Still seeking to understand the system

ibis

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It matters because your second, third, or further choices could already be eliminated or elected before your first choice candidate is.
OK, either one of us misunderstands the system, and/or we have a large communications gap!

This is from the Department of the Environment:

Only one of the preferences in your vote is active at a time. The vote stays with your first preference candidate unless and until he/she does not need it any more (either because he/she has been elected or excluded from the count). If your vote is transferred, it passes to your next highest preference for a candidate still in the running. Your vote could transfer a number of times at the same election to your lower preference candidates.
Now, that's my understanding of the system - your vote goes to your number 2 preference when your number 1 is eliminated. If your number 2 is eliminated, it goes to your number 3. The 'single' refers to "only one of the preferences in your vote is active at a time".

As far as I can see, what you're saying is that your vote can only transfer once. That seems to be at odds with the Department's statement above?
 


Almanac

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A neighbour just told me she was told that had she (and others I suppose) given not her first, but her third preference to her most prefered candidate, who wasn't elected, the candidate would have fared better. She doesn't understand why that would be. Is there anything to this?
Good thread starter.
 

pandora

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Christel,
It would be worth checking if your local school runs student elections under the STV system of PR.
Many do so to help the students understand it and it is so much easier to understand if you see it in action and watch the votes being physically transferred. Sometimes they keep the ballot papers from one election and just have the students re-count them to see how it works. This certainly helped my children, who despite studying it in class didn't understand it until they saw it in action.

If the school does this most are happy to welcome adult helpers and I think you (and the many others who can't figure out what is a complex system) would benefit from taking part.
 

orbit

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If I understand correctly, and assuming we're talking about an Irish election under single transferrable vote, then yes, this can happen. STV fails to satisfy something called monotonicity.
The OP doesn't say whether it would have affected the result, only that the candidate would have fared better. I'd be surprised if it would have changed the result.

There are variants of STV that are monotonic though, and if we had electronic counting, then these anomalies wouldn't happen :rolleyes:
 

stringjack

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There are variants of STV that are monotonic though, and if we had electronic counting, then these anomalies wouldn't happen :rolleyes:
All versions of STV that collapse to IRV when there is only one seat fail to satisfy monotonicity. Counting the votes electronically wouldn't change that.
 

orbit

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All versions of STV that collapse to IRV when there is only one seat fail to satisfy monotonicity. Counting the votes electronically wouldn't change that.
Sigh. Yes that is true. I was thinking of the "last parcel distribution" problem which is a bit more serious I think.

Wikipedia says the following:
Non-monotonicity, in turn, makes it possible under some circumstances to elect a preferred candidate by reducing his position on some of the ballots; by helping elect a candidate who displaces the preferred candidate's main rival, a voter may cause the preferred candidate to profit from transfers resulting from the rival's defeat.
People might get the impression that some kind of tactical voting would influence this, but when you see how contrived the example is, and how it depends on knowing the exact transfer patterns (before people even have voted), that it simply can't be exploited usefully.

Nevertheless, I have heard people argue that the first past the post system is better than STV because of this issue, which is absurd (in elections with more than 2 candidates)
 

Christel

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May I ask if you all are happy with this complicated system? Would you want or accept a simpler one?

How did it come about by the way, historically? Is it of British origin?
 

stringjack

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Sigh. Yes that is true. I was thinking of the "last parcel distribution" problem which is a bit more serious I think.
Yeah - that one's quite unnecessary.

May I ask if you all are happy with this complicated system? Would you want or accept a simpler one?

How did it come about by the way, historically? Is it of British origin?
It's very easy to use. And, historically, it got adopted because it was popular around the time of independence.
 

Christel

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Yeah - that one's quite unnecessary.



It's very easy to use. And, historically, it got adopted because it was popular around the time of independence.
It's easy to use, if that means putting numbers on the list. But is it easy to understand? Is the counting understood by most voters?
My problem with it is that you don't know what happens to your vote, as it is shifted around.
 

garlandgreen

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I think it basically works like this

[ame=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CfgRGW9Ghik&feature=fvst]YouTube - ADAM & JOE'S QUIZZLESTICK[/ame]
 

stringjack

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It's easy to use, if that means putting numbers on the list. But is it easy to understand? Is the counting understood by most voters?
My problem with it is that you don't know what happens to your vote, as it is shifted around.
The basic principle isn't that hard to understand, so yes, I'd say a fair number of voters have that much. Hardly anyone understands the technicalities. Interestingly, according to wiki, it was initially proposed that the election officials should keep track of where every vote moved, so that each voter would know, at the end, which candidate ended up with his or her vote.
 

asset test

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I agree with Christel. The STV is not understood by most people, and I include myself in that depending on the circumstances of the election in which I am voting. Most will understand 1,2,3 etc. but I don't think very many understand the WAY votes are transferred.

I am thinking here of the European elections recently and the furore about keeping MLM or ER out. Problem.... voting no. 1 for G Mitchell, or P de R was a bit of a test because each was expected to just reach the quota. Therefore they would have had no surplus to pass on. Am I correct? So when I voted I actually gave no 1 to 3rd candidate and 2 and 3 to the above two. It worked for me anyway, I got the result I wanted. I just don't know if it was fluke or tactical. And I suspect many others do not know enough about STV to understand it either.

