Cumulative vote, what might be wrong with it and can we live with it?

It has been pointed out to me that a simple, perhaps unacceptable and dumb, approach to integrating approval votes into a global whole for multiple seats that holds that each ballot approving N possible candidates/parties can be simply divided by N, so that if someone approves 3 options, their vote appears as 1/3,1/3,1/3 for each choice they made, and so on, is in fact the same thing as Cumulative Voting, and I observe that FairVote’s description in fact identifies this precise format of it, where a voter simply marks their approved choices, is described as “Equal and Even” Cumulative Voting.

Now @AssetVotingAdvocacy and others have suggested that we might much prefer to let each voter shift their approval to be more for one choice than another, as we would accomplish if say it were a score ballot, so if there are 3 total levels, including zero, with 2=Strongly Approve and 1=Moderately Approve, voting SA for one and MA for another ought to route 2/3 of one’s vote to one and 1/3 to the other. Indeed that might work fine, and it seems as amenable at this early stage of my thinking to a straightforward quasi-proportional computation of global shares of seats for a multimember body. The question I hope to shake down is, will this approach, in simplistic Approval binary form or more elaborate Score form, indeed produce something voters will recognize as a fair proportional distribution, or will it tend to have perverse and unacceptable distortions of fundamental voter intent? Running made-up scenarios where I know the minds of the categories of voters, I can compare outcomes to single-choice “prime” votes where the voter must simply choose one as in conventional list proportional systems, and thus see if the voters are likely to accept the variations assuming they informally think they know the electorate’s general pattern of prime preferences, or just have reason to like or dislike the outcomes, and judge whether they are being fair or not in any complaints they may have. But if we run a real world election without a parallel poll of prime preferences, we probably cannot infer the mental state of the voters from the cardinal polling data–and if we do have a single choice prime poll in parallel, we might as well just use that for proportional outcomes, unless we find the processing of cardinal votes has advantages voters might come to value in this application as well as in settling single seat races.

So I begin with Approval only, possibly with some Asset voting cleanup of the last seats, to see what is what and if we hit big snags. I suppose that if we can map Score voting into fractional index points within a hypercube and do all manipulations straighforwardly from that that we can with the binary vertices of an Approval combination index hypercube, then perhaps extending the method to Score might fix problems, or perhaps just make them worse, so let’s run and find out!

Now, the basic approach for Approval being to discount each ballot’s individual score by dividing by the total number of approved choices (this is separate from using the same ballot without any discounting in settling a district race it might have been cast in) most of the complex high-dimensional manipulations we would value a symmetrical, regular frame like a hypercube for will not apply really. I pointed out in my little essay on N-cube generation referenced above, that in general, we can turn an N-cube onto its axis between the zero vertex, where all voters who left the ballot blank are recorded (if we care) and the opposite “omega vertex” where all choices are marked approved above it, and the result is tiers of combinations possible, beginning with a first level of N bullet vote combinations where N is the number of candidates and hence N-cube dimensions, so for a plain 3-cube this is three points, and for a 2-cube aka square where we have just 2 candidates of course this is 2 points. Just below the single Omega vertex at the “top” we will have the same number of all-but-one negative bullet votes, anyone but the one omitted that is, and as we add total choices marked going up or subtract them going down, we will have mirrored numbers of combinations of 2 out of N = number of combinations of N-2 out of N, etc until they meet where half the choices are marked and half not. Each of these levels of the hypercube polarized this way corresponds to x out of N possible votes cast, and thus per Equal and Even Cumlative voting, when we note how many ballots match a given combination, we just divide them by x, the number of choices used.

But we don’t need to visualize hypercubes for that, we can just count positive binary digits marked in a simple binary representation of each combination!

Asking people to visualize the N-cube is mainly me fishing for math-minded people seeing ways of handling the cube on a higher level for quick direct outcomes. But simply noting each combination and discounting it according to its number of choices used, and then adding up the discounted ballots cast for each party, should total up to the number of ballots cast, and give us a simple if fractional real number score for each party that we can then run through a standard proportionality formula to crank out seat shares for each party.

So this is simply doing a Cumulative Vote, and the question here is, what might be wrong with that approach?

I should point out there is extensive material on CV because it is widely used by corporations to elect Board of Directors and so forth, and there it is not used generally in a one person one vote application, but rather in a one-share, or one-dollar, one vote way. Shareholders with more investment weigh more in the outcome. CV is generally recommended as the option that small shareholders would prefer the company use to maximize their chance of getting some direct representation on the Board. That strikes me as a big win given my concern for what I call “positive representation.” But of course any aspects of practical business world use of CV involving relationships between bigger and smaller shareholders would be irrelevant, in democratic government we have one person one vote–everyone is an equal “shareholder.”

Ideologically it need not be that way of course, plenty of people think it can and should be otherwise, with some people counting more than others in public affairs. The commonest form is binary–some people should be allowed to vote, they say, others should not at all. But I think anyone adhering to the idea for any adult person is in fact abandoning any advocacy of democracy as such, in favor of some kind of aristocracy, and by a slippery slope is liable to take it straight to plain dictatorship. So here assume it is in fact equal votes cast by all, with any discounting resulting from a person spreading their favor around, the total of it adding up still to one vote overall.

Looking now at Wikipedia, I don’t find the article exactly comprehensive, lacking as many Wikipedia articles on a voting method have, a deliminated pro versus con section.

I do gather from it two issues in the corporate world are

In a corporate setting, challengers of cumulative voting argue that the board of directors gets divided and this hurts the company’s long term profit.

Clearly this translates in the political sphere to general objections to PR in favor of the two-party “Duveger’s Law” as a counsel of virtue–that it is broadly and deeply a good thing for voters to be forced to choose one of two partisan camps in order to be effective, as each of these big tent parties will compel diverse factions to agree on a common plan of action. I think most though perhaps not all of us here reject this conventional wisdom, although CES’s culture of smiling on moderate compromise candidates as unfortunate victims of “center squeeze” and other maladies bothers me as a turn in this general direction. Meanwhile a corporation is a profit-making machine, and stipulating they should or anyway do exist as such, the values for it are not those of governing a human society at large. Also, I would venture the humble opinion I would certainly side with the small shareholders if I were in a position to be a shareholder at all! Perhaps as a Rawlsian exercise I should consider my point of view were I instead a very very large shareholder, but I think the general principles telling me diversity in governance, as well as checks on the strong by the allied not so strong, are generically good things from which benefits arise offsetting any difficulty in one strong hand steering the whole decisively–or like as not, on hasty impulse!

Using a staggered board of directors can diminish the ability of minority factions to obtain representation by reducing the number of seats up for election at any given time.[13]

Here is a different category of issue–the general principle that the smaller the number of seats up for election at one time is, the less fine grained any representative system is, so that larger numbers are needed to make minimal impact on the body. This is true of any representative system whatsoever and is not a special issue of cumulative voting therefore.

Farther down in the article, we come to

Voters in a cumulative election can employ different strategies for allocating their vote.

See also: Tactical voting

We have here people who denounce any hint of strategy in voting as a sign of something rotten. Certainly I value transparency and rewarding straight up honest evaluation of candidates–one reason why I am skeptical about the importance of multiple options in voting if we can guarantee global proportionality in total body makeup; pick your favorite and back them, is the value I think predominates and ought to. Tactical voting should not emerge ideally. But realistically, all voting has some aspect of strategy to it, because all bodies should integrate all the electorate in all its diversity, and inherently there are conflicts of interest and need to build effective alliances, which will be in conflict at least on specific issues. Let’s see how daunting the issues are.

It is important to bear in mind also, that in most CV systems, such as that proposed by Lani Guinier, the candidates do not appear, save as noted as a point of information, as party delegates, but as individuals, and so much of the discussion of strategy relates to voters having to judge which candidates to support and how widely or narrowly to spread their votes, and picking just one of several can waste votes by overspending them on one when there were ample votes to elect several–vice versa if there are not enough votes to do that, spreading them can dissipate the votes and waste them that way.

However, if a vote for a person is also a vote for their party, or if votes go directly to parties with party lists, I think this aspect is corrected automatically; overconcentration on one party candidate will transfer excess votes to the others via elevating the share of the ticket as a whole, and spreading votes within a party’s nominees will concentrate them on the one getting the most even if that share by itself is not enough to elect one. The votes transfer where needed via party affiliation in the version I envision therefore.

Allotting more than one vote to the same candidate, or plumping , can make that individual more likely to win. …

Conversely, spreading out votes can increase the number of like-minded candidates who eventually take office.

With parties, which I have noted can be defined and organized for electoral purposes in a way that is open to individual candidates and minimally organized ad hoc candidate compacts, both spreading overconcentrated votes and consolidating over-scattered ones, I think the voters can concentrate on backing the one they want most and let the process sort out which win directly and which owe their victories in part to also rans, with either party organization or simple moral debt serving to get some degree of representation for most everyone fairly.

The strategy of voters should be to balance how strong their preferences for individual candidates are against how close those candidates will be to the number of votes needed to win. Consequently, it is beneficial for voters to have good information about the relative support levels of various candidates, such as through opinion polling.

