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Author Topic: BC-STV Referendum 2009 (Part 2)
Wilf Day
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posted 18 October 2008 11:14 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Loretta said in the previous thread:
quote:
My understanding of BC-STV was that it was different than other STV systems elsewhere. Is it similar enough to other jurisdictions that the outcomes here can be predicted based on the outcomes there?

STV has the same basic mechanics everywhere, but with significant variations.

The most important is district magnitude. For example: Tasmania used to have all seven-seaters. When the Greens won five seats in 1992 the two main parties were a bit alarmed, but the Liberals (the right-wing party as in BC) got a majority. In 1996 the Greens got four seats, but this time they held the balance of power. The two main parties shrank the district magnitude to five-seaters, and called a snap election. It worked: in 1998 the Greens got only one seat, and Labor got a majority. (Since then the Greens have managed to get back up to four seats even with five-seaters, so it wasn't a fatal blow, but a handy illustration of the effect of District Magnitude.)

For another example, in Northern Ireland the Forum, which was elected in 1996 and ran in parallel with the two-year talks process, was elected from five-seaters. They decided this was not proportional enough for the six- or ten- party system in fractured Northern Ireland, and decided on all six-seaters for the Assembly elections. Those six-seaters have worked very well in three elections since then. To verify this, surf the net for comments on the Northern Ireland Assembly elections of 1998, 2003 and 2007. This site is a good objective resource on Irish elections generally.

Ireland has three-seaters, four-seaters and five-seaters. Not as good as Northern Ireland, but despite that, last year they managed to elect 77 Fianna Fail plus the Speaker, 51 Fine Gael, 20 Labour, 6 Greens, 4 Sinn Fein, 2 Progressive Democrats, and five independents. So the smaller district magnitude doesn't matter as much as you might fear. A concern about BC-STV was whether the most conservative areas would get three-seaters (which would normally elect 2 Liberals and 1 New Democrat) while less conservative areas would get the more proportional districts. This was a favourite trick in Ireland in the 1950s and up until 1977, known as the "tullymander." Look at your BC-STV map and see if you think it has been tullymandered. I don't.

Tasmania has three differences. It has no by-elections, so parties need to run extra candidates, because a death or resignation is filled by "countback," re-counting the ballots to get the next choice after the departing candidate is removed from the count -- that is, his or her party's next most popular candidate. So each party nominates five candidates in each five-seater. Also, it requires voters to rank at least five candidates, which helps party solidarity. And it uses a ballot with separate columns for each party, again making it easy for party voters to number their first five choices, while Ireland and Northern Ireland just list everyone in alphabetical order. Tasmania currently has no independents elected; the last one was in 1996. BC-STV will use the Tasmanian ballot, a plus in my mind, but will not require voters to rank at least five. All this will leave parties free to follow the Irish practice of just nominating enough for the seats they hope to win, or perhaps one extra. Your ballots will likely be as short as Irish ballots, which are quite manageable.

Ireland has a transfer method I don't like: after a candidate is elected, only the last parcel transferred to him or her is used in calculating the surplus transfers. Northern Ireland doesn't do that. BC-STV wisely uses the Northern Ireland transfer method.

quote:
I would like to see something that compares and contrasts STV to MMP and FPTP critically from a source that's trustworthy.

Again, if I may say so respectfully, that's not the question. I see no prospect of MMP being considered for BC provincially in a reasonable time frame. MMP is the most plausible option federally. If BC-STV wins the referendum, this will help promote proportional representation in the rest of Canada. If we get PR implemented federally, lucky BC will be able to see both systems at work. If MMP is so much better as you feel, BC might switch. Scotland is in that happy position today, with MMP for its own parliament, FPTP for Westminister, and STV municipally. STV fans predict the Scottish Parliament will switch to STV. We will see.
quote:
I don't see the CA as that source, for a few reasons. One is that it was appointed by the BC Liberals, whose interest in this issue is questionable.

The members were chosen by Elections BC at random. The identical process was followed to choose the Ontario CA. It worked very well in both cases.

The staff of the CA was chosen by the Liberal governments in both BC and Ontario. Only a minority of Ontario Liberals want proportional representation, and some feared they would staff it with PR-sceptics. To their credit, they didn't. Neither did BC, obviously. I understand your suspicion. But look at the result: they chose a proportional system. Actually they chose two, and then picked the one they liked best.

quote:
Convince me. I'm quite politically interested and involved, more so than most, so while I don't get the lingo that is used in threads devoted to this subject, I am able to understand. If you can't find a way to put it forward in such a way as to either convince me or at least get me to the point where I understand how others might consider it advantageous (and would agree to disagree), then I believe that it's not likely that those who aren't involved politically will concede its merits at the ballot box.

