Loomio
Sat 25 Mar 2017 5:05PM

Minority representation in multi-winner Score Runoff Voting

FS Fillard Spring-Rhyne Public Seen by 384

The multi-winner version of score runoff voting, which is intended to serve as a form of proportional representation, is described at http://www.equal.vote/pr and has some discussion at https://www.loomio.org/d/kgD4AJ8h/hot-off-the-presses-srv-pr- . Since one defining trait of proportional representation is its ability to represent minority groups (with “representation” defined as electing whoever the voters in question want to elect), I’ve run a few simple scenarios to see how well SRV does that.

The scenarios in this post all have the following elements in common:
- We’re looking at a district or town with 400 voters, where 5 candidates, ABCDE, are running for 4 positions.
- The voters are split into a majority group of 300 people and a minority group of 100 people.
- The minority group always gives a 5 to candidate A and lower scores (0-4) to everyone else.
- The majority group always gives a 0 to candidate A.
- Since there are 4 seats open, and 1/4 of the voters unanimously prefer candidate A to every other candidate, I grade the system PASS if it elects candidate A and FAIL if it doesn’t.

Notation etc.:
- To reduce visual clutter, I won’t show scores of zero.
- Bolding the “total scores” line means the candidate advances to the runoff. Bolding in the runoff means the candidate is elected.
- To keep the presentation simple, all ties will be broken A>B>C>D>E.

It’s possible this post has some minor transcription errors or formatting mistakes.

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Scenario 1: Voters only use zeroes and fives (bullet voting by minority group)

Minority group: A=5
Majority group: B=C=D=E=5

Round 1 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=1.000
Round 1 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=300
Round 1 total scores: A=500, B=1500, C=1500, D=1500, E=1500
Round 1 runoff: B=0, C=0 (zero because none of the voters have a preference between B and C)
B is elected

Round 2 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=0.500
Round 2 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=150
Round 2 total scores: A=500, C=750, D=750, E=750
Round 2 runoff: C=0, D=0
C is elected

Round 3 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=0.333
Round 3 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=100
Round 3 total scores: A=500, D=500, E=500
Round 3 runoff: A=0, D=0
A is elected

Round 4 individual weights: Minority=0.500, Majority=0.333
Round 4 group weights: Minority=50, Majority=100
Round 4 total scores: D=500, E=500
Round 4 runoff: D=0, E=0
D is elected

_Results: BCAD are elected. _

Grade: PASS. SRV easily elects candidate A when the minority bullet votes.

Scenario 2: Minority group thinks candidate E is quite good, or is otherwise convinced to score candidate E almost as highly as candidate A

Minority group: A=5, E=4
Majority group: B=C=D=E=5

Round 1 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=1.000
Round 1 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=300
Round 1 total scores: A=500, B=1500, __ C=1500, D=1500, __E=1900
Round 1 runoff: B=0, E=100
E is elected

Round 2 individual weights: Minority=0.556, Majority=0.500
Round 2 group weights: Minority=56, Majority=150
Round 2 total scores: A=278, B=750, C=750, __ D=750
Round 2 runoff: __B=0,
C=0
B is elected

Round 3 individual weights: Minority=0.556, Majority=0.333
Round 3 group weights: Minority=56, Majority=100
Round 3 total scores: A=278, C=500, D=500
Round 3 runoff: C=0, __ D=0
__C is elected

Round 4 individual weights: Minority=0.556, Majority=0.250
Round 4 group weights: Minority=56, Majority=75
Round 4 total scores: A=278, D=375
Round 4 runoff: A=56, D=75
D is elected

_Results: EBCD are elected. _

_Grade: FAIL. SRV does not elect candidate A. _

This is the point where I expect some people to disagree with me. Every single member of the minority group gave candidate E a 4; isn’t that good enough? No, it isn’t. Representative democracy is about having the person of your choice at the table. There’s no reason why the minority group should settle for E.

Also, remember the voters aren’t omniscient. Maybe the reason the minority scored both A and E highly is they wanted to elect both of them. That’s not an unreasonable aspiration if the majority thinks E is great and the minority is 40% of the population. So maybe the minority thought it was 40% but was actually 25%. In that case it should still be allowed to elect A; it shouldn’t be penalized for overestimating candidate A’s appeal.

So SRV easily passed scenario 1, where the minority bullet voted (E=0), and failed scenario 2, where the minority gave fairly strong support to a second candidate (E=4). Where’s the dividing line?

Well, let’s split the difference and see what happens.

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Scenario 3: Minority group thinks candidate E is so-so, or is otherwise convinced to give candidate E moderate support (maybe least of 4 evils?)

Minority group: A=5, E=2
Majority group: B=C=D=E=5

Round 1 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=1.000
Round 1 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=300
Round 1 total scores: A=500, B=1500, C=1500, D=1500, E=1700
Round 1 runoff: B=0, E=100
E is elected

Round 2 individual weights: Minority=0.714, Majority=0.500
Round 2 group weights: Minority=71, Majority=150
Round 2 total scores: A=357, B=750, C=750, __ D=750
Round 2 runoff: _B=0, _ C=0
__B is elected

Round 3 individual weights: Minority=0.714, Majority=0.333
Round 3 group weights: Minority=71, Majority=100
Round 3 total scores: A=357, C=500, D=500
Round 3 runoff: C=0, D=0
C is elected

Round 4 individual weights: Minority=0.714, Majority=0.250
Round 4 group weights: Minority=71, Majority=75
Round 4 total scores: A=357, D=375
Round 4 runoff: A=71, D=75
D is elected

_Results: EBCD are elected. _

_Grade: FAIL. SRV does not elect candidate A. _

So, given the various assumptions used here, the dividing line is between E=1 and E=2.

Now of course these scenarios are contrived, so, hmm, how do I transfer this result to real life? Part of it depends on what happens when the majority isn’t giving a 5 to each of the candidates the minority doesn’t like. Maybe if a 1/4 minority group wants to elect 1 candidate in a 4-seat election, each voter in the group can afford to spend 1 or maybe 2 points total on other candidates who are likely to win. So a minority voter who liked candidates C and E could put A=5, C=1, E=1, and cross their fingers, hoping they weren’t watering down A’s score too much.

It’s important to remember that minority groups aren’t always explicit or well-publicized. The ideal of proportional representation is that all minority groups are represented, even ones that aren’t aware of their own existence.

With multi-winner SRV, it looks like minority voters need to have a somewhat sophisticated understanding of the playing field if they want to maximize their clout. As long as the minority is confident they have enough power to elect exactly 1 candidate, they should bullet vote as shown in scenario 1. If they think they might have more or less power than that, maybe they should consult a pollster who’s run some scenarios and can tell them, “If your favorite candidate is Garcia, a low risk vote is 5 points to Garcia and 1 extra point to your next favorite. For a high risk vote, add a second extra point. If you’re worried that everyone else who likes Garcia will go high-risk, you can ditch your own extra point to compensate. And remember you can give as many points as you want to Smith and Chang because neither of them will ever be in the top two.”

Those are my current thoughts on the implications of scenarios 2 and 3; by all means let me know if you disagree.

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Sat 25 Mar 2017 5:07PM

Also, here’s a scenario to illustrate a problem I talked about earlier (deliberate undervoting by the majority). This problem can be easily fixed with a slight change to the voter influence formula -- replace the maximum available score with the maximum score the voter in question actually uses -- and I’m not aware of any downside to such a fix.

Minority group: A=5
Majority group: B=C=D=E=1

Round 1 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=1.000
Round 1 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=300
Round 1 total scores: A=500, B=300, __ C=300, D=300, E=300
Round 1 runoff: A=100, __B=300

B is elected

Round 2 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=0.833
Round 2 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=150
Round 2 total scores: A=500, C=250, __ D=250, E=250
Round 2 runoff: A=100, __C=250

C is elected

Round 3 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=0.714
Round 3 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=214
Round 3 total scores: A=500, D=214, __ E=214
Round 3 runoff: A=100, __D=214

D is elected

Round 4 individual weights: Minority=1.000, Majority=0.625
Round 4 group weights: Minority=100, Majority=188
Round 4 total scores: A=500, E=188
Round 4 runoff: A=100, E=188
E is elected

_Results: BCDE are elected. _

_Grade: FAIL. SRV does not elect candidate A. _

Edited to correct an error in the round 2 runoff.

CS

Clay Shentrup Sat 25 Mar 2017 5:51PM

Your pass/fail criteria aren't quite accurate. See the RRV proportionality theorem.

Proportionality Theorem

If some voter faction (call them the "Reds"), consisting of a fraction F (where 0≤F<1) of the voters, wants to, it is capable (regardless of what the other voters do) of electing at least ⌊(1+N)F-⌋ red winners (assuming, of course, that at least this many red candidates run, and the total number of winners is to be N).

Specifically, it can accomplish that by voting MAX for all Reds and MIN for everybody else.

To say that again: if 37% of the voters are reds, they can assure at least about 37% red winners (up to rounding-to-integers effects).

-- http://scorevoting.net/RRV.html

* PR-SRV is just "Reweighted Range Voting" with a (in my opinion pointless) runoff added.

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Sat 25 Mar 2017 7:13PM

Clay: Do you want to elaborate on how the pass/fail criterion I used differs from the one you like, and (especially) on why I should use that one instead?

CS

Clay Shentrup Sat 25 Mar 2017 10:51PM

Warren Smith's proportionality criterion just holds that Blues give "10" to all Blue candidates, and "0" to everyone else. Your example muddies things by making people partially Blue, partially Green, or what have you. In which case there's no unambiguous definition of proportionality.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Sat 25 Mar 2017 7:24PM

How does IRV/STV fare in similar scenarios? Any better or worse?

AZ

Adam Zielinski Sat 25 Mar 2017 7:29PM

I think it's quite a leap to assume that there will ever be a real scenario where all members of a "majority" vote the same way and all members of a "minority" vote the same way. Also it is quite the leap to assume that there is only one well defined and distinct and monolithic minority group, and one well defined and monolithic majority group. In reality there are always several factions and multiple different ways to slice and dice and group together various interest groups, depending on different issues, or demographics, party, neighborhood, industry, age, religion, etc.

SW

Sara Wolf Sat 25 Mar 2017 10:05PM

Thanks for posting this Fillard! It's an interesting analysis and is exactly the kind of thing we need to be exploring in depth for all systems and especially the PR ones that are so complicated to analyze. We really need to have accurate simulations that can run these kinds of complex scenarios a number of different ways and a system of criteria to judge how those results are different and what is actually most desirable here. Who is currently working on that? Anyone? How do we get that happening? Host a fundraiser for PR science?

Point 1-Assumed best winner: I'm going to try and think this through so forgive me if I fail and let me know where I'm not looking at this the right way. In the above scenarios there are more people that prefer B, C, D, and E than prefer A. In this case I think the best result would be a win for BCDE. Especially if none of the other voters actually like A. Deciding that A should win seems a bit unfounded and A might even be a spoiler, but I'm not sure. 300 people prefer B, C, D and E and only 100 prefer A. Why should A win? Any argument for why A should win seems like it would be a better argument for why B, C, D, or E should win. If A voters had voted for 4 candidates like the others they would have been more fairly represented.

