Loomio
Wed 5 Apr 2017 11:21AM

PR doesn’t have negative or oppositive voting

FS Fillard Spring-Rhyne Public Seen by 354

If a system qualifies as PR, it won't have mechanisms to do either of the following:
1) Vote in an effective way against a specific candidate
2) Vote in a way that precisely cancels out someone else’s vote

I don’t have a rigorous proof for the above statement, but here’s the basic idea: In the platonic ideal of PR, every voter wins. Every voter is represented. Real PR systems approximate this ideal. In such a system, the ability to neutralize someone else’s ballot with your own would be like saying, “My faction is willing to go unrepresented if in the process we can take out that other faction with the same number of people. We’ll give up our place at the table as the cost of denying them a place as well.” But PR doesn’t work like that.

And it shouldn’t. Suppose there’s a particular idea you don’t want represented in a legislature -- like climate change denial, which is rampant in the current US congress. You don’t get rid of the idea by denying representation to the people who hold it. You get rid of the idea (or in any event reduce its clout) by somehow educating people to hold better ideas.

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” - Martin Luther King, Jr.

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In contrast to PR, a winner-take-all system might have the features listed above. That’s because in winner-take-all it’s acceptable for large numbers of voters to lose. That’s how it works.

  • The PR ideal is that all the voters win. All the voters are represented. As described above, letting one person cancel out another’s representation makes no sense.

  • The winner-take-all ideal is that all the voters have a fair shot at winning, a fair shot at being represented. These aspirations are low enough that letting one person cancel out another’s vote doesn’t necessarily make the system any more unfair than it would have been otherwise. It doesn’t automatically break the system.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Wed 5 Apr 2017 4:34PM

Thanks Fillard, this is an interesting perspective and analysis. I agree that a PR system makes it vastly more likely that more voters and more views will end up feeling that they and/or their views are represented, and that is a great goal.

A couple principles I think it's important to keep in mind, especially in regards to proportional representation proposals:

1) People are unique individuals and should be treated as individuals.
Don't make assumptions about what people want, or think their interests are, based on their ethnicity, sexual orientation, age, religion, sex, education, left or right handedness, etc. Every person is a unique individual.

2) Regarding equality and fairness: We can and should make every effort to make sure the law treats everyone fairly and equally and provides everyone equal opportunity.
But we should not try to mandate or legislate guaranteed equal outcomes. There is no way to do that without being unfair.

These are not "libertarian" principles, but they are bedrock principles I think virtually all libertarians of all flavors believe in and agree with.

WW

William WAUGH Wed 5 Apr 2017 4:41PM

I'm not so sure. What if the PR system in use is Reweighted Range Voting (RRV)? To simplify our reasoning, let's assume that the middle of the range is called zero. Then the obvious candidate for antivote to a given vote is simply the vector negation of that vote. Is it really an antivote? For the first round, it is, but what about the second round? The vote and the supposed antivote will be weighted differently, so won't balance each other for the second round. If the overall effect turns out to balance, it's not obvious to me how to prove it. So I can't refute your conjecture.

WW

William WAUGH Wed 5 Apr 2017 4:42PM

In fact it could be a two-winner election, so looks like, no balance can be found. So your conjecture seems to hold up.

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Thu 6 Apr 2017 5:19PM

@fillardspringrhyne that seems like a reasonable proposition.

Neither SRV-PR nor RRV satisfy the Equal.Vote test of balance, so they would have the potential to qualify as PR under your criterion.

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Thu 6 Apr 2017 10:56PM

@fillardspringrhyne writes, "The winner-take-all ideal is that all the voters have a fair shot at winning, a fair shot at being represented. These aspirations are low enough that letting one person cancel out another’s vote doesn’t necessarily make the system any more unfair than it would have been otherwise. It doesn’t automatically break the system."

I honestly think the whole narrative around the low aspirational "winner-take-all" comes from a rank-order mindset. Looking through a scoring lens it becomes much more about representational accuracy: i.e. how can we solicit and elect candidates that represent 60, 70, 80% of the overall population rather than a plurality or skinny majority at the very best.

I'm glad you came to the conclusion that having a provably balance-able vote "doesn't necessarily make the system any more unfair." That's not quite all the way to where I am in that to be fair, "a single-winner system absolutely should have balance-able/provably cancellable vote expressions" -- but we're closing the gap :-).

CS

Clay Shentrup Sat 8 Apr 2017 5:42AM

If a system qualifies as PR, it won't have mechanisms to do either of the following:
1) Vote in an effective way against a specific candidate

RRV is a counter-example.

In such a system, the ability to neutralize someone else’s ballot with your own would be like saying, “My faction is willing to go unrepresented if in the process we can take out that other faction with the same number of people. We’ll give up our place at the table as the cost of denying them a place as well.” But PR doesn’t work like that.

Good point. A simple example is having 6 seats, with all voters in Faction X. Faction Y (equal size) shows up, and now 3 seats go to X and 3 to Y. If Faction Z shows up to oppose Y, the best we can expect is that Y gets 2 of the 6 seats, not zero.