Why is there little information around election time about STV? Many are voting for the first time so it seems a little lax for a system that is in no way simple to understand.
 

stringjack

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Why is there little information around election time about STV? Many are voting for the first time so it seems a little lax for a system that is in no way simple to understand.
One of the advantages of STV is that it's more difficult to manipulate through tactical voting. And you don't need to understand the system in order to use it, any more than you need to know how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car.
 

garlandgreen

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One of the advantages of STV is that it's more difficult to manipulate through tactical voting. And you don't need to understand the system in order to use it, any more than you need to know how an internal combustion engine works in order to drive a car.
Why would tactical voting be a disadvantage? Surely the whole point of having a vote is getting the people you want to get into power into power? Tactical voting seems a way of acheiving that
 

stringjack

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Why would tactical voting be a disadvantage? Surely the whole point of having a vote is getting the people you want to get into power into power? Tactical voting seems a way of acheiving that
Because it turns voting into a strategic game rather than an expression of preferences. When people vote strategically, we have no idea, in the aftermath of an election, what they actually wanted. All we have is what they thought would get them what they actually wanted. Furthermore, when a system is moderately manipulable (as opposed to easily manipulable, or only manipulable with great difficulty) then some people will be able to manipulate it at the expense of others, which undermines democratic equality.
 

ibis

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I agree with Christel. The STV is not understood by most people, and I include myself in that depending on the circumstances of the election in which I am voting. Most will understand 1,2,3 etc. but I don't think very many understand the WAY votes are transferred.
On the other hand, I think most people grasp the idea that if their first preference candidate is eliminated, their vote will transfer to the number 2, and so on down the line.

I like the system: it always produces surprises; it punishes those, like Declan Ganley, who run negative campaigns, because they don't receive transfers from those who like the other candidates; and it allows you to vote for a complete no-hoper with the assurance that your vote won't be wasted, which allows outsiders a far better chance than first past the post.
 

garlandgreen

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Because it turns voting into a strategic game rather than an expression of preferences. When people vote strategically, we have no idea, in the aftermath of an election, what they actually wanted. All we have is what they thought would get them what they actually wanted. Furthermore, when a system is moderately manipulable (as opposed to easily manipulable, or only manipulable with great difficulty) then some people will be able to manipulate it at the expense of others, which undermines democratic equality.
If I express my preference for a particular government then strategically manipulating my vote to best effect is surely the best means of seeing my preference expressed. As anyone else can do the same I don't see how it's unequal
 

Chrisco

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Yeah - that one's quite unnecessary.



It's very easy to use. And, historically, it got adopted because it was popular around the time of independence.
It was adopted in Ireland at the time of Partition primarily to safeguard the interests of the minority communities in Northern and Southern Ireland, and it has proved enduringly popular (the people twice voted down Fianna Fail proposals to change the system to the British 'First Past the Post' system).
 

stringjack

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I like the system: it always produces surprises; it punishes those, like Declan Ganley, who run negative campaigns, because they don't receive transfers from those who like the other candidates; and it allows you to vote for a complete no-hoper with the assurance that your vote won't be wasted, which allows outsiders a far better chance than first past the post.
FPTP probably shouldn't be the comparator, though.

If I express my preference for a particular government then strategically manipulating my vote to best effect is surely the best means of seeing my preference expressed. As anyone else can do the same I don't see how it's unequal
Yes, that's right. The problem is one of information - the rest of us have no idea what your preferences are, because we can't infer them from what you've said they are. It can sometimes be helpful to know what people actually want (particularly if their attempts at manipulating have a good chance of failing).

Secondly, manipulation generally isn't costless (that's why I specified that I was referring to a moderately manipulable system) - it requires effort and ability; people are not all equally well able to make strategic calculations. In an easily manipulable system, you run into problems where everyone is calculating what her best move is, on the basis of what she thinks everyone else will do. In those kinds of systems, the rational best strategy is often a randomised one, and then we have people deciding who to vote for on the basis of coin tosses.
 

garlandgreen

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Yes, that's right. The problem is one of information - the rest of us have no idea what your preferences are, because we can't infer them from what you've said they are. It can sometimes be helpful to know what people actually want (particularly if their attempts at manipulating have a good chance of failing).
But is information what concerns you or what Government that method used to collate that information ended up delivering? The former might concern staticians and antropoligists etc. but that's not really what elections are supposed to be about

Secondly, manipulation generally isn't costless (that's why I specified that I was referring to a moderately manipulable system) - it requires effort and ability; people are not all equally well able to make strategic calculations. In an easily manipulable system, you run into problems where everyone is calculating what her best move is, on the basis of what she thinks everyone else will do. In those kinds of systems, the rational best strategy is often a randomised one, and then we have people deciding who to vote for on the basis of coin tosses.
Every vote is a manipulation and of course it has consequences.

But the logic as I see it followed through to it's proper end is that the vote of the proleteriat serve as nothing more than directionless bullwark to those who know how to vote stragically rather than anyone that voted for having any real significance bar the "coin toss". Oh and with the election pacts it might not be a coin toss anyway. Vote 1 X Vote 2 Y Posters etc
 


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