For me I usually prefer a 3rd party candidate so it's natural for me to prefer a system that favors and gives an extra advantage to 3rd party candidates. Affirmative action so to speak. On the other hand I'm part Jewish and I don't want to give affirmative action to fascists and bigots. We can't actually give a stronger ballot weight to people by race (though I might actually support this... actual affirmative action in the vote?!? Native Americans get 3 times the say in the Electoral collage like Wyoming does now?!) I don't think I can support giving an unfair advantage to unspecified minorities across the board. I support a system that gives all voters a fair and equal say in democracy.

Point 2- Is this a workable example case study?: Ideally in this election, in my opinion, since there will be 4 winners each voter should want to give 4 candidates all a max score. A good PR system should incentivize this kind of behavior. Since there is only going to be one looser that candidate should get a 0. In a 4 seat election we really need more than 5 candidates to do an accurate analysis. Ideally we should probably have double the number of winners running or so. If that were the case a voter should ideally be safe to give max score to your ideal winners and then also differentiate between the losers if some of them would be acceptable or better than others.

To look at who should win I think we need to not just look at the A party's favorite but also who their top 4 are. In this case a good result for Party A is more complex than just electing candidate A. Ideally they will also want to elect candidates that will help them while eliminating candidates that are their worst case scenario. By giving a full score for their top 4 (ABCD) can Party A prevent candidate E from getting elected? Can they become an important part of the coalition for Candidates BCD and then help hold them accountable after they've been elected? For actually racial and economic minorities the most effective vote outcome as judged by legislative outcome is probably to eliminate racists, corporate tyrants and war mongers. For a non racial minority they should be able to eliminate those most antagonistic towards them.
(NOTE: for simplicity here I'm assuming that A and E are opposite ends of the spectrum but in reality this is NOT always the case. The middle could be establishment and the edges could agree on small govt or any number of things).

Point 3- Do we want proportional representation by voting system or by district?
I'm a huge advocate of local self-sufficiency and community inter-dependency. We are united by place and held accountable by place. Issues at home directly effect us and we have a bond to places we consider home that is fundamental as our bonds with family. Love for the land and the need to protect it should be a driving force in government.

Additionally, I wish it were not the case but in reality people self segregate by values and culture. In the absence of a voting system that would specifically support ethnic minorities, location might be the next best thing. Moreover I would argue that in general, people are more likely to care about an issue that effects their neighbors even if it doesn't impact them directly.
See Vi Hart: http://ncase.me/polygons/
I think that there is some real value in looking at proportional representation by district. Large area's should be divided by location, natural boundaries (watersheds, bio-regions?) and population in a non-gerrymandered and neutral fashion. This holds true for boundaries ranging from neighborhoods to cities to states to countries:
Impartial Automatic Redistricting: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/wonk/wp/2014/06/03/this-computer-programmer-solved-gerrymandering-in-his-spare-time/?utm_term=.675f1b7ec5fc
Each district should be able to elect a representative (or 3? What about a combo of district and multi winner based PR?) that will then represent them and take their local issues as their top priority and bring them to the larger group. These elected officials would then be directly accountable to their constituents in a way that at-large elected officials aren't.

For me legislative outcomes and quality of government are as important and perhaps more so than just looking at the votes, though granted this is much harder to study and impossible to "prove". Since there isn't a science yet that can judge PR systems and their long term efficacy we need to step it up with our thought experiments! Go team!

Sorry this is so long! Hope you guys find it helpful!

CS

Clay Shentrup Sat 25 Mar 2017 10:54PM

In reality there are always several factions and multiple different ways to slice and dice and group together various interest groups

Right. People aren't "Democrat" or "Republican". They are "21% Green, 43% Republican, 36% Democrat" or what have you.

The Proportionality Theorem is a sort of minimal test that a system is PR in the simplistic unambiguous case.

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Sun 26 Mar 2017 6:53AM

Does multi-winner IRV pass the scenarios in my above post? Yes, all of them.

As previously disclosed (or at least strongly implied), I deliberately fudged the tiebreakers in my scenarios to make the explanations simpler. For that and other reasons there’s a little room for interpretation as to how the ballot markings in my scenarios would translate to ballot markings in multi-winner IRV. But it ends up not mattering. In all three scenarios, the ballots look more or less like this:

Minority group (100 votes): AEBCD
Majority group (300 votes): BCDEA

Multi-seat IRV elects A, B, C, and D, which is the proportionally appropriate result.

None of this is to say multi-winner IRV is perfect, but in my opinion it’s the best voting system overall by a considerable margin, and it clearly qualifies as proportional representation where multi-winner SRV does not (if you accept the criteria I’ve chosen).

Adam: Yes, people and groups are extraordinarily diverse. But sometimes even a highly contrived and simplified scenario can shed light on what’s going on. (In other words I agree with Clay on that point.)

Clay: For purposes of this discussion, I consider a voting system to qualify as PR if, whenever N seats are being elected in a single contest (and N is at least 2), and 1/N of the voters unanimously prefer candidate A to every other candidate and mark their ballots accordingly, candidate A is elected regardless of how the other ballots are marked. Are you claiming that’s ambiguous?

Sara:

I wrote out a detailed explanation of what affirmative action is, then read that part of your message a third or fourth time and decided that wasn’t the problem. I think you know what affirmative action is. The problem is that for some reason you seem to think proportional representation is a kind of affirmative action. It isn’t.

Do you agree with the following statement (that I just wrote)? If not, why not?

There is nothing remotely discriminatory or unequal about saying that 1/4 of the voters should be able to elect 1/4 of the seats in a legislature or city council while the other 3/4 of the voters elect the other 3/4 of the seats. No special treatment is being given to anyone.

What about this well-known John Adams quote?

[The Representative Assembly] should be in miniature, an exact portrait of the people at large. It should think, feel, reason, and act like them. That it may be the interest of this Assembly to do strict justice at all times, it should be an equal representation, or in other words equal interest among the people should have equal interest in it.

You say: “Ideally in this election, in my opinion, since there will be 4 winners each voter should want to give 4 candidates all a max score. A good PR system should incentivize this kind of behavior.” Why do you mention PR in the latter sentence? Are the opinions you’re expressing here specific to PR? They don’t sound like it; in fact they sound like precisely the opposite. I haven’t rigorously proved this, but I’m pretty sure any system that incentivizes giving an equal maximum score to as many candidates as there are seats is automatically a winner-take-all system (i.e. not PR).

A note about "fascists and bigots"... Some people blame PR for the rise of the Nazi party, or say, “If we had PR in the USA, there’d be Nazis in the legislature!” It’s my understanding that the use of PR in Germany actually delayed the rise of the Nazi party. (I haven’t verified this.) As for allowing Nazis in the US legislature, hasn’t the current system been doing that? I’m not aware that anyone in the US legislature is a card-carrying Nazi per se, but our president campaigned on and has arguably been implementing a Muslim immigration ban. So I don’t see PR as creating that problem.

Using the phrase “proportional representation by district” to refer to districts that elect one person each is going to confuse people, because it’s not the usual meaning of “proportional representation”.

If you had to choose between geographic districts and PR (by voting system), which would you choose?
- Geographic districts do an excellent job of ensuring one specific kind of diversity -- geographic -- while completely ignoring all other forms (except insofar as they correlate to geography).
- Multi-winner IRV does a good job of ensuring all kinds of diversity.

I would absolutely choose PR over geographic districts. Though as you say, sometimes you can do both.

CS

Clay Shentrup Sun 26 Mar 2017 6:45PM

I consider a voting system to qualify as PR if, whenever N seats are being elected in a single contest (and N is at least 2), and 1/N of the voters unanimously prefer candidate A to every other candidate and mark their ballots accordingly, candidate A is elected regardless of how the other ballots are marked

That's wrong. If you give Green a 5 and Dem a 3, then you are not "Green". You are 62.5% Green and 37.5% Dem.

Simple example. Suppose you're electing 3 seats and there are 3 voters. The first 2 voters think Green=5, Dem=4. The last one thinks Green=0, Dem=5. It would be insane to demand 2 seats filled by Green and 1 by Dem. Group = 9/14 = 64% Democrat. So the most representative outcome would be 2 seats = 66% Democrat.

AW

Aaron Wolf Sun 26 Mar 2017 8:56PM

Devil's advocate: that's why later-no-harm is considered an issue. The 2 Green voters in the 3 voter scenario are harming their ability to get majority Green representation by admitting to like the Dem. All the arguments about why later-no-harm shouldn't be prioritized or emphasized apply etc. not getting into that, just making the point for this contrived example…

CS

Clay Shentrup Mon 27 Mar 2017 3:32AM

that's why later-no-harm is considered an issue.

While I think LNH is an utterly nonsense criterion, it especially isn't applicable in multi-winner races. Because if you actually do believe {Green=5, Dem=4}, you want the aggregate legislative ideology that's approximately midway between Green and Dem. You don't necessarily want any particular Green in office—indeed if the Greens are popular, you may even want fewer greens because you're facing a legislature that's too Green. And that's true even if the Greens are your favorite party.

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 27 Mar 2017 4:02AM

Although it's not a crazy argument, the insistence that Green=5, Dem=4 means that I would be more represented by 5 green representatives and 4 dem ones isn't really fair. I might think "I agree 100% with everything the greens stand for and 80% of what the dems stand for" and would be happier with all green than any other situation.

I don't see how you can conclude exactly what the values behind the scores are without jumping to the unfounded conclusion that the scores are themselves the values. Clearly, it's just an abstract representation that carries little of the deeper values and has a lot of uncertainty about meaning. It could mean for a voter that they would like a 5/4 ratio of greens to dems in the representation, but it doesn't necessarily mean that.

SW

Sara Wolf Mon 27 Mar 2017 7:42AM

@fillardspringrhyne

RE: "There is nothing remotely discriminatory or unequal about saying that 1/4 of the voters should be able to elect 1/4 of the seats in a legislature or city council while the other 3/4 of the voters elect the other 3/4 of the seats. No special treatment is being given to anyone."

If this was one person one vote and there were 4 seats I would absolutely agree! ...But, in this example there are 5 groups that ALL got at least a 1/4 of the vote but there are only 4 seats. In your 1st scenario 1/4 of the voters prefer Candidate A. 3/4 prefer Candidate B. 3/4 prefer Candidate B, 3/4 prefer Candidate C, 3/4 prefer Candidate D, and 3/4 prefer Candidate E. It makes a lot of sense that the top 4 should win the 4 seats.

If you look at it that B, C, D and E are all from the same party, and if this was a partisan election, then I understand your rational; Candidate A, (who is from a second party presumably,) deserves some representation too, but in this example the candidates are individuals and so are the voters. We aren't advocating a Party List type PR reform. So... Candidate E deserves to beat Candidate A because 3 times more voters prefer E over A. Any other outcome is a spoiler. A spoiler is any election that elects a candidate with less support than the ideal winner. Can anyone explain why A is not a spoiler in this example?