I expect you may have other concerns I have not addressed. Fire away.

Ranger said:

quote:
A concern I've had from the get go, if or when STV proved a disaster the chances for a system that made sense would be nil, Wilf is incorrect that you "have to" increase existing seat totals to implement a proportional system or that STV is the only way to start "incrementally" also the system in Tazmania has some very signifigant differences than the one served up for B.C.ers but of course he knows this.

I did not mean to imply you "have to" increase existing seat totals to implement a proportional system. I said that, to improve BC-STV in future, it would be better to have more MLAs. In Ontario, the CA designed a compromise that increased the number of MPPs from 107 to 129 but shrank the number of local MPPs from 107 to 90, making ridings larger, while having only 30% List MPPs which is often a bit small to provide full compensation for disproportional local results. I know, Ranger thinks 25% is good enough, and quite a few Ontario CA members agreed with him but the decision was 30%. But Germany, New Zealand and Scotland all use at least 40%. Federally, I think 33% would be workable. If we were not worried about raising the number of MPPs, the ideal MMP model for Ontario would have been 178 MPPs: 107 Local MPPs and 71 List MPPs. But no one was brave enough to propose that.

[ 18 October 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
jrootham
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posted 18 October 2008 12:37 PM      Profile for jrootham     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
This is drift, but this is the currently running PR thread.

In an MMP system, is it necessary for all regions to have the same level of proportionality?

I am thinking of a model where regions are defined (eg. Toronto, Northern Ontario, Eastern Ontario, Western Ontario, 905) and seats are allocated to each region based on population. Each region then gets to decide how many ridings to have. Northern Ontario may well decide to have more ridings and fewer compensatory seats than Toronto.

How much damage could that do to proportionality? Possibly not much since the areas with more FPTP won't have many people. You might have to define a rule to keep the powers that be squeezing compensatory seats (see Irish STV district magnitude).

Given the huge variation in population density across this country I think we need some kind of tailorable system.

In the old city of Toronto you could double the size of the ridings and still walk across them in a couple of hours.


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CCBC
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posted 18 October 2008 02:40 PM      Profile for CCBC     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wilf is right when he says that Ireland is the closest comparison to BC-STV with N.Ireland and Tasmania a little after. (Though I think the must-vote-for-five rule makes enough of a difference so that it has to be mentioned. Under BC-STV, I would expect parties to follow the Irish model and nominate only as many candidates as they could expect to elect.)
One of the main features of comparing Irish STV to BC-STV is that you are dealing with similar populations. Of course, there are also two big differences: Ireland is tiny in size compared to BC and it has twice as many representatives. All by itself, having more MLAs would make BC elections more proportionate. Rural BC continues to lose population and urban BC continues to grow. It will not be possible to maintain anything like adequate representation for all British Columbians without increasing the size of the legislature.

From: Nelson, BC | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
JKR
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posted 18 October 2008 07:07 PM      Profile for JKR        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
A description of the proposed BC-STV electoral system


BC-STV Electoral Districts


Proposed BC-STV Electoral System Boundaries


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 19 October 2008 08:20 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
As I said before, one thing I'd prefer is single-member STV districts. If not, then MLAs need to have rules about under what circumstances they serve constituents. For example it might rotate among each MLA every three months with a common office address. So constituents could call/fax/e-mail the same number/address but one might get help from MLA X, then a few months later someone else might get help from MLA Y.

(Also there needs to be a complaints process if an MLA purposely shirks their duty for ideological reasons or out of pure laziness.)


From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
RANGER
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posted 19 October 2008 09:00 AM      Profile for RANGER     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by DrConway:
As I said before, one thing I'd prefer is single-member STV districts. If not, then MLAs need to have rules about under what circumstances they serve constituents. For example it might rotate among each MLA every three months with a common office address. So constituents could call/fax/e-mail the same number/address but one might get help from MLA X, then a few months later someone else might get help from MLA Y.

(Also there needs to be a complaints process if an MLA purposely shirks their duty for ideological reasons or out of pure laziness.)


Sounds like your a fan of AV (alternative voting), we had this in B.C. for a couple of elections in the early 50's waaaay before my time.


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RANGER
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posted 19 October 2008 09:05 AM      Profile for RANGER     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
http://www.nationmaster.com/encyclopedia/British-Columbia-general-election,-1952
From: sunshine coast | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
DrConway
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posted 19 October 2008 09:44 AM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
The fact that BC used an alternative voting system in an era before computers were widespread is proof that BC-STV does not need computerized ballots to properly tally and redistribute votes. This should set peoples' mind at ease about the potential for Diebold-like situations in BC.
From: You shall not side with the great against the powerless. | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Loretta
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posted 19 October 2008 10:09 AM      Profile for Loretta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't have any problem with the aim of increasing proportionality in BC, never have. I was concerned about the district size being presented in last referendum as I believed that our area wasn't being very well served under the proposal. However, I see that, for 2009, this has been changed. That's good and one point in favour.

However, sorry Wilf, I need to have relevant systems in front of me to compare and contrast in order to fully understand them. While MMP may not be the question put to us here, it's useful to the way I learn to see what each is about. Where can such a resource be found?

Also, I checked all of the above links and don't see anything (perhaps I missed it reading on the screen rather than printing it all) that talks about the counting method at all. Dr. Conway's assertions to the contrary, I do have concerns about it and I doubt I'm alone on that score.

Wilf, you stated that the CA was a non-partisan process -- given the various issues facing our province, I think you might be able to understand why I don't trust the BC Liberals in anything they say (BC Rail? Conversation on Health? IPPs?, etc). Therefore, I am not willing to accept assertions rather I want to critically examine the end result so as to avoid being "snowed".

I think Dr Conway's concern about representation is also valid. I know that, in the 2001 BC Liberal landslide, those people seeking help with welfare issues (which were many) were not even given the time of day by our then MLA or his staff. How does this work on the ground in those jurisdictions that use it -- do those with social program issues go to the office of the MLA that stands for that platform and those who have conservative/business interests go to their corresponding MLA?

[ 19 October 2008: Message edited by: Loretta ]


From: The West Kootenays of BC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 19 October 2008 10:12 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CCBC:
Under BC-STV, I would expect parties to follow the Irish model and nominate only as many candidates as they could expect to elect.)

A slight overstatement.

You might think left parties like Green, Sinn Fein and Labour would try to run a man and a woman in each district, to give voters a choice and try to move towards parity. But this is Ireland.

In 2007 (see pages 60 to 63) in the 43 districts Labour ran 50 candidates. It won only 20 seats, down one from 2002. Its best result ever was in 33 seats in 1992, and its optimistic target in 2007 was 30 seats. So why did it run two candidates in seven districts?

In five-seater Dublin South Central, Labour's strongest district, it had a real chance at two seats, running incumbent Mary Upton and former MP Eric Byrne. (There was some factionalism here: in 1992 Mary's late brother Pat had unseated Eric Byrne when Byrne was a Democratic Left Party member; the two parties merged in 1999.)

On the first count with 1.27 quotas this did not look likely, but in fact Labour had 1.88 quotas by the tenth count, and Byrne lost the fifth seat to Sinn Fein by only 69 votes. An interesting example of how transfers help when you have enough parties (caution: this may not apply so well in BC). Labour picked up .30 of a quota from eight minor party and independent candidates, and .01 from conservative Fianna Fail surpluses. Then the second Fine Gael candidate dropped (Fine Gael is the centrist party that was Labour's prospective coalition partner), so Labour picked up .07 of a quota from her, although most of her votes transferred to her running mate. Finally the Green Party candidate was eliminated on the ninth count with .48 of a quota, giving Labour's two candidates another .27 of a quota between them. (Another .08 went to Fine Gael, .05 to Sinn Fein, and .07 of diehard Greens had no further preferences so their ballots were "exhausted.")

Interestingly, when Labour's Mary Upton was elected on the final count and her 1,098 surplus was transferred, Eric Byrne would have indeed won the second seat except that 69 Upton votes transferred to Sinn Fein, giving their man the victory margin over Byrne.

Next-door Dublin South was a very different story. A more conservative area, in 1989 the Green Party made an electoral breakthrough there, but in 1992 Labour won their first seat in Dublin South, displacing the Green Party. But in 1997 neither won a seat here. In 2002 it elected three conservatives (two FF, one PD), one centrist FG, and a Green. Yet in 2007 Labour ran two candidates here, although neither won.

The two men, both Dublic local councillors, had fought each other for the Labour nomination. After Aiden Culhane won, the party decided to run Alex White as well, and let the voters decide. But Culhane said he was being "shafted" because he opposed party leader Pat Rabbitte. Culhane predicted "There is probably a quota there but you won't win it if you split the vote. To split the vote is going to be appallingly difficult."

