[EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

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[EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

VoteFair-2
Here's the link to an 8-page PDF (Acrobat) document I wrote recently.
It's titled "Proportional Representation In The USA."

   http://www.votefair.org/proportional_representation_usa.pdf

This document answers the question "Which PR methods do you recommend?"
which came from an organization that is seeking to better understand
election-method reforms in the United States.

A shortened version, without formatting and without the three tables,
follows my signature.

Anyone is welcome to share this document with people who are interested
in how PR can be implemented in the United States.

As always, constructive feedback is welcome.

Richard Fobes
The VoteFair guy
Author of the book "Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections"


................. highlights ................

Title: "Proportional Representation In The USA"


[...]

The PR method recommended in this document, which does not have a name,
uses the best elements from the most popular PR methods already in use
by various nations.  Yet the recommended combination differs from what
any nation currently uses.  A later section ("Why Many Nations Still Use
Primitive PR Methods") explains why this gap occurs.


Step One:  Ranked Ballots, And More Nominees

Three election-method changes are needed before the United States can
adopt a well-designed PR method.

* Ranked ballots.  Voters and election officials need to gain experience
marking and counting ranked ballots in both primary elections and
general elections.  On a ranked ballot the voter indicates their first
choice, second choice, third choice, and so on.

* Good vote-counting method.  Ranked Choice Including Pairwise
Elimination (RCIPE) or some other good vote-counting method (possibly a
Condorcet method) needs to be used to count the ranked ballots.
Instant-runoff voting (IRV) does not qualify because it too often yields
unfair results.  (STAR voting does not qualify because it uses rating
ballots, not ranked ballots.)

* Multiple nominees.  The Republican and Democratic primary elections
must nominate two (or more) candidates per party to compete in the
general election.  If the RCIPE vote-counting method is used, the
candidate who is eliminated last (just before identifying the single
remaining candidate) deserves to be the party’s second nominee.


Step Two:  Two Representatives Per District Plus Statewide Representatives

After voters and election officials have gained experience using ranked
ballots in both primary elections and general elections, three more
changes are needed.

* Two representatives per district.  Each district will elect two
representatives.  Both winners will represent the citizens in their
district.  Typically the two representatives will be from different
political parties.

* Favorite party.  Each voter will answer the question "Which political
party is your favorite?"  This easy-to-answer ballot question is common
in many nations, but it will be a new concept for US voters.

* Statewide representatives.  Some statewide representatives will be
elected to represent voters who, according to their favorite-party
ballot marks, are not well-represented by the district-specific
representatives.  The choice of representatives to fill these
party-specific seats will be done using the available ballot
information, without any influence from political-party insiders.


After the PR changes, the legislature will have two kinds of legislative
seats.

* District-specific seats.  Most representatives (about 80 to 85
percent) will get elected to this kind of seat.

* Statewide seats.  These seats compensate for any political parties
that fail to win as many district-specific seats as would be expected
based on how many voters prefer each political party.


Second-Most Representative Versus Second-Most Popular

The most confusing part of understanding PR is that there are two
different kinds of "popularity."

* Runner-up candidate.  A candidate who is second-most popular in a
primary election is the runner-up candidate who could replace the
winning candidate if the winner was disqualified or became unavailable.

* Second-most representative candidate.  A candidate who is second-most
popular in a general election is the strongest opponent to the winning
candidate, and represents an entirely different group of voters compared
to the winner.  This kind of popularity is named second-most
representative to distinguish it from the ambiguous term second-most
popular.


Filling The Legislative Seats

Within each district, the winner of the first district-specific seat
will be the candidate who is most popular in that district.

The winner of the second district-specific seat will be the second-most
representative candidate.  This is the candidate who is most popular
among the voters who are not well-represented by the first-seat winner.

The statewide seats are awarded to candidates who were not popular
enough to win a district seat, yet are the most popular candidates
associated with the political parties that did not win enough
district-specific seats.  (Specifically a statewide seat is awarded to
any qualifying candidate in any district who received the most
first-choice votes from voters who also marked the seat-winning party as
their favorite party.)


Both Kinds Of PR

[...]

* Party-based PR asks voters to indicate their favorite political party,
and then fills legislative seats in ways that improve the match between
party popularity and the number of elected representatives from each
party.  The goal of party-based PR is to enable small ("third") parties
to more easily win elections, and to defeat the tactic of gerrymandering
district boundaries.

* Candidate-specific PR elects multiple (two or more) candidates who, as
a group, best represent the voters.  Specifically each winner represents
a different group of voters.  For example, a two-seat version of
candidate-specific PR used in an "average" district in the United States
would elect one Republican and one Democrat.  The goal of
candidate-specific PR is to give representation to the large number of
voters who are not represented when a district is represented by just
one representative.