To help look at this from another perspective imagine this. We're still looking at Fillard's 1st example where 1/4 voted only A and 3/4 voted for ABCD and E. Candidate A is Green Party, Candidates B, C and D are Democrats, Candidate E is Bernie Sanders (or a Green Libertarian, you pick.) The Democrats all like Bernie so they also vote for him, but he is not a Democrat and his platform is totally different. In your scenario Bernie doesn't win even though his 3rd party was 3 times more popular than the Greens. Now the Independent's have 0 representation even though 3/4 of all voters voted for the Independent! What?? (Note: This is post-Trump PDX and nobody votes Republican anymore!)

If you want to say that A should get to win BECAUSE they have less support, that is essentially affirmative action. I support affirmative action in most cases, but as I said this could just as well be affirmative action or an unfair advantage for a minority group that does not deserve it. Candidate A could be Fascists, for example and E could be the Greens (now with more support than ever because people aren't aware they need to vote strategically.)

I'm absolutely NOT saying that PR is to blame for Fascists, or Nazis, or the existence of any other hate group. I'm blaming the spoiler effect in general for giving them more power than their real numbers should normally give them. Trump, case in point. Of course our current system is the worst for spoiler effects so as far as I can tell IRV-PR might be an improvement, (like IRV) but I'm not convinced that IRV-PR or SRV-PR is actually electing the best winners or being a fair and equal vote system.

The working definition that we have for equality in a voting system is this: "EQUALITY- The Voting System doesn’t favor some voters or candidates over others based on preferences, location, political party, etc."

Does PR in general as you are defining it meet that criteria? If it doesn't meet that criteria on purpose then how exactly do we justify that as fair? Are people arguing that giving an extra advantage to minority groups on all sides will balance itself out and lead to better legislation and governance?? I'm not convinced.

In our current system I believe that a number of 3rd parties truly deserve extra help because fear of the spoiler effect robs them of votes from their legitimate supporters, but I would like to fix this with a fair and equal system, not by giving them an unfair advantage.

By normal logic the 4 candidates with the most support should win the 4 seats. This is especially true with a score ballot where voters can actually show nuanced support for multiple candidates.

For comparison imagine that we just do an simple (non-reweighted) multi-winner score runoff election for each quadrant of PDX. This multi winner SRV election is just like SRV but we do one additional runoff with the remaining candidates until each seat is filled. This would elect the 4 candidates with the most overall support. This seems more fair to me, especially if we add in that each non-gerrymandered district elects 3 or so reps that are then accountable to their local constituents and who live in their districts. @nardopolo

KE

Kristin Eberhard Thu 13 Apr 2017 5:17PM

@sarawolf - You said that A is a spoiler to E because E has more overall support. You clarified that by spoiler you mean a non-representative winner or candidate who wins even though another candidate has more support. By this do you mean a "non-representative" or "system failure" is a candidate who represents fewer voters than another candidate? In other words, are you saying a candidate is a spoiler if he wins a seat and prevents another candidate with broader support from winning that seat?

If I am understanding that correctly, then you would support a majoritarian system (where only candidates with broad or majority support win legislative seats) over a proportional system (where some legislators win legislative seats with only support from a minority of voters, beating out candidates with broader support).

Or am I misunderstanding what you are saying about spoilers?

SW

Sara Wolf Mon 17 Apr 2017 8:09AM

Krisen, I think you are misunderstanding me. Sorry for being confusing. I meant to say "non-representitive winner" not "spoiler.

My point is that regardless of the system chosen there should be an agreed upon threshold of minimum support that a candidate should need to win a seat. I'm NOT saying that the majority party/group deserves all the seats. I AM saying that we need a method to evaluate what constitutes enough support to win a single seat in a multi-winner election so that we will know if a system picked the best winners and actually functioned how we'd hoped.

In a one-person-one vote situation it's MUCH more simple. If there were 4 seats you would need a vote from 1/4 of the voters (or maybe votes should be rounded to the nearest 1/4? Depending on how you choose to calculate that you get two different outcomes.)

In a more expressive system like IRV-PR it's not clear to me how to determine a threshold because there are likely to be more than 4 candidates that have support from 1/4 of the voters or more.

In a more expressive system with a score ballot, we could look at a 1/4 of the total of all the scores given to all the candidates together, divide by the number of seats available, and base the threshold on that. A candidate needs a 1/4 of the total scores given to win a seat.. Or something.. In Fillard's example here all the candidates have full support from 1/4 of the voters or more. In this case is it fair to choose the candidate with the least support, (A) so that everyone is represented by someone? Or should we choose the top 4 candidates that each had over a 1/4 of the voters support?

I'm not saying what is fair here, I'm asking, but until we have answers to these questions I don't see how we can justify any results as fair. I just think we need to recognize that in an expressive system there is good solid logic to justify a few different sets of winners or preferred outcomes.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 17 Apr 2017 5:20PM

@sarawolf - Thanks for the clarification, I'm relieved to hear you are not saying you want a majoritarian system.

But I'm still confused: by "one-person-one vote situation" do you mean plurality and top-two voting (each voter gets one vote) and IRV and STV (each voter gets one vote per round of counting) ? Because 1/4 of the vote is not the threshold to win one out of four seats in any of those systems.

In plurality, each of the four seats would be separately numbered (like Portland's city council seats) and the threshold to win is at least 1/3 of the votes if there are three candidates, and at least 1/2 if there are two candidates. Top-two is same as plurality but limited to two finalists, so the threshold is at least 1/2. Same for IRV--threshold to win is 1/2 of still-active ballots. In STV the candidates would run in a 4-winner pool and a candidate would need support from at least 1/5 of the voters to win one of the 4 seats (assuming the counting uses Droop quota).

The Droop quota threshold of support seems fair to me---any candidate who has attracted the support of more than 1/5 the voters should win 1/4 the seats.

In cumulative voting, candidates would run in a 4-winner pool and each voter would have 4 votes (so, #not# a one-person-one vote situation), and support from 1/5 of voters is necessary but not sufficient to win. In Cumulative (and, so far as I can tell, in SRV too), if some of that 1/5 of voters also express a lower level of support for any other candidate, then their favorite might not win. In other words, a candidate must not only attract a minimum level of support, but must also ensure that support is monolithic; that his voters will only support him and no one else.

This seems problematic to me.

Under STV, a candidate only needs to reach the threshold and does not need her voters to exclusively support her. Voters could rank for their favorite (lets say, African-American) candidate first, and rank their next favorite (lets say, white candidate who has expressed support for more productive approaches to criminal justice) second without worrying about harming their favorite. An African-American candidate could tell voters to rank her first and also rank whoever else they like. She could even run in a slate with the criminal-justice reforming white candidate, talking about Black Lives Matter and the harms of mass incarceration on the campaign trail and asking progressive voters to rank them 1 and 2.

But under SRV, African-American voters would have to withold support from any white candidates in order to get one African-American on the city council. An African-American candidate might have to campaign by saying "if you want me to win, vote for me and no one else." Voters who like her best would need to give her a maximum score and falsely express no or minimal support for any other candidate, or else risk causing her to lose (even though a critical mass of voters gave her a top score). It would be hard for candidates to come together, bring voters together, and amplify media coverage of important issues they share in common, because the math would require them to tell voters to give them a max score and not to express support for anyone else.

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 17 Apr 2017 6:06PM

Under STV… without worrying about harming their favorite

Yes, that's the later-no-harm argument, and it's not entirely crazy or anything. But this framing ignores the spoiler concern.

Here's how a spoiler would work in STV: The African American voters don't constitute enough of a block to get their 1st choice included but they think they'll at least then help support their 2nd choice. However, because that 2nd choice doesn't get enough 1st choice votes, they get eliminated early. It's possible that the 2nd choice of the African American voters is also the 2nd choice of other blocks of voters. It's easy to have a scenario where the African American voters get neither 1st or 2nd choice but look at the situation and recognize that if they did favorite-betrayal by dishonestly switching their 1st and 2nd choices, that would make their 2nd choice actually win. If they learn to do that, then it will falsely show the African American candidate as having less support than they really do, further undermining their clout.

Basically, this is what has been discussed back and forth for so long here. If you get later-no-harm, you empower favorite-betrayal as a strategy. Of the two issues, there are positive things about allowing later-harm (that some say even outweigh the negatives) and nothing positive about favorite-betrayal.

I should clarify that I believe all bad scenarios are less likely in any form of PR than in single-winner elections. There's just less space for the worst-case scenarios to play out, so I don't think worrying about them in any form of PR should be the main worry.

Anyway, side-note, see what you think of this: http://blog.opavote.com/2016/06/guest-post-rethinking-stv-fundamentals.html ?

AZ

Adam Zielinski Mon 17 Apr 2017 9:22PM

Kristin,

Isn't it inaccurate to say that under SRV, "African-American voters would have to withhold support from any white candidates in order to get one African-American on the city council?"

If white voters and other non black voters of color express at least some non-zero score support for the African American candidate(s), there is no reason they couldn't win. So that assertion would only be true if all white voters monolithicly gave zero support to the african american candiates.

So I think it is true to that SRV does incentivize all candiates to have at least some appeal to a broader range of voters, I think this is a feature and not a bug.

I think it is desirable for white candidates to try to appeal to black voters, as you illustrated in your example, but I also think it is desirable for black candidates to try to appeal to white voters.

Rather than have an election system where it would be possible to elect someone who only appeals to a narrow base and no one else.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 17 Apr 2017 11:52PM

@wolftune I'm not sure why you say there is "nothing positive" about favoring favorite betrayal over later no harm. Seems to me that being able to safely offer support for candidates beyond your favorite is quite positive--it gives voters more voice, additional candidates more support, and encourages candidates to reach out to voters beyond their base because they might get an additional vote from them.

Do those not seem positive? Or did I misunderstand you?

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 18 Apr 2017 3:07AM

Two things:

  • You've correctly described STV spoiler scenario. But is it a problem with SRV-PR? I don't know. I don't really get SRV-PR, haven't taken the time to grasp it fully. But my impression is that you're judging it incorrectly. SRV is for single-seat elections. SRV-PR is based on Reweighted Range Voting with an added runoff stage.

    • Basically, I think your assumption that both would lose in runoff in SRV-PR may not hold up. It sounds like you are thinking about just SRV applied to PR without the reweighting at all, which nobody proposes. You could clarify if you understand the difference between SRV and SRV-PR, and if neither of us do, then I suppose @nardopolo could answer about this scenario
  • My point wasn't "nothing is positive about accepting favorite-betrayal as more tolerable than later-no-harm". My point was that if we ignore the intrinsic trade-off between these two concerns, there are positive things about later-harm in and of itself. In other words, if we knew for an absolute fact that nobody would ever do favorite betrayal, there are still reasons to accept later-harm (i.e. reject later-no-harm criterion). The same is not true in reverse.

