May 23, 2005

Politics: STV DOA? Try PMS!

So the Single Transferable Vote did not get enough support to be accepted on a trial basis. Naturally enough, the Provincial politicos now love it.

Eh?

The STV received about 57% support throughout the province, far more than elects most officials ina ny country with more than two viable parties. I voted in its favour, understanding the proviso that it would be voted on again three elections hence; again, far more than most politicians last, unless you get named to senate whence you only leave after your mouldering body begins to smell, making it difficult for the other senators to sleep peacefully.

So why did the Single Tranferable Vote fail? Many people pointed to the complexity of keeