Wed 29 Mar 2017 1:12AM

Accuracy and Goals for Proportional Representation and Multi Winner Elections.

SW Sara Wolf Public Seen by 23

Multi-Winner Elections are a way to elect a council or team from a group of Candidates. If each seat was elected one-by-one the majority would always win and the council wouldn't do a good job of representing the diverse electorate.

Proportional Representation (PR) was envisioned as an ideal that the governing body should match the demographics of the electorate as closely as possible. There are a lot of proportional representation based voting systems that have been and are used around the world but there doesn't seem to be a lot of science around how to look at which system is best and how to measure if a given election is accurate.

We here at RCV Oregon are committed to working for accurate election reforms that better represent the people. A lot of us are here to solve the spoiler effect and allow honest voting. We've agreed on the 6 criteria: Honesty, Equality, Accuracy, Simplicity, Expressiveness, and Viability but for PR systems there hasn't been any clarity around Accuracy in particular. Who should win?

If we are looking at a 1-Person-1-Vote system then it's pretty simple to say that for example if there are 4 seats you need a 1/4 of the votes to get a seat. If the numbers don't work out that perfectly we can choose to round up and down so the needed threshold would be half way between: 13-37%=1 seat. 38-62%=2 seats. 63-87%=3seats. 88+%=4seats. The other way to do it is to say that you need the full 25% to get one seat. (I think VSE would prefer the former.) It's critical to decide what a needed quota is to be able to win each seat so that when we are actually looking at elections we can tell if a candidate won fair and square or if they are a non-representative winner who shouldn't have won.

Once we've decided what is a fair quota for a 1-Person-1-Vote system we can use that same quota for more expressive ranked and score ballot systems.

Currently we have been looking at Ranked Systems like IRV-PR aka STV, Re-weighted Range Voting, SRV-PR, and also more conventional district based Multi-Winner systems or some combination of PR and district based elections.

Note: I edited the word "spoiler" to other vocab that means basically when the wrong winner wins. Apparently a "spoiler" is specifically just vote splitting.


Aaron Wolf Sun 9 Apr 2017 4:45AM

I don't have time to read all that, but I want to clarify my position:

The utilitarian argument about giving people what they want long-term could potentially lead to rejection of democracy itself. Perhaps we can program computers to figure out the way to maximize human satisfaction and flourishing without including any democratic aspects at all. I actually accept in principle that democracy is a means to the end of healthier, happier, more just society. I don't see democracy as an end in itself. But once we start questioning democracy, we're in a much broader topic than the discussion about how to best do democracy.

My suggestion is that people's general faith in the fairness and justness of the system is itself a requirement for an effective system. The 100% centrist congress might work in principle if they made all the best decisions that led to better outcomes compared to other PR situations, but the congress will be stymied and sabotaged before we get there if the citizens have no trust and acceptance of the situation.

I'm not saying that the best governance decisions are made by having the most diversity in the representatives. I don't know if that's true. I'm saying that one requirement for effective governance is consent of the governed. And I don't think consent is totally black-and-white. To get sincere, full consent and even support from the governed, we need the sense that the representation is fair and effective and is truly considering the public interest including as much of the public as possible.

I'm suggesting that a good multi-seat election system is one that maximizes the level of consent of the governed. One factor in building that consent could be the degree to which voters feel they have fair amount of sway compared to other voters.


Clay Shentrup Sat 8 Apr 2017 7:59PM


I'd suggest giving this a read.



Sara Wolf Tue 11 Apr 2017 6:20AM

Lol. Re: "The utilitarian argument about giving people what they want long-term could potentially lead to rejection of democracy itself."

But that's true! A benevolent dictatorship with a fabulous, just and brilliant king and/or queen who is loved and accepted by the people would probably be way better than democracy. The problem is that those who would decide they fit that description basically don't by definition.

On the other hand the average democratic government where the people really have an honest vote using a representative system will produce better results consistently. Princess fantasy destroyed.


Aaron Wolf Tue 11 Apr 2017 4:19PM

What about rule by artificial intelligence designed to figure out maximum human flourishing and happiness? That's actually a lot less fi in sci-fi than most people want to think about these days.


Sara Wolf Wed 12 Apr 2017 2:36AM

The Netflix series The 100 is about that. The Artificial Inteligence decides the best thing for humanity is to cull the population. Eek!


Adam Zielinski Wed 12 Apr 2017 12:51AM

@wolftune @sarawolf

Lol is right. I'm sitting here biting my tongue and resisting the urge to unload a bunch of libertarian philosophy and ideology on you regarding democracy and consent of the governed, that you probably don't really want to hear. :smiley: :thumbsup:

But that being said, I agree with an support the idea that we basically want a diverse and representative spectrum of views and ideologies in government and legislative bodies, if for no other reason than to avoid groupthink.

What it boils down to is that it depends on what the threshold is for any given legislative body to win a seat. If it's 1% or 5% or 25% in a four seat legislative body like the county commission or city council, then that is the amount of support any given faction is going to need in order to win representation. There is no way around that. It's not so much a function of the system you choose as it is the number of seats available in the legislative body.


Sara Wolf Wed 12 Apr 2017 2:45AM

Right so what would be the "best" threshold for VSE in multi winner elections? I'm thinking that a score system that calls the threshold half way between the natural margins for a seat. So if there were 10 seats you'd need 5% to get one but 4.9 wouldn't cut it.

Question, why not just use Ranked Pairs- Multi-Winner?


Sara Wolf Wed 12 Apr 2017 2:55AM

So I think that for electing govt bodies that govern locally, a district based system is the best representation. More accountability and focus!

For situations where a local area is sending a representative to help collectively govern a larger area I think PR is the way to go, where you send a group of politicians that reflect the political makeup and values of the people they are speaking for.

This would mean that for Portland and Multnomah County as well as other counties and cities we do it district by district with mandated citizen review, transparency and mechanisms to hold politicians accountable.

For the national and state House Of Reps we would use PR (a good non-partisan accurate system!) The Senate is already non-representative by definition due to the 2 per state rule so it would have to be abolished and replaced with something proportional.

When I hear PR the first thing I think about is calling to reform things like gerrymandering, the Senate and the Electoral Collage. Those three things make it so that some peoples votes are worth less and that they have less reps than other places. The makeup of the reps we do have is almost secondary to the fact that many of us don't even get a fair number of reps in the first place!


Aaron Wolf Wed 12 Apr 2017 3:36AM

My point about democracy and utilitarianism is merely to say: I agree with utilitarianism but believe that it is fair in that discussion to question democratic values (i.e. there's a case for democracy as the best means to the end, but I wouldn't accept that we know this as some sort of irrefutable fact).

But, in a discussion about how to best do democracy, it makes some sense to accept democratic principles and evaluate all the other issues in terms of how well they serve democratic principles (recognizing that those principles are about governance of-the-people and not necessarily about concepts like majority rule)