    • To clarify: The only reason to accept potential favorite betrayal is because doing so is a necessary trade-off in order to reduce or eliminate later-harm. But there are some good reasons to accept later-harm just inherently, even if there were no trade-off.
    • For example, later-harm allows people to intentionally compromise and accept promoting a consensus candidate, knowing that wider support may lead to better governance even if they don't prefer the candidate otherwise. There are other reasons later-harm can be seen as a good thing.
    • There's no argument that favorite betrayal is ever in itself positive.
SW

Sara Wolf Mon 27 Mar 2017 8:15AM

My conclusion is that in Fillard's example election above IRV-PR elects a spoiler 100% of the time and SRV elects a spoiler 1 in 3 times depending on strategic voting (Bullet voting is effective at helping elect your favorite if you sacrifice all your say over the other candidates in the process. It's questionable if this is actually worth it.) This means that SRV-PR doesn't do that great on the the Accuracy Criteria. IRV-PR miserably fails the Accuracy criteria. Both systems fail the Equality Criteria.

Unless I'm missing something I can't support either system. :( Is it possible to have a PR system that gives every voter an equal vote and that allows and incentivizes you to vote your conscience?

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Mon 27 Mar 2017 3:16PM

Okay so let’s think back to the March 5 demo of multi-winner IRV. We’re electing 2 flavors of ice cream to serve at our party.

You have a ballot and a slip of paper that says “ONE VOTE”. You mark your ballot. The flavor you marked '1' is called and you walk over to stand with that group.

The victory threshold is 8 votes, and there are 10 people standing in the mint chocolate chip group. So I declare mint chocolate chip elected -- the first of two winning flavors. What do I do next?

Answer: I confiscate the votes of the people in the mint chocolate chip group. (And as their “change”, I provide a replacement slip of paper for each of them representing 2/10 of a vote.)

Why? What’s the justification for taking away the votes of the people whose favorite flavor of ice cream has just been elected? How does that make the party we’re planning any better or worse?

(I don’t mean to ignore all the rest of your comment but this is all I have time for right now. Also I think it makes sense to start by seeing what you think about this.)

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Mon 27 Mar 2017 11:46PM

@fillardspringrhyne writes: "So, given the various assumptions used here, the dividing line is between E=1 and E=2." -- this is important. If the majority and minorities are truly monoliths, the minority can get their proportional representation (one candidate of the four) and tip the representation within the strong majority to the candidate they least detest amongst the strong majority's slate.

This is scoring, not ranking. IRV and STV rigidly cling to Later No Harm and get non-monotonicity/favorite betrayal as a result. SRV and SRV-PR let you express meaningful support (in the runoff sense) while taking very little risk as a voter. If you give more than token support, it means you are actually offering more than token support.

I disagree with @wolftune and @clayshentrup that the runoff step is unnecessary in the multi-winner case. It measurably improves VSE in the single-winner case, so it stands to reason that it'd be more representative in the multi-winner case as well, and no counter argument has been offered to refute that. Particularly when you have a strong majority -- the runoff votes of the minority start to really matter after the majority has captured a couple of seats. This would make all candidates care at least a little bit about the electorate as a whole, rather than just trying to appeal to a faction of voters, which would likely make for a more functional governing body.

My only real problem with PR at this point is that the measuring stick isn't clearly defined. I'd love to see a credible measure of multi-winner VSE that takes into account both the overall representative accuracy (i.e. VSE) as well as proportionality (how well are individual voters or factions represented).

SW

Sara Wolf Tue 28 Mar 2017 12:11AM

I get how IRV-PR works. SRV-PR and Score based PR is fundamentally different because you can show ties and support for multiple candidates at the same time. You are saying that in IRV-PR the Mint people are already winners so they get less of a say later, but in the SRV-PR original example you gave there is no way to know that Candidate E is actually the same as candidates B, C and D. As a voter I may well prefer E and be an E party voter but since there are 4 seats available I gave my top 4 all a top score. (B, C, D and E.) This is good strategy for me and it lets me help choose all the winners since they will all represent me. A voter who in SRV-PR voted BCDE = 5 and A=0 might have given this ranking if the election was in IRV-PR: E-1st, D-2nd, C-3rd, B-4th.

Let's stick to analyzing the original example and not mix metaphors. We should look at the same set of voters and the same election for IRV-PR in depth too but that's a whole other analysis.

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Tue 28 Mar 2017 3:43PM

Sara: I'm not questioning whether you understand the mechanics of multi-winner IRV. I'm questioning whether you understand why some people (like me) claim it's vastly preferable to even the best winner-take-all systems. That’s why I went back to the ice cream example and asked why taking people’s votes away was justified; it seemed like the most effective way to convey the concept, provided of course that you chose to engage with what I said.

You provided your definition of “spoiler” (thank you) and yes candidate A is a spoiler by that definition. But it’s a winner-take-all definition, one that PR rejects. Similarly you use the phrase "normal logic" to refer to winner-take-all principles, which here in the USA are considered normal and righteous (part of the national story we tell ourselves). If these are your expectations then yes the PR results will surprise you.

I’m sorry my remarks these past couple months haven’t properly explained why I claim PR is important. There have been other issues to deal with. If you or anyone else would like a proper explanation, please let me know. (I’d prefer phone or in person.)

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Thu 30 Mar 2017 5:44AM

Mark (@nardopolo) says:

"If the majority and minorities are truly monoliths, the minority can get their proportional representation (one candidate of the four) and tip the representation within the strong majority to the candidate they least detest amongst the strong majority's slate [by giving said candidate a sore of 1]."

The ability to give a score of 1 to a second candidate without undermining your support for your first candidate depends on things that even an educated voter is unlikely to know. So I disagree with this quote.

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Thu 30 Mar 2017 9:54PM

@fillardspringrhyne writes: "The ability to give a score of 1 to a second candidate without undermining your support for your first candidate depends on things that even an educated voter is unlikely to know. So I disagree with this quote."

Are you sure? I think it's interesting that when you picked a "perfectly proportionate" electorate - i.e. exactly 75%/25% electorate split with 4 seats. What happens if factions are 1/5 and there are 5 seats? Does the minority still get 1 seat and the ability to tip a runoff? That'd be cool.

SRV, at its foundation, follows Smith's Proportionality Theorem, so it is proportional by definition.

That said, it is entirely up to the voter whether he or she wants to stick with the faction and get guaranteed proportional representation, or compromise by giving some degree of support to another faction's candidate. This could be a GOOD THING, particularly when there aren't many seats and there are lots of distinct minorities. It allows a candidate of a dominant faction to make an overture to a minority in order to gain his or her seat. In doing so, the dominant faction candidate is saying, "Hey, I'm going to listen to, and represent, you guys too."

But again, it's entirely up to the voter to make this call.

Do you trust voters enough to let them score the candidates however they choose? Because all SRV-PR attempts to do is reflect the desires of the electorate as expressed by their scores.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Thu 13 Apr 2017 5:18PM

@nardopolo - is "Smith's Proportionality Theorem" this http://rangevoting.org/RRV.html or something else?

CS

Clay Shentrup Tue 28 Mar 2017 5:11AM

IRV and STV rigidly cling to Later No Harm and get non-monotonicity/favorite betrayal as a result.

Well, it is possible to create a system that passes LNH and FBC or monotonicity I believe.

It measurably improves VSE in the single-winner case, so it stands to reason that it'd be more representative in the multi-winner case as well

"Stands to reason" is extremely weak here given the inherent differences with multi-winner systems. Whereas the increased complexity is definite.

This would make all candidates care at least a little bit about the electorate as a whole, rather than just trying to appeal to a faction of voters

A) This is antithetical to the idea of PR in the first place.
B) You can accomplish the same effect by just electing fewer candidates per district or setting C to a value > 1.

SW

Sara Wolf Tue 28 Mar 2017 6:05AM

So let's analyze a more detailed example of a 4 winner SRV-PR Election, I'm going to make it the same election as Fillard's above but with enough candidates in the mix to actually allow voters to give a max score to their 4 favorites and then also show preference if any for others if they choose. All voters will give a non-zero Score to 4 candidates in each example.

For my own process I'm going to say that A is Green, B, C and D are Democrats, E is Independent, F and G are Republican, and H is Fascist. We are in Portland.

The voters are split into a majority group of 300 Indie leaning Democrats and a minority group of 100 Greens. The minority group always gives a 5 to candidate A and lower scores (0-4) to everyone else. The majority group always gives a 0 to candidate A. So 1/4 of voters always prefers the Green but note that because the Democrats also like the Indie guy he often will have more support than the Green party.

First Scenario: Voters only use zeroes and fives and give a top score to their top 4.
300 Voter Majority group: B, C, D, E=5
100 Voter Minority group: A=5, E=5, B=5, C=5

First Round Score Totals- B=2000, C=2000 E=2000, D=1500, A=500,
First Seat Runoff: B vs C. B wins (Ties are all broken low letters are better.)
Second Seat Runoff: C vs E. C Wins.
Third Seat Runoff: E vs D. E wins

Fourth Seat Runoff: D vs A. D wins
Final 4 winners: B, C, E and D
This is simplistic or bored voter strategy. Same result as RRV because all voters gave the 1st three winners a max score. Note that E and A were really tied here.

Second Scenario: Voters give their favorite Party a 5 and other candidates they want to win a 4. Non-Fascist candidates that aren't preferred all get a 1 in order to differentiate preference just in case.
300 Voter Majority group: B&C&D=5, E=4, A&F&G=1
100 Voter Minority group: A=5, E=4, B=4, C=4, D&F&G=1

First Round Score Totals- B=1900, C=1900, D=1600, E=1600, A=800, F&G=400
First Seat Runoff: B vs C. B wins.
Majority weight now .5=1/2=1/(1+5/5). Minority weight 1/(1+/5)=.555
Second Seat Runoff: C=220min+750maj=970 vs E=220min+600maj=820. C Wins. Majority weight now 1/(1+10/5)=.333. Minority weight 1/(1+8/5)=.38
Third Seat Runoff: E=152min+400maj=552 vs D=38min+500=538. E wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+14/5)=.26. Minority weight 1/(1+12/5)=.29
Fourth Seat Runoff: D=390maj+29min=419 vs A=145min+78max=223. D wins.
Final 4 winners: B, C, E, D
Same results as before but E wins with an actual margin this time.

Third Scenario: Voters give their favorite Party a 5 and other candidates they want to win a 1.
300 Voter Majority group: B&C&D=5, E=1
100 Voter Minority group: A=5, E&B&C=1

First Round Score Totals- B=1600, C=1600, D=1500, A=500, E=400
First Seat Runoff: B vs C. B wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+5/5)=.5. Minority weight 1/(1+1/5)=.83
Second Seat Runoff: C=750maj+83min=833 vs D=750maj=750. C wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+10/5)=.33. Minority weight 1/(1+2/5)=.71
Third Seat Runoff: D=495maj vs A=355min. D wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+15/5)=.25. Minority weight 1/(1+2/5)=.71
Fourth Seat Runoff: A=355min vs E=75maj+71min=146. A wins.
Final 4 winners: B, C, D, A
This is a strategy you could call popular betrayal. The Greens like the Dems but with hold significant support for them because they know they will win anyways.

