Holding Liberal voters to account: Electoral reform first up

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mmphosis

Justin Trudeau's electoral reform plan needs to 'get going' (cbc.ca)

Analysis by Mark Gollom

So the ranked ballot would benefit the Liberals the most because it would funnel support from both directions to that party. Proportional representation would definitely benefit the NDP and the Greens.

KenS

In case no one has said it already- Liberal voters have nothing to account for.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

If nobody minds terribly, I'll repeat myself from post #24

1.  How will we know who they are?

2.  How will we decide whether they're "working for change" hard enough, or at all?

I wholeheartedly agree that no voter is ever "accountable" to anyone for their choice -- doesn't matter if that choice is Liberal, Conservative, CPC-ML, abstention, or "Tear Up The Vote".

brookmere

Quote:
Proportional representation would definitely benefit the NDP and the Greens.

The Greens unquestionably. But if the Greens benefit, it has to come at the expense of some other party where they make gains, and that's most likely to be the NDP. The outcome in BC showed the NDP benefited from strategic voting at the expense of the Greens. I think there's also the possibility of the NDP losing votes to the BQ under PR. Of course the NDP would also gain in places like Atlantic Canada and Ontario, but is it in the interest of the NDP to make the Greens and Bloc more viable long term?

The timeline just isn't accommodatinhg for PR to be implemented by the next election. The process for the most recent redistribution began in February 2012, months after the previous election and based on the 2011 census. There's another census coming in mid-2016.  Is it reasonable to expect a wholesale change to the system, including another redistribution, to be completed in time for the next election?

And I think it's likely the LIberals had thought of this when they promised electoral change before the next election.

 

Jacob Two-Two

It's in the interest of the NDP not to stand in the way of progress, because that would eliminate its reason for existing.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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I think there's also the possibility of the NDP losing votes to the BQ under PR. Of course the NDP would also gain in places like Atlantic Canada and Ontario, but is it in the interest of the NDP to make the Greens and Bloc more viable long term?

I think that any party -- or even any person -- who debates electoral reform solely in terms of how it might have an impact on their immediate interests should be promptly shamed into quiet.

Either it's the right thing to do, on principle, or it isn't.  Evidently, the referendum in BC was more than a little tainted with self-interest over principle-- what say we don't do that again?

Mighty AC

Mr. Magoo wrote:
I think that any party -- or even any person -- who debates electoral reform solely in terms of how it might have an impact on their immediate interests should be promptly shamed into quiet.

Either it's the right thing to do, on principle, or it isn't.  Evidently, the referendum in BC was more than a little tainted with self-interest over principle-- what say we don't do that again?

Well said! Do we want an electoral system that produces a parliament that more accurately reflects the way Canadians vote or are we trying to engineer an outcome? I hope the government does the right thing and goes with the former.

Conservatives and even some Liberal supporters who would rather keep the beneficial outcome generating FPTP in place are starting to squawk about referendums. We have just had an election in which 3 parties, receiving a combined two thirds of the vote, made electoral reform major planks in their respective platforms. In my opinion, there is no need for a referendum. If JT goes that route it is because he wants out of his promise to reform the system.

Rev Pesky

Could someone post the overall number of different PR systems, and tell me how we're going to decide which one (or ones) will be offered as replacements for FPTP?

Mighty AC

Mighty AC wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

Could someone post the overall number of different PR systems, and tell me how we're going to decide which one (or ones) will be offered as replacements for FPTP?

Here is the Wikipedia page. Checkout the Electoral systems section: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation

The Liberals promised to create an all party committee, with citizen representatives to debate the various electoral systems, choose one and create legislation to implement it within 18 months.

Mighty AC

double post

scott16

Has the Liberal gov't announced when they will put this all-party committee together?

Cody87

scott16 wrote:

Has the Liberal gov't announced when they will put this all-party committee together?

Not that I am aware (if they have it has been within the last few days), but the self-imposed timeline to introduce legislation is 18 months. Mind you, they were expecting a minority when they set that time frame so it could be argued that as long as the legislation is passed before the next election it's fair game.

 

Personally, I would be more comfortable if we stick to the original 18 month time frame unless there is a very good reason to delay. It's a more fair playing field that way.

scott16

Cody87 wrote:

scott16 wrote:

Has the Liberal gov't announced when they will put this all-party committee together?

Not that I am aware (if they have it has been within the last few days), but the self-imposed timeline to introduce legislation is 18 months. Mind you, they were expecting a minority when they set that time frame so it could be argued that as long as the legislation is passed before the next election it's fair game.