Indeed. Battles like that generate too much friction. On the first ballot the two Labour men had .63 of a quota between them. This could have grown through transfers to a victory at the end of the count. By the fifth count the two had .72 quota between them. But when Culhane dropped, only 52% of his votes transferred to White, while 21% went to FG, 17% went Green, 7% even went FF or PD, while 2% exhausted. The Green incumbent was re-elected, FG stole the PD seat, and Labour was shut out again.

Interesting discussion of the topic here.


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 19 October 2008 11:19 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
I know that, in the 2001 BC Liberal landslide, those people seeking help with welfare issues (which were many) were not even given the time of day by our then MLA or his staff. How does this work on the ground in those jurisdictions that use it -- do those with social program issues go to the office of the MLA that stands for that platform and those who have conservative/business interests go to their corresponding MLA?

With both STV (Ireland) and MMP (Scotland) you can go to any of your MLAs. In Ireland you have your choice of three, four or five. In Scotland you have a choice of your local MLA or any of your seven regional MLAs. If you're a Scots Nat supporter, and the Scots Nats won three of the regional seats, when you go to their regional MLAs' office you may be told "Alice Brown looks after your riding" but at least you can go to someone whose platform you agree with, someone you voted for. That's one of the great points about any PR system.
quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
I need to have relevant systems in front of me to compare and contrast in order to fully understand them. While MMP may not be the question put to us here, it's useful to the way I learn to see what each is about. Where can such a resource be found?

The standard reference materials are the ACE Project and the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

Here is a very simple introduction by an American.

Best of all, go get a copy of "The Politics of Voting" by Dennis Pilon and read Chapter 7 "STV versus MMP."

quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
Also, I checked all of the above links and don't see anything (perhaps I missed it reading on the screen rather than printing it all) that talks about the counting method at all.

The official simple explanation for voters in Northern Ireland.

From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Loretta
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posted 19 October 2008 12:24 PM      Profile for Loretta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I will track down "The Politics of Voting" as it will likely address a number of outstanding questions that I don't yet know I have -- thanks for the suggestion.

I can only imagine how things might shake down in terms of constituency work/representation...have to think a bit more about that.

In terms of better representation of under-represented groups, I don't see how that claim, which is made in some of the linked material, can be held to be true. It would only be true if the parties involved put forward those candidates in that riding, something that isn't a given. And voters would still be influenced by prejudice, spoken or otherwise, in my opinion. It seems like a rather tall claim to me.

Perhaps the book will shed some light on this aspect of the claims that are being made.


From: The West Kootenays of BC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 19 October 2008 01:25 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
In terms of better representation of under-represented groups, I don't see how that claim, which is made in some of the linked material, can be held to be true. It would only be true if the parties involved put forward those candidates in that riding, something that isn't a given. And voters would still be influenced by prejudice, spoken or otherwise, in my opinion. It seems like a rather tall claim to me.

Indeed no PR system can, by itself, guarantee better representation of women and cultural minorities. Studies by Matland and others have generated excellent statistical evidence that they tend to do this: best in List PR countries, less so with MMP. Yet the first and in many ways the best PR system, that of Belgium, was an embarrasing exception until they introduced legal quotas. France then did the same, not for its national parliament, but for all bodies using lists, such as municipal and regional councils elected by PR, which until then had been as bad as the Belgian Parliament. These have worked perfectly. Google France plus "Parity Law."

As to STV, it has elected lots of women in Tasmania and in the Belfast City Council, and poor numbers in the Irish Dail and the Northern Ireland Assembly.

The argument as to how it will help women in BC seems quite clear, though: in virtually every district the NDP can be expected to nominate at least two candidates. If it follows a parity rule, it is dead simple to make sure this includes a male and a female. The natural phenomenon of competition and imitation will result in the Liberals doing much the same thing. This will not happen overnight, though: incumbents always have an advantage in any system, and there are more male incumbents.

MMP fans often quote figures from the new Wales Assembly and Scottish Parliament to show how well women did there, which was very well indeed. I try not to do that, because I know the biggest reason that happened: they were new legislatures. No male incumbents.

As to cultural minorities, I mentioned in the previous thread the example of Anna Lo. Born in Hong Kong, of Chinese ethnicity, Lo was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly for South Belfast in the 2007 assembly election. She was the first ethnic minority politician elected at a national level in Northern Ireland, and the first politician born in East Asia elected to any national parliament or assembly in the United Kingdom.

South Belfast is the most racially tolerant riding in the UK? I don't think so. She would not have been elected without the six-seater STV district.

This was a new seat for the liberal/centrist Alliance Party. She won one of South Belfast's six seats after she picked up 41% of the transfers from Green Party candidate Brenda Cooke.