Fourth Scenario: Voters give their favorite candidate a 5 and other candidates they want to win a 1. With only 1 first choice per voter this is the most like IRV.
300 Voter Majority group: B=5, C&D&E=1
100 Voter Minority group: A=5, E&B&C=1

First Round Score Totals- B=1600, A=500, C=400, D=300, E=400
First Seat Runoff: B vs A. B wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+5/5)=.5. Minority weight 1/(1+1/5)=.83
Second Seat Runoff: A=415min vs C=150maj+83min=233. A wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+5/5)=.5. Minority weight 1/(1+6/5)=.45
Third Seat Runoff: C=150maj+83min=233 vs E=150maj+83min=233. C wins.
Majority weight now 1/(1+6/5)=.45. Minority weight 1/(1+7/5)=.42
Fourth Seat Runoff: E=135maj+42min=177 vs D=135maj. E wins
Final 4 winners: B, A, C, E
This seems to be the best strategy for minor parties, at least in this one example.

Conclusions- The SRV-PR math is a process but doable at home. Different strategies make a difference but each strategy does seem to have pros and cons. It seems likely that different voters would choose different strategies based on what is most honest for them and that the results would average out. It's not clear to me that A should win in each of these scenarios. I think that A and E should both win and that VSE would be best here if they both did, but that means that the Dems only get 50% representation with 3/4 of the vote. If A wins and E looses then it's pretty unfair for Independents who had a ton of support. Who is the best set of winners here is really subjective and I think that the exact set of voters would give ballots that would lead to a different set of best winners depending on voting system and strategy. IRV-PR doesn't give enough info to really let you make an educated decision but because SRV-PR is SO expressive a close race will leave a lot of room for 2nd guessing.

In real life a number of Democrats and Indie voters would give the green party better scores than 0 so don't assume that the this is a realistic example. Party names are just given here to help us keep us visualize the examples. I chose to have the Majority give the Greens all zeros here because Fillard did and I wanted to look at his same election but with more depth.

My personal preference and opinion so far... open minded but not sold on any of these PR systems, though I agree with the goal. I am strongly leaning towards some sort of multi-winner district based representation.

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Tue 28 Mar 2017 6:01PM

"Stands to reason" is extremely weak here given the inherent differences with multi-winner systems. Whereas the increased complexity is definite.

Without a valid framework for measuring outcomes, every assertion here is extremely weak. The increased complexity is minimal and arguably not there at all if the default system for single-winner is SRV. Compared to STV, SRV-PR is quite simple, and STV has/is used in real elections.

A) This is antithetical to the idea of PR in the first place.

It's a balancing factor. Again, without a real measuring stick for various PR methods, a lot of this conversation is conjecture.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 28 Mar 2017 6:24PM

I'm not sure how to measure this, but for me the top priority is maximizing the number of people who feel fairly included in the resulting representation — or, to express the real concern, minimize the number of people who feel their views are shut out of the conversation (without giving an outsized voice to small minority groups).

How many others here agree with me on this?

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Wed 29 Mar 2017 3:00AM

Aaron, are you also interested to know how many people don't agree with you on this? Your question read literally is telling.

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 29 Mar 2017 3:29AM

telling of what? How taking statements literally and rigidly risks misunderstanding?

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Wed 29 Mar 2017 3:38AM

I wasn't sure if I should reply to it if I disagree with your assertion. I kind of do agree with it, but aspects I question.

SW

Sara Wolf Wed 29 Mar 2017 12:18AM

RE "I'm questioning whether you understand why some people (like me) claim it's vastly preferable to even the best winner-take-all systems." First. I think you mean preferable to multi-winner non-PR systems. I don't think anyone's arguing for single winner everything!

I'm definitely in support of the PR goal here. The idea that if a 1/4 of the people like Purple then one of the 4 seats should be Purple. This is basic fair concept. In a one person-one vote system it's more simple to accomplish. But what if you have 20% or 35%?

This is a question about which way to round the numbers: You can say that if there were 4 seats that if you get 0-24%=zero seats. 25-49%=1 seat, 50-74%= 2 seats, 75-99%=3 seats, 100%=4 seats. This rounding system favors larger groups. The opposite rounding system would favor small groups.

Or is it more fair to split the difference? 0-12%=0 seats. 13-37%=1 seat. 38-62%=2 seats. 63-87%=3seats. 88+%=4seats. ??

In a more complex system where people are showing a varied level of support for multiple candidates it becomes a lot more foggy about where exactly the "Spoiler Effect" line is drawn.

I'd love to hear EVERYONE here chime in on how we can effectively judge what is and what is not a spoiler effect in each multi-winner system. I think we might get farther agreeing on goals for a PR system and then reverse engeeneering a system and looking at how well it meets those goals.

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Wed 29 Mar 2017 3:41AM

It seems like you are asserting that whatever systems is used should have as a top priority to "minimize the number of people who feel their views are shut out of the conversation."

The direction seems good, but the criterion is super fuzzy, and to me doesn't trump the others we've discussed (equality, accuracy, honesty, expressiveness, simplicity, adoptability). Can you state the criterion in a way that is measurable and on an equal level with the others?

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 29 Mar 2017 3:51AM

I wish I could state the criterion in a more measurable way etc. I'm not sure I can. I believe that a system meeting the other criteria will likely do as well as we can at this in a sustainable, stable, long-term fashion.

To restate my point though in new words: Stakeholders who are left out of the decision-making process are the ones most likely to sabotage things (whether intentionally or because their non-inclusion meant that some important concerns never were considered and that leads to failures). I.e. consent of the governed comes from everyone feeling they have a place at the table that is actually meaningful and thus are more willing to consent.

So, the criterion is about minimizing non-consent by minorities by doing all we can to require that they have a voice even though minorities should still not be able to overrule the majority (except if it's about protecting the minorities' fundamental rights and place in the group).

I would love to see if anyone can figure out how to make this idea more measurable.

CS

Clay Shentrup Wed 29 Mar 2017 3:54AM

Although it's not a crazy argument, the insistence that Green=5, Dem=4 means that I would be more represented by 5 green representatives and 4 dem ones isn't really fair. I might think "I agree 100% with everything the greens stand for and 80% of what the dems stand for" and would be happier with all green than any other situation.

Ah, that's true. In a 1-dimensional issue space sense, you could have something like:
You: 0
Green: 0
Dem: 1
GOP: 5

Which would look identical (in terms of normalized utilities) as:
You: 1
Green: 0
Dem: 3
GOP: 6

If dg = distance from you to Green, dd = to Dem, ad dr = to GOP, then dr = 5 * |dg - dd|

I.e. consent of the governed comes from everyone feeling they have a place at the table that is actually meaningful and thus are more willing to consent.

I think present legislatures strongly refute this. A huge percentage of people (not D's or R's) don't feel represented by any particular individual in Congress. But if the legislation coming out is pretty satisfactory, people are happy with that. People focus on whether the keystone XL pipeline gets built or whether Obamacare gets repealed, not on whether it was done by a legislature that has people in it who look like them.

SW

Sara Wolf Thu 30 Mar 2017 6:36AM

Any thoughts from you guys on my posts? I know they were long but still! I heard from Fillard but not @nardopolo, @wolftune @clayshentrup

My main question here is: How should we determine what is and what is not a spoiler in PR?

Fillard says: "You provided your definition of “spoiler” (thank you) and yes candidate A is a spoiler by that definition. But it’s a winner-take-all definition, one that PR rejects."
My spoiler definition was this "A spoiler is any election that elects a candidate with less support than the ideal winner. Can anyone explain why A is not a spoiler in this example?"

My second related question is: How can we determine equality in a PR voting system. "EQUALITY- The Voting System doesn’t favor some voters or candidates over others based on preferences, location, political party, etc."

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Fri 31 Mar 2017 5:23PM

@sarawolf writes, "The idea that if a 1/4 of the people like Purple then one of the 4 seats should be Purple. This is basic fair concept. In a one person-one vote system it's more simple to accomplish. But what if you have 20% or 35%?"

This seems to be the crux of it. A proper multi-seat VSE simulator would be able to tell us how well each system handles all the corner cases.

@sarawolf writes, "My main question here is: How should we determine what is and what is not a spoiler in PR?"

I don't think I understand how the "spoiler" nomenclature applies easily in multi-winner systems.

@sarawolf writes, "My second related question is: How can we determine equality in a PR voting system?"

As http://www.equal.vote/theequalvote defines it, equality in the franchise means that every expression of the vote can be met with an equal and opposite balancing vote, both in the balloting and in the counting. This is how we know for sure that all votes bring equal power.

It doesn't seem like the PR methods we have discussed meet that criterion.

@sarawolf writes, "My personal preference and opinion so far... open minded but not sold on any of these PR systems"

I was thinking about PR in the context of @emilydempsey's first ever use of SRV - to choose restaurants. Imagine you go to lunch everyday with the same group of 8 friends. If you did a single-winner election each day for where to go, a minority of the group could get shut out on their preferences every day. If you ran a five-seat multi-winner PR election, you'd get the majority's first choices most of the time, but on occasion you'd go somewhere that a minority of the group really loves.

SW

Sara Wolf Sun 2 Apr 2017 9:09AM

So it's come to my attention that, as Inigo Montoya said, "I do not think that word means what you think it means." Ok. So when you read "Spoiler" in all my previous posts everywhere please pretend it says "Non-representitive winner" or "system failure" ie. when a candidate wins even though there was another candidate with more support or when the system fails to elect the best winner. In a PR election where the intention is to give fair representation to a proportion of voters who do not have a majority this would be if a minority doesn't have enough support to deserve a seat but wins one anyways or if a party gets more seats than they deserve when there was a better, more fair alternative. No system is perfect but I'm talking about how well a system elects the winner that it is trying to elect. Accuracy.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2y8Sx4B2Sk

From here on out I will use the word "spoiler" effect, candidate or election specifically to refer to elections that fail due to vote splitting. ie. the Nader Effect. Sorry for any confusion and back on over to the point here!

CS

Clay Shentrup Sun 2 Apr 2017 11:13PM

A spoiler is any election that elects a candidate with less support than the ideal winner.

The problem is, how do you quantify "support"? If you elect the n candidates with the "most support", then you elect a bunch of centrists. PR systems are necessarily based on the idea of reducing the influence of some faction(s) in aggregating support. RRV is a prime example.

So in order for you to even say that there was a candidate with "less support than the ideal winner", you have to specify a formula for how much to discount the support of voters in proportion to the amount of influence they've already had. But once you've done that, I don't think that the multi-winner-ness matters much. If an obviously less popular candidate wins, that's a problem.

Can anyone explain why A is not a spoiler in this example?"

Your example talks about strategies. In order to see who "should" win, I need to see honest views only. And I'm getting confused trying to follow your voluminous example.

My second related question is: How can we determine equality in a PR voting system.

I think you just have to say that, for any change you can make by removing any voter, you could produce the same effect by adding some different voter instead.

