Electoral Reform proposal

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Patroklus Murakami
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Electoral Reform proposal

Post by Patroklus Murakami »

For those who didn't make it to the CSDF Open Meeting today, here is an explanation of our proposal on Electoral Reform.

Electoral Reform meeting

Hello everybody. Thank you for coming to this Open Meeting to discuss the CSDF's proposal for electoral reform.

I'd like to start by outlining why we think electoral reform is necessary, then explain our proposal and invite questions.

First of all, I'd like to say what we think are the strengths and weaknesses of our current electoral arrangements.

One strength of the current system is that it is a proportional system. The seats allocated to factions in the Representative Assembly broadly represent the votes of the citizens. This is an advantage over 'first-past-the-post' systems like the elections for the UK Westminster Parliament where a party can win a majority of seats on a minority of the votes cast.

Another strength is the faction system. Citizens vote for factions, rather than individuals, and that means that the political debate is focussed on issues rather than personalities.

It's difficult when one of the factions appears to have no policies... but that's another issue :)

It's also fairly easy to understand the basic principles. At voting time, citizens put the factions in order of preference from the one they like best to the one they like least.

But the system has it's weaknesses as well.

One problem is that the only people who get to choose between the candidates (as opposed to choosing between the factions) are party members.

For example, in the current election, only members of the CSDF get to choose between Jon, Moon and me. A non-member might think that Jon and Moon did a really good job this term and cast their vote for them, but think I'm the devil incarnate and not want their vote to help me get elected. Under our current system they can only vote for the faction, warts and all.

A second problem is that we only have 'national' representatives and there is some desire to have an element of 'local' representation in the national parliament. How do we address this without creating a second chamber (and unnecessary bureaucracy) or a second set of 'local' representatives (which might work but which might create 1st and 2nd class RA members)?

Our solution is very simple.

Our proposal would give each voter the power to choose between the factions *and* select the candidates they prefer.

Our proposal would make *all* the RA members 'local' representatives in one, 'national' Representative Assembly.

How would it work?

From the point of view of the voter, it's very simple. When casting their vote, each voter would see a list of all the candidates standing for election and which faction they belong to. The voter then puts the candidates in order of preference.

That's very simple but very powerful. It gives the voter the power to choose *who* their vote goes to.

For example, let's take our mythical voter who thinks good things of Jon and Moon but can't stand me:) Let's also imagine that they also think that Justice and Pel did a good job last term but are unimpressed with Claude; that they prefer Justice to Moon and; that they don't trust our two new parties and won't give their vote 'unknown quantities'.

They could vote 1)Jon 2) Justice 3) Moon 4) Pel.

Their vote would go to Jon first and, if he got enough first preferences, would help him to get elected. Yay!

If Jon was unsuccessful, the vote would be transferred to Justice and might help to get him elected.

If Justice was unsuccessful, the vote would be transferred to Moon... and so on.

The system is called Single Transferable Vote (STV) and is used in elections in the Republic of Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Malta and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

To quote from Wikipedia "The Single Transferable Vote, or STV, is a preferential voting system designed to minimise wasted votes and provide proportional representation while ensuring that votes are explicitly for candidates rather than party lists.

"STV achieves this by using multi-seat constituencies (districts) and by transferring votes that would otherwise be wasted.

"STV initially allocates an individual's vote to their most preferred candidate, and then subsequently transfers unneeded or unused votes after candidates are either elected or eliminated, according to the voter's stated preferences."

This enables voters to give their vote not only to the factions they support but the candidates they want to see elected. It allows voters to choose candidates from only one faction, if they want to, and choose which between those candidates.

It also enables voters to 'mix-and-match' candidates from different factions if there are individuals they particularly want to see elected, regardless of party affiliation.

In summary, it gives the power of decision to voters, which is where it belongs.

Now, back at the start of this I also said something about 'local' representatives in a national parliament. Let me explain what that means.

We would split the CDS into two constituencies - Neufreistadt and Colonia Nova. As new sims are added each would become a new constituency.

Each citizen would register to vote in whichever sim they held property (or one of them if they hold property in both).

The factions would submit lists of candidates for each sim and Neufrestadt voters would select among the Neufrestadt candidates while Colonia Nova would choose between the Colonia Nova candidates.

The RA would then be made up of a number of representatives from Neufreistadt and a number from Colonia Nova. Each representative would be, simultaneously, an individual voted for by the electorate; a representative of one of the factions *and* a Neufreistadt or Colonia Nova representative in one, single, unitary, national RA of the Confederation of Democratic Simulators.

What would this mean if these elections were being carried out under this system?

Let's assume there are 70 citizens eligible to vote and that 38 of them are registered in Neufreistadt, and 32 in Colonia Nova.

The total number of seats in the RA is 10% of 70, rounded to the nearest odd number. That makes 7 seats altogether.

Because there are slightly more citizens in NFS compared to CN, NFS gets 4 seats and CN gets 3. (To describe it mathematically, the ratio 38:32 is approximately 4:3).

Obviously, this would mean some changes.

The CSDF (and other factions) would have to decide who to run in NFS and who to run in CN.

Voters would have to register in one constituency or another.

But we would have solved the 'national' v 'local' problem at a stroke, and in the same way that most real life political systems do, by having 'local' representatives in one 'national' parliament.

Thank you for listening. I know that's a lot to take in. Would anyone like to ask questions or comment on what they've heard?


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