 

Personally, I would be more comfortable if we stick to the original 18 month time frame unless there is a very good reason to delay. It's a more fair playing field that way.

In my opinion that is too long a process. It does not leave enough time to educate the voters on the new system.

I think the whole need to study idea is a waste of time because it's all been studied to death. I think the liberals will choose instant runoff because it benefits them the most.

mark_alfred

Mighty AC wrote:

Mighty AC wrote:

Rev Pesky wrote:

Could someone post the overall number of different PR systems, and tell me how we're going to decide which one (or ones) will be offered as replacements for FPTP?

Here is the Wikipedia page. Checkout the Electoral systems section: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proportional_representation

The Liberals promised to create an all party committee, with citizen representatives to debate the various electoral systems, choose one and create legislation to implement it within 18 months.

I don't see anything in their platform that indicates they intend to have "citizen representatives" within their committee.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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I think the whole need to study idea is a waste of time because it's all been studied to death. I think the liberals will choose instant runoff because it benefits them the most.

I suppose it remains to be seen whether they'll strike a citizen's committee (as I believe the provincial party did prior to the referendum in Ontario), and if not, then what they mean by "all-party Parliamentary committee".

Quote:
In my opinion that is too long a process. It does not leave enough time to educate the voters on the new system.

I thought the official line was that "Canadians WANT A change to the electoral system" and "Canadians have stopped voting because of FPTP" and "Canadians want their vote to count".

So if this is true, how much "education" should the voters really need? 

Just for scale:  you can complete a university credit course in 13 weeks.

Rev Pesky

I think all the PR types should be put into a room and not allowed out until they decide on which system is to be offered to the electorate. I read the Wikipedia article, and it looks like there might be a hundred or more variations of PR.

One thing jumps out at me, that is the constant tweaking required to maintain a PR system. That, and the fact that no two countries have the same system. Apparently the problems that PR is supposed to solve just keep on ocurring, requiring constant adjustments to the cut-off percentage, district size, bonus seats, local representation, gerrymandering, and a host of other considerations.

Everybody pushing PR talks about it as if everybody knows what they're talking about and agrees with them. but there's so many different ways of implementing PR that I doubt any two people have the same system in mind when they expound on it. So I think the proper place to start is to make clear what exactly we're talking about.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Everybody pushing PR talks about it as if everybody knows what they're talking about and agrees with them. but there's so many different ways of implementing PR that I doubt any two people have the same system in mind when they expound on it. So I think the proper place to start is to make clear what exactly we're talking about.

I would agree that it would be nice if electoral reform proponents could offer up one system for the consideration of the electorate, and agree on it, and support it.

Evidently, disagreement on this didn't really help the referenda that were held in B.C. and Ontario.

Jacob Two-Two

The citizen's coalition in BC did an excellent job. The only problem was the artificially high threshold for passing, and the lack of resources for the yes side to make their case. if the referendum had been a simple 50%, it would have passed easily.

Rev Pesky

Jacob Two-Two wrote:

The citizen's coalition in BC did an excellent job. The only problem was the artificially high threshold for passing, and the lack of resources for the yes side to make their case. if the referendum had been a simple 50%, it would have passed easily.

Except they came up with the dumbest system one could imagine. And by the way, when they were given a second chance to vote on it, it was rejected. So it appears that the more they learned about it, the less they liked it.

The so-called citizens's coalition was nothing more than a bunch of self-selected cranks who all had a grievance with FPTP. 

 

swallow swallow's picture

The Citizen's Committee selected itself? How did they manage to agree on only two cranks per riding? 

quizzical

because there's usually only 2?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The only problem was the artificially high threshold for passing, and the lack of resources for the yes side to make their case. if the referendum had been a simple 50%, it would have passed easily.

It's always funny to me to see people suggesting that if only the required quorum for the first referendum had been 50%+1 then it would have passed -- yes, it would have -- and that everyone would have lived happily ever after.

Except that when the second referendum went to vote, it kind of seemed like voters weren't all that interested in BC-STV, and even IF the cut-off had been 50%+1, it wouldn't have passed.

So somehow it would have been better if, in 2005, BC could have been saddled with a system that the electorate actually wouldn't want anymore in 2009.  What a tragic, missed opportunity to write into law something the electorate couldn't even support for four whole years.

wage zombie

In 1996, the NDP won the most seats while losing the popular vote.

In 2001, the Liberals won 58% of the popular vote, and got 97% of the seats (77 out of 79).

In 2005, FPTP gave a more conventional result, with the Liberals winning the popular vote 46% to 42%, and winning seats 46-33.