SW

Sara Wolf Tue 4 Apr 2017 9:39PM

"How do you quantify "support"?"

Exactly! That is the question I've been trying to ask you all. It has to be quantified and agreed upon!

"How can we determine equality in a PR voting system.?"
You suggest that "For any change you can make by removing any voter, you could produce the same effect by adding some different voter instead" but this is just a part of it. I think equality also means that the system doesn't favor any type of voter, candidate, or party over others. So systems that inherently favor centrist candidates or fringe candidates don't meet equality criteria.

So for a PR system to be equal, I think, it would need to give an equal voice and equal representation to all voters regardless of party. I can see how to guarantee this for a partisan SRV-PR system that I drafted an haven't shared yet, and I can see how to do this for a First-Past-The-Post PR system, but I can't figure out how to do it for the reweighed systems.

PS. If you guys are interested in my Non-reweighted Partisan SRV PR system let me know. I got real technical for a bit and finally decided not to share it unless it seems needed. I don't like Partisan PR and I was hoping to use it as a building block for designing a system for measuring non-partisan PR but I got stumped.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Wed 5 Apr 2017 4:24PM

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.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Thu 13 Apr 2017 5:31PM

@nardopolo @fillardspringrhyne If I am understanding the hypotheticals, it seems that SRV would operate similarly to Cumulative Voting in terms of voter behavior and proportionality. If a minority group wants representation, they need to give a top score to their candidate and 0 or minimal scores to anyone else. If they honestly express support for anyone else, they risk getting no representation.

In the example above, if 1/4 of the voters are black and A is black and all the other candidates are white, and people vote along racially polarized lines (which, in the US, they mostly do), then black voters can win one seat. Fair.

But if white candidate E expressed some support for, say, lessening mass incarceration, and as a result black voters express a low level (average of 2) of support for him, they end up with an all-white legislature. So the black community would need to organize to inform black voters that they can't vote honestly, they need to bullet vote for the black candidate in order for him to win. And white candidates would have no incentive to reach out to the black community, to talk about mass incarceration or other issues of importance to those voters, because, after a few cycles, it would become clear that black voters can't risk voting for any white candidates if they want to elect a single black legislator.

Is that right? Does SRV have other advantages over Cumulative Voting?

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Thu 13 Apr 2017 6:08PM

@kristineb Check out this SRV-PR scenario calculator: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/11fA0gIFqlorjnt_uJ8xDHERj8SP5jJm-xUQhKbzvNrE/edit?usp=sharing -- you'll need to copy it to mess around with it.

I upgraded it to make the score range variable -- and what it shows so far is that as long as MaxScore >= NumberOfSeats, the SRV-PR perfect minority can claim a seat and tip one of the majority's seats, which lets them both safely give max support to their true favorites and influence the runoff stage of one of the majority's seats -- thus encouraging the kind of outreach you are talking about.

Pretty cool.

MF

Mark Frohnmayer Thu 13 Apr 2017 7:56PM

@kristineb to you question of "what happens if the minority gives more than minimum support?" -- in that case they risk losing their guaranteed seat. But that's actually what makes the runoff step cool in the PR case -- even just one point difference (0->1) gives a full preference vote to that candidate in the runoff step. It gives the minority more voice than RRV.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Sat 15 Apr 2017 1:44AM

Do we really want to make the assumption that the only way to elect ethnic / racial minorities to any legislative body is for minorities to bullet vote for candidates of their own race / ethnicity?

So the argument is that we have to make this assumption because we also assume that we are not individuals, we are just monolithic representatives of our racial/ethnic identity.

The argument is that white people will only vote for white people, and all white people all have the same collective interests, so only white people can represent white people's interests. And minorities all have the same monolithic and collective interests, that are all completely in opposition to the interests of all white people?

Really? White legislators can't represent the interests of minorities? Minority legislators can't represent the interests of white people? Whites and minorities can't have the same or overlapping interests?

So we have to rig up an election system based on these crazy assumptions, otherwise no minorities will ever get elected?

Going down this road of collectivist identity politics requires us to make crazy self fulfilling assumptions and ends up no where good.

Rather than judge people collectively, why not assume that people are unique individuals with different interests, and they can decide what these interests are for themselves rather than what they are supposed to be according to someone's definition of collective identity, and that people might want to vote according to ideas rather than according to ethnicity or race or sex or sexual orientation or left or right handedness, etc.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 17 Apr 2017 10:35PM

@wolftune Sorry, I haven't followed every thread here, but I haven't seen a discussion of favorite betrayal in the context of STV. Can you give me a quick hypothetical of how a minority group could get their second choice only by betraying their favorite in STV, but could get their second choice with honest voting under SRV? (or direct me to the thread if this has already been discussed).

I can imagine a scenario where a minority of voters isn't big enough to get their first-choice but could get their second in STV (African-American voters make up 10% of the population; their favorite candidate is eliminated; their votes transfer to the race-conscious white candidate who also has votes from 10% of white voters and so wins a seat). And I can imagine where voting is so polarized that a too-small minority can't get any rep under either system (same as above but white voters give higher rankings or scores to other white candidates, so both the African-American and the race-conscious candidate get eliminated or lose in the runoff).

But what would the scenario look like where African-American voters could lose both first and second choices through honest rankings, but elect second-choice through favorite betrayal, and elect one or both through honest SRV?

Re the opavote article -- that seems like a very promising approach! I haven't thought it through enough to know if there might be any unintended consequences, but it seems to make a lot of sense.

AW

Aaron Wolf Mon 17 Apr 2017 11:21PM

The easiest proof-of-concept case for favorite betrayal is a candidate who is many people's 2nd choice and nobody's 1st choice. That candidate will always get eliminated in the first round if there's no candidate that goes past the initial threshold. It's possible for many of the voters who had that 2nd-choice candidate to also have a situation where their 1st choice does not get elected in the end.

The basic summary of the whole STV/IRV spoiler is that there's a range in which a candidate has enough 1st choice votes to go past the first or other early rounds but not enough to win a seat. Some of the voters who had that candidate as 1st choice never get to move to their 2nd choice because that 2nd choice is already gone before that can happen. Since their 1st choice doesn't succeed anyway, those voters will be extra frustrated that they never got their 2nd choice counted, and the only way to get that to count is to do favorite betrayal and mark that choice as 1st. That could successfully get them their 2nd choice, which is much better than losing both 1st and 2nd.

I could go on about all the problems that this flaw in IRV/STV can cause, but I'm just trying to make sure you're clear on what the flaw is.

In IRV, that spoiler scenario can happen often and to many voters. In STV, it's less common because the threshold for election is lower in general, but it can still happen.

Re: the opavote article, I have the same impression as you. It seems to highlight a real flaw in the way STV is typically calculated and propose what seems to be an actual solution. I haven't followed all the math, but the argument seems solid. It doesn't, however fully solve the favorite-betrayal issue.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 17 Apr 2017 11:26PM

Adam - You are right, if African-American voters could know that some white voters will support their candidate, then they could safely support additional candidates. But if they aren't sure, then the safest bet is to only support their favorite. Otherwise, they put their favorite at the mercy of other voters' support; if those other voters who they have no control over don't come through, the African-American loses because his voters supported additional candidates. If voters in the minority want to guarantee themselves a rep no matter what the majority of voters do, they can do that by giving him max and all others minimal support. Especially for voters in the minority (whether they be African-Americans, Green party, muslims, or whatever) who currently are woefully under-represented, my guess is most would not want to throw away the chance for their rep to finally win a seat just to express moderate support for someone else, on the chance that enough majority (whether they be white, Dem/Rep, christians, or whatever) voters will throw some support their way.

I agree with you that it is good for a system to incentivize candidates reaching out across tribes, and I think that is actually an essential feature of contests for single-member or executive office (Mayor, president etc). Proponents of majoritarian legislative system think it is an essential feature for electing legislators, too.

But in a proportional legislature, it is more important that voters with minority views be able to win a proportional number of seats and not be held hostage to voters with majority views. If a candidate representing a minority view can not win unless he attracts support from voters wth a majority view, the majority basically has veto power over voters with a minority view. If an African-American representing 1/4 of the voters still can't win a seat unless white voters support him, I would consider that a bug if you are aiming for proportionality.

In short, my opinion is: requiring support beyond the base in executive races in order to win=good. Encouraging reaching out in legislative races=good. Requiring support beyond the base in legislative races in order to win = bad.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Tue 18 Apr 2017 4:30AM

Kristin,

Ok thanks for the clarification, I understand better what you are saying.

Still I'm not sure I agree with your opinion that "Requiring support beyond the base in legislative races in order to win = bad."

I still think it can be good if only a relatively small amount of support beyond the base is needed.

But even if I do fully accept your opinion that it is bad, I don't think it's likely that SRV PR or RRV voting would really be that polarized or monolithic as to deny minority candidates a seat that they would have otherwise won under STV.

Granted it is possible, I'm just thinking it would be extremely unlikely.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Mon 17 Apr 2017 11:48PM

@wolftune Yup, I get favorite betrayal. I was just trying to think of a situation where favorite betrayal would be necessary in STV but SRV would get a "fair" result with honest voting. For example, imagine: a 4-winner district, 4 "regular" white candidates, one white race-conscious candidate, one African-American. 85% of voters are white and 15% African-American. All African-American voters rank the African-American first and race-conscious white second. 10% of voters rank race-conscious first, but do not rank African-American second. The other 75% of voters are split evenly between the remaining 4 candidates. Race-conscious gets eliminated first, then African-Amercian. But if they had ranked race-conscious first, they could at least have elected him. Favorite-betrayal strikes.

But, under SRV, 75% of voters would score the white candidates higher than the African-American or the race-conscious, so they would both lose in the runoff stage. Right?

KE

Kristin Eberhard Tue 18 Apr 2017 4:14PM

Thanks, Aaron. Could you tell me more about when LNH would be inherently good? The idea that it encourages you to intentionally promote a consensus candidate is, for some reason, making me think of (minority) Nader voters intentionally supporting (consensus candidate) Gore instead, but that is of course Favorite Betrayal--gah! :P
When would voters support a consensus candidate if it isn't safe to support anyone other than your favorite?

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 18 Apr 2017 4:44PM

Nader voters admitting to liking Gore enough to give more than zero support (consider in score voting giving Gore a non-zero score) is not favorite betrayal. Giving Nader a 5 and Gore a 3 isn't betraying Nader (aside from betraying Nader's request that I give Gore a 0).

I honestly, as a voter myself, want to express my support for consensus candidates. I want to say "I prefer A over B, but I'm willing to give B some support and accept that if doing so makes B win over A, it must be because B had more overall support from others, and that's good."

When would voters support a consensus candidate if it isn't safe to support anyone other than your favorite?

