The irony is thick: Switching to Plurality At Large voting in order to meet gender inclusivity requirements in one ballot only.

I received a letter this morning. It’s regarding the recent switch from Majority to Plurality voting in the Delegate Selection Plan’s for many states’ Democratic parties.

In 2016 the Delegate Selection Plan’s used Choose-One manjority voting, which is basically a non-instant runoff process. Voters case a ballot, the last place candidate is eliminated, then everyone votes again, the last place candidate is eliminated… until one candidate is left. That candidate wins the first seat. Then you repeat until all seats are filled. There was a requirement that 1/2 the seats be filled by each gender, male and female. This process is long and arduous, as you can imagine.

In 2018 new rules were passed which require non-binary candidates to be included. This completely confused everyone, and so a decision was made to scrap the majority threshold and just elect each seat in one round only. Despite the fact that there are many voting methods which could speed up this process, find a majority winner, and also include non-binary candidates, this is the narrative that must be countered.

“So one of the topics that came up at last night’s rules committee meeting, was that Plurality elections better suited the need to accommodate non-binary delegates to DNC without harming the gender balance that the DNC also requires. It was found that Majority could also satisfy this but not as well, it would take multiple elections, and run the risk of possibly ending in a stalemate. As a result, at least 30 states are now using plurality to electoral delegates. So here’s the question I have for you. Can you consult with your experts and see whether STAR Voting makes sense for the election of delegates where you have to maintain some kind of a gender balance and still accommodate non-binary candidates?”

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STAR can output a finish order of the candidate easily. The runoff winner gets first, the runoff loser gets second, and all other candidates are listed in decreasing order or score.

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There is also STAR-Eliminarion: keep checking majority preference down the list between each of the pairs of candidates right next to each other. Or even take the loser from the runoff, and pit them against lower ranked candidates until they can win a matvhup, kind of like sports.

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Thanks. I did explain that STAR can provide the needed list of majority supported winners (via elimination method), but I’d also like to propose multiple options, and not just make it about STAR Voting.

How could this be done with Approval + top 2, Score + top 2, or with Choose-One Majority and still maintain a majority support for each winner? How many rounds of balloting would you need to do and how could that work if there were say 10 seats and 30 candidates? (12 male, 12 female, and 6 non-binary candidates.)

Here is one idea:
Start with a rated round of voting, using some score scale (or approval).
Take the highest two candidates and hold a runoff (automatic or delayed). Elect the winner.
If the winner is nonbinary, repeat this process. If the winner is (male/female), repeat this process, but disqualify all (males/females) until a (female/male) candidate is elected. When that happens, parity is restored, so do not disqualify (females/males) for the next round. (Only disqualify a gender from winning when a candidate’s election results in imbalance).
If you are concerned that candidates might abuse nonbinary status, since they are never disqualified, you could also use disqualification to prevent consecutive nonbinary candidates from being elected, but without reinstating the other disqualified gender until male/female parity is restored. Or you could just treat nonbinary as a third gender, and disqualify them when they outnumber either males or females. If there are not enough nonbinary candidates to justify giving them a third of the seats, then don’t disqualify males or females when more of them have been elected than nonbinary ones.
For rounds after the first, if you don’t want to hold a rescore round, then use the old scores. (Optionally normalized). If you don’t want to hold runoff rounds, you could use automatic runoffs or solicit rankings along with scores on the first ballot.

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@Sara_Wolf I think the two-step explanation in your second post is a perfect explanation. If you are still looking for a voting system other than STAR to suggest to them for Step 1, and they are still looking for a system that gives them “majority supported winners”, I would suggest Majority Approval Voting. (Half because it’s a decent method, and half because “majority” is right there in the name.)

Voters would rate/grade all the candidates. Candidates would be ranked by sorting them first by their median ratings/grades and second by the number of votes >= their medians.

This method, under reasonable assumptions, makes it very likely that all selected delegates will have reasonably strong support from a majority of voters. I imagine that is, more or less, what they’re looking for.

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What I am interpreting this as:

  • Start with usual STAR. Suppose A wins over B in the runoff.
  • B then faces C (third scorer) for second place. If C beats out B by a majority, C gets second.
  • Loser(B,C) then faces D (fourth) for third place.
  • Repeat ad exhaustum.

Usual approval/Score: Order candidates in order of approvals, then use Down the List.
Approval/Score + T2: Same, but switch the first two if the second-approved beats the first-approved in the runoff.
Choose-One Majority: This is bad and should not be used.

What’s “Down The List?”

IIRC it was:

  1. The first place finisher is first.
  2. From then on, for each slot, pick the highest ranked candidate such that:
    • this candidate’s gender is not the same as the previous candidate, and
    • picking this candidate does not create any impossibilities (I.e. do not allow the remaining candidates to be 6 women and 2 nonbinaries).
  3. Alternative version of 2 drops the final condition and simply stops when any impossibility is created.