For more information on election of women, go to the Quota Project Database.

Slight drift: it's interesting to note that the EU requires all its member states to use a PR system to elect European Parliament MPs: 23 member states use list PR, 2 use STV. And Britain uses both: list PR in England, Wales and Scotland, STV in Northern Ireland. Anyway, clearly STV is a PR system.

[ 19 October 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Loretta
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posted 19 October 2008 01:53 PM      Profile for Loretta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Anyway, clearly STV is a PR system.

Yes. However, BC-STV will be something that I anticipate my children will be living with for quite sometime, given that it's really, really difficult to bring about changes to the electoral system. Therefore, I need to believe and fully understand, for myself, as to whether it's a fair and workable system for our province. I realize that FPTP isn't fair but want to be sure that the efforts towards change will produce the desired result (or as close to it as possible). I don't want to be sold a bill of goods.

I don't think I'm alone. Some who engage in dialogue on this thread often talk above those of us who aren't knowledgeable on this issue and who don't even know where to find more information. Others treat us as if we are stupid, manipulative and worse if we say we see nothing that has convinced us to check YES.

I understand that those of you who have more in-depth knowledge and understanding of these systems want to discuss it in more complexity, but the result for me is that I just haven't, until this one, even opened threads with this title. I doubt I'm alone in that either.


From: The West Kootenays of BC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 19 October 2008 02:43 PM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
BC-STV will be something that I anticipate my children will be living with for quite sometime, given that it's really, really difficult to bring about changes to the electoral system. Therefore, I need to believe and fully understand, for myself, as to whether it's a fair and workable system for our province.

Perfectly reasonable. Ask away.

The STV map is now 20 districts averaging 4.25 MLAs each:
1 seven-seater
1 six-seater
5 five-seaters
9 four-seaters
3 three-seaters
1 two-seater

By comparison, Ireland has 166 MPs in 43 districts, 3.86 MPs each. BC is better than Ireland.

On May 31 at the Fair Vote Canada AGM Olivia Chow said the federal NDP Caucus realized that it was important that STV get passed in BC next spring, and said they were urging BC New Democrats to support it, presumably on an individual level, since I think everyone in BC doesn't want STV to become a partisan issue. But this would not be new: Carole James told the BC Citizens Assembly that the NDP supported electoral reform, and proportional representation, but was taking no position as to which model the CA should propose. So BC New Democrats should not generally be opposing BC-STV.

quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
I just haven't, until this one, even opened threads with this title. I doubt I'm alone in that either.

Try these if you like:

Topic: BC-STV Referendum 2009

Topic: Fall Electoral Reform Convention - Nov 10

In a six-seat district (such as in STV), if a party nominates four or five candidates it is likely that they will include more than one woman, and at least one member of a cultural minority. Similarly in Scotland's MMP system where voters elect nine local representatives and seven regional representatives, the slate for the regional seats normally has good gender and minority balance.

Why would BC be any different?

Back to the math.

To win a seat in a five-seater you need 16.7% on the last count, which you will, on average, get if you have 11.1% on the first count.
And that's assuming all voters rank all candidates. If some ballots are exhausted before the final count, then the fifth candidate elected can get in with less than a full quotient, that is, with less than 16.7%. This will happen fairly often.

If you transpose the 2005 BC election results onto the new BC-STV map you find the Greens likely winning a seat in each of Capital District (7-seater), West Vancouver (6-seater), North Shore - Sea To Sky (4-seater), and near-wins in a couple more. This of course is not precise, because I don't have the transposition of votes to the new boundaries, and anyway it depends on assumptions about voters' second and subsequent preferences. More to the point, the Greens would get more votes from those who stayed home rather than waste their votes (turnout is typically around 8% or 10% higher when voters know every vote counts), and from those who voted against their enemy rather than for their first choice (of course STV lets you do both at once.)

So I can safely say BC-STV would have given the Greens at least five seats in 2005.

And in the 15 or so other districts, if Green votes transferred more to the NDP than to the Liberals, it would have helped the NDP. On the other hand, in those districts where Green votes would transfer more to the Liberals than the NDP, it would help the Liberals.

I don't think anyone should promote any PR system on the basis that it will help their party. Making every vote count helps democracy. Period.

[ 19 October 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Assembly Talker
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posted 19 October 2008 08:09 PM      Profile for Assembly Talker     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hi All,


To Loretta,


Glad you are asking questions and willing to do the leg work to make an educated vote in May 2009.

As a former member of the CA in 2004, I can assure you that 160 citizens picked randomly from the public put a year of dedication into studying and choosing an electoral system that we felt was best for BC voters.

This was not a partisan or political process at all. All members of the CA did a great job of keeping their own political perspectives out of the conversation. I speak for many former members who dedicated a year of their time to serve their province.

I believe that the citizens Assembly process is part of many tools that we need to use to engage public debate on current social issues.

I believe that if you do a thorough study of BC-STV you find that it is a very sound and functional system that will move BC to the leading edge of electoral reform in North America. It will serve BC far better than FPTP can in the coming decades.

ELECTORAL SYSTEMS - by David M. Farrell

Is also a very good resource for comparing electoral systems.


Dr. Conway,


AV or alternative vote system is not considered a PR system. It actually is classified in the same "majorian" classification as FPTP. Has pros and cons to FPTP, but really isn't a move toward PR.

The multi-member aspect of STV is what makes the system proportional. The more members elected per district the higher the proportionality of the system.


I also thank Wilf for taking the time to do his best to explain these complex systems and there many variations.

Just read Al Gore's book An Assault on Reason. He definitely does not have much nice to say about George W. Bush, but an important note that he does make is that voters have lost their ability to communicate with their governments in a practical way. Television being a one-way medium that only the wealthy can access. He has high hopes for the internet and blogs like this one to re-ignite two way debate between voters who feel that they can make a difference.

I can't help but add the CA process to that toolbox to involve more of the public to feel that they can make a difference by expressing their views.

Less than 60% of people in Canada voted last week........

Many changes are needed to fix what is wrong, start with Electoral Reform and go with a system designed by citizens of BC for all Citizens of BC.


Glad to see the debate


AT


From: The Heartland | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Brian White
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posted 19 October 2008 10:18 PM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I would just like to thank Wilf for his answers to STV questions. Very even handed.
I have lived under STV and I am not evanhanded.
Politicians do not much like STV because it puts them on a bit of a threadmill.
This is probably a large part of the reason that the NDP and Liberal leadership are "ignoring" it.
The biggest complaint of irish politicians is their workload.
I believe they had an all party committe in ireland looking into changing to another system in the last 5 or 6 years but the politicians declined to put forward a new system. (They cited voter satifaction with STV as the reason)
You are probably more likely to lose your seat to a fellow party member than to an opponent party competitor.
It is nice to have a safe personal seat as many have in first past the post and this is part of the NDP and liberal fear.
The funny thing is that political careers in Ireland are pretty long. I think STV makes for skilled politicians and it has a steep learning curve. Once you have learned for 4 years it is very hard for a novice to beat you.
The politicians did not try to personally engage me in the last 2 federal elections in Canada, and I live right close to the center of Victoria.
In ireland i was always visited by the reps from at least 3 partys! even though I lived at the edge of a rural riding.
People make fun of the slow count in stv but it makes for great tv and is always the top show of an election year. How votes transfer yields a lot of info to the partys so that they can fine tune their platforms to appeal to more voters.
This is the opposite of the attack adverts that happen in Canada. Imagine the conservatives focusing on their own platform during the election. But wait, they didnt bring one out until the last week! Unthinkable under STV.

From: Victoria Bc | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
CCBC
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posted 20 October 2008 01:41 AM      Profile for CCBC     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Wilf Day:

A slight overstatement.


Okay. The point, Wilf, is that a three-member (or however-member) district under BC-STV will have to get used to their party nominating only one or two members. I think, if STV comes in, that will prove a difficult point for many in the Interior where representation is spread out. But I do think it wouldn't take more than one election for the point to be made.
quote:
...in virtually every district the NDP can be expected to nominate at least two candidates. If it follows a parity rule, it is dead simple to make sure this includes a male and a female.

Ah. I like that "if". The NDP has a parity rule this election which has aroused a great deal of opposition. We'll see how it works. But I agree that gender parity deepends on party policy rather than electoral systems. MMP Europe has produced a fair amount of parity. But neither STV Ireland nor STV N. Ireland. Party parity rules seem difficult to establish under STV. And that was the conclusion of the New Zealand Women's Electoral Lobby as well. Possibly that was a contributing factor in NZ selecting MMP over STV.

From: Nelson, BC | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Brian White
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posted 20 October 2008 02:41 AM      Profile for Brian White   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I do not disagree on ireland and women in politics. There does not seem to be many.
there was a woman party leader for about 10 years mary harney and we had woman presidents so perhaps the cream does come to the top.
NZ chose mmp over fptp.
In a non binding referendum mmp came first by a long way and stv second with fptp in 3rd place.
In the second binding referendum, mmp beat fptp
with 53.4%. If they had accepted "campbell says"
they still would have first past the post!
53.4% is a good win in an important referendum by the way. Important referendums are the devisive ones. When it is really important, nobody ever gets 60% nor should they have to. My vote should have equal value to someone who votes to keep the existing system. It would if we lived in or stood up for our democracy.
quote:
Originally posted by CCBC:

But neither STV Ireland nor STV N. Ireland. Party parity rules seem difficult to establish under STV. And that was the conclusion of the New Zealand Women's Electoral Lobby as well. Possibly that was a contributing factor in NZ selecting MMP over STV.


From: Victoria Bc | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 20 October 2008 06:09 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CCBC:
Party parity rules seem difficult to establish under STV.

No more so than with open-list MMP or open-list pure-list. In all cases the voters can overturn the parity rule.

The fear that this might happen arises from an old study by Matland of municipal elections in, if I recall correctly, Norway, when women there somehow provoked a male backlash.

But in Canada, 90% of voters say they want to see more women elected. That includes 88% of men and 92% of women. So I don't see a problem. If parties nominate good women candidates, voters will vote for them, except for the incumbents' temporary advantage.

The Tasmanian Labour Party adopted an affirmative action policy to get more women candidates, and they got elected. And, although it pains me to admit it, Sinn Fein in Northern Ireland has an excellent policy on running and electing women, coming very close to parity. And when Sweden finally dared challenge Matland's advice, their open-list system elected more women, not fewer.

Nothing in STV is inherently an obstacle to parity. I have no doubt it will result in more women being elected, not overnight, but soon.

quote:
Originally posted by CCBC:
. . . a three-member (or however-member) district under BC-STV will have to get used to their party nominating only one or two members. I think, if STV comes in, that will prove a difficult point for many in the Interior where representation is spread out.

This is a point STV fans hate to acknowledge, but it has to be faced. The NDP, for example, will run fewer candidates under STV than it does now. It will take a bit of discipline to follow a parity rule under that circumstance. A test of the party's commitment to equality.

Fine Gael has a more permissive practice than other parties in Ireland. If they have a problem, they just run more candidates than they need. As long as they play nicely, this will not split the vote. In theory, STV means you can run as many as you like, if the voters will stay loyal with their transfers. The Tasmanian ballot will be a big factor in helping this happen. It's only when a bitter nomination battle spills over into a general election that supporters of one candidate hate his supposed team-mate more than his opponent. I can see both parties running three candidates in the Kootenay district in the first STV election, and we'll soon find out whether Cranbrook voters are more loyal to Cranbrook than to their party.

quote:
Originally posted by Brian White:
How votes transfer yields a lot of info to the parties so that they can fine tune their platforms to appeal to more voters. This is the opposite of the attack adverts that happen in Canada. Imagine the conservatives focusing on their own platform during the election. But wait, they didn't bring one out until the last week! Unthinkable under STV.

This is a vital point. If Labour voters don't like the idea of a Labour-Fine Gael coalition, they will say so by their transfers, which are instantly analyzed.

That doesn't mean they are always followed. Irish Green voters showed they hated Fianna Fail last year, yet they quickly got a Fianna Fail-Green coalition, after a quick and agonized Green Party convention. Agonized because the transfer results spoke unmistakeably, but the configuration of the parliament made a Fine Gael-Labour-Green coalition, which all three wanted, just out of reach.


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Loretta
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posted 21 October 2008 08:48 AM      Profile for Loretta     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I can't contribute much of anything else until I've read the book, which is on its way. I'm looking forward to its arrival.
From: The West Kootenays of BC | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
CCBC
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posted 23 October 2008 01:14 AM      Profile for CCBC     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Wilf Day:
I can see both parties running three candidates in the Kootenay district in the first STV election...

Um, did you mean four, Wilf?


From: Nelson, BC | Registered: Feb 2003  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 23 October 2008 06:54 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by CCBC:
Um, did you mean four, Wilf?

Um, yes.

From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
Daniel Grice
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posted 23 October 2008 05:26 PM      Profile for Daniel Grice   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Hi Fellow Babblers,

I'm helping to organizer for BC-STV, and we are looking for community organizers, musicians, designers, fundraisers, canvassers and other interested participants to help get electoral reform passed.

Please email me at dan@vanalive.ca if you are interested in getting involved.


From: Vancouver | Registered: Jan 2005  |  IP: Logged
Wilf Day
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posted 26 October 2008 09:30 AM      Profile for Wilf Day     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
One of the common statements about STV is that it encourages cooperative politics bwteeen diverse groups, and is a less adversarial system.

For a practical example, see this analysis of the last Northern Ireland election, especially the Transfer Analysis at Annex G, page 37.

You will see that, while 69% of votes for the UUP (the more moderate of the two main unionist or Protestant parties) transferred to the hardline DUP or its hardline cousin the UKUP, 20% of them transferred to the moderate nationalist (Catholic) party the SDLP, preferring it over Paisley's group. Another 5% transferred to the non-communal parties, the liberal Alliance Party and the Greens, or the left-wing PUP.

Even more striking is the transfers from the moderate nationalist SDLP. Only 24% went to the hardline nationalist Sinn Fein, while 37% went to the centrist Alliance Party or the Greens, while another 21% even preferred the UUP to Sinn Fein.

STV had been used there in the 1921 and 1925 elections, but the UUP government then abolished it, for fear that the Northern Ireland Labour Party, the Ulster Liberal Party, and Independent Unionists, all of whom had made gains in 1925, would do well enough in 1929 that the UUP would lose its majority.

One of the aims of restoring STV to Northern Ireland was the hope that a system giving politicians incentives to appeal for second preferences from supporters of other parties would result in a less adversarial political scene.

It may not be obvious to casual observers that it has worked: although Northern Ireland has had a generation of peace, it's still a divided society. But the stats above show that, within the Northern Irish context, it has worked quite well.

For more information, or to get involved in the campaign for the coming referendum, go to stv.ca.

[ 26 October 2008: Message edited by: Wilf Day ]


From: Port Hope, Ontario | Registered: Oct 2002  |  IP: Logged
RANGER
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posted 26 October 2008 11:36 AM      Profile for RANGER     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh, so that's how you get a "generation of peace?"
From: sunshine coast | Registered: Dec 2004  |  IP: Logged
Assembly Talker
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posted 26 October 2008 07:13 PM      Profile for Assembly Talker     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Ranger

There are a lot of subtle features of BC-STV that prove to be very beneficial for the public. Especially how the types of choices can create opportunities for votes to count and how politicians/parties have to adapt to those choices offered to voters.

World Peace and solving global warming are only unintended benefits of the system.

We still need to find a cure for Cancer......


AT


From: The Heartland | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stunned Wind
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posted 28 October 2008 06:30 PM      Profile for Stunned Wind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Loretta:
Wilf, you stated that the CA was a non-partisan process -- given the various issues facing our province, I think you might be able to understand why I don't trust the BC Liberals in anything they say (BC Rail? Conversation on Health? IPPs?, etc). Therefore, I am not willing to accept assertions rather I want to critically examine the end result so as to avoid being "snowed".
Well, Loretta, you aren’t alone with that. I was also a member of BC’s Assembly and many members were “on the look-out” for some sort of pre-determined conclusion that we were supposed to come up with. I am certain that there wasn’t one, at least, not in terms of which voting system we were to choose.

We surprised a lot of people – by actually working together and coming up with a decision that most of us could support. Most importantly, we surprised the government by doing this.

This little experiment that they thought would keep the electoral reformers quiet for a little while took off. It took on a life of its own. They lost control of us and we almost won. When they didn’t do much to inform the public, most assembly members got out and talked with people even though our “work was done” and we received no government support. We almost made it over their last hurdle – the 60% popular vote requirement. We did make it over the 60% of ridings must pass it hurdle – all but two ridings passed it.

I have really wondered how the Campbell government could have done something so democratic as to have an assembly. It doesn’t, to my mind, fit in at all with everything else that they’ve done.

But I now think that they simply didn’t expect it to “work”. They expected the assembly to dissolve into factions that couldn’t agree on anything (kind of like our legislatures!). They underestimated our commitment to have “our say”, to represent our fellow citizens and to speak directly to them.

We did do this. Why do you think they haven’t had another assembly? The so-called Conversation on Health was better designed to engage the public, keep them occupied, but, most importantly, it was designed so that the government could “keep control”.

Our assembly had a unique opportunity to slip something real past the political elites and we did it. I doubt that we’ll get another chance like that for quite a while.


From: Well! Now I'm in Victoria-Swan Lake! | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged
Stunned Wind
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posted 28 October 2008 07:37 PM      Profile for Stunned Wind     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I forgot to add that another good book to read is Citizenship and Democracy: A case for proportional representation by Nick Loenen. It was published in 1997 and is now out of print. There are copies in libraries and used copies are available (that's how I got my copy). It is written by someone who really understands STV.

I didn't read it until long after the assembly was disbanded.


From: Well! Now I'm in Victoria-Swan Lake! | Registered: Nov 2004  |  IP: Logged

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