That's a big part of the drop in support in the second referendum in 2009.  It was just longer ago that either side had been burned by FPTP.

Doug Woodard

Mr. Magoo wrote:

It's always funny to me to see people suggesting that if only the required quorum for the first referendum had been 50%+1 then it would have passed -- yes, it would have -- and that everyone would have lived happily ever after.

Except that when the second referendum went to vote, it kind of seemed like voters weren't all that interested in BC-STV, and even IF the cut-off had been 50%+1, it wouldn't have passed.

So somehow it would have been better if, in 2005, BC could have been saddled with a system that the electorate actually wouldn't want anymore in 2009.  What a tragic, missed opportunity to write into law something the electorate couldn't even support for four whole years.

Maybe if the people of BC had had some experience with BC-STV, they would have liked it. The voters in Ireland preserved their PR-STV system through two referendums in which sitting governments tried to put an end to it.

I expect the drop in voter support for BC-STV in 2009 was not only because of the rabid propaganda of the "no" side, but also because the voters' memories of the disastrous performances of FPTP in 1996 and 2001, and their indignation, had faded:

BC election 1996

Liberals 41.8% of votes, 33 seats of 75

NDP......39.5% of votes, 39 seats, government

 

BC election 2001

Liberals 57.6% of votes, 77 seats

NDP......21.6% of votes,  2 seats

Greens..12.4% of votes,  0 seats

JKR

Another thing that changed was the referendum question. The question asked in the first BC referendum favoured the "yes" side while the question in the second referendum favoured the "no" side.

In 2005 voters were asked: "Should British Columbia change to the BC-STV electoral system as recommended by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform?"

But in 2009 voters were asked:

Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the provincial Legislative Assembly?:

▪ The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)

▪ The single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

This change in wording reflected the wording used in the 2007 Ontario electoral reform referendum. These questions were loaded against electoral reform.

Rev Pesky

swallow wrote:

The Citizen's Committee selected itself? How did they manage to agree on only two cranks per riding? 

The people who were on the committee were self-selected in that volunteers were asked for, and in that the process was explicitly to change the electoral system. So who would be the most likely to volunteer in such a situation? It would be those people who felt the strongest about the voting system, and specifically those who most strongly opposed the existing system. It was a classic case of setting an agenda, then running out to find people who agreed with the agenda. One thing was for sure, there was no way the committee was going to study the evidence and decide there was no compelling reason to change the existing system. It was taken as given that FPTP was bad and needed to be replaced.

So the committee spent a lot of time sifting through the various voting systems without spending a lot of time determining whether the people really wanted a change. As it turned out, they couldn't muster the support needed. They were given a second chance, but by that time the voters had learned more about the proposed system and support dropped from the first vote. Strangely enough, there has been no attempt since then to revive the push for an electoral change. That leads me to believe that outside of a handfull of electoral system junkies, there isn't much support for a voting change. I suspect the antipathy of the voters for such a change has to do with their belief that in fact a voting system change won't change much except the voting system.

 

 

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

swallow wrote:

The Citizen's Committee selected itself? How did they manage to agree on only two cranks per riding? 

The people who were on the committee were self-selected in that volunteers were asked for, and in that the process was explicitly to change the electoral system. So who would be the most likely to volunteer in such a situation? It would be those people who felt the strongest about the voting system, and specifically those who most strongly opposed the existing system. It was a classic case of setting an agenda, then running out to find people who agreed with the agenda. One thing was for sure, there was no way the committee was going to study the evidence and decide there was no compelling reason to change the existing system. It was taken as given that FPTP was bad and needed to be replaced.

So the committee spent a lot of time sifting through the various voting systems without spending a lot of time determining whether the people really wanted a change. As it turned out, they couldn't muster the support needed. They were given a second chance, but by that time the voters had learned more about the proposed system and support dropped from the first vote. Strangely enough, there has been no attempt since then to revive the push for an electoral change. That leads me to believe that outside of a handfull of electoral system junkies, there isn't much support for a voting change. I suspect the antipathy of the voters for such a change has to do with their belief that in fact a voting system change won't change much except the voting system.

 

 

The people chosen as members of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform were randomly selected.

The BC NDP and the BC Green Party both support electoral reform and getting rid of FPTP plurality voting. Hopefully in the 2017 BC provincial election they will put replacing FPTP on their respective election platforms.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:

But in 2009 voters were asked:

Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the provincial Legislative Assembly?:

▪ The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)

▪ The single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

This change in wording reflected the wording used in the 2007 Ontario electoral reform referendum. These questions were loaded against electoral reform.

Really?  Because I can't see anything unfair or misleading about that question.

