers do not clearly and firmly dictate either a 2 seat win for one duopoly party or a split one for each outcome, which are few, I think it would be unreasonable to expect the Democratic lead to be eroded away.

I also repeat my post of the details of North Carolina; exposition is expanded in the other post, but again just look at this:

District D R Libertarian D R
1 D+15 D 240661 101567 8471 2 0
2 R+8 R 169082 221485 1 1
3 R+11 R 106170 217531 0 2
4 D+13 D 279380 130161 2 0
5 R+9 R 147887 207625 1 1
6 R+10 R 143167 207983 1 1
7 R+9 R 135905 211801 1 1
8 R+8 R 133182 189863 1 1
9 R+8 R 139041 193452 1 1
10 R+11 R 128919 220825 1 1
11 R+12 R 129103 230405 1 1
12 D+16 D 234115 115185 2 0
13 R+5 R 156049 199443 1 1
2142661 2447326 8471 15 11
6.057376842 6.918675347

Now it is a bit more apparent why the historical Republican structural advantage flipped to a Democratic structural advantage–the same factors that tend to give Republicans a disproportional share of FPTP single district wins boomerang into reverse when we do 2-seat STV! Democrats tend to wind up, either for blind demographic-socio-economic reasons, or as we know in some cases, flat out partisan gerrymandering with all stops pulled out, concentrated in few districts where they have a “wasteful” commanding lead far over 50 percent, versus the more “even” Republican distribution.

As I remark in many places, with more enlightening news on the subject in the other post, here in Nevada this general pattern is reversed, and it has really drastic effects depressing Republican representation, and enhancing Democratic…and there is reason to doubt this was a partisan gerrymander, though what I know hardly proves conclusively it wasn’t either, but if so, it was one that evaded the usual assurances all we need to do is reform the districting process to achieve fairness; in fact Nevada’s severely lopsided state Senate/Assembly districts are a court mandated alternative to the legislature’s first draft. The only question remaining is, were the judges in fact partisan too, or is this just demographics at work?

In the admitted extremely minimal (but quite likely to be more “suitable” for a real world US House reform navigating barriers of constitutionality, logistic expedience of a reasonable sized House, and the preferences of the established duopoly powers that be, than something trying to do it right) approach, we see plainly how and why STV actually winds up more perverse than FPTP in the face of most blatant and proven partisan gerrymandering has been. Increasing the number of district reps might help, but having identified the causes of the screwed up outcome of this allegedly “fair” system in this case, we can plainly see that, unless substantial numbers of reps are elected in typical districts (raising serious issues of Constitutional equal protection in a House of Reps application anyway, as we cannot practically enable small states to have such districts without drastically shortchanging the people of large states their fairly equal representation) we can expect outcomes seriously distorted like this. Even if we presume that voters will vote much more fluidly, some who vote first for a major party then devolving different lower choices, more people boldly voting their third party preferences first on a “nothing to lose, I have a lifeline after all” basis (that’s what I’d do, if a suitable third party or independent movement emerged where I live, and I’d push for that to happen too)–we will then indeed see some larger third parties winning modest numbers of seats, but always I think short of their fair share; we will see independents win sometimes, but in a flaky way–with a flawed but suggestive attempt to see what 3 reps for district would do, for instance, I found two independents elected in the first quota round–Alan LaPolice, whom I discuss as an almost winner who might actually have a shot in the scenario here (only if the Libertarians love him though, which I think unlikely), and a fellow named Gonzalez in California-would be elected. But LaPolice was only the second biggest independent vote winner, the first was David Walker of Oregon in 2016, and he gets wiped out by the Democratic vote. As for Gonzalez, in a straightforward positive representation approach making sure people who win more votes take precedence over those winning fewer, he was way back in line, behind Walker, LaPolice, another much stronger vote winning independent named Preston Picus running against Nancy Pelosi in San Francisco, and another guy in Massachusetts, plus a couple small parties winning a single seat in there too. Just as a person can become a Representative with quite few or even zero votes (if they run in states like Florida or Oklahoma that omit unopposed registered candidates from the ballot and just appoint them to the office), as long as we have districts with no attempt at cross connections, we shall have perverse reversals like this.

IRV sucks, but STV kinda sneaks around the edges of how IRV sucks. Each additional seat gives STV a chance to make up for the screw-up IRV might have had in the first round winner. Especially with fractional vote transfer STV isn’t likely to screw up too badly. If STV gets wrong 1 seat out of 9, that’s only a suboptimal outcome more than a full on wrong outcome. And that 9th seat is someone else who did get a bunch of vote one way or another, so that’s not even very wrong. Single seat elections seem much more high stakes and I want the winner to be exactly right. I think there’s ongoing discussion here about how to even measure what ‘exactly right’ for PR is.

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I think that acerbicism has some wisdom, but fundamentally it takes too negative a view of what government is.

In terms of very very dead, very very ancient, “white” as we retrospectively define or perceive them now (I actually think Augustine of Hippo would be deemed “African” in American shoot from the hip racist terms, and of course objectively he was African after all! Being a Roman Empire subject in North Africa) though not racist in the modern sense as such, quite authoritarian and theocratic to boot, debate between Thomas Aquinas and the above mentioned “Saint Augustine,” canonical “Father of the Church,” I am more on Aquinas’s Aristotelian side versus Augustine’s Platonism.

“But what is government, but the worst slander of human character?” some major Framer of the US Constitution and/or Patriot of the ARW said, I can’t be arsed to look up which, might be Jefferson.

Something like that is the Augustinian-Hobbsian-Randite type position, that in a proper state of development human beings would not be “political” at all but something better. I actually think in this dimension the objective evidence is, as Aristotle said, “Man is a Political Animal.” We evolved in bands of between 80–200 people, and on that diminutive and quite low tech scale, lacking the incentives that have come into play with the development of agriculture enabling surpluses to be generated, stored–and thus, stolen!–while it is quite lacking a lot of formalism and forms our armchair projections of our current norms of operation would lead us to assume “must have been,” in fact, looking at it with a soft and generalized concept of what politics is, we were “political” in our most ancient ancestry.

Fundamentally, human beings do not achieve their potentials without fairly organized cooperation between us, without shifting and sharing burdens and negotiating the fairness of it. In fact, gatherer-hunter “economics” was based on sharing, which I could expound on the rationality of in the precise basic economic circumstances–we need not attribute sainthood or sweetness, to behavior that was in fact reinforced by cold rational calculation if anyone bothered to do it in those ages. Basically, in a situation where no one enjoyed any major advantage, keeping one’s community members “happy and pleased” to deal with oneself was about the only “bankable coin” anyone had. This all changed when storable surplus product, being produced on a much larger mass scale due to advancing productivity, could in fact be seized and redistributed by means of violence–the general role of interpersonal violence, within communities and between them, skyrocketed as a result of the development of civilization.

So it is in that context that human nature is condemned by government as we know it, and it is right and prudent to keep in mind that not all conflict is the result of misunderstanding and bad faith; some of it is inherent in objective incentives, and it is an open question before us whether we should aim to restructure society to eliminate or counter these incentives to violence (that’s my values, insofar as we can actually strive to do it without even worse violence) or instead, reason that there is no putting the genie back in the bottle, and all the positive potentials of civilization, the tremendous expansion of human capability, are too inherently linked to what we might call the wicked, dark, evil side of the past 6-8000 years or so of that development–and therefore we must trim our sails to ride this tiger and accept it as henceforth eternal human nature.

The latter is what I am calling the Augustinian, or Machiavellian, or Hobbsean, or Rand-von Hayeck-Friedmanite neoliberal notion. And it might be correct.

Aquinas is hardly the omega point I would steer for, but I think relative to the view that humanity as we are today are as it were steeped in original sin it takes a literal miracle to redeem, and that redeemed humanity will be some sort of wondrous creature to whom our current human pragmatics simply do not apply, but are quite irrelevant to what we can realistically do with our fallen state, his Aristotelian approach assuming pretty much “as above, so below,” that our institutions, practices and inclinations do in fact reflect, in corroded and corrupted and distorted form, how we are “meant” (as a creationist, he would hardly put the scare quotes on that) to exist in the happy eternity his faith and doctrine asserted we are fashioned to enjoy by a loving and wise God.

Now I am no theist these days, and regard us as emergent things from the general upwelling of the potentials of matter, but what we have mythically labeled “the spirit,” which fundamentally translates to “breath of life” after all, is a real material thing; patterns of perception in our brains, organizing conceptual principles that in a rather Zen-Taoist way interact with a real material nature that is “out there” and within us regardless of what we think–our thoughts and reactions are in fact organized with respect to material potentials and possibilities, and what we dream of, wistfully imagine, yearn for, can probably in some straightforward way be accomplished by human striving, in the fullness of time. Along the way, we pay prices, slog through intermediate stages, learn new things, and so doing our goals and aspirations and beliefs about the nature of things shift, and so we never arrive at some gratified utopia, because wherever we manage to go, there are new horizons beyond to lure us farther.

But to get back to our earthly plodding, wherever we go, “there we are” as Buckaroo Banzai put it. It is meaningful I think to speak of our natures, in an openended, critical, relative way, and to fashion our institutions so as to harmonize and strengthen our capabilities and this will include accomplishing our sense of morality and our ethics.

Looked at this way, I am not so sure old Adam and Eve are such despicable creatures. Everything that confronts us today is the work of our hands, institutions and culture, both mental and material, that we have whipped up as tools to serve our purposes; as with all such things, they are somewhat wayward because they are embodiments of concepts in material reality, which was not made by us and which we do not fully comprehend. We can accomplish things, but must work with materials, and bootstrap toward our goals of the moment iteratively. “Experience is what you get when you did not get what you wanted.” We learn from experience.

So, getting back to the concrete claim that “government is about checking one powerful minority” is accurate but incomplete, and it is false to say it has nothing to do with giving voice to minority camps. The concept of justice holds that all people are due something, the concept of equal justice is that we are essentially all the same and we owe each other reciprocal respect and regard. It is only on that basis after all the Lilliputian majority can even begin to arrogate claims to somehow hold the authoritarian, centralized power Gulliver in check with any justification whatsoever; to abandon the notion of equal justice for all is to declare neutrality and fatalism in a meaningless war of all against all, in which the big fish shall devour the little, and in turn die and be nibbled away at by the minnows, who in turn get eaten up by the next big fish. A tale told by an idiot, signifying nothing.

The more Thomistic frame then, that holds that actually things like community, thus government, and the evolving complexities of a ramifying, growing human civilization of some kind, and by our reasonable desires and attainable means, a humane one, seems more grounded in rationality to me, and empirical observation. The task then is broader just than holding some fixed category that after all, did not exist on this planet as long as humanity has, in some kind of eternal prison. That is, in itself and as the be all and end all, quite a task for Sisyphus! And in fact there will be failures, and without the larger context of what it is we strive to restrain these rampaging Titans of human potential directed to subhuman ends for, and the notion that perhaps someday this war can be ended, a peace arrived at, in which we go forward together, giants and pygmies alike in shared humanity, it seems kind of pointless.

Indeed! But I think I can show how far short we still fall, depending on the metric of course, even with quite a lot of seats per district. I mean to dive into Nevada Assembly data with six superdistricts, and thus seven seats per for 42 seats. I think based on previous perhaps flawed forays that once again I will show how it falls sort of near the target, but on very much the wrong side of the target.

Not if there is a critical shift of the balance of power! A small error can be crucial.

Yep, that has been my puzzle here from day one. With a scheme for achieving what I think is the really important outcomes based not even on RCV, but voters still having just a single binary choice, all on one, nothing on anything else, bullet voting as a way of life, I am interested in considering how cardinal methods might improve things, but very alert to how it can be tricky not to do more damage than we fix.

My gold standard and guiding star remains Adam’s admonition to seek a “mirror in miniature” of the larger society, to leave no one out if we can help it, like them or hate them, and let us deliberate on that basis, believing that persons and factions amenable to being reasonable will tend to prevail over the unreasonable, by persuasion, example and by being effective, on the theory that human ability derives from cooperative coordination. The principle of universal and equal justice is embedded in our human material, and it is only humans working together who accomplish anything.

I have picked up a rather darker view of what others seem to want, but presumably a lot of that is my failing to understand key points, as they fail to understand me, which is largely on me of course. Just in the last 12 hours or so @Marylander brought up a specific use for casting many range votes for multiple candidates that might enable solving a problem I preferred to sidestep or shrug off as unavoidable.

As Amy Acker’s Texan nerd scientist character “Fred” Burkle says in Angel, one aspect of science is to be able to face the “inevitable” and say, “'you’re evitable!”

Still working the details of course…

Oops, I meant also to say, that if we do achieve “mirror in miniature” in a governing body, the nature of “error” in PR does shift. Exactitude in precise magnitudes will not matter, but the general balance of power is crucial. Any tendency tending to magnify one sector consistently and downgrade others will have a harmful effect–perhaps one that can be overcome or balanced, but we have to reckon with that. The competence that comes from facilitating practical cooperation is a sort of “magnification of a sector” by its nature, but I do think the basic elements that permit people to learn effectiveness are seeded among all people by our nature, and that specific imbalances can reasonably be checked, not to hold up the whole show but to demand more balanced consideration of all by each being able to speak for itself, with the price of such respect and consideration being a challenge to reciprocate with some kind of useful help; helping gives one leverage toward steering the whole.

It’s getting back to gatherer-hunter norms on a grander and more competent scale then; we will have succeeded when sharing is the coinage of the realm–when persons are especially valued and respected because they have delivered and can deliver, and respect others in turn not on a haggling but general basis of “we are all in this together.”

It’s pretty well known that Droop quota favors larger parties. In 2016, I noticed that the Democratic Caucus switched from Droop to Hare.

What happens in your example if you use Hare quota (Nvotes / Nseats)?

Why do people fundamentally need exact proportional representation to feel satisfied with the government? Even in gatherer-hunter societies, I’d bet people tolerated inexact proportionality so long as the people in charge weren’t against them, and so long as the people had a way of forcing the people in charge to listen (i.e. violence or trade boycotts)

  1. monotonicty(duh)
  2. expressivness of ballot ie no info about distance between ranks
  3. Unfair (or unclear) surplus handling
  4. It has a polarizing bias
  5. It is more vulnerable to free riding.

The PR discussions on here lately are part of a project where some of the conversation is elsewhere. This makes it very hard to understand. Long story short is that there are Cardinal versions of STV and they are better than STV. We are just bickering about which is best among them.

PR is fundamentally good. The issue is that there are no ways of getting it with out consequences which are bad. Partisan voting is one method which is will not even consider. The other is multi-member ridings of the STV type. This is why we are debating which multi-member cardinal system is best. Most people on this forum would be happy to move to a single member score system as a next step.

Um, the topic here is @NoIRV 's pre-existing belief that the Single Transferable Vote system (no need to call it “multiwinner,” STV is that by definition, unless some wiseacre wants to call IRV a form of STV, which I suppose the fast and loose advocates are probably doing, so yeah, “multiwinner STV.” Which is definitely a kind of PR, depending on how multiwinner you do it.

You can’t do STV with “Hare Quotas.” Let’s say IRV is STV, single winner. A Hare quota, since there is only one seat to be won, would be {entire set of ballot first choices}/1. “STV with Hare Quota” is demanding someone get unanimous support! Well, if we resolve to always exhaust all the ballots, and not quit with the shuffling of them around until every single ranked choice has been evaluated, I suppose that does achieve unanimity of the ballots not exhausted.

Anyway the idea in every STV procedural sketch I have seen is, use the Droop Quota, that is divide by the total number of seats to be awarded plus one–that way IRV quota is half the votes, and when someone tops that target (bearing in mind ballots will be eliminated completely and removed from the total to be divided, thus lowering the Droop Quota) the evaluation in that district is done. Similarly if you have a district electing two, and two candidates each get over 1/3 first choices, they win and that is that.

It really isn’t the quotas at fault here, I don’t think. I just attempted to plod through a 6 district, 7 seats for district, model using the 2012 Nevada Assembly race and I think I got mixed up somewhere, but if I didn’t, these very large districts did yield the same outcome straight Hamilton PR (which uses Hare quotas) applied to the whole state by party did–21 Democrats, 21 Republicans.

However, when I applied Hamilton to the 6 districts separately, it totalled up 22 Democrats, 20 Republicans. For quick reference, very slightly more people voted Republican than Democratic, a third party called IAP ran which won a larger number of votes than the difference between Republicans and Democrats and I assumed, with good reasons, that in STV the IAP voters would prefer the Republicans over the Democrats–it is a conservative party, affiliated nationally with the Constitution Party. So between those two there was a definite rightward lean. But chopping the state up in to those six superdistricts (which are assembled from Assembly districts) skewed the outcome to the Democrats.

And here’s the topper–under FPTP, the Democrats, with fewer votes than the Republicans, won 28 of the 42 seats, a 2 to 1 supermajority advantage! I was quite horrified to learn about this–nor was this a fluke, the same thing happened again in 2016.

In 2014, across the nation and in Nevada, it was a Red Wave year, and the Republicans won a small majority in the Assembly, and some IAP candidates won some seats too–but the Republicans and IAP had fewer seats than proportion would allot them still. In 2018 for I believe the first time since I moved here in 2008, the Democrats won an honest actual majority (at least if one ignores “None of the Above” votes which I think we should ignore). But now their seat count is 29 to 13, definitely a supermajority, while the honest Dem majority was extremely slim, just enough to get an honest 22 to 20.

When I first stumbled on this shocker (because I knew the Democrats had not had the kind of trifecta control of the state the Michigan and North Carolina Republicans did in doing their infamous gerrymanders–also I didn’t want it to be true of “my side”) I dug into the figures and what happened became apparent, as I have remarked already–in Nevada, there are a few very strongly Republican districts where Republicans turn out in large numbers and vote their candidates plurality wins with far larger numbers than Democrats tend to lead with when they win. Both parties have stronghold districts where the other one does not even run an opponent (very common in US state house races–other states do it a lot more) and there, the Democratic votes for this easy walk in the park victory are well under 10,000, in the 6000s sometimes, but in the corresponding unopposed R districts, well over 10,000 or even over 20,000 votes for them are the norm. It looks, feels and acts like a classic gerrymander and on a really massive scale too. But actually, these districts might not have been drawn with that deliberate purpose in mind–they were in fact drawn up by a court. I have a theory about why Republicans would wind up tightly clustered in a few districts that has nothing to do with any clever politicians taking advantage of the fact–as remarked, this is what happens against Democrats on the national scale, or so conventional wisdom has it anyway.

It is the districting that does the mischief, I think, not the precise method one then uses within the district.

Anyway if Droop is Bad and Hare is Good–well yay me, I have been pushing a Hare quota based method all along. I can certainly see why Droop would tend to squeeze out smaller parties too. But I don’t think that is where the major problem lies. Anyway as I understand it, “STV with Hare quota” is just word salad, there are I suspect fundamental reasons you can’t do that. Not with ranked choice anyway.

But no one here loves Ranked Choice, certainly not me. I think I can live with it better than most here, but I won’t be happy with it.

By “people,” are you addressing just me, or is this an argument you have with others too?

I certainly think the quote of me is pretty tangential to anything you say here.

There are plenty of people who don’t sweat exact, or even vaguely and roughly, proportional one little bit, obviously. Dunno about around here.

Anyway the out of whack stuff I have been documenting here is not inexact in the sense of being random. I didn’t make the best use of the years I spent at Caltech by any means and probably should not have tried going there (pro-tip for people with teenaged relatives or others looking up to you for advice; I’d suggest aiming for MIT just because it is bigger, which might help…but I’ve never been there, so maybe that is just grass always greener on the other side of the fence syndrome. But seriously the smart time to go to a place like Caltech or MIT is as a grad student; the prestige of graduating from CIT as an undergrad will not get one much…still less when one does not graduate of course! But anyway, I do know a little something about statistics and what random error bars look like. What goes on in US (and British) elections is not statistical noise. It is systematic biasing factors at work, which benefit some and penalize others–consistently.

THAT is what is unacceptable. If you have a system that fails to be finely proportional but is guaranteed to have no way of acquiring built in biases, let’s hear about it. But it is very easy to propose something that turns out to give major structural advantages to one established side or another.

Gatherer hunter societies were a thing I studied a bit in intro anthro at Caltech, taught by Dr Thayer Scudder. Then I took other classes covering the same ground again later and elsewhere. I don’t know what precisely you might be thinking of when you read that phrase.

But most people would say they had no government at all I suppose. I say they had a loose, informal, consensual based system that should be considered a kind of soft government. The specific issues such classic field workers and canon authors in the field like Colin Turnbull reported were in fact issues of ego…the nature of a conflict that would engage the layered structure of generic disapproval, pointed shunning, leading perhaps in extreme cases to a general consensus decision to exile the offender, would generally be some man making a lot of noise about how much better a hunter he was than other men, about how he ought to call the shots or just work without the other guys slowing him down, etc. Too much of that, and the frowning, back turning, shunning, and eventual exile comes into play. (But it was also reported such exiles usually were allowed back into the band, unless they found a welcome in another neighboring band, and they would generally learn some lessons from it–for refusing to take someone back ever would eventually amount to a death sentence.

So no, they were light years away from defining niggling differences between different kinds of quotas, arguing about whether processes should have nebulously defined check boxes or what format of numbers to use, etc. Whether any of them ever had a way of writing, or even naming, numbers at all is a matter of debate, speculation, and variations between known peoples–they probably understood things like empirical astronomy more than we’d assume they could I suppose, but not a lot more. Of the type of formal state machinery we assume is pretty rudimentary, they had essentially none.

Indeed humans can make do with a lot of wacky stuff. I am half serious when I say an absolute monarchy can be a better society than a formally elaborated democratic republic–if the common people of the former are very assertive and the monarchs are smart enough to accept they have to cut deals with people, they can’t just expect blind obedience for no good reason, whereas the republic is corrupted and rigged for a crony class professing plain equality but really wallowing in actual privilege, and the common people are cowed and alienated and atomized.

But I thought this is a talking shop for ideas of how to do things better, not a revolutionary planning committee. Given the nature of the evils we know, I think it is plain that having a transparent, rigorous process is important to people accepting the outcomes as fair.

Here’s a concrete example. I went to my Nevada Democratic precinct caucus in February 2016, as someone very happy to see Bernie Sanders running, but I hardly expected sweeping victory. I have been a radical moonbeam all my adult life and have tackled many a progressive campaign with the notion that “of course we won’t prevail but the Good Fight can persuade the more mainstream candidate we have good ideas and cannot be ignored, and it would be good for them to adopt some.” That was my attitude in backing Jesse Jackson in 1988 very actively for instance. Not to win the California delegates wholesale, but to to better than the mainstream media were claiming we would (and we did).

So anyway I walked in to the caucus room fully expecting to be outnumbered, outgunned and outvoted by Clinton supporters, though I did expect them to be more civil than I found them. For a certain kind of technical civility, they were actually–in the caucus, later mobs of Hillary supporters were acting very, well, tribal. But indeed me and one woman there spoke for Bernie, and 5 or six people persistently spoke for Clinton. Most people sat quietly.

Then we voted. In a Nevada caucus, unless we have changed this this year, one “votes” by getting up and walking to a side of the room where one’s people are.

A clear majority of the people got up and joined me and the woman. They didn’t say much, but they listened, or they came in with their minds made up, either way, we had it. However there were four delegates to the county convention to be awarded, and when we did the math, the smaller Clinton contingent got 2 and we Sanders people got 2.

I was numerate enough to run the numbers in my head and verify, with the exact counts we had, this was correct.

If we did not have a fixed, straightforward, simple math formula to follow, it could have gotten ugly. Because I understood the math, I accepted the 50 50 split as fair.

Imprecision is not your friend. It is best people know where they stand, with some precision.

To start:

was supposed to be making fun of the IRV propagandists’ incessant unwillingness to change… but I forgot to put the sarcasm marker.

Someone prudent enough to acknowledge they suffer from confirmation bias is best able to limit it. I guess STV would not be terrible, as long as Senators and the President were elected with a cardinal method.

…Hey wait a minute! I wonder if we and FairVote (or RepresentUs) could come together to a Great Electoral Compromise: STV for House, STAR for Senate+President! It might be a little ambitious, but we could argue that the House is different from the Senate and thus should be elected with a different method.

They’d probably reject it because a 1 in ranking is 1st but is 1/5 in scoring, so voters would get confused.

Though ideally the Senate should be relegated to a House of Lords level role, since the 2 senators per state apportionment is entrenched into the Constitution.

Without a US Congress law enabling it, states are not allowed to experiment with anything but single member district races for the US House of Representatives, under the Voting Rights Act of the 1960s.

OTOH Congress has more power to do things differently by changing the law without messing with the Constitution than most people realize.

I have discussed this I believe. The sticky part of the Constitution regarding attempting PR in the House is the rule that states must be apportioned Representatives in a proportional manner.

The simplest way to mandate (or just permit) STV would be to keep the current apportionment and mandate the states hold a statewide election STV for as many seats as the apportionment is–which means 4 or 5 states would have IRV for a single member mandated, whereas California (in the current 2010 census cycle, which still applies to 2020) would have to hold a 53 seat at large election, with Texas holding one for 38 seats, New York and Florida for 27, and so on down. I believe this would immediately be subject to equal protection challenges, with the people of the small states having very coarse approximation of PR and those of large states being overwhelmed with ranking fatigue.

I discussed what happens if they do the perfectly Constitutional and plainly equal protection thing of sticking to apportioning 435 districts, but mandating each district hold a 2 seat STV vote–the two party system is somewhat protected as small parties and independents have a high bar of 1/3 the total vote to meet; meanwhile the existing structural bias against a party that tends to have its constituency cluster in relatively few districts (as is true of Democrats across the nation on average, and of Republicans in Nevada) gets thrown into reverse; the 2-party balance is more closely reflected in the magnitude of the duopoly seats won, but the outcome flips in favor of Democrats on the national scale–with the current districts; no doubt if partisan gerrymandering goes unchecked, Republicans will reverse their procedures and concentrate Republicans instead of Democrats into fewer districts they dominate by a larger percentage. And party-blind more or less automatic methods would probably lead to a moderate but definite Democratic advantage–meanwhile, the House is ballooned into 870 members, an even number subject to ties.

Of course if it is deemed an acceptable interpretation of the Constitution that districts, rather than Representatives, be apportioned with the most scrupulous approach to proportionality, then the standard number of offices elected in each district can be any number–3,4,5, whatever–and we would choose a number as large as we can bear to have in the House divisible by that standard number, the integer result of the division being the number of districts to be apportioned.

So if we wanted 5 per district, we could stick with 435 seats, and thus apportion 87 districts to the states; then California would get something less than 10 districts and thus less than 50 reps to Wyoming’s 5, which raise the ratio of population per representative discrepancy favoring the smallest states to very high levels, and worsen the Electoral College corresponding ratio too.

I think if some states have IRV for one Rep and others have STV on any scale, the equal protection challenges will be made and ruled correct, and the courts will strike down the whole innovation; we might however get away with some districts being 2 member and others being 3 member, and then apportionment of the number of representatives to the states can provide the smallest have 2 seats in one at large district, and we can then manage to achieve any particular apportionment by mandating as many 3 member seats as possible with the rest being 2 member. For Wyoming to have 2 apportioned though, the House must have at least 773 members, which is not a lot less than 870 in terms of practical problems either number poses.

A more flexible approach currently as a bill in process in the House of Representatives, which keeps current apportionments and therefore I believe will fail equal protection challenges, allows districts to elect up to 5 members, with mandate of having as many larger districts as possible–but that will just worsen the equal protection case to be made against it.

If the courts shrug off the inequality of persons voting in single-seat apportioned states being forced into IRV and nearly half the vote generally thrown away versus just 1/54th for California and 1/39th for Texas, they certainly won’t object then to some voters voting in 2 member districts, others in 3 member, others in 4 or 5 member districts, then Constitutionally there would be no problem. I would object for the reasons I have given, but accept that this is at any rate less awful than the system we currently have, and the structural bias happens to generally favor the party in the duopoly I take for the lesser evil.

Formally speaking, parties need not be recognized to exist at all, any more than they need be in FPTP; informally, as duopoly will survive, or perhaps become a 4-5 party system with a smattering of independents and sporadic fluke small party victories, but with the vast majority of elected Representatives being from 3 or perhaps 4 parties, the current interventionism of state regulation of nomination in some form would remain–or else the outcomes will be captured by party organizations acting informally and without any scrutiny or oversight whatsoever.

To be sure there is an alternative, which is in fact being proposed currently for Nevada state offices (in the worst possible detailed implementation of course, based on dubious premises, some of which FairVote echoes, others which are platitudes here, others specific to this dude’s own notions) to eliminate primaries on the lines that Louisiana has done, only using IRV. (The dude in question, I could look him up and provide links to his movement if anyone is interested) says he wants to evolve it toward STV eventually. (We could do that straight away of course, whereas this dude wants to restrict the choices to be ranked to just three, allegedly to prevent “voter fatigue;” actually that seems incredibly specious to me; in RCV a voter should be allowed to rank all the choices there are if they have a mind to, and not required to rank any minimum number either–Australia requires all choices be ranked, which is quite unenforcible except by rejecting the ballot, and for no reason anyone has explained to me. But the opposite, putting a cap on the ranking, is much worse).

This plan is to have a standard petition nomination (and include None of the Above, I don’t know if he means to give that some teeth which would be new, and also BAD IMHO–I believe any Nevada voting system must include NotA by constitutional mandate, though clearly do not have to enable it to have any meaningful effect beyond a vague barometer of general alienation) and then voters use RCV in the single seat election in the current districts to elect the Assembly and perhaps State Senate–also make all statewide elections IRV I suppose, don’t know if he has bothered to impose it on all offices, but probably.

In Louisiana, as one might see an example of in the CES web page illustration of “Middle Squeeze,” candidates secure nomination by petition I suppose, and I don’t know to what extent the state regulates the claims of candidates to be affiliated with parties–I do know the data report partisan affiliation. Voters then vote for one of their choice in the jungle general election in November, and in any races where no single candidate gets 50 percent plus one majority, the top 2 face off in a December runoff (which typically has far lower turnout).

The scheme being pushed in NV changes that to a single IRV November election. As the movement pushing this has a strong animus against parties as an alleged root cause of various evils (which I think is pretty much stuff and nonsense as a blanket statement, and I would add that if Nevada voters were really so darned independent minded, they could elect independents from time to time–Maine does!) they could very well refuse to permit candidates to indicate party affiliation on the ballot. When the Nevada Secretary of State issues the official statewide summary report of a general election, they omit to mention the affiliation of candidates on that report.

Now if this Jungle IRV election were to be made law, I would expect the parties to remain effective by means of informal organization, pushing canvassing to inform the voters, via mailed lists of party approved candidates and other forms such as knocking on doors (I myself, having issues with hearing aid interfaces with various telephones, have done a whole lot more door to door canvassing than phone banking) so as long as the structural form of the election tends to reinforce large party dominance, refusal of the state to recognize them seems like a pretty quixotic approach.

I would add that at least it is superior to Louisiana’s approach, in consolidating the runoff into the same election via ranked choice, and that even going over to 21 2 district races would in general come vaguely nigh actual proportional. (However, throwing the FPTP advantage to parties with slim majorities in many districts over others with large ones in few into reverse, which happens with a vengeance with small numbers of STV elected members per district, or indeed any small districts using any system of PR whatsoever for few members, would hammer the Democrats–this effect probably would not show up with IRV however). And that if we instead went for very large districts with as many members elected as possible, it would be better though I bet structural Also, I have come to believe that Louisiana’s jungle general election is far more suitable to any kind of reform seeking proportionality than California and Washington’s top-two primary aka “jungle primary.” That is just awful for getting a sense of what the voters actually wanted; the jungle primaries have typically low turnout, and generally shut out one major party or the other in many districts, resulting in an admittedly interesting variety of independents (typically they are Republicans in all but name however) facing off, or the occasional Green versus Republican race, but quite often, two Democrats, one of whom the more conservative voters who would honestly vote for a Republican if they could try to troll the liberal dominant majority with. The statistics of California’s recorded outcomes, which have markedly low turnout, of the general election are pretty distorted then, being heavily filtered.

Much as a lot of what is proposed for NV sounds good to a lot of people on paper then, I figure it will be a poison pill against meaningful and useful reform and create a reaction in favor of restoring FPTP and strong party run primaries again, and poison the well against different approaches.