Such information is always helpful, if one can learn how many grains of salt to take it with, to any voter in any electoral system. I think the inclusion of options of party alliance largely relieve the voter of needing to strategize much beyond choosing whom and what they like best.

Voters typically award most, if not all, of their votes to their most preferred candidate[ citation needed ].

So there we have it, in reality, at least in electoral systems in government with one person one equal share of choices, we get mostly bullet voting, which does not bother me! I will perhaps be exaggerating rather than underestimating the degree of spread out multiple choices in upcoming thought experiment examples.

Turing to the other survey I have found, FairVote’s description, let us see if there are more conundrums to consider there–but first here is another corporate focused page’s considerations:

Problems With Cumulative Voting

Cumulative voting can also be a negative thing. Using this voting method makes it easy for disruptive single candidates to get on the board of directors. This kind of voting system also makes it almost impossible to remove a director once elected. A small section of shareholders can block the move, even if most of the voters approve.

Again we have the caution against diversity, in the form of the fact that one person’s bold advocate is another’s counterproductive and obstructionist hothead. This is in the nature of true positive representation; if people some consider bad and troublesome exist in society, then per John Adam’s “mirror in miniature” prescription for the Legislature of a democratic republic, they will be present in the body too.

Similarly, positive representation means that many though not all representatives of a faction will be impossible to get rid of. Each self-defined interest group “mirrored” in the body will, as long as their program remains coherent and relevant, have a core of supporters who stick to it thick and thin, again as long as their representatives remain faithful to them as they judge it. Under positive representation, if this faction has a quota of the electorate, they can keep reelecting this core cadre in proportion to their core numbers, indefinitely. Again bearing in mind surely some of these perennial delegates would surely be painful and deplorable from say my point of view, it is of the nature of the project of positive representation they are there to stay–unless events evolve so as to render their base of support mobile and shifting to other configurations they cannot or fail to adapt to. It is in the power of the voters who sent them there to either keep or remove them–this is much of the point! Corporate governance, even if we suppose these warnings dire in the for-profit world, is not the same thing as social governance.

Now on to FairVote’s perspective:

CV, however, has its drawbacks. One is the problem of a like-minded constituency splitting its vote. For example, if a voting constituency or a political party has too many candidates, it can “split” its votes among its own competing candidates and not win a fair share of seats. Candidates also must compete aggressively against candidates in their party – such intra-party competition can undercut coherent parties. In order to prevent vote splitting and intra-party competition, a party or like-minded constituency often seeks to limit candidacies and organize individual voters to allocate their ballots among those candidates. As a result, some argue that CV can concentrate too much power in the hands of leaders of parties or non-partisan communities of interest.

That pretty much repeats what Wikipedia said more laconically, but the extra discussion gives better insight. Again party organization is an answer, and as I conceive the system working there is no need to strategically rein in the number of candidates anticipating a limited number of votes that need to be concentrated; whatever share of votes the candidates get will automatically be conserved proportionally. The matter of inter-candidate rivalry on a party slate is something new to consider. One way to deal with this if it becomes problematic is to revert to party lists and have voters vote for parties alone, but I think that generally speaking it should just be left to politics; if voters observe candidates in so-called party unity or alliance bickering in response to their own (that is the voters’) judgement as to who gets what level of support, they can judge which of them are most suitable and which not politic enough to be supported in future. With the open ended party formation mechanism I outlined, where a group of independents can ad hoc form a compact, one purpose of making the rule one of unanimous mutual consent was precisely to flexibly and simply lay the problem of sorting out differences and strategy among themselves; if they cannot work with one another according to declared principles of unity, they should split! And then voters choose which fragment they like better-- or turn to a third group showing better organization! Vice versa a party can bootstrap itself into being via unanimous adoption of a charter, and the included bylaws can have procedures agreed to by the partisans to regulate these circumstances. The default rule remains that within a party share, the candidates who got the most votes (or equivalent, scores, in a cardinal system) fill the seats, so indeed the candidates are competing with each other in a sense. Managing that is part of their campaign strategy; the voter can rely on choosing the one they like and seeing where the dust settles.

Most everything else FairVote has to say about CV seems entirely positive.

My takeaway is that providing for votes to individual candidates to double as votes for their party, bearing in mind a very open and flexible way of effectively forming coherent parties (that is, as coherent as this faction and the voter support they seek to attract want it to be!) takes care of the most serious conundrums.

Now it remains to be seen–if we have an electorate where the little man behind the curtain, me and others here interested in simulations, know what the traditionally defined proportional balance of parties would be, and we assume an election by Approval Vote is held by these voters who cast AV obscuring their prime choices as I define them, will the outcome, with a substantial number of voters voting other than bullet votes, resemble the voter intentions, or diverge in unfortunate or perverse ways from it?

If CV works well enough, then probably it can generalize pretty simply to Score voting–say we call that “Equal and Directed Cumulative Voting,” meaning that instead of dividing by the number of candidates chosen, we divide by the sum of the scores in each ballot, then multiply by each score, so a voter voting two party/candidates a 9 each on a scale of 9 is counted as voting 0.5 to each, but another voter voting 9 to one and 6 to the other is counted as voting 0.6 to one and 0.4 to the other, and a third voter voting 9 to 5 options is counted voting 0.2 to each. Each voter adds up to 1 and is thus equal, but has the power to shift their single vote among several as they like, or of course to simply bullet vote.

Note this means that if a voter votes only one candidate any positive score, and that score is a lousy 3 out of 9, they are not very happy with anyone, but still count as a full bullet vote for the one they gave a grudging low score to. I think this is fair; in a single choice system they would face the same conundrum if they were such curmudgeons as to acerbically despise every single option on the ballot! They can stay home, of course, or on this line item refuse to mark anyone. What they ought to do, of course, is prior to the election urge some candidate they would like to run, then bullet vote a 9 for this brave soul. If they don’t campaign and this person has no wider net of appeal, the vote is essentially wasted of course, because this lonely candidate will not have much of a score overall nor any large share of the body! But a certain number of such voters are inevitable, it is impossible without direct democracy to satisfy every voter, and even then those outvoted are going to lose on policy anyway. A final asset vote for subquota share seats might give an outlier with serious effort and non-joke candidacy some important weight in enabling a more popular candidate to clear the bar to representation, and so it should be worthwhile even for the hardest to please to set up candidates that do merit their full approval, even if hardly anyone else thinks they do. Failing this effort, a sullen single low rating still signals which of the available choices the tough to please voter thinks is least bad, and that counts for something, especially since they could just refrain from voting at all.

So I don’t think we need to discount low maximum score combinations; as by instead dividing each combined score sum for x number of choices by x times the maximum score. We divide by total combined score sum period, for one person one vote, and consider that open nomination, and positive representation, and possible further frugality with votes via asset voting, all say that each category of voter should be able to be pleased by someone and it is not the rest of the electorate’s fault if they are not, so some least bad candidate might as well benefit from inflated support.

Bear in mind, the curmudgeon and/or Eeyore voter, whether that way out of spite or gloom, is effective in their low scoring in any district races with single winners, where their low score only slightly benefits the least bad option grudgingly chosen; it is only in figuring a global score derived outcome that their ballot gets turned into Polyanna against the voter’s will.

But I need to see some exercises before gaining confidence CV is really good enough–if it is that is one possible and probably becoming my favorite way to get meaningful proportionality or something like it from cardinal votes. And I need to compare, for a given set of existing votes, what other recommended processes such as Thiele or alternatives here developed arrive at instead; if their results seem to tend to be superior, it will be necessary to turn to math to see if there is a direct way other than iterative to get their outcomes, and take entirely different approaches than just normalizing cardinal votes as outlined here; such an alternative would not be CV at all.

That’s incredibly ironic. FairVote attacks pretty much every non-IRV/STV voting reform (cardinal, Condorcet, etc.) on the basis that they fail later-no-harm. They claim that any system that fails LNH will degenerate to plurality voting, arguing that voters won’t do anything that risks harming their favorite candidate. (This is a flawed argument, for reasons which would take their own post.) Yet they have a positive view of cumulative voting, which not only fails later-no-harm, but does so to a greater degree than Approval: Approval fails LNH because of the possibility that approving your nth favorite candidate could help swing the election to them, away from one of your top n-1 favorite candidates whom you also approved. Not only can this same type of LNH failure occur in cumulative voting, but LNH can also be failed in a cumulative election if one of your top n-1 favorite candidates is approved, they are close to a candidate whom you did not approve, and adding an extra approval for an nth candidate causes them to fall behind the unapproved candidate. This is worse, since adding the nth approval could help any candidate defeat your favorite, regardless of whether you approved them or not, whereas adding an extra approval in Approval voting can only help that approved candidate.

As a single winner method, cumulative voting is pretty bad. It really would (nearly) degenerate to plurality voting, since every ballot that supports multiple candidates would strategically be better off supporting the single strongest supported candidate, since supporting multiple candidates is literally splitting your vote. As a multiwinner method, it is rather similar to SNTV. Like SNTV, parties must be able to predict the number of seats that they can win in advance. If they run multiple losing candidates, then they ran too many, since had they ran fewer candidates, their candidates would have gotten more votes, and so they may have won more seats. On the other hand, they can also run too few candidates, since you can’t win more seats than you run candidates. However, vote management is easier in cumulative voting, since whereas with SNTV, voters must be assigned to particular candidates so that one doesn’t wind up with all the votes, with cumulative voting, voters can just choose their party’s slate.