Quote:

Which do you prefer?

- This choice

- This choice

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
The "support needed" was a 60% majority, laid down by the sitting government to minimize the chance of change. Is there anything else for which we require a 60% majority? Many people accept 50% +1 for Quebec separation, i.e. breaking up the country.

The second referendum used 50%+1.  If the electorate favoured BC-STV on principle then the second referendum would have passed.

Doug Woodard

Rev Pesky wrote:

 One thing was for sure, there was no way the committee was going to study the evidence and decide there was no compelling reason to change the existing system. It was taken as given that FPTP was bad and needed to be replaced.

So the committee spent a lot of time sifting through the various voting systems without spending a lot of time determining whether the people really wanted a change. As it turned out, they couldn't muster the support needed. They were given a second chance, but by that time the voters had learned more about the proposed system and support dropped from the first vote. Strangely enough, there has been no attempt since then to revive the push for an electoral change. That leads me to believe that outside of a handfull of electoral system junkies, there isn't much support for a voting change. I suspect the antipathy of the voters for such a change has to do with their belief that in fact a voting system change won't change much except the voting system.

The reason the BC citizens' assembly was convened was the widespread dissatisfaction with the bizarre performances of FPTP in the elections of 1996 and 2001. The citizens' assembly was formed to recommend something different. The decision to put a change to the voters had already been made in the legislature.

The "support needed" was a 60% majority, laid down by the sitting government to minimize the chance of change. The support provided by the voters was a 58% vote for change. Is there anything else for which we require a 60% majority? Many people accept 50% +1 for Quebec separation, i.e. breaking up the country.

Many people who have paid attention believe that the social welfare systems in the advanced European countries, as well as their economic performances and concern for the environment, are due to their use of proportional representation. The virulent opposition of the Harperite Conservatives to proportional representation suggests that they do believe that changing the voting system would change more than they want. The "Fair Elections Act" is a good guide to their hostility to democracy and rule by the people.

wage zombie

Mr. Magoo wrote:

The second referendum used 50%+1.

Where did you hear that?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Fair question.  My mistake.

It called for a 60% cutoff, and I got confused by the fact that support wouldn't have met a 50% cutoff.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:

But in 2009 voters were asked:

Which electoral system should British Columbia use to elect members to the provincial Legislative Assembly?:

▪ The existing electoral system (First-Past-the-Post)

▪ The single transferable vote electoral system (BC-STV) proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform

This change in wording reflected the wording used in the 2007 Ontario electoral reform referendum. These questions were loaded against electoral reform.

Really?  Because I can't see anything unfair or misleading about that question.

Quote:

Which do you prefer?

- This choice

- This choice

Using the words "existing" and "proposed" favoured the status quo. The first referendum used the word "recommended" instead of "proposed," which helped the yes side in 2005. Also the term "First-Past-the-Post" is a euphemism. FPTP is accurately called, "single-member plurality or SMP. This is the neutral name for it and see in academia.

A fairer referendum question would have been: "which electoral system should be used for BC provincial elections: single-member plurality or single transferable vote?" And to be fair SMP and STV should have been rotated on the ballot so that half of the time each option would appear first.

Rev Pesky

JKR wrote:
...The people chosen as members of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform were randomly selected...

Randomly selected from those who put their names forward, not randomly selected from the general population. The stated agenda of the committee was to change the voting system. That's why I say the committee was 'self-selected'. Only those who had an axe to grind, and who wanted a different voting system ended up on the committee.

By the way, it's very common for organizations and governments to have higher than 50% levels required to make major changes. Take a look at what's required to eliminate the Senate, for instance. Or what's required to change the constitution. So perhaps changing the voting system shouldn't have too many restrictions, but given voting is the most fundamental part of a democracy, perhaps there should be a higher level of agreement for changes.

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

Quote:
Using the words "existing" and "proposed" favoured the status quo.

Not if people genuinely want change, and the status quo is a bad word.

Quote:
Also the term "First-Past-the-Post" is a euphemism. FPTP is accurately called, "single-member plurality or SMP. This is the neutral name for it and see in academia.

If it's generally referred to as FPTP -- and I think it is -- then it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to refer to it as that in the referendum question.  Are you asserting that it would have been MORE fair to refer to it by a name that FEWER people would recognize and understand?

Quote:
By the way, it's very common for organizations and governments to have higher than 50% levels required to make major changes.

It's not a big problem for me if there's a higher cutoff for votes on changes that don't have a natural "end date".

Going with 50%+1 for MPs and MPPs isnt' so much of a problem because they'll naturally have to face a new electorate after a few years -- that's built into the process.