To say "it isn't safe to support anyone other than your favorite" implies that bullet-voting for your favorite will necessarily make your favorite win. The reason to support others in that scenario is because you may want the results of widespread consent of the governed. You may be a socialist but rather see a center-left candidate who has enough support to actually govern and get things done versus your candidate win but be completely stymied by gridlock. But that may not mean you want to express preference for the center-left candidate. It just means you're willing to give non-zero score knowing that the only way that makes your favorite lose is in a scenario where it was a close election and a huge number of others preferred the center-left option. Giving a non-zero vote is allowing later harm, i.e. saying "this is not my favorite, but I'm willing to express some support to show my willingness to find consensus.

But the most important fact is that it's not safe to refuse to support others if your favorite isn't a guarantee! Bullet-voting for your favorite in score voting is an all-or-nothing, risky prospect. You're giving up any say in what happens if your favorite doesn't win. A Nader voter giving some support to Gore is saying "I want Nader, but I'm willing to accept some risk of helping Gore beat Nader in order to increase the chances that Gore beats Bush". Bullet-voting for Nader would be "if Nader doesn't win, fuck it; I don't care who wins". The vast majority of voters who prefer Nader are likely the former willing to trade off risks rather than the scorched-earth all-or-nothing style.

Given that spoiler is possible with IRV/STV, it's not "safe" to vote your favorite there either!

http://www.rangevoting.org/LNH.html is written in a rude style but still has valid points summarizing this whole issue.

SW

Sara Wolf Mon 24 Apr 2017 6:39PM

Your first response to my comment talks about thresholds and really gets to the meat of the matter. Thanks for that!

Droop quota is the quota used in STV. It is: (total valid poll/seats +1) +1
Is this separate from the reweighing formula and the formula that determines transference of votes? I think so..

I like the idea in STV that "extra" support for an elected candidate would be transferred to the next choice so that those voters votes aren't wasted. I also think the idea of reweighing seems fair, (but too complicated.) The problem I see with quotas/thresholds in most ranking systems is that the quota is looking only at the finalists- the still active ballots. In the Droop Quota formula above this is written "total valid poll". As we've seen in IRV, in close races the results from the still active ballots in the last round might be quite different from the results from the bigger picture.

Ranked Pairs fixes this problem in single winner elections but it still seems like it might be a problem in STV. I'm not clear on how big a problem this might be or how close a race would need to be to make this a concern. It would help me accept the system to see how STV results stack up looking at thresholds that take into account ALL ballots and ALL voters.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Tue 18 Apr 2017 4:23PM

My understanding of the difference between single-winner SRV and multi-winner SRV is the re-weighting: in SRV there is just one round and all ballots retain full weight in selecting the top two, and count for one full vote in the runoff. In SRV-PR, there are subsequent rounds, and ballots that scored a winner are down weighted both in the selecting of the two candidates and in the vote between the top two.

My super-back-of-the envelope-not-actually-calculated-out feeling is that, say, 75% of the voters preferred 4 white candidates, 10% preferred a race-conscious candidate and 15% preferred the African-American and gave some lesser score to the race-conscious, then in any runoff between the race-conscious and another white candidate, only 25% of the votes will count for him, so the African-American voters would have had to score him very high and the 75% of voters had their ballots very down-weighted to win against those odds. There's probably some threshold, but it seems like it would be pretty high and so likely the African-American voters would have to figure out the odds and dishonestly score the race-conscious candidate higher than they felt. Which just come back to they system only achieving representation when the minority voters are informed and organized and base their voting strategy on knowledge of other voters' behavior.

And I think voters should be able to achieve fair representation just by voting honestly, no matter what other voters do.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 18 Apr 2017 4:52PM

I don't follow the back-of-the-envelope thinking you describe. If there are multiple seats, then the multi-round process of SRV-PR would elect candidates in each round until the seats are filled. There's no elimination rounds, that's a thing STV does, not a thing SRV-PR does, I'm pretty sure. So, when the first generic white candidate is elected, the next round uses the reweighted votes to figure out the next candidate etc. and there's no point where the African American candidate is eliminated except after the final seat is filled, if they didn't have enough support.

I'm not seeing a scenario here where any amount of strategic voting or a particular voting/ballot system would get the African American candidate a seat but honest SRV-PR would not. I'm not saying it's impossible, but I'm not seeing that in your examples.

SW

Sara Wolf Fri 21 Apr 2017 7:11AM

Great conversation you all! Most of what I wanted to say has been said on all sides.

One point I wanted to make was in answer to Kristen's question about favorite betrayal being good sometimes, for example in cases where a voter gets a better outcome.
* When we look at strategic voting in different systems my priority is to make sure that strategies that work incentivize good honest voting behavior. Our current system gives voters a good reason to betray their favorites because the strategy does work, and we see this clearly in the VSE graphs which show that Plurality works best when most voters lie. It seems like in some cases like the one Kristin described above favorite betrayal in STV helps voters get a better outcome too. (Just like in IRV.) This is bad because allowing and rewarding honest voting is basically my top priority! If voters aren't being honest there is literally no way to tell if an elections results were accurate. The best way to prevent dishonesty is to reward honest voting with the best possible results!

The second point I wanted to look at was about bullet voting. In your example above you mention that if we were using SRV-PR Black voters might want to give a top score to the Black candidate but to dishonestly not give any support to the justice oriented White candidate who would be their second choice. Tactical Minimization. Later you describe the opposite strategy, where Black voters would want to tactically maximize their second choice and give them a 5 also since they don't think their favorite can win. (That wouldn't be favorite betrayal since they'd also give a top score to the Black candidate, but still, not ideal imo.)
* The key here is that there are two conflicting strategies that a voter could do with either RRV, SRV-PR or also Single Winner SRV but the incentive cancels itself out and makes it so that honesty is the best policy. Tactical minimization or maximization are both risky strategies that are just as likely to backfire as they are to succeed.

Lastly there are multiple ways to pick a best set of proportional winners. We all agree on the basic concept of fair proportional representation. But judging what is the fair and ideal threshold really does depend on how big the minority group is and how much we want them to get elected.
* If we are talking about an example where 15% of polarized voters win one out of four seats that sounds fair (to us) if we are talking about a Green candidate or a Black candidate. But does it sound fair to say that a if 15% of the voters are Nazis they deserve 1/4 or the representation? All of a sudden this looks terrible and not proportional. Is it worth it to risk unfairly empowering a hostile minority hate group if that means that more righteous minorities can get elected too, even without a full 25% of voters supporting them?

AZ

Adam Zielinski Fri 21 Apr 2017 2:17PM

Good point Sara. What helps one end of the ideological spectrum also helps the other end. You don't want to make things too easy and open the door to alt right neo Nazi groups.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Tue 18 Apr 2017 6:27PM

LNH only comes into play between two viable candidates: it is always "safe" to give a score to a non-viable candidate like Nader, because he can't actually beat your preferred viable candidate. But I think very few voters who want Gore to win would give Bush a score, even if they honestly thought Bush was kind of OK, if that could cause Bush to win over Gore. They want Gore, not Bush!

In any case, do you think there is a benefit of LNH in multi-winner elections? In a single-winner, executive race, like the president, the "best" winner is the consensus candidate. So if you believe that many Gore voters will give a score to Bush, that would elect a better (more consensus) candidate. (Though again, I just can't imagine many voters helping the other guy win).

But in multi-winner legislative races if you support proportional representation, you want to elect a diverse legislature with many minority voices at the table. You want Nader to win a seat. Encouraging his voters to support some "consensus candidates" could lead to a legislature full of Bushes and Gores but no Naders.

The thing I am really driving at is: It looks to me like there is a risk that SRV-PR will not achieve minority representation if voters holding minority views express too much support for anyone other than their favorite candidate and voters holding majority views only support candidates holding majority views. Am I wrong about that, and if yes how?

If I am right, are SRV-PR advocates OK with the risk that voters with minority views will not get representation, and if yes, why? Is it because you think it is better for "consensus" candidates to win, even in PR? Or you think, as Adam said, that voters with majority views will support candidates with minority views? Or something else?

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 18 Apr 2017 8:02PM

Given the score meaning least-support to most-support among the pool of candidates and a voter who has real preference rather than very subtle preference, they will always give at least one candidate a zero. That simply means the candidate they support least among the pool.

The entire strategic point of giving a score to a non-favorite, non-worst is to give that middle candidate an improved chance of winning over less-preferred candidates at the trade-off of reducing the margin for the favorite to win. This becomes an expression of how much you care about defeating the candidate(s) you oppose versus how much you care about your favorite(s) winning.

I certainly like the idea of actual honest approval where a pool of all decent candidates all get decent scores, but I've come to accept that the practical way to do scoring is to basically score on a curve, so to speak. It's not "bad to good" as the range, it's "worst to best" given the range the candidates actually present.

Yes, there's some quirks like introducing a completely horrendous candidate will increase the score for what would otherwise have been the worst.

Re: SRV-PR and minorities etc: My personal view is to favor whatever systems get real buy-in and real representation from the maximum number of voters. I.e. I want minority views to be represented as much as possible up to the point of being overrepresented.

In general, I'm still unconvinced that SRV-PR is worthwhile versus just RRV. I'm certainly convinced that STV is far better than IRV, and I'm much more inclined to accept that STV is great enough to be worth supporting (while I feel less that way about IRV).


But the bigger question: I don't yet see how there's a scenario where your worry about needing to bullet vote arises.

15% vote A5 B1 C0 D0 E0
10% vote A0 B5 C1 D1 E1
25% x3 bullet vote for each of C, D, E

So, C, D, E each get a seat out of 4 seats. Their voters are exhausted. The final seat shows A 75 points, B 65 points, more voters prefer A, A gets elected. So, the minority gets their representation.

What would mess it up? If the 15% voted A5 B4, nothing would change with SRV-PR. In RRV, that could, I think, get B up past A. So, it seems this actually gives SRV-PR the edge in making sure the larger minority group is represented.

The argument about SRV's runoff is that it minimizes the later-harm issue because in the runoff, you still get your full vote for your favorite, making it safer to score others.

If the first group were only 10% instead of 15%, they wouldn't get represented, but that's true regardless of whether they score B or not.

I'm not, at this point, aware of any scenario in which a minority group gets represented by bullet-voting in SRV-PR and fails to get their representative if they don't bullet vote. Can you come up with one? If this scenario isn't possible, then your whole concern isn't applicable.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Tue 18 Apr 2017 8:35PM

Thanks for engaging with me, Aaron, I appreciate understanding your perspective!

The scenario I am concerned about is the one that Fillard laid out that started this thread:
A voters can elect A if they give all other candidates 0 or 1. By bullet voting (or close - only giving a 1), they can elect their rep.

But if they give another candidate a 2 or higher, they lose A. By not bullet voting, they fail to elect their rep.

AW

Aaron Wolf Tue 18 Apr 2017 11:08PM

Thanks Kristin. Apologies for missing the context. I actually tried to avoid getting into this, I just spoke up when I disagreed with an assertion Clay made here.

I finally read more of the original post. I see the problem. The reweighting amounts to causing this problem where if you reinforce a candidate who would win without you, you get less weight than if you'd left it to others to elect them. But this problem happens with STV also!