The party list case for cumulative voting depends on the number of candidates each party runs. However, if candidates are permitted to “drop out” after the election to avoid vote splitting, candidates always follow the instructions of their parties, and parties act in the manner that optimizes their number of seats (basically, parties always run the correct number of candidates), then the party list case is Jefferson/D’Hondt.

What do you think of this argument against SSS (which I think applies to any kind of consensus PR):

It looks like, as with RRV, a voter that prefers a minor candidate would be penalized for expressing any support for a major candidate/party, because otherwise the (e.g.) Greens’ lesser support for the Democrat would cripple what little chances they have of electing a Green.

That would put them in the awkward position of having to choose between helping the Lesser Evil get that last seat over the Greater Evil, or helping their Favorite get seated.

How can small parties that want to get exact representation get it in a cardinal PR system?

It’s true that SSS will behave like D’Hondt if all parties execute flawless vote management campaigns and all voters are partisan, but with Cumulative voting, different instructions need not be issued to party voters.

Thiele is probably the worst at this because of how it handles overlapping approvals between factions. Monroe, on the other hand, is probably the best, since Green ballots giving Dems middling scores would be unlikely to be assigned to a Democratic candidate if there is a competitive Green, since assigning those ballots to the Green could raise the Monroe score.

Why are allocated methods (which I assume are Monroe) given such short shrift then?

No organization seems very consistent in format or comprehensiveness discussing these methods or the various criteria. Certainly I am much irked by the tendency of people here in these forum discussions to throw out an alphabet soup of references as though they are all well known and agreed on (I mean, if I go using the abbreviation AV, do I mean Approval or Asset voting?) nor does the site here at CES have a glossary page a person could just be referred to. Maintaining such a page for consistency and clarity would be work for someone, so have a bit of pity even for a site whose members have perhaps been unreasonable and unfair! They have put up a resource I found more informative than the offhand assertions lots of people make, that it is incomplete and inconsistent is why I put up this topic, to inquire into the worst aspects of CV–that’s Cumulative Voting.

I found the description I linked to by searching and it gave me a link to FairVote, if you look at the link, it is “archived.” This could be some old thing dashed off decades ago and hasn’t been gone over by FV authorities since.

Since online sources are so flaky I am of course hoping in a topic like this to draw out other criticisms so we can examine their real world likely meaning and weight.

Remember I did not set out to advocate for CV as such, I am just looking for an easy and acceptable way to process cardinal votes to arrive at a meaningful proportionality toward the goal of positive representation. But indeed it looks to me more and more that CV is acceptable, and that it would only be improved with Score rather than simple Approval methods–in fact I wonder if the time to take the Approval training wheels off has already come.

“Degenerating” into single choice does not bother me in the least, provided we have a second round with the votes to determine proportionality and then level off, after first determining district wins.

Note that means when you say “single choice plurality,” that refers, in the context of a two phase coupled district-expanded body proportional complete system such as I advocate, only to a first round of district wins, not the complete process.

This topic is meant to focus on CV as a multimember, and specifically party composition, method standalone–as noted, imagine this is a procedure used in say Denmark, where the Danish voters, instead of having to pick one party on a single choice ballot of parties, may approve as many parties as they like. They aren’t voting for a single member to be elected by a district!

I think some confusion is arising due to the fact that CV is not generally used for party list voting, but of course there is no reason not to–save only the question, why would anyone want to? I can answer that rhetorical question, but they are edge cases–most voters will want to bullet vote, for perfectly sensible reasons. Single choice seems good enough when it is a matter of choosing parties for PR.

However I am exploring CV as a party proportional method because we might want a coupled two phase system where district votes for district candidates are consolidated into systemwide party votes, and if the district votes are in fact cardinal, it is best to figure out how to process those in their partisan aspect as party multimember body votes, rather than insist on a parallel vote with a single choice for party preference. That is what is done in MMP of course, and we could do that. I am trying here to see if we have to, and therefore focusing on how CV behaves as a partisan choice mechanism.

If this proves unsatisfactory but there are still merits for cardinal methods in the single district rep phase, we probably would want to fall back on a dual parallel vote, what I called Prime choice as the partisan second vote as in MMP. For the ultimate goal of shaking down a coupled membership proportional system, if we omitted any multichoice option whatsoever, and stuck with single choice only, meaning a single seat district contest would remain FPTP, it seems perfectly OK to me provided we later have proportional top off.

If all we have is single seat district races, that is a failure of reform I think, no matter what system we use to determine that single winner. Single winner is obviously a major root cause of the badness of our system, because by definition it throws away reckoning the intentions of whoever does not win that single round, and that is just wrong.

This inquiry topic is therefore not about single winner methods, but partisan multibody methods; you know I intend to integrate both in a complete system.

Here I am trying to figure out if cardinal methods do more harm to the proportionality round than they do good in the single member round, you see.

I am remiss in not examining the later-no-harm criterion. On the face of it, it seems pretty unimportant to me, but then you know I am unconcerned if Asset or Scoring does “degenerate” in practice to bullet voting FPTP, because I am looking ahead to it all coming out in the wash in the proportional/top off phase.

Translating approval choices using the Equal and Even CV paradigm to weighted split ballot scores formally, as @AssetVotingAdvocacy pointed out, comes under the wing of Cumulative Voting, and as a vote presenting the voter with choosing between parties rather than individual candidates, it is quite transparent to the voter considering the option of splitting a party choice vote that they are lowering the seat wins of the Prime party they favor if they do this, but also raising the wins of the secondary party (as they see things) they also support.

All this probabilistic stuff and strategizing you are talking about applies strictly in the case of CV in any form as a system confronting the voter with individual candidates not under the cover of party unity. As traditionally done, CV voters must as it were construct party identity on their own, and run tremendous risks because of their ignorance of how other will vote, as well as knowing their exact preferences don’t exactly match those of even largely allied voters.

I should also point out, in attempting to be clear that this is not a discussion of such traditional applications, that for other reasons this approach would be very difficult for voters to use in approving large body membership! Say I wanted to persuade Nevada to adopt traditional CV, even in its simplest to ballot form of Equal and Even, which presents voters with what looks like an Approval Ballot, but without the partisan choice form, instead each voter approves individual candidates, with the ballot simply noting their party affiliation as a point of information. There are 42 seats in the Nevada Assembly–NV having one of the smallest state lower houses in the USA to be sure, so this problem is even worse in other states. If say we have three parties contending each seat–also observe we no longer would have district seats, every seat is now at large across the entire state!–that’s 132 choices confronting every voter on every ballot! Indeed it is plain what a nightmare such a system would confront the voters with. You are probably simply assuming we cut the state up into pieces and have say 3 or 7 seats in each of 14 or 6 superdistricts–you should know by now I think that is a half-assed and flawed approach to PR, PR (whether that stands for proportional, and still more if it stands for positive, representation) should integrate the electorate to the maximum degree feasible. If this were impossible I might need to accept a compromise, but it is entirely feasible to integrate the whole state’s vote and do it in a way that is simple and transparent for the voter, and that is what I am talking about doing.

If I were not ultimately trying to include district choices with great weight in the whole system, and wanted to advocate for a purely party list system, in the above scenario the voter would not be confronted with 132 choices, but just three, one for each party. That is not the ultimate goal, but it gives you a better sense of what I am talking about here.

So none of what you say has any bearing on how CV acts as a means of expressing party choices, when the candidates are lumped together under each party’s blanket. I am not ever talking about an election where voters face a list of individual candidates for the whole system and must cobble together their party winners in this way!

With CV as choice between parties and not lots of individual candidates, a choice for multiple parties is a choice declaring indifference as to which of the parties supported actually prevails with how many seats.

The number of seats each party gets is determined by the total weight of all votes each one captures, proportionally. Where proportional of course is dependent on a second choice as to mathematical proportionality method; nothing predetermines it and it can be anywhere on the spectrum from Hamilton to Jefferson.

None of these strategizing considerations arise, instead it is simply a question of, shall I support one party, my single favorite, or is there some reason to split my support between two or more? A voter choosing the latter knows this is what they are doing, and it means each single party they choose would be weaker in outcome than if they had simply cast one choice just for them, but of course stronger than if they cast their choices as one only for another party! That is the form of risk overspreading might take. It is certain in its effect, not a matter of chance.

And the question remains, why should a voter not bullet vote in an election between parties? I can think of edge case reasons.

For instance, a voter might wish to enable an independent, running as a party of one candidate, to win a seat, but be quite worried that this independent will fail and thus their vote for them is effectively lost–a risk few party voters will run, since any party getting a quota is going to be represented for sure, the question is by how many seats. Such edge case voters might well welcome a chance to split their vote, as it enables them to give backup support to the party they like best, or dislike least, while also supporting a long-shot independent. This means the independent candidate must drum up support not among a quota of voters, but double that number, assuming every prospective supporter covers their bet in this way. But it ought to be easier to persuade some to do this than to persuade them to bet everything on a chancy candidacy!

But by and large we expect voters to have identified (and possibly, via personal activism between elections, influenced) parties they like best, and for those voters it makes no sense at all to split their votes.

I want to stress I am not advocating vanilla old fashioned national party list PR in general, just, on this topic, trying to explore how that aspect of it looks if we take cardinal votes and translate them into quasi-proportional shares totalling up to the number of ballots cast using this simple formula of reducing multi-choice AV, or weighted SV, to a spectrum of support for the parties that individual district candidates run with.

In the ultimate system I advocate, voters will know their single vote serves three ways–to elect the district rep, then to determine total body proportionality, and finally to determine the individual candidates a party gets to fill up its total delegation essentially by reverting back to the same metrics used to determine district winners. They know their single vote balances both individual candidate merit considerations and party allegiance considerations, and therefore might have more incentive to split their vote, and take the consequences, for overall better satisfaction.

And totally irrelevant to the topic!

That clearly only applies if you ignore that CV figuring is based on party alone, bearing in mind independents figure as a party of one, and alliances among independents can be formed serving as parties for electoral purposes with a shrewd provision favoring though not mandating they should in fact be an intelligible party in more or less shared program. Once again, this is a form of CV irrelevant to the topic at hand.

Yes you can!

Again, the context you mean it in is irrelevant, but generally speaking, any positively representative system needs to address this question–are we going to throw away votes giving more support to a party than they came prepared with candidates to fill their larger fair share of representation with? It is important we recall, this is not about what is good for a party, it is about what is fair to the voters!

My link is to my own proposal for an approach, which has the merit of being general and not tied to a party machine at all, it works for an independent too. Declare a deputy candidate in advance of the election, let them be well known to the electorate, probably because they are deeply involved in the campaign, and then there is a replacement for the winner handy–including the possibility one candidate must become two, be cloned in other words.

Obviously there could be other approaches. An organized party might have a party list published in advance for this purpose; the law might provide for the elected members of the party delegation to caucus among themselves to name appropriate fill up candidates. A party leader, duly selected by the party members, might simply name people. We could also fall back on the expedient of giving some party delegation members double votes.

I realize these kinds of options are not too common, and in New Zealand MMP they just throw away shares of seats beyond those who ran, and some people would suggest there is something immoral or otherwise wrong with seating members who did not run (one reason people dislike party lists I suppose)–but I am looking at it from voter representation and sovereignty. The voters chose this option, they should not be shortchanged.

The voters knew going in how many candidates a party was fielding, it shouldn’t be their problem, beyond taking note of which parties consistently slack on putting enough candidates to fill their probable wins and coast on this, and then decide whether they like the total delegation, those who ran in races and those who did not, or not. If not, write letters to the party leaders and delegates saying you think you might stop voting for them if they keep putting in appointed members.

After all, what happens if we achieve PR by doubling the house membership to be twice or a bit more the number of districts, and one party runs a candidate in every district, and then wins a majority? We might suppose it practically will rarely if ever happens with positive rep, but say it does… there was simply no way to have run more seats than there were districts, yet a party that wins a majority of votes clearly deserves a majority of seats. It would be wrong to trim down the other parties clearly! We need some mechanism to allow for this, and I have offered several. My own recommendation is actually limited, it should work well for a fairly large party, but what if an independent not allied to anyone else wins three seats? Could happen, if we allow voters outside a district to cast a vote to a candidate in another district. One way to do it is just allow them to name the second add on, after turning their deputy candidate loose as the first. Why not? This is basically a form of asset voting after all.

Votes should be conserved.

Again this totally ignores the possibility CV is between parties and not a menu of individual candidates, and is irrelevant.

In a standalone vote to just get at the properties of CV alone, I asked that we regard it as a party list PR vote, meaning any splitting done is to support multiple parties, not to try to second guess other voters to get a coherent and properly sized party share avoiding these Procrustean/Goldilocks problems completely. The parties run as many or few as they want (few subject to the stipulation they may and indeed must stretch out their list if they won more than planned) and the voters are just choosing parties, which win seats according to proportion.

None of this stuff applies!

Nor would it apply if we went back to my larger framework, Coupled District-Expanded Body Proportional might be a name for it. There, it might seem we have fallen back on traditional Cumulative Voting, but this would be false. The voter does not get to look at the list of every candidate running for every seat; they get to vote within their district for a district winner, and as options to also approve parties not running there, or even to vote for candidates outside their district.

If we are totally open ended about it, in theory someone could cast a maximum support vote for every single candidate running, and even write in a bunch more, but let’s just reasonably stipulate the large effort required prevents very many people from doing that! And if they do, the large number of entries dissipates their contribution to each in the proportional phase to practically nothing, and in cardinal methods filters them out in both district first and make up of party top off roster as IIB.

The normal thing is, the voter is choosing just one candidate per party at most–and if they insist on either supplementing the listed district candidate for one party they bullet-prefer with a rival individual maverick competing against the party preferred candidate but still for that same party, by writing them in, or voting solely for that maverick, the effect is on the district and final make up but not on the party weight, for even if they split their vote between both the party favored main listed candidate and their wildcat alternative, formally speaking they have a half vote for each candidate, but in the proportional phase, as both affiliate with the same party, we have 0.5+0.5=1 again; in this case they have not split their party vote at all, but merely dissented on the question of which person best represents the party in their view.

So the voter is first weighing in on who shall represent their district, a purely cardinal choice where the maximum score wins. In this phase all scores count in full, undiscounted, and formally speaking the race is entirely between individuals qualified to run in the district, with all choices cast for out-district being irrelevant to the district race and thus ignored.

Then the partisan aspect of these choices is parsed into fractional weights, assuming everyone does not simply bullet vote thus “degenerating”–but with no harm done!-- the cardinal vote to a single choice form turning all district votes to FPTP to be sure. If many voters do not do that, then we have CV for the PR phase, but in the party choice form, not in individual-candidate choosing form.

Thus none of the dilemmas you highlight ever are relevant, except in the form that split party affirmation translates into not probabilistic, but certain, transfers of weight away from a prime party choice toward alternate parties, with certainty. The voters presumably know what they are doing when they do this.

If everyone bullet votes we have the scenario I presented the forum some weeks ago; if many people find it advantageous to split their votes, we have in the PR phase what I am trying to address on topic here. The system wide discounted scores, translating into shares of weight for each party, are evaluated proportionally, again I stress which proportional method used, on the spectrum from Hamilton to Jefferson, is a matter of separate choice. For reasons I have stressed, I think we should go with Hamilton, or nearly equivalently, the split method of determining total seats proportional to the collective share of all weights gaining a quota by Huntington-Hill and either simply awarding the largest remainders by weight rank the balance for sub-quota seats, or holding an Asset round determining which party wins those remnant seats not belonging to the quota parties. (Such an Asset round should however include any quota parties with a positive remainder of weight as contenders).

This phase does not elect any individuals, it determines party shares of all seats in contest.

Then finally, when the proportionality for the whole expanded body is determined by party weight, we subtract the district winners, each identified by party affiliation as they have declared and their party affirmed, from the share of seats their total PR share is, and that gives a number of seats to be filled by make up.

We turn back to the scores each candidate for that party won–now modified by adding in any choices cast by out-district voters for particular out-district candidates, added to the candidate’s score in full, that did not already win a district seat, and rank them by score–note that the discounting of each score on each ballot now no longer applies and we are back to the raw scores again. The highest ranked within each party’s contestants are the make up list.

Should the party have won more seats than they had contestants, all contestants are first of all elected, and then the remaining seats outstanding have to be filled with extras. I have discussed this already, exact methods should be debated on merit but I think I have established why provision for this is generally necessary for proper positive representation.

Thus, voters do not in fact vote on individual candidates across the system–they can support persons running out district if they opt to, but the mechanical aspects of standard CV where you simply assume all CV systems are for a systemwide slate of individual candidates plainly do not apply at all. All support for any candidates accepted as for a particular party are automatically consolidated into weight for the party generically, the total shares for a party are determined without regard for which candidate won what part of that weight, and the power of the voter to shift support from one candidate for a party to another takes the form of affecting district races if the alternative candidate for a party happens to be competing in that home district race, as a straight between-individuals cardinal scoring race, and later as support withheld or granted candidates in demoting or promoting them as make-up list members. The fraught uncertainties you point to have no place here at all.

None of this applies if the candidates are in fact running under party alliance as noted, and the PR phase is on generic party support alone, nor is the precise form of PR on the Hamilton-Jefferson spectrum predetermined by the electoral method.

In fact I am not sure you are justified in saying normal CV between individual candidates must in fact be equivalent to Jefferson, but since I am never proposing to consider that mode of multi-member election at all, it is not worth my while to confirm or deny it. Feel free to demonstrate it, but it is irrelevant here.

Please, please provide some kind of reference to alphabet soup abbreviations like “SSS!”

Spelling it out once might be good enough, but you are referencing something I have not noticed here at all yet, and in the larger world I have no idea what you mean here. A positive link to an appropriate discussion that does not just assume everyone knows what it means would be better.

I am also quite unsure what RRV means either. Not a clue what you mean frankly, please provide these somehow!

The topic here remains discussions of the essential nature of Cumulative Voting, bearing in mind it is about voting for parties, and not about a ballot where individual candidates are separately voted on at large, never mind that that is how most conventional CV elections are run. This is because I am looking at it as a phase in a several step process, not really stand-alone, but the questions you ask relate to how appropriately proportional it is, just as I want to focus on. I ask that objections and suggestions relate to advantages and drawbacks of CV used as a partisan choice ballot, versus concrete alternatives that can also parse a cardinal or any other suggested form of vote suitable for a single member district election.

Again I have no clue how your examples refer to this not recognizing what you mean by SSS or RRV, but “exactitude” might or might not be a value.

I like it a lot of course; exactitude not only means the seats are fairly proportional but that voters can plainly see the effectiveness of their choices with minimal doubt as to their being thwarted by mysterious electoral machinery. And that is why I spoke up for single choice, because exactitude in this case is quite plain.

As I am reasoning out E&ECV here, it already seems fair, and I have already objected how “exactitude” is thrown to the winds by cardinal methods in single winner races anyway. There exactitude is not the goal, decisiveness favoring consensus is. Insofar as E&ECV seems to blur exactitude, it does so in a manner rewarding instead consensus building.

Say we have a case where a bunch of Democrats who have always been tempted to vote Green but have feared doing so because it “throws their vote away” grasp Approval Voting as a lifeline letting them express both continued support for the Democrats as the not-Republican Lesser Evil and also their positive affirmation of the Greens as “would be nice,” in the CV phase, their choice is a truncation of the Democratic Party’s share of seats, and a transfer of those seats quite exactly to the rival party they endorse alongside. Depending on the PR method we use of course, I like Hamilton of course and think it is plainly the most linear and hence exact; the alternative I stumbled on seems mighty close in outcome, if we use Huntington-Hill as the method for the quota winners portion of seat share, and might avoid problems Hamilton creates.

So what more do you want? Going over to Score voting, provided we weigh each voter’s score choice for each option they mark by dividing by the total of all score values they choose, which makes each choice a fraction of 1 in the CV weighing, gives the voter more judicious power.

Assuming as I do in the larger aim a single vote for both district and global PR outcome, the voter must of course consider both the impact their scoring has in the district race and in the global outcome, but recalling that I believe that under positive representation, candidates will be found closely aligned to larger parties that accept them as contenders under their banner, this seems right.

If you like a candidate for a particular small party, predicted to win rather few votes, but the body membership is large and a quota or so for this small party seems likely systemwide, you should not be afraid to bullet vote for them, even if the polls say this one in your district is not going to come out the winner; you know (in my larger system!) that it will come out in the global proportionality wash, and if in fact the small but measurable support for your favored candidate corresponds to small support for their affiliated party across the system, it is quite possible that low as the score is in the district for your local candidate, they might be among the top few for that party and thus be elected based on systemwide accumulation of scores for the party. If not, at any rate someone your favored local weak candidate recognizes as sharing their important values and goals out there has been elected instead, and with stronger support by a combination of local recognition and possible out-district personal endorsement added to that than yours, so you are better off with a representative from elsewhere who commands more confidence in the larger system.

Why, if you can find someone, affiliated with some larger party, that you like a lot, should you worry about supporting someone else instead, or also? But if you have a specific answer to that, it is in your power to do it!

You might say “the parties don’t support the values this independent does!” Fine, with positive representation and a suitably open nomination/candidate registration and flexible alliance building system, join with this person to build a party of your own, knowing that the more voters you persuade are offered a new alternative they like better than the existing ones too, their votes will be conserved and the most popular of your new alliance will be elected, unless of course the appeal of this new platform is so small you all fall below winning a seat on even the most marginal terms. But with a large multi-member body, that means you were aiming pretty high with low cards to bet on anyway, doesn’t it?

“So I want to cover my bet by multiple choice!” Fine, do that. You can in a Score system pick the most acceptable of the standard parties forecast to win some seats for sure, and give them top rating along with the new party or single independent you want to foster. It splits your support for the new contender evenly with your safety line vote for the old party. Don’t really like the old party that much? Give them a lower rating, that shifts some of your halved support away from them and toward your actually preferred long shot–you still run the risk of losing all you put on the long shot, but by shifting your support you lower that risk, especially if others follow your example. Either way, your share in the global decision is identical, and exact.

CV appears to conserve the voting power of each voter (provided we use it for party share determination, not the confusing and risky gamble of pretending party does not exist and forcing voters to assemble one ad hoc and guessing what others will do, that is the usual manner CV is implemented). If it “degenerates” into single choice if everyone bullet votes, this is fine since the global outcome is positive representation for all based on everyone’s prime choices.

With exactitude!

Sequentially Spent Score

Reweighted Range Voting

This is why I think something along the lines of Combining Utilitarianism and Proportionality in PR via Ballot Checkboxes would be better; it lets you cover your bases without sacrificing ability to differentiate and support longshots, viables, and compromises alike.

Really, your system makes it hard to support multiple good candidates without lowering all of their chances of winning; I think that with PR already being so likely to fragment voters into their own quotas, it only makes things needlessly worse to make it hard for two similar candidates to run without hurting each others’ chances, as this only further entrenches voters into their separate quotas, and makes it even harder for compromises between various quotas to happen, let alone compromise among all voters. This is why I think some form of cardinal PR can be made superior, though it’s fair to argue that it can be too consensus-oriented at times. This is why a checkbox added to the ballot would make things fair; maybe even let the voter choose to vote for multiple candidates, knowing that their ballot is exhausted whenever one of the candidates they chose wins in a sequential round, or let them choose to have their vote interpreted purely cumulatively. Either way, you’d probably get a very robust PR method, capable of handling a lot of input.

If I understand this properly, this cumulative voting is ‘just the same as’ score voting, except that the elector is only allowed to grant a fixed, limited number of votes.

This would appear to have the (presumably) sole effect of increasing the cognitive load for the voter. And also, there will have to be some uncomfortable special rule to deal with ballots that bear an excessive number of votes. And for this, the tallying will require the extra step of counting the number of votes cast on each ballot.

So what’s the point of it?

Cumulative Voting is just like allowing the voter to cast a specific number of choose-one ballots.

I’ve found this entire Multi Winner Theory discussion to be too difficult to follow and it is only growing bigger.

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Not at all.

This topic is to explore whether cumulative voting is in fact a very bad thing, if we use it with voters voting for one or many parties as they choose, with equal or weighted choices.

In fact everyone seems stumbling on the notion CV can only mean voting on a spectrum of separate candidates with party affiliation marked just for voter information, whereas I am saying the votes are for parties generically, which takes care of just about everything @Marylander identified as problematic for instance.

The reason I am focused on party list CV is not because I want it to be the whole system standalone, but as a step in a three phase general process that can be based on any approach to voting–single choice as we customarily have for FPTP single member in separate districts in the USA, RCV which I don’t bother to explore here because I agree with CES consensus this is flawed, or cardinal methods.

I should also point out to you, the paradigm for forming parties, or even simpler alliances of independents, and the basic nomination of candidates, should all be very open and easy. Traditional notions of party bosses controlling the parties can and should be short-circuited by the government having a very open process and simple means of identifying which candidates agree to support one another in the election, and it is these easily formed alliances which are included as parties; parties may then evolve into more traditional ones by adopting a charter with bylaws the government running the election registers, enforceable as contracts at common law, but does not have to regulate as voters can easily withdraw support without cutting themselves off from effective representation; the parties, spanning the spectrum from wildcat independents refusing any affiliation who count as parties of one candidate, through informal and temporary alliances of other independents, to traditional and persistent “regular” parties that might adopt all sorts of elaborate machinery, must all pay attention to their constituency. So they won’t be able to behave like strong imperial European parties (unless their constituencies like them to be so organized!) nor will the sort of state interference we have in the US duopoly in a largely vain attempt to keep public accountability of what are de facto quasi-state organizations be necessary.

My three step method in turn is meant to address drawbacks in straight, now old-fashioned, European style national party list PR, which is flawed mainly in that results in making life difficult for regional/local and individualist candidates and voters, and makes the outcomes in terms of delegation dependent on internal party choices of a list to be elected. Also, by choosing Jefferson’s method, or even Webster’s (known in Europe as D’Hondt and Sainte-Legue respectively, but I like the CES culture giving American names, because in fact the Americans dreamed the methods up first, albeit in service of apportioning Representatives to the states in accordance with Article I of the Constitution, and not to enable apportionments of delegate seats to parties) they bias seat awards toward the larger parties and fail to achieve maximum voter representation in the body, and generally compound this by imposing some kind of arbitrary hurdle.

With these flaws addressed however, the basic concept of the whole body conforming to PR, with the “party” concept suitably opened up and generalized, seems by far the best way to combat the root evils in known widely practiced election methods. European style vanilla PR, or MMP, would be a dramatic improvement on current US (and I gather, Canadian) practices, but why settle for second best? Let’s go for defining the best and fight for that, not fool around with half-baked measures.

Single district options that do not integrate the entire electorate strike me as inherently that kind of half-baked compromise too, even if we do make them multimember. For some cases, such as enabling the people of say Wyoming to enjoy the same equal protection as California voters for the House of Representatives would enjoy with say 3 member districts (and 2 4 member districts among them, 17 3 member districts making up the rest–and how equal is the system between the handful of 4 member districts and the majority of 3 member?) we don’t really have a multimember option; unless we increase House size to 773 members Wyoming only gets one Member!

We should devise ways to integrate the entire electorate to arrive at global proportion, that automatically gives equal protection and equal voice to all.

All of the usual drawbacks mentioned for vanilla party list, and other issues with MMP, stand in the way of the concept of positive representation, that voters should be able to elect the representatives they choose, on any criteria they choose; I believe that with that guaranteed as much as practical, we can count on voter engagement with the outcomes to make parties, especially if we devise methods of enabling easy and flexible and effective party organization balancing clarity and unity of purpose with strong voter power, strongly and flexibly representative, and voters can get representation they can trust organizing around any priorities they value.

The question is, can cardinal methods serve instead of single choice for the foundation of such a system? Clearly with two votes as with MMP, we can have whatever method we like for the district phase and then use a single choice party vote, which I have dubbed Prime Choice here, for straight proportionality using Hamilton for its greatest inclusiveness, or perhaps equivalently and avoiding some problems, a new thing no one has yet told me someone else thought of already. But it is observed that MMP suffers from a kind of strategic voting that can destroy all voter confidence. So, if it is workable and likable enough, I like to keep on fusing the vote that is effective in district choice with the system wide proportional phase vote, which would neatly prevent that particular trick. In the Coupled District-Proportional Whole system (I might go with that, CDPW) approach, parties must have members standing in district races and no one (beyond persons filling seats for shares larger than the total number of contenders a party ran, which can happen) is elected without doing that, though many are elected without winning the district–whoever does that instead has measurably larger support in the district.

It seems to me CV is shaking down to being perfectly acceptable for the second phase of the total system I envision, and actually every objection anyone raises so far is quite irrelevant because they are not paying attention to my plain point that the votes are not for separate candidates but for parties.

This is because it is the second phase “under the hood” as it were of a three phase process alternating, based on a single and hopefully simple, transparent ballot each voter casts, to produce an assembly that is both strongly dependent (insofar as voters value this) on district choices and yet fully proportional as well, where all members are decided based on voter input with no party pre-rigging. (Parties can perhaps control nomination under their banner, and control whether candidates nominated by other tracks may affiliate with them, but voters can easily create other parties with fair chances of taking their former vote share, so the existing parties must pay close heed to what voters whose votes they aim to earn value, including who the nominees are).

So I have no interest in CV as a standalone method, really feeling we need to surpass straight party list global PR, and I certainly am not interested in it its individual candidate form so fraught with all that strategic baggage and uncertainty, but the process I do envision has party proportional election determining seat share for each as a phase of operation.

Quite mistaken, even in the already mistaken impression that individual candidate election is done with CV! That is a common way CV is done, but even in the real world, it is also already done with an Approval vote similar mechanism–again unfortunately for individual candidates, but I have identified Equal And Even CV as the form to be used, and that is not at all what you describe. Here it used to vote for parties, which conserves the votes so the only issue is that the inherent tradeoff of voting for many options means the vote for each one is reduced, in line with One Person, One Vote.

In E&ECV, practiced in the real world, voters appear to be marking an approval ballot, and the more choices they mark, the more the tabulation automatically splits their choices into fractions so they all add up to 1.

Why should a voter not want to bullet vote then, if they are choosing a favorite party? That is a question cardinal methods advocates should explain the answer to me, I am just trying to see if a cardinal single vote with many choices marked would screw up the proportionality, seeking positive representation role, and it seems that insofar as it does, it does so by the voter deliberately shifting their maximum impact to spread it out over many parties. Why they might want to do that is still open, but I have no objection to their doing it with eyes open to what they are doing; they may have excellent reasons someone can give an example of.

False, if the CV is for a party and not for individual candidates.

Dear @MarkHFoxwell I must get some sleep now. I am sure you have done a lot of work on the material you present. I am very unhappy to have to tell you that as far as I can discern, your use of terms is very odd, and your entire approach is headed in a wrong direction. I am sure that sounds quite awful. But then again I am sure I do not understand your point of view. We will probably end up having to agree to not understand each other.

I will explain some salient points regarding why I think you are on the wrong track when I get time.

But anyway, good luck with your work.

First, I agree that later-no-harm is not that important. The reason that I brought it up was to criticize FairVote’s rather inconsistent philosophy. They have a bit of a reputation here for bad faith arguments.

Now, on to the main point:
This is probably a fine way to allow for party list PR with Approval voting district winners, avoiding FPTP.

Another virtue of national PR is that it lowers the barrier of entry for small parties.

There are two major differences between your proposals and the type of PR proposals more commonly seen on CES, which are (1) that your PR would be on the national scale, and (2) you use party voting, rather than have voters judge individual candidates. The thing about these differences is that they go hand-in-hand: more seats means more candidates, and you can only expect voters to judge so many candidates. So if you want the individual ballot to be used to potentially determine the outcome of many seats (as nationwide PR does), you must group the candidates together, which means party voting. Clearly you are OK with party voting, whereas a contingent of the CES forum users are not. Really all the time we have spent debating the particulars of the various apportionment algorithms you have proposed (and yes, I realize I’m being a massive hypocrite here) has been avoiding the point: that the main difference between your proposal, and say, a @Keith_Edmonds proposal is philosophical rather than algorithmic. So in addition to discussing whether your method is a good way to do party PR, we need to establish whether party voting is worth finer proportionality. I have a few qualms about party voting.

  1. While your modification to MMP to merge the candidate and party selection has the virtue of making it much more resistant to manipulation, there are some scenarios where it could backfire. The 2017 Alabama Senate Special Election is a clear example of how partisan interest can be put into conflict with the merits of the individual candidates. If you’re a Republican voter in that election, you have to weigh whether you would prefer to be represented by a Democrat, or seat an alleged child molester.

  2. An important aspect of representative democracy is that legislators are accountable to the constituency that elected them, since that constituency could decide not to do so next time. Under FPTP, however, party is often a self-fulfilling prophecy of competitiveness, so an incumbent can lose their seat because the party chooses not to nominate them. This leads to legislators having competing interests: while in theory they are first accountable to their constituents, in practice they also are accountable to their party. These interests are not always the same, and due to two party domination, the party often wins out. Losing the party nomination is often far more damaging to reelection chances than voting against constituents’ interests, as even if there is blowback, the other party still has to field someone better. The hierarchy of the party list would similarly make legislators first accountable to their party. A spot early on the party list may effectively insulate a major party legislator from voter backlash, since in practice a major party won’t lose all its supporters.

If the list order is selected via a primary-like process open to all who wish to affiliate with the party, I might support a party list system, but using voter input to order a list of >400 candidates seems challenging. An indirect process could be used, which raises the question of what electoral system a party uses to select their list making committee (as well as what the list making committee uses.)

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True if and only if it turns out to be satisfactory to achieve factional balance forcing serious negotiation and compromise via strong champions of highly defined voter positions, championing both values and interests, bearing in mind that some sort of serious negotiation of hopefully win win creative solutions, and failing that, acceptable compromises that fairly balance gratification and frustration of interests and acceptable balancing of core values, emerges from a situation where all, as Adams put it, are “mirrored in miniature” effectively. Filtering anyone out is tyranny against those excluded, bearing in mind that the fewer members there are, the less latitude there is for fine grained representation, and the more pressure on voters to pre-compromise in their selection of representatives.

If this is how it works, if the body brings the various agents of various interests together with more creative than destructive interaction, then the purpose of positive representation is accomplished, and the society is well served by enabling people to select their representation as they see fit.

However I’d also say it is just a moral imperative that people should be able to do this, whatever the outcomes; there is no justification for “covering” some people in the presumptively superior wisdom of others, as women were once presumed to be “covered” in society by their fathers or husbands.

I was very concerned when they came up with a proposal, that I now have trouble finding on their site, for addressing the flipped state house of Michigan by devising a distinctly odd form of MMP, one that would redistrict the state from 110 seats to 88, and define 22 “superdistricts” formed by grouping together 4 of the new 88 districts, where each party–I’m saying “each” advisedly because the part that struck me as grossly out of line was their obvious concern to exclude third parties–would nominate someone for the super-seats; then after the election each of the two parties would claim seats for their super-delegates based on which one won a majority in the four subdistricts.

To implement this they just casually mentioned having a 5 percent hurdle for any third parties to have to overcome to qualify.

However, when I looked at it, it seemed to become very evident that without absolutely guaranteeing the competition would be between two parties only, the whole system would come apart like tissue paper. With two parties it is evident who wins the superseats; with three or more it turns into a nightmare.

You can probably understand that I think the threat of serious competition from an insurgent party or alliance is absolutely essential to disciplining the parties, and stacking the deck in that way would wreck the basic way positive representation works, and boomerang power back to the party big wigs, and more to the point the way I look at the world, society’s elites who have a lock on the priorities either dare express.

So yeah, FairVote does not seem so very Fair to me either.

Or score voting. But there still seems to be some serious confusion–there is no need for any parties to be using party lists, nor does the full system as outlined encourage voters to vote for parties as such. Rather, there is a lot of focus on voters voting for individual persons, and the default way of a party’s make up members being chosen has nothing to to with a pre-defined party list, it is entirely a matter (by default) of naming the individual candiadates who did the best in the election–voter choice determines that list too in other words. But of course not at all the way it does in typical CV! Rather it is separate votes for separate candidates in various districts, which the voter can roam around at option, voting for this or that person out of their district or someone in it, as they choose. It is these voters ratings that determine which candidates fill out the rest of the party roster, and the first part of it was determined by district winners.

The district winners can indeed by FPTP by the way…that is what happens if the voter gets only a single choice, or if everyone bullet votes in a cardinal system. But it will be a different dynamic, because the voter is not stuck with whoever wins the district being deemed their sole representative; they can back the person who gets the most votes in their home district, or switch their single choice to someone else, and that someone else has a fair shot at being themselves elected as an individual candidate–and anyway, their party will get fair representation, if not in the person of someone’s district candidate, then another elsewhere–who would be more popular, winning more total personal votes, than one’s own district also-ran.

So it can be FPTP, but the FPTP race is one of several, not the whole show.

I really don’t see why you conclude that! It actually can’t be national, not for the House of Representatives, under the current Constitution. It can be much as is in a state legislature, a state senate, a city council, a county commission, any legislative body whatsoever. In fact any multimember body whatsoever, including say an executive council such as in Switzerland.

As always, in any multimember body, there is a trade-off between the size of the body and the representativeness of it. A small council with say 9 members that are staggered in 3 overlapping terms involve electing 3 persons per term–having two districts with a third for adjustment would be haphazard and risky, it would work better to have a single district at large and choose the other two using the make up mechanisms, but even with three chosen, the voters have to compromise into big tent parties obviously. Having 871 Members of Congress elected in 435 districts allows for a lot more latitude, but of course makes a staggeringly big body.

But I am puzzled why you think I ever said this system should not be general, or that it is only for a national legislature–or perhaps why and how you might show me I am overlooking the logic that shows it must be. I don’t see it though, and it can apply as well to a county commission as to a state assembly–and thanks to the Constitution specifying each state must have a precisely determined number of Representatives, the direct version is pretty well ruled out for the US House!

No, not necessarily. I point out voters invented parties for good and compelling reasons that serve their purposes, and we should therefore accommodate parties in operation, because they are functional for voters. And in fact generally, candidates are allied with one another–whatever we call that, that is party. So recognizing and using it is valuable. But in fact I can show how the system works with absolutely no candidates whatsoever acknowledging any party tie to any other.

Consider this scenario–42 is the baseline number of Nevada Assembly seats. So pretend that all the candidates, not just one, who ran in 2018 denied any party affiliation whatsoever, but the voters cast the same votes for the same candidates in each race. Note quite a few Nevada Assembly races go unopposed. So we have 42 FPTP winners. But now I introduce the notion the body should be “proportional.” What does that even mean, if every candidate ran with no party association with any other at all? Well, it means basically the top 42 vote winning candidates ought to make up the body! We can refine it a little more, and say that maybe the very top vote winners ought to be able to clone themselves and thus capture two, or even three, seats, having won so many votes, but let’s just say when we do the math that the top vote winner does not quite merit claiming two seats.

I think you can see that the set of “plurality district winners” and “top 42 winners of votes” are not identical generally. There will be some plurality winners who fall below 42nd vote winner in vote count. Therefore that is an overhang, and so we double the number of such cases, and look now at the top say 52 instead of 42 if say we found 5 plurality winners not among the top 42. Or we could resolve to pick the top 84 vote winners, whether they won a plurality or not, and call that good. (Odds are, the higher number of seats you reach, the more likely the top vote winners deserve more seats than one).

So party is accommodated, and assumed to be normal, but it is by no means essential to the system working. I just figure voters will in fact choose to vote that way, for their own utility, which is why and how every existing party system in the world has in fact come about. Of course it is possible for persons who gain control of parties, and face no effective competition, change the rules and manipulate them for outrageous thwarting of voter intentions–but this is no argument for abolishing parties or pretending they should not exist, it is rather one for focusing on how to put control of parties back into voter hands, and I think it is plainly essential that we guarantee positive representation to do that in a simple but effective way that cannot be captured by some central powers that be.

Any “special election” midterm to replace a lost member duly elected in a properly integrated global race loses the latter aspect completely of course. That is why I urge consideration of candidates declaring deputy candidates, who stand a good chance of being known to the electorate. So when Trump tapped Jeff Sessions of Alabama (who ran unopposed in 2014 IIRC, at least by a Democrat–a very small number of Other votes for Other candidates were cast, but essentially all of the vote was for Sessions) in the system as recommended, Sessions would have named someone as their right hand person back in 2014 (or previously) and that person would be acknowledged as having first shot at taking Session’s place in the US Senate. There would be no special election and this person would serve out Session’s term until the next election applies, which is 2020. Thus the voters who in fact voted for Sessions know that he handpicked someone he says is satisfactory, and they might have had some experience dealing with this person in the campaign and subsequently, with this person serving a special right hand role as Session’s proxy and “viceroy” as it were. They know this person has probably been working closely in service of Session’s agenda in the Senate, is up to speed on all the plates Sessions has spinning currently on top of poles, and is as close to a replacement for Sessions as they can reasonably expect another human being to be.

That example problem solved! And note, that it arises because it is a special and FPTP election for a single seat ad hoc, which I am saying it is better to avoid doing in general than to use as an expedient. I have all kinds of issues with various mid-term replacements in recent history, such as Jesse Ventura picking Norm Coleman to replace Paul Wellstone when Wellstone died in the campaign of 2002. That was egregious. It should not be in the hands of any official, not in the first draft, but the candidate themselves. Hence the proposal of deputy candidates/officials as a common institution.

Insisting on special elections then is unnecessary and trouble and should not happen; two years later might be soon enough. (However with US Senate terms cut short, as Sessions’s was, or Wellstone’s, it is customary to hold a special election for the remainder of the term–I think if we do that at all, instead of just letting the deputy fill out the whole term, we should take care to integrate the odd, usual seat for an odd curtailed term into the global process to be meaningful–and I expect that will be tough to do in a fair manner, so I say just appoint the deputy and be done with it until the next regular election for that office. Of course a confirmation election, requiring say a simple majority of votes cast affirmation, guaranteed by making that a simple yes/no question, and branching to some other alternate the system has named, might seem important to some to demand. I dislike it, but that might be tolerable.

Again I think positive representation and a wide open party/alliance formation process making it easy to form wildcat challengers with as much or little organization as voter blocs want has this whole mess pretty well covered. If voters tolerate a bunch of party insiders handpicking people, it is because they judge this is a good slate for them to vote for, not because they had no effective way to put up rivals. If 90 percent of a faction that gains lets us say 30 seats typically seems corrupt or wicked in some way to 10 percent, those 10 percent caucus and organize, nominate some rivals, who form an alliance, and either adopt a new party charter or perhaps don’t bother to yet; the dissident voters vote and they can reasonably expect between 2 and 4 seats at least–aside from the possibility their challenge reveals either deeper discontent among the big party rank and file who shift over, or attracts in new voters from outside the former big party’s faithful. The big and inconsiderate party loses seats, the mavericks gain some, and if the big party wants to appeal to sentiment or some other reason for the voters to rejoin their larger tent, they have to get out there and explain why and how they can be better trusted now.

Boss Tweed might indeed have an inside lock on nominating the Tammany candidates, but whether Tammany enjoys ongoing support or not depends on whether Tammany’s voters feel well served or not.

It would be, so I never proposed that. And I have to keep saying apparently, neither does the system as a whole default to old fashioned party list. I just said that in an apparently largely vain effort to get people to notice, I am not talking about traditional CV but rather partisan CV, “under the hood.” But in truth the way the voter votes for a party is by default to vote for a candidate, and that always votes for their party too.

And that is what I said. In the single choice version, I vote for a single candidate, let us for simplicity’s sake say I vote for one running in my own district, under a party banner I am long accustomed to support because experience tells me both this party and this candidate are advocating well for what I think is most important. I cast my honest preference for both person and party in other words, in one choice. Either that single candidate happens to win the plurality in my district, or they do not. Knowing me and how out there some of my priorities might seem to some, odds are my favorite, even if I absolutely love someone running in my district, does not win at that phase. So now my single vote counts as a vote of confidence in the party of the one I liked, which makes sense because the candidate I like chose that party and that party accepted them.

Now say my favored party won absolutely no district seats whatsoever but did win 5 proportional ones in the expanded body. Which 5 persons take those seats? Why, the top 5 vote winners not already elected as district plurality winner! The most popular candidate wins, then the second most, and third, and so on; whether my candidate is on that list or not depends on whether a lot of people in my district like this person enough to have cast their single vote for them, but if they are actually number 6 or later on the preference list, defined by votes won, I still know someone else of the same party, and 4 others too, are all representing me positively, and my connection to the local one who failed to win might not be pointless–having come close, perhaps the party cultivates them still as a valuable asset and so my ability to meet face to face with my failed local candidate is not in vain.

There is thus absolutely no party list order for anyone to pre-select. To be sure, in the course of a competitive campaign, party leadership might or might not route resources to different campaigns according to campaign strategy that shortchanges some candidates and puffs up others, and perhaps money or routing volunteer time can translate into improving the standing of some candidates and hurting that of others.

