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Voting Systems [Oct. 23rd, 2016|12:50 am]
Three thoughts:

1) I didn't realize it until just recently, but as of 2013, Colorado mails ballots to every registered voter for every election. Which is a fantastic idea; you can fill your ballot out at home, at your leisure, doing however much research you want, and then either mail it in or drop it off at a ballot box. It makes all the issues about lines at polling places and how late they're open and poll watching and so on largely moot. It's maximally convenient and empowers voters at the same time. And apparently, it even saves a whole lot of money, because it cuts down on provisional ballots, which are expensive. It's pretty keen, so if you live elsewhere and see any efforts to implement something similar, you should definitely support them.

2) We have a bunch of initiatives on the ballot this year. There was some lunchtime conversation about one of them, and somebody asked "can I vote for it to fail but by a very slim margin?" Because there's the problem of supporting the general idea behind an initiative, but not in that specific form, and wanting to encourage another try at it while not wanting it to pass as-is So I think we need to add a couple more options for ballot issues. In addition to "yes" and "no", it would be nice to have "almost", for the aforementioned case, and "whatever", for "I don't care about this issue one way or the other, so just leave me out when you're trying to figure out how much support there is for and against it."

3) So everybody knows that the system we currently use when voting for candidates for office (vote for one, whoever gets the most votes wins, aka first-past-the-post) is like, one of the worst possible ways of doing it, right? Among its many problems, it's a major factor in the lock-in of the two-party system everyone's so unhappy about lately. Innyhoo, while there are a lot of alternatives for how to tally up the ballots and pick a winner, there are only a few ways to actually fill them out: an approval ballot is like a regular ballot -- you vote for candidates you want -- but you can vote for as many as you like, picking all the candidates you find acceptable. On a scored ballot, you have to give each candidate a score, say, 1-5. And on a ranked ballot, you have to order all the candidates by preference. I figure a major hurdle to voting reform is getting the electorate to feel comfortable with doing things differently, so I'm curious in people's opinions: regardless of what fancy method is used to pick the winner, how do you feel about those different ways of voting? Do any of them feel more or less like proper voting?

[User Picture]From: kybearfuzz
2016-10-23 03:46 pm (UTC)
Wow... I can imagine them sending us ballots at home in KY. A large chuck would end up throwing them away by accident. However, I do see it being beneficial for senior citizens who have trouble getting to the polls.
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[User Picture]From: dcseain
2016-10-23 06:17 pm (UTC)

I fully support IRV, or ranked, as you presented it.

And to communicate "I don't care" on a ballot, one simply does not vote on that issue.

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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2016-10-23 11:18 pm (UTC)
IRV uses ranked ballots, but so do a half-dozen other systems.

It's true that we can interpret blank ballots as positive abstention on the issue, but I bet that if it were an option, we'd still get blanks also. Part of me feels like there's a difference between actively saying "I don't care" and passively just not bothering to pick that's worth paying attention to. The rest of me is not totally convinced.
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[User Picture]From: baronet
2016-10-23 06:21 pm (UTC)

Legit ballots

I am inclined to think of approval ballots and ranked ballots as legitimate. A scored ballot feels less so. I haven't seen a voting system proposal that uses a scored ballot, but I have for approval and ranked. I could imagine a voting system where the voters got to score all of the candidates, but my gut says that it would devolve into approval balloting where you gave every candidate either 5 points or 0.
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2016-10-24 03:55 am (UTC)

Re: Legit ballots

I think it depends on the candidates available. In this election, I bet there are a lot of people who would be more comfortable giving 5 points to a minority candidate and 3 points to one of the majors as a half-hearted safety vote than full votes to both.

Thought that just occurred to me: does a scored ballot feel more legit if it's on a scale of, say, -2 to +2 rather than 0 to 4?
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[User Picture]From: baronet
2016-10-23 06:31 pm (UTC)


I have a couple of quibbles with Instant Runoff Voting. It is chaotic with respect to the exact number of votes that the highly unpopular candidates get (which determines the order they are eliminated and thereby determines which other candidates get saved from elimination by their hand-me-down votes), so you can't determine a winner until all of the votes are in and all of the write-in votes are counted.

That same chaos means that reprocessing the election might have a very different result, so the nature of a recount has to be rethought.

I also hear that it tends to devolve into a two-party system, but I haven't heard why or how. It seems like it would be so much better than first past the post.

I've recent heard of a different way of processing preferential ballots called the Schulze method. I'm trying to convince myself it avoids delay and recount problems of IRV. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schulze_method
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[User Picture]From: dr_tectonic
2016-10-24 04:12 am (UTC)

Re: Preference

Yeah, recounts appearing dramatically different from one another is a serious problem. (Even if, practically speaking, they give the same answer almost all the time.)

The Schulze method has a lot of nice properties, but I worry about how confusing it is, and whether that would kill its acceptability to the average voter.

I hadn't paid much attention to approval voting until recently, but it's favored by some reform groups as being fairly resistant to strategic manipulation, which I think is an important property. And I just read something that says that although it's not a Condorcet method, in practice it almost always picks the Condorcet winner, and that it's just some weird edge cases that don't conform. If that's true, that's pretty awesome, because I think that how similar it is to what people are used to, and how easy it is to implement and explain are really big pluses for its potential adopatability. So that's my current favorite (to the degree I have one).
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From: detailbear
2016-10-24 09:02 pm (UTC)

Up here

Canada is going through an election reform process right now. There seems to be a preference for Proportional Representation over here. I believe that the US has a greater attachment to single-member constituencies, so I can understand just discussing the majoritarian systems.

I had originally been in favour of Alternative Vote (ranked ballot), but after studying the materials from various sources I'm most in favour of Rural-Urban PR, which includes: single-member ridings or small multi-member ridings in rural areas; multi-member ridings in urban areas; a small layer (15%) of regional top-up seats to increase the proportionality of the system. Ref: http://www.fairvote.ca/fvc-submission-to-erre/

I see that your Prop 132 (redistricting) didn't survive challenge in the State Supreme Court. Has anything come up to replace it?
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