I'd say that 50%+1 could be a fine cutoff for electoral reform too, so long as everyone agrees that electoral reform must be put back on the ballot in 4 years.

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

JKR wrote:
...The people chosen as members of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform were randomly selected...

Randomly selected from those who put their names forward, not randomly selected from the general population. The stated agenda of the committee was to change the voting system. That's why I say the committee was 'self-selected'. Only those who had an axe to grind, and who wanted a different voting system ended up on the committee.

By the way, it's very common for organizations and governments to have higher than 50% levels required to make major changes. Take a look at what's required to eliminate the Senate, for instance. Or what's required to change the constitution. So perhaps changing the voting system shouldn't have too many restrictions, but given voting is the most fundamental part of a democracy, perhaps there should be a higher level of agreement for changes.

In order to avoid the self-selection bias it is probably better to have an all-party committee lead the process of electoral reform. This is one of the positives of the all-party committee process that the Liberals have said they will set up.

I think everyone who has a basic understanding of electoral systems understands that the single-member plurality system (SMP) simply can not provide fair results in a multi-candidate or multi-party election. So SMP is incompatabile with Canada's multi-party political democracy and should be replaced as soon as possible. A referendum would only be established if the powers that be want to keep SMP. As it is, many Conservatives like SMP because it splits the left of of centre vote and allows the Conservatives to gain power even when a clear majority of the voters don't want a Conservative government. And many Liberals also like SMP because it usually forces a lot of voters who prefer the NDP to vote Liberal out of fear of splitting the left of centre vote. If people were not so concerned with partisan politics it would be much easier to establish a fairer electoral system. Hopefully the all-party committee will be able to put a lot of its partisanship aside in order to come up with a much better electoral system for Canada.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
Also the term "First-Past-the-Post" is a euphemism. FPTP is accurately called, "single-member plurality or SMP. This is the neutral name for it and see in academia.

If it's generally referred to as FPTP -- and I think it is -- then it doesn't seem unreasonable to me to refer to it as that in the referendum question.  Are you asserting that it would have been MORE fair to refer to it by a name that FEWER people would recognize and understand?

Very few people recognized the academic name "single-transferable vote" so I think it was unfair not to use the academic name for single-member plurality voting as well. Is it fair to use a friendly nickname for one side and an unfamiliar academic name for the other side? The people on the STV side could have called their system "Fair Vote BC." Would it have been fair to let the STV side choose a euphemistic term too?

The problem with the term "first-past-the-post" is that there is no "post" in a FPTP election to ensure a fair result. If there was, FPTP elections would be fair. That's why it makes much more sense to call the alternative vote system FPTP.

When people invision a FPTP election they invision a simple running race where the fastest participant wins by coming in first. But an election for office is not equivalent to a foot race because in a FPTP election the winner is not necessarily the most popular candidate while on the other hand, in a speed race the winner of a FPTP race is the fastest runner of all the racers.

In every day life, groups of people never use FPTP to make decisions. Instead, they use a ranked voting method or a method of proportional representation to make group decisions. So when a group wants to decide, let's say, what they will have to eat at their meeting, they will use a ranked system if they want everyone to have the same meal and if they want everyone to have the meal they each want separately, they will use a system of proportional representation to choose the meals. If they used an FPTP system they could easily end up with almost everyone having a meal they hate. Five of twenty five people could choose anchovy pizza and everyone else would have to have it too!

swallow swallow's picture

Rev Pesky wrote:

JKR wrote:
...The people chosen as members of the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform were randomly selected...

Randomly selected from those who put their names forward, not randomly selected from the general population. The stated agenda of the committee was to change the voting system. That's why I say the committee was 'self-selected'. Only those who had an axe to grind, and who wanted a different voting system ended up on the committee.

By the way, it's very common for organizations and governments to have higher than 50% levels required to make major changes. Take a look at what's required to eliminate the Senate, for instance. Or what's required to change the constitution. So perhaps changing the voting system shouldn't have too many restrictions, but given voting is the most fundamental part of a democracy, perhaps there should be a higher level of agreement for changes.

The all-knowing wikipedia (ie it may be wrong but is probably right-ish) says 15,800 people were randomly selected in round one, then asked to express interest or not. In the final stage, 2 of those interested per riding were randomly selected. At best, this introduces one element of self-selection into a three-element process and in no way shows that the final Citizens' Assembly was "self-selected," let along composed entirely of "cranks." Sure, it was biased against the FPTP system, but so is almost everyone who has studied the issues. And then there was a referendum, itself on terms designed to create a defeat for the change proposal through threshold requirements. Hardly the diktat of self-selecting cranks.

I mean, I get that you don't like the Assembly or its members, and that's fine, but your original claim that the Assembly was composed of self-selecting cranks isn't backed up by the evidence. 

Rev Pesky

swallow wrote:
...I mean, I get that you don't like the Assembly or its members, and that's fine, but your original claim that the Assembly was composed of self-selecting cranks isn't backed up by the evidence. 

 

Here is the story of the selection process brought to you by Participedia:

British Colunbia Citizen's Assembly

Quote:
This Assembly, designers thought, would ensure a balance of interests and incorporate the views of ordinary citizens into basic electoral law. The painstaking selection began in August 2003 and continued through December. First, the voter registry for each riding was updated. Then 100 males and 100 females were randomly selected from the list for each of the 79 ridings yielding a total of 15,800 names. This sample was stratified by age cohort as well as gender in each riding. The people selected in this random draw were all invited by letter to participate in selection meetings in their ridings. Due to a low response rate, additional names were drawn in some districts. In all, over 23,000 invitation letters were sent. From these, approximately 1,700 voters expressed interest in participating in the Citizens’ Assembly, and 964 ended up attending selection meetings that provided information on the assembly’s mandate and operations, on the commitment required of members, and the selection process. Of those who attended, 158 were randomly selected...

Gee, sounds like there was a real groundswell of support for this initiative. A huge 7.4% of the 23,000 contacted expressed some interest, and about half of those (4%) actually showed up to selection meetings. You're telling me that those 4% who carried on to the final selection weren't self-selected? The only ones left at that stage would be those that were obsessed with the idea of changing the voting system. All the rest, those that didn't care one way of the other, those that favoured FPTP, those who had anything more important to do in their lives (root canal work, maybe) selected themselves out. By the way, it doesn't mention what percentage of the 964 bowed out at the last minute. They do mention that after all that selection process there wasn't a single First Nations representative, so they had to redo the selection to get one male and one female, by 'random draw'. Not sure what they mean by 'random draw' in that they would have had to qualify someone as First Nations before selecting. 

One other little thing. In the second ballot on the question of electoral reform (alongside the provincial election in 2009), when people were presented with both ballots at the same time, 44,000 fewer voters cast ballots (one way or the other) on electoral reform than cast ballots in the legislature election. At the same time, voter turnout for that election was a record low.

What that tells me is that there was no huge demand for electoral reform. The demand then, as it is today, is from a relative handful of people who don't like the results of the election. I hope, if they institute another 'Citizen's Assembly' or such like to investigate the question of electoral reform that they have representation from FPTP supporters, as opposed to the BC process that excluded them. After all, if you want to be 'fair' having all groups represented would be fair, wouldn't it?

Mulcair got into the act today speaking to the provincial NDP convention. "Every vote should count..." This is a common phrase by the PR pushers. But as we know, it's meaningless, unless PR is conducted with no cut-off percentage.

But cut-off percentages are a common feature of PR voting. Depending on how many different parties there are, and what the cut-off percentage is, lots of votes 'won't count'. To say nothing of the fact that the party with the highest percentage of popular vote can be cut out of government completely. How's that for 'fair'?

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

swallow wrote:
...I mean, I get that you don't like the Assembly or its members, and that's fine, but your original claim that the Assembly was composed of self-selecting cranks isn't backed up by the evidence. 

 

Here is the story of the selection process brought to you by Participedia:

British Colunbia Citizen's Assembly

Quote:
This Assembly, designers thought, would ensure a balance of interests and incorporate the views of ordinary citizens into basic electoral law. The painstaking selection began in August 2003 and continued through December. First, the voter registry for each riding was updated. Then 100 males and 100 females were randomly selected from the list for each of the 79 ridings yielding a total of 15,800 names. This sample was stratified by age cohort as well as gender in each riding. The people selected in this random draw were all invited by letter to participate in selection meetings in their ridings. Due to a low response rate, additional names were drawn in some districts. In all, over 23,000 invitation letters were sent. From these, approximately 1,700 voters expressed interest in participating in the Citizens’ Assembly, and 964 ended up attending selection meetings that provided information on the assembly’s mandate and operations, on the commitment required of members, and the selection process. Of those who attended, 158 were randomly selected...

Gee, sounds like there was a real groundswell of support for this initiative. A huge 7.4% of the 23,000 contacted expressed some interest, and about half of those (4%) actually showed up to selection meetings. You're telling me that those 4% who carried on to the final selection weren't self-selected? The only ones left at that stage would be those that were obsessed with the idea of changing the voting system. All the rest, those that didn't care one way of the other, those that favoured FPTP, those who had anything more important to do in their lives (root canal work, maybe) selected themselves out. By the way, it doesn't mention what percentage of the 964 bowed out at the last minute. They do mention that after all that selection process there wasn't a single First Nations representative, so they had to redo the selection to get one male and one female, by 'random draw'. Not sure what they mean by 'random draw' in that they would have had to qualify someone as First Nations before selecting. 

One other little thing. In the second ballot on the question of electoral reform (alongside the provincial election in 2009), when people were presented with both ballots at the same time, 44,000 fewer voters cast ballots (one way or the other) on electoral reform than cast ballots in the legislature election. At the same time, voter turnout for that election was a record low.

What that tells me is that there was no huge demand for electoral reform. The demand then, as it is today, is from a relative handful of people who don't like the results of the election. I hope, if they institute another 'Citizen's Assembly' or such like to investigate the question of electoral reform that they have representation from FPTP supporters, as opposed to the BC process that excluded them. After all, if you want to be 'fair' having all groups represented would be fair, wouldn't it?

Mulcair got into the act today speaking to the provincial NDP convention. "Every vote should count..." This is a common phrase by the PR pushers. But as we know, it's meaningless, unless PR is conducted with no cut-off percentage.

But cut-off percentages are a common feature of PR voting. Depending on how many different parties there are, and what the cut-off percentage is, lots of votes 'won't count'. To say nothing of the fact that the party with the highest percentage of popular vote can be cut out of government completely. How's that for 'fair'?

One reason there was a low response rate was that the members of the citizens assembly basically had to take on a part time jobs for a year without getting paid. They also had to travel from across BC to Vancouver on many weekends.

The all-party committee the Liberals are proposing sounds a lot more sensible and realistic.

It is also very hard to find people who will formally support FPTP because it is very difficult to make a logical case in favour of FPTP.

Rev Pesky

JKR wrote:
...Tne reason there was a low response rate was that the members of the citizens assembly basically had to take on a part time jobs for a year without getting paid. They also had to travel from across BC to Vancouver on many weekends.

That initial low response rate was before anyone knew what exactly was going to be required in terms of personal committment. More to the point, people who were not interested selected themselves out. In this case that was about 93% of them. In any case, that low response corresponds with the low response in the 2009 election.

JKR wrote:
...It is also very hard to find people who will formally support FPTP because it is very difficult to make a logical case in favour of FPTP.

In the case of the BC Citizen's Assembly there was no place for a defender of the existing system. The express purpose of the Assembly was to change the voting system. Who knows how the federal government will handle the task. But if they allow defenders of the existing system, I can think of all sorts of arguments in defense of FPTP. The simplest argument is that the candidate that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected. What could be fairer than that?

JKR

Rev Pesky wrote:

In the case of the BC Citizen's Assembly there was no place for a defender of the existing system. The express purpose of the Assembly was to change the voting system. Who knows how the federal government will handle the task. But if they allow defenders of the existing system, I can think of all sorts of arguments in defense of FPTP. The simplest argument is that the candidate that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected. What could be fairer than that?

It would be fairer if the candidates elected represented the majority of voters. It is wrong when the candidates elected represent the minority while the majority would prefer other candidates. It's wrong that a phony FPTP majority government represents the minority while the majority are represented by a minority of the members in Parliament.

Are the any good arguments in favour of FPTP?

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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Very few people recognized the academic name "single-transferable vote" so I think it was unfair not to use the academic name for single-member plurality voting as well. Is it fair to use a friendly nickname for one side and an unfamiliar academic name for the other side?

Is there a more commonly used and commonly understood name for BC-STV?  If so, the question should have used it.

But you're seriously suggesting that if people don't know what BC-STV is, then to make things fair we should try to ensure that they don't know what FPTP is either?

Why not go all the way and just not name them at all?  Let the voters choose between "System A" and "System B".  Then nobody -- not even electoral wonks -- would know which means what.  That would be the most fair.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

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Very few people recognized the academic name "single-transferable vote" so I think it was unfair not to use the academic name for single-member plurality voting as well. Is it fair to use a friendly nickname for one side and an unfamiliar academic name for the other side?

Is there a more commonly used and commonly understood name for BC-STV?  If so, the question should have used it.

But you're seriously suggesting that if people don't know what BC-STV is, then to make things fair we should try to ensure that they don't know what FPTP is either?

Why not go all the way and just not name them at all?  Let the voters choose between "System A" and "System B".  Then nobody -- not even electoral wonks -- would know which means what.  That would be the most fair.

I think "single-member plurality" and "single transferable vote" are the most accurate terms used for these electoral systems so they should be the ones used.

swallow swallow's picture

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You're telling me that those 4% who carried on to the final selection weren't self-selected?

No, your own source is telling you that they were not self-selected. There was an element of sorting, for sure, but self-selection has a specific meaning. Anyway, whatever. 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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I think "single-member plurality" and "single transferable vote" are the most accurate terms used for these electoral systems so they should be the ones used.

The goal isn't "accuracy", it's clarity.  There's no excuse to not use the term(s) with which most voters will be most familiar.

But I think we're ignoring the elephant in the room.  I think most voters just didn't really care much one way or the other.  If they did then they had four years between 2005 and 2009 in which to take five minutes and go to Wikipedia at their leisure.  But evidently not only did nobody take five minutes to find out what STV means, some people who knew what it meant in 2005 experienced some kind of amnesia in 2009.

 

Cody87

JKR wrote:
Rev Pesky wrote:

The simplest argument is that the candidate that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected. What could be fairer than that?

It would be fairer if the candidates elected represented the majority of voters.

In a system with more than two parties, this is often not possible. Assume, for a moment, a hypothetical riding with 30% Christians, 30% Muslims, and 30% Jews, with 3 candidates for 3 parties and one candidate for each of the above religion. The other 10% of the riding is agnostic. Now presume for this hypothetical riding that the 90% of voters who are religous vote in line with the candidate who represents their faith. No matter how the 10% votes, none of the candidates will represent the majority of voters.

This doesn't mean I support FPTP (quite the opposite), but arguing that any voting mechanism can give the majority of voters a "representative" in the sense that you mean it is incorrect (assuming a 3 or more party system).

Rev Pesky wrote:

The simplest argument is that the candidate that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected. What could be fairer than that?

Well, at the riding level FPTP works fine. But unfortunately, when applied to many ridings the party that receives the greatest share of the vote does not always get elected. For example, in BC in 1996 the New Democrats received a majority with ~624500 votes, while the Liberals remained opposition despite receiving ~662000 votes, or about 37000 more than the New Democrats.

A fairer solution would be one where the party that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected.

 

Mr. Magoo Mr. Magoo's picture

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The simplest argument is that the candidate that receives the greatest share of the vote gets elected. What could be fairer than that?

If all we were doing when voting is choosing a local representative then it would work just fine.

The problem is that when we vote for our local MP (or MPP) then we're also, in a "one step removed" sense, voting for a party to lead the HoC, or our provincial equivalent. 

At the riding level it makes sense.  Who, if not the candidate with the greatest number of votes, should win?  Very straightforward.

But then we go mess it all up by saying that the Party with the greatest number of elected representatives gets to be "The Government", generally speaking.

Theoretically, another valid electoral reform could be to dispense with the idea of a Prime Minister, or a governing party, and just allow the HoC to be a place where votes take place.  There would be no special "prize" awarded to whatever party elected the most MPs -- it would just be regional representatives representing regions.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Quote:
I think "single-member plurality" and "single transferable vote" are the most accurate terms used for these electoral systems so they should be the ones used.

The goal isn't "accuracy", it's clarity.  There's no excuse to not use the term(s) with which most voters will be most familiar.

But I think we're ignoring the elephant in the room.  I think most voters just didn't really care much one way or the other.  If they did then they had four years between 2005 and 2009 in which to take five minutes and go to Wikipedia at their leisure.  But evidently not only did nobody take five minutes to find out what STV means, some people who knew what it meant in 2005 experienced some kind of amnesia in 2009.

 

I agree that most voters are not preoccupied over the issue of electoral reform. Understandably the public's eyes generally glaze over when they are asked to review the slew of electoral systems and their copious amounts of acronyms like FPTP, MMP, STV, AV, IRV, etc... Understandably, the names of the electoral systems are unfamiliar to most voters. That's one of the reasons why having a referendum on electoral reform does not lead to an intelligent debate. I also think most voters aren't preoccupied over most other important issues like TPP, childcare, the Senate, etc.... But a lack of interest by the public does not mean that governments should ignore issues it deems to be important. I think if a government deems that it is important to deal with an issue, it should go ahead and deal with it regardless of how popular or unpopular the issue is with the general public.

JKR

Mr. Magoo wrote:

Who, if not the candidate with the greatest number of votes, should win? 

Maybe the candidate with the most support from the majority of people? This is why the political parties themselves don't use FPTP to decide their own elections, but instead they use ranked voting.

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