Strategic weighting:

  • "Oh, we know (somehow) that enough other voters are giving candidate E high enough scores/rankings that E is guaranteed to be elected, therefore any extra scoring/ranking of E by others just reduces their weight for other candidates. Therefore, we should strategically not vote for E (whether E was top choice or not) so that we get the full weight of our vote for the other candidates we want."

In other words, if you could conspire with other voters, you could organize the votes to maximize the influence of the group that's conspiring. In the same sense, you could act as though you were conspiring without actual communication, you just have to trust that enough other voters will behave a certain way.

In some sense, this is like saying "I can safely vote for Nader because Gore is going to win my state anyway" but in a scenario where if enough people did that, Nader would actually win, and yet Nader gets less votes because a lot of people feel it's not worth the risk of leaving it to others to make sure Bush loses…

It seems that all PR systems that do reweighting of any sort are susceptible to the type of strategy I describe above and to the results that may happen from not doing this strategy. I hope my description is clear enough.

I think the question amounts to figuring out how wide and likely the trouble range is and how bad the bad results are. Clearly there's going to be some range of issues for any PR system. So, I think someone needs to run this stuff with a mathematical model.

I'm all for qualitative evaluation of how each scenario feels also, but a mathematical evaluation would be useful. I want to know if one system has the issues in only rare edge cases or if they are widespread… it's not an easy problem because the whole thing is far more complex than single-winner elections.

I'm still sympathetic anyway to that altered-STV from the link I posted above.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Wed 19 Apr 2017 3:45PM

It's not so much that I think that voters with majority views will support candidates with minority views. Although I think some would give them non zero scores.

My point is that not all minorities have minority views, and not all white people have majority views.

I think white people will absolutely vote for black or minority candidates, and that minority voters will vote for white candidates, if they mostly agree with their views.

So if a black candidate fails to get elected, is it because he was black? Or because he had some extreme minority view? Maybe if he had slightly more mainstream views he would have gotten elected.

What is the goal? To elect more ethnic minorities? Or to elect more ideological minorities? Or both? My point is that the Venn diagram of these two goals is not 100% overlapping. They are different goals. The solution or strategy to achieve one doesn't automatically mean you will achieve the other.

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 19 Apr 2017 4:21PM

@adamzielinski that sounds like you are being too literalist with the example. It's like when I tried to describe the IRV spoiler scenario by talking about Bernie running in the general and people get hung up on how realistic or unrealistic it is for certain voters to go certain ways. Just accept the idea that there's some minority block with enough distinction so that the rhetorical example can be discussed. Don't get distracted with unrelated questions like racism, it's not germaine to discussing the minority representation question in the voting system.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Wed 19 Apr 2017 4:43PM

I apologize if my terminology was unclear: I am defining "voters in the minority" or "voters with minority views" not as racial minorities, but as people who have a preference that differs from the majority. So, a Green Party voter is a voter in the minority if the majority of voters prefer with some other party more than the Green Party. A voter of color is in the minority if they prefer a candidate of color but white voters prefer a white candidate more than a candidate of color.

The goal is that any group of voters who prefer a particular candidate and who are numerous enough to meet the threshold can successfully elect their preferred candidate. I don't need to know those voters' motivations--whether they prefer that candidate because he represents their ethnicity, their religion, their political party, or something else--all I need to know is that they wanted him, they had the numbers, he should get a seat.

So ethnic minority or ideological minority are not different goals, they are the same goal: whatever voters want. If enough voters want to elect someone of a particular ethnicity, they should be able to. If they want someone with a particular ideology, they should get it. The goal of the system is not to guarantee representation along ethnic or political lines per se, but to guarantee representation of whatever voters prefer.

The situation I am concerned about is not one where the minority candidate (African-American, green party, whatever) didn't win and we can't tell whether that was because he was "too extreme" (which sounds to me dangerously close to "didn't have majority support," which is not an appropriate test under PR, so, in the context of PR, I will assume it means "did not meet the threshold to win"). Lets use the Hare Quota to make it simpler: with 4 seats available, any candidate who is the favorite of 1/4 of voters should win a seat. If 1/4 of voters gave that candidate max scores, and he still didn't win, we don't need to know anything about why voters did or did not vote for him, the relevant fact is that 1/4 of voters did like him best, he met the threshold to win a seat, but did not win a seat.

I'm not saying he should win because he's black or we need to speculate about whether he didn't win because he's black. I'm saying he should win because 1/4 of the voters wanted him to. Whatever their reasons. And the system failed those voters.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Wed 19 Apr 2017 6:16PM

@wolftune @kristineb

Ok I agree with you both on all that. But I think there is a difference because I think a lot of voters will be more sympathetic to electing ethnic minority candidates, than they will be towards electing ideological minority candidates.

I agree basically that in a PR system, if the threshold to get a seat is 1/4 of the vote and 1/4 of the voters want a particular candidate, then that candidate should get in.

I guess I just don't fully agree with the validity of the test for this being the strict assumption that all voters bullet vote monolithically either for a candidate or zero for a candidate. I'm willing to tolerate some limited variance from this and still give the system a passing grade.

AW

Aaron Wolf Wed 19 Apr 2017 7:00PM

It's both simpler and more complex than that.

There are situations where a voting system fails to give a result we all agree would have been better. We have no choice but to tolerate some of this because no system can be flawless. We also can't know by ballots whether the ballot itself is sincere or strategic in terms of how we evaluate the results of a real election.

So, the best we can do is determine which systems hold up more often than others or have less-bad failings. Hence my emphasis on wanting to see some modeling evaluation for PR election systems. I want to see comparisons between STV, that new STV variant, RRV, and SRV-PR.

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Thu 20 Apr 2017 5:22AM

Regarding Kristin's comment of April 19 at 9:43am (the one in which she says, for example, "I'm saying he should win because 1/4 of the voters wanted him to. Whatever their reasons."):

If Loomio allowed it, I'd like this comment 15 times rather than just the once.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Wed 19 Apr 2017 6:58PM

Adam - my test is not based on an assumption that all voters bullet vote, but that some do and some don't. If those who don't get punished for it (their favorite doesn't win a seat even though he had the votes), then everyone will bullet vote once they figure out how it works. I want a system that allows voters to be non-monolithic if they want to be, without worrying about what other voters do, and without being punished.

KE

Kristin Eberhard Wed 19 Apr 2017 8:09PM

After thinking about this a bit more, I think Adam is right that my feared scenario is more likely along ideological lines. Imagine a Green Party candidate has made their platform all about pollution. The majority candidates talked about the usual topics: schools, jobs, etc. Green party voters (1/4 of voters) want their candidate to win, but they also care about schools and jobs, so they want to give scores to some other candidates. Also, with 4 seats available, it would feel like a waste to only vote for one candidate, so they give middling scores to some others. Voters in the majority have lots of options of candidates talking about their issues, so they give scores to all of them. Pollution isn't a top priority for these "mainstream" voters, and they've already given scores to 4 or 5 other candidates, so they just skip the Green Party candidate.

As a result, all the winners are "mainstream" even though 1/4 of voters wanted a Green Party rep.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Fri 21 Apr 2017 4:33AM

Thanks Kristin,

Yes this is what I'm getting at.

The Libertarian and Green Party are kind of famous for often running low or no budget candidates for local and state races, sometimes not even bothering to submit a statement in the voters pamphlet. Some candidates are stridently ideological and polarizing, while others come across as more likable and reasonable.

So some third party candidates will earn full support from their own party members, and also attract independents and some votes from other parties. Other third party candidates won't even get full support from their own party, never mind attracting any votes outside their party.

Same thing with race/ethnicity. Some will campaign as representatives of their race/ethnicity and or a narrow ideology, others will campaign as mainstream candidates.

In either case, the amount of crossover support a candidate gets will vary greatly depending upon how they campaign and the quality of their campaign, as well as the quality of the candidate.

So it just seems overly simplistic to me to have a test for PR that doesn't take this into account.

FS

Fillard Spring-Rhyne Fri 21 Apr 2017 8:10AM

It’s important to remember that characterizations like “stridently ideological” usually have less to do with the approach of the person being described than with how popular their stances are, or with how well their stances match those of the “reporter” (the person doing the characterizing).

  • Popular viewpoints don’t get questioned much, so they’re unlikely to come across as strident no matter how rigidly they are held.

  • Unpopular viewpoints are questioned over and over again, from a variety of angles, many of which incorporate deliberate or accidental bias. The person being questioned ends up having to repeatedly affirm and clarify their positions. Even if they don’t end up adopting a more emphatic tone of voice, sheer repetition may lead to their being perceived as strident.

None of this is to say that ideologically strident candidates don't exist, nor that minor parties can afford to be as selective as major parties in who they nominate for office (e.g. in terms of qualifications, maturity, and personability.)

AZ

Adam Zielinski Fri 21 Apr 2017 2:26PM

Yes I agree, a better term might be polarizing.

But what I was getting at was that things like qualifications, personality, and maturity have a lot to do with how much support an ideological minority or race/ethnic minority will get in any given election.

A poor candidate running a poor campaign won't earn 1/4 support even if their base is 1/4 of the voters.

A good candidate running a good campaign will earn more than 1/4 of the vote even if their base is less than 1/4 of the voters.

AZ

Adam Zielinski Fri 21 Apr 2017 3:12PM

So no candidate has a right or entitlement to a seat just because the claim to represent a party or ideology or race/ethnic group.

If the threshold to get a seat is 1/4 of the vote, and you are the top choice of 1/4 of the voters, then you should get a seat.

If you get less top choice votes than the threshold, then you don't necessarily get a seat.

If you claim to represent a group that according to demographic surveys or voter registration amounts to more than the threshold to get a seat, but you don't get enough first choice votes to get a seat, then that's your fault, not the voting system's fault.

Going back to Fillard's original example, I guess the only problem I have with it is that I think it is very unlikely in reality in a four seat race, to have four equally strong majority candidates and only one minority candidate, and where all majority voters give each majority candidate a 5 and the minority candidate a zero.

In reality there will usually be more than just one minority candidate. And at least some mainstream majority voters will give at least one or two of their candidates 4's or less, and the minority candidate a non zero score. So I just think that using that example as an end all be all test is simplistic and invalid.

SW

Sara Wolf Mon 24 Apr 2017 5:36PM

RE: "If the threshold to get a seat is 1/4 of the vote, and you are the top choice of 1/4 of the voters, then you should get a seat."

Yes! So now when we are looking at systems that use ranked and score ballots we have to rework that threshold because voters are giving support to multiple candidates so it's more complicated than that. It's likely that more candidates will meet that threshold than there are seats available, like in Fillard's original example. @fillardspringrhyne

We could talk about 1/4 of the total support given to all the candidates by all the voters, or we could talk about having what adds up to full support from a 1/4 of voters. ...Or other ideas.

In score, these thresholds are fairly simple to mathematically calculate. We can look at all the ballots simultaneously and see, objectively, that the support exists and that the seat is justified by a predetermined standard. In STV my concern is that the threshold remains murky and that not all ballot's rankings are taken into consideration so in a close race it would be hard to verify the election results.