Again the candidates and the voters get to judge whether this was smart and vital to winning overall victory, versus invidious and mendacious and short=sighted or corrupt–in the latter case, we who feel shortchanged take our time, our money and our votes and walk away, setting up our own new campaign.

And so perhaps persons supporting a certain kind of party might prefer to make their party’s exact seat outcomes fall in party control, not leave it up to popular vote happenstance, and might adopt a charter mandating a party list, formed perhaps by some trusted leader just drawing it up, or by some committee process or what have you. I am on the fence about whether such a system should allow this as an option, but even if it does, it would be an option, not a mandate. By default, popular vote in the general election decides a) the roster of district winners b) the number of total seats each faction wins c) the identity of the make up members by ranking them in terms of effective voter favor.

To elect say a state Legislature with say 400 members then, I don’t have to face a ballot of 1200 or more choices. My ballot is district, and lists who is running in my district, and I might exercise rights to go off that local ballot and target some of my choice power toward someone else, or just soft-focus on a party and let others decide the nature of that party’s delegation. By default though I just see the competition running in my own district and am presumed by default to care the most about that. I cast my vote, with or without writing in someone running off my local ballot, and whomever my support went to is supported in the various phases. I let the candidates be covered by their party label, or am picky about which ones should take priority within that label, all at my discretion–it is easier to vote standard than to do something weird but I have the power to do either, or with cardinal methods, both, provided I remember that splitting my vote weakens it for any one candidate. But my total power acrss the system is conserved.

I cannot locate a concrete, clear instance of what process you are describing here, at all. “Checkboxes” do what? Did you vote Approval, or Score, or what? Why does there need to be any sort of “runoff?”

Multiple good candidates, as an individual voter evaluates them, are reasonably called a “party.”

I presume of course that you are being fair about each voter having equal power, therefore if we have a mixed district-and-at-large expanded body, I get to influence, with no guarantee of victory, one district race (or, via weighted score methods, perhaps dozens of them, but with my weight pared down so I am not spamming the election by choosing lots of choices). So when you talk about methods that allegedly “block” you from supporting “many good candidates,” it seems to me you must be presuming you are entitled to elect lots of people–how is this fair? You ought to have your weight in the election, no less–and no more! So if say we have 42 districts and 82 seats, my vote should not elect more than two people, and that only if I join up with two different 82-quota other people to justify their election (more or less–some methods like Hamilton result in people with subquota shares of votes getting single seats in modest numbers, and I call that good as it maximizes the total of all votes cast winning some direct representation, and the penalty to the large parties is tiny).

It seems to me you are under the impression that some kind of rules fan-dance can result in a perfect district by district system in which you can influence directly only a subset of the whole body, representing your partitioned off subset of the electorate, and by some kind of alchemy the need to choose one person per district can be renamed “general approval” of that candidate, never mind all the others who inevitably lose with all their support. That the fact I can split my support among many means I am therefore equally satisfied if absolutely anyone I support at all wins, and that this will somehow automatically result in only good people being elected. And this is apparently what you mean by saying “You can’t support multiple candidates without lowering all their chances of winning.” That’s the nature of any competitive election, unless you happen to be a privileged person who can stack the deck so no matter how people vote the one you want the most will always win. If you spread your equal score or Approval choices among many candidates, you are in fact abdicating any say as to which one really ought to win, as far as you are concerned.

And you can do exactly that! Your total support is spread wide instead of deep, and the outcome is you contribute little to the victory of any one, but have declared yourself satisfied if any of them win.

Would a situation arise where perhaps a party is running many candidates in one district? It certainly might if a state were to adopt a version of Louisiana’s jungle general election, where currently candidates declare themselves, with or without declared party affiliation, voters then pick one and typically–by no means always but quite often–no one wins a majority so there is a special runoff in December to choose between the top two winners, that is First and Second Past the Post, back in November. We could however eliminate the runoff by allowing parties and candidates to negotiate before the election as to which can use the party label and which are excluded, and then adopt say Score voting, and have half as many districts as there are seats in a race for instance. So we can elect a State House of say 250 members by having 125 district races, every candidate who wants to throw their hat in the ring registers according to some standard and open process, parties and candidates negotiate which shall be considered running as one of that party versus not. Then the straight Score method determines the winner in each of 125 districts, and we use the Equal and Weighted reformulation of everyone’s score vote to determine global party shares of the 250, subtract all the seats each party won in district races, and determine by merit of a reweighted candidate score which of the presumably far more than 125 district losers take their seats as party reps along side their district winners.

You see? I presume each voter defines “good candidate” as “candidate who if elected advocates for me and my values, bearing in mind majorities in the body have to be formed to pass action items.” That’s my party. The easy way to vote for my party is to cast one score, maxed out, for my favorite local candidate. In LA’s current “jungle” system no one looks at which party wins in the district, only which one gets over 50 percent or for the runoff, which two individuals are in the lead, they can be and often are of the same party, freezing the other one(s) out completely. But that does not happen here–we always pick one “best” scoring candidate in the district, then turn to what a proportional overall system would look like, then make up the whole again based on how well individual candidates were scored.

So if I like someone running in my district, my vote for them scores them and then if that is the only choice I made, casts my undivided vote for their party, and coming back, if they did not win in the district, it is possible my score for them raises them in particular to a seat. Either way I am automatically voting for everyone that party accepts as an acceptable ally–so if I dislike some of the people they are approving (say I am a loyal Republican but disapprove of the LA R party allowing David Duke as a candidate) I remonstrate with the leadership and if they won’t take Duke off the list, I switch my support over to some new party me and a bunch of others reviling the idea we might help Duke get elected have formed. Party leadership knows we can do that so they have to think carefully about whether all these letters are concern trolling by people they don’t really represent, real loyalist concerns, and also what it says about themselves they would even think of accepting Duke. We judge them by actions.

So if you have understood that I am not here talking about some other system you have in mind, but the one I describe, you should understand you can in fact “vote for multiple good candidates” several ways–mainly by forming and backing a strong party for your interests, and if for some reason you have yet to explain to me backing a party seems unsuitable, you can split your vote among many. Either way the outcome is you put the weight of your vote where you want to put it, and your objections are all coming across to me as an uncritical, confused idea that sheer sleight of hand can magically create consensus and wisdom without bothering to show how the work is done that builds it, or how opposed interests are fairly weighed in the balance.

I fear very much this sort of approach will result in elites managing the outcomes and monopolizing control with the vast majority of the commonwealth locked out under the banner of a falsified consensus, much as the current US Electoral College system usually turns molehills of slightly stronger preferences for one candidate into mountainous landslides apparently suggesting one candidate enjoys overwhelming support and the others, negligible.

It would be Sequentially Spent Score (highest score wins, points get spent whenever someone you scored wins) except a voter could choose to check a box that would let them have more proportional representation (if they and a Hare Quota of voters who had checked the box preferred some other candidate over the one with the most points, their preference wins, and their ballots are exhausted.) The runoff is part of the idea that inspired this one, but it’s not the actual idea.

My point here largely is that if a quota of voters prefers Candidate A, and a new Candidate B comes along that they all might like, they have to consider whether to play it safe and stick with A, or take a risk on B and potentially split the vote. A special case of this might be if there is some Candidate C who falls into the cracks between two or more quotas; the quotas may actually want to elect such a person, but how do they do this without risking losing out on all representation by splitting the vote? They may be willing to take the risk when Candidate B is a true trailblazer or Candidate C is the unifier the people need, but what about the myriad of day-to-day problems that require minor give-and-take that this system might not be able to take? My point had literally nothing to do with subdivision by districts, it was purely within the context of a PR election.

The big concern really is that this forced “vote for the frontrunner of your quota or else” dynamic will seriously limit the kind of dynamic cooperation possible between quotas of voters, and will just lead to rule by representatives, rather than by the people. That of course yields “static majority rule” which focuses on majority satisfaction rather than everyone’s, all because it replaces the cooperation and compromise that should be allowed between the voters themselves, and which I think would actually play a significant and positive role if allowed to happen under a PR system that could handle more input without sacrificing representation i.e. cardinal PR.

I know your thoughts on vacancies are not the main point, but:

Fair, unless the vacancy was from an impeachment, such as for corruption.

Alternatively, you could have appointees subject to recall. Then such an election only happens if it’s probably necessary.

Thanks. Yes, in a corruption case it is quite likely any “deputy” is in up to their eyebrows in it, and even if this is not proven it seems imprudent to risk it.

Then again, the people did elect the first crook…why not appoint the second possible crook and wait until they are proven guilty to remove them? Then don’t replace them with anyone, the next election will be coming along within no more than 2 dozen months anyway. So–suspend the office, conduct an investigation, if the deputy seems reasonably clear by at least reasonable doubt, inaugurate them–they are just one rep among many dozens or more (typically) after all. They have stuff to prove for the next election above and beyond strict legal liability.

You use a word like “tranche” in a political context, without bothering to spell out how the predominantly financial concept is supposed to translate to what CalTech called “Non-Market Decision Making” (aka political science to normal people; back in the '80s when I went there they were really hipped on their Economics Department and it was the era of Thatcher and Reagan after all) in an intelligible, transparent and straightforward way, and then say this?