Economic Prosperity

Widespread economic prosperity will increase for states that adopt these
recommended election-method reforms.  Why will the state's prosperity
increase?

Currently the largest campaign contributions flow to politicians who
protect tax breaks, subsidies, and legal monopolies that financially
benefit the people who give these contributions.  As a result, too many
businesses (especially out-of-state businesses) are squeezing too much
money from consumers, essential workers, employees, and (at least
through IRAs) investors.  When too many businesses each take a too-big
slice of economic pie, not much pie remains for the employees and
customers of that state’s businesses.

In opposition, most voters want politicians to reduce such corruption,
which undermines the state's economy.  When money-based tactics have
less influence on election results, politicians will dramatically shift
their allegiance from the biggest campaign contributors to us, the
voters.  What most of us want is less corruption, wiser solutions to the
problems that governments are expected to solve, and full democracy.


Political Changes

Initially after a state adopts the PR method recommended here, the
number of elected representatives from third parties will increase.
This is the intended goal of PR.

Yet in response the state's Republican and Democratic parties can change
their actions and platforms to win back at least some of the third-party
voters.  But if these reforms are not sufficient, it's likely that
either a third party will grow or either the Republican or Democratic
party will split.

The party that suffers the biggest decline will be whichever party fails
to offer candidates who voters like.  This is the change that will take
us to higher levels of democracy, where voters will have more influence
and campaign contributors will have less influence.

.......................................

The full document is at:

   http://www.votefair.org/proportional_representation_usa.pdf
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Re: [EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

VoteFair-2
On 4/20/2021 11:55 AM, Jan Šimbera wrote:
 > Dear Richard,
 > this is a very accessible explanation of PR principles!
 > I only have a small point about open list PR methods that are common
 > here in Europe - they most frequently allow preferential voting for more
 > than one candidate (Czech elections use two or four), amplifying the
 > influence of the voters a good deal.
 > Wish you good luck in making U.S. elections more proportional :-)
 > All the best,
 > Jan

Jan, thank you!

Clearly I misunderstand how open list PR usually works.

Yet I'm still confused.  Wikipedia doesn't seem to clarify what
"preference vote" means.

Specifically, this article ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Open_list

... refers to "preference vote" but does not have a link.  It does link
to ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elections_in_the_Czech_Republic

... and that article has a link named "preference vote" but the link
goes back to the "open list" article.  (Sigh)

When I search for "preference vote" Wikipedia sends me to this article ...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting

... which lists multiple articles that relate to this term, none of
which seem to clarify what it means in open-list PR.

Can someone here can remedy this issue on Wikipedia and then point me to
the fixed article?

I think this approach would be more efficient than writing an
explanation just for this election-methods list.

If not, a brief clarification here will be helpful.

Thanks!

Richard Fobes
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Re: [EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

Kristofer Munsterhjelm-3
On 21/04/2021 02.12, VoteFair wrote:

> When I search for "preference vote" Wikipedia sends me to this article ...
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting
>
> ... which lists multiple articles that relate to this term, none of
> which seem to clarify what it means in open-list PR.
>
> Can someone here can remedy this issue on Wikipedia and then point me to
> the fixed article?

It seems like it's either Approval voting or cumulative voting. In list
PR jargon, "preferential" seems to be a term for any kind of ballot that
lets voters vote both for parties and candidates.

Quoting from https://news.expats.cz/czech-culture/voting-czech-republic/:

> To vote for a political party and candidates from other parties:
> Place an „x“ at the head of the party ticket (as you would to vote
> only for a party) and then place an „x“ by the names of any other
> candidates inother parties for whom you want to vote (preferential
> votes).  Note: If you use this method of voting, the party you
> support receives the number of votes that remain after your
> preferential votes are counted.  For example, if there are 11 seats
> on the council, and you place an „x“ by Party A and by the names of
> 5 candidates from other parties, your preferential votes are counted
> first. The remainder of your votes then go to the first 6 candidates
> on Party A´s ticket.  If you mark more than one party (at the top of
> the party ticket) or more preferential votes than there are open seats,
> your ballot will not be counted.
which makes it sound like cumulative (any candidate you vote for reduces
the number of votes you give to the designated party).

But Negri[1] states the folllowing:

> Preferential votes under open list PR (and, to some extent, under
> flexible list PR) are equivalent to approval voting within party
> lists: voters decide to approve (and notrank) some of the politicians
> appearing on the ballot. Only one approval vote can becast for each
> candidate (no cumulative voting). The total number of approval votes
> that can be expressed can vary a lot from country to country. For
> example, it is equal to one in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Brazil,
> it varies from one to five—depending onthe electoral district—in
> Greece and it coincides with the total number of candidates on the
> list in Belgium.

which sounds like a limited type of Approval voting (vote for up to k
candidates, then the candidates with the most votes win that party's
seats). The paper also mentions that a high level of k reduces minority
representation, which is in line with what you'd see under Approval,
since bloc Approval is not a proportional representation method.

I'm not sure which it is, though. If I find out, I'll change the
Wikipedia article.

[1]
https://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/en/researchoutput/preferential-votes-and-minority-representation-in-open-list-proportional-representation-systems(f8102c17-f213-43bc-bd26-8cf9c9ae960d).html
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Re: [EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

Jan Šimbera
Hi all,
as a Czech local, let me clarify this:
What the Expats page explains is the panachage system used for Czech municipal elections, where voters can vote for individual candidates across parties, but the votes are then summed per party and evaluated as an open list election as described below. (Which is highly misleading for the voter, but there is no political will to fix that since it allows otherwise unattractive parties to "fish" for votes by placing well-known local personalities on the list.)
In Czech parliamentary and European elections, the election is a classical open list PR example: the voter chooses a single party list and may express support for some candidates (4 or 2 respectively based on the election). The intra-party competition is then closest to the multiple non-transferable vote system combined with pre-imposed ordering.
I tried to update the Preferential voting and Open list Wikipedia articles accordingly. Please let me know of any outstanding deficiencies.
Also, votelib can evaluate open list elections through its votelib.evaluate.openlist evaluators - there is an example of the last Czech municipal election demonstrated in its documentation.
All the best,
Jan

On Wed, Apr 21, 2021 at 11:14 AM Kristofer Munsterhjelm <[hidden email]> wrote:
On 21/04/2021 02.12, VoteFair wrote:

> When I search for "preference vote" Wikipedia sends me to this article ...
>
> https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting
>
> ... which lists multiple articles that relate to this term, none of
> which seem to clarify what it means in open-list PR.
>
> Can someone here can remedy this issue on Wikipedia and then point me to
> the fixed article?

It seems like it's either Approval voting or cumulative voting. In list
PR jargon, "preferential" seems to be a term for any kind of ballot that
lets voters vote both for parties and candidates.

Quoting from https://news.expats.cz/czech-culture/voting-czech-republic/:

> To vote for a political party and candidates from other parties:
> Place an „x“ at the head of the party ticket (as you would to vote
> only for a party) and then place an „x“ by the names of any other
> candidates inother parties for whom you want to vote (preferential
> votes).  Note: If you use this method of voting, the party you
> support receives the number of votes that remain after your
> preferential votes are counted.  For example, if there are 11 seats
> on the council, and you place an „x“ by Party A and by the names of
> 5 candidates from other parties, your preferential votes are counted
> first. The remainder of your votes then go to the first 6 candidates
> on Party A´s ticket.  If you mark more than one party (at the top of
> the party ticket) or more preferential votes than there are open seats,
> your ballot will not be counted.
which makes it sound like cumulative (any candidate you vote for reduces
the number of votes you give to the designated party).

But Negri[1] states the folllowing:

> Preferential votes under open list PR (and, to some extent, under
> flexible list PR) are equivalent to approval voting within party
> lists: voters decide to approve (and notrank) some of the politicians
> appearing on the ballot. Only one approval vote can becast for each
> candidate (no cumulative voting). The total number of approval votes
> that can be expressed can vary a lot from country to country. For
> example, it is equal to one in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Brazil,
> it varies from one to five—depending onthe electoral district—in
> Greece and it coincides with the total number of candidates on the
> list in Belgium.

which sounds like a limited type of Approval voting (vote for up to k
candidates, then the candidates with the most votes win that party's
seats). The paper also mentions that a high level of k reduces minority
representation, which is in line with what you'd see under Approval,
since bloc Approval is not a proportional representation method.

I'm not sure which it is, though. If I find out, I'll change the
Wikipedia article.

[1]
https://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/en/researchoutput/preferential-votes-and-minority-representation-in-open-list-proportional-representation-systems(f8102c17-f213-43bc-bd26-8cf9c9ae960d).html
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Re: [EM] Proportional Representation In The USA

VoteFair-2
Jan, thank you for your Wikipedia edits!

I did not see the changes initially so I used the "history" tab to find
them.

The opening paragraph of the "open list" article still contains the
phrase "preference vote" in bold.  Yet it is not a link.

And the words "select individuals" in the prior sentence does not
clarify that the ballot is sometimes approval-like (one mark per
candidate), sometimes a voter-written number(?), yet never a ranking ballot.

I suggest adding a new section (within the "open list" article) titled
"Preference vote" that explains the term from a ballot-marking
perspective.  The remainder of the article is clear about how they are
counted.

Then the "Preferential voting" article can link to that section instead
of to the entire "open list" article.

Based on your clarifications I've updated my PDF document with these
wordings for "Open party list":

Ballot simplicity:  "Somewhat, favorite party plus approval marks for
limited number of candidates"

Counting simplicity:  "Yes, seats assigned proportionally, party list is
counted in various simple ways"

Of course it would be more accurate to write "it's complicated" but for
this document's purpose I think it's OK.  If not, please tell me.

Again, thank you Jan!

Richard Fobes


On 4/21/2021 3:03 AM, Jan Šimbera wrote:

> Hi all,
> as a Czech local, let me clarify this:
> What the Expats page explains is the panachage system used for Czech
> municipal elections, where voters can vote for individual candidates
> across parties, but the votes are then summed per party and evaluated as
> an open list election as described below. (Which is highly misleading
> for the voter, but there is no political will to fix that since it
> allows otherwise unattractive parties to "fish" for votes by placing
> well-known local personalities on the list.)
> In Czech parliamentary and European elections, the election is a
> classical open list PR example: the voter chooses a single party list
> and may express support for some candidates (4 or 2 respectively based
> on the election). The intra-party competition is then closest to the
> multiple non-transferable vote system combined with pre-imposed ordering.
> I tried to update the Preferential voting and Open list Wikipedia
> articles accordingly. Please let me know of any outstanding deficiencies.
> Also, votelib <https://github.com/simberaj/votelib> can evaluate open
> list elections through its votelib.evaluate.openlist
> <https://github.com/simberaj/votelib/blob/master/votelib/evaluate/openlist.py>
> evaluators - there is an example
> <https://votelib.readthedocs.io/en/stable/examples/nmnmet_cc_2018.html>
> of the last Czech municipal election demonstrated in its documentation.
> All the best,
> Jan
>
> On Wed, Apr 21, 2021 at 11:14 AM Kristofer Munsterhjelm
> <[hidden email] <mailto:[hidden email]>> wrote:
>
>     On 21/04/2021 02.12, VoteFair wrote:
>
>     > When I search for "preference vote" Wikipedia sends me to this
>     article ...
>     >
>     > https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Preferential_voting
>     >
>     > ... which lists multiple articles that relate to this term, none of
>     > which seem to clarify what it means in open-list PR.
>     >
>     > Can someone here can remedy this issue on Wikipedia and then point
>     me to
>     > the fixed article?
>
>     It seems like it's either Approval voting or cumulative voting. In list
>     PR jargon, "preferential" seems to be a term for any kind of ballot that
>     lets voters vote both for parties and candidates.
>
>     Quoting from
>     https://news.expats.cz/czech-culture/voting-czech-republic/:
>
>     > To vote for a political party and candidates from other parties:
>     > Place an „x“ at the head of the party ticket (as you would to vote
>     > only for a party) and then place an „x“ by the names of any other
>     > candidates inother parties for whom you want to vote (preferential
>     > votes).  Note: If you use this method of voting, the party you
>     > support receives the number of votes that remain after your
>     > preferential votes are counted.  For example, if there are 11 seats
>     > on the council, and you place an „x“ by Party A and by the names of
>     > 5 candidates from other parties, your preferential votes are counted
>     > first. The remainder of your votes then go to the first 6 candidates
>     > on Party A´s ticket.  If you mark more than one party (at the top of
>     > the party ticket) or more preferential votes than there are open
>     seats,
>     > your ballot will not be counted.
>     which makes it sound like cumulative (any candidate you vote for reduces
>     the number of votes you give to the designated party).
>
>     But Negri[1] states the folllowing:
>
>     > Preferential votes under open list PR (and, to some extent, under
>     > flexible list PR) are equivalent to approval voting within party
>     > lists: voters decide to approve (and notrank) some of the politicians
>     > appearing on the ballot. Only one approval vote can becast for each
>     > candidate (no cumulative voting). The total number of approval votes
>     > that can be expressed can vary a lot from country to country. For
>     > example, it is equal to one in Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Brazil,
>     > it varies from one to five—depending onthe electoral district—in
>     > Greece and it coincides with the total number of candidates on the
>     > list in Belgium.
>
>     which sounds like a limited type of Approval voting (vote for up to k
>     candidates, then the candidates with the most votes win that party's
>     seats). The paper also mentions that a high level of k reduces minority
>     representation, which is in line with what you'd see under Approval,
>     since bloc Approval is not a proportional representation method.
>
>     I'm not sure which it is, though. If I find out, I'll change the
>     Wikipedia article.
>
>     [1]
>     https://risweb.st-andrews.ac.uk/portal/en/researchoutput/preferential-votes-and-minority-representation-in-open-list-proportional-representation-systems(f8102c17-f213-43bc-bd26-8cf9c9ae960d).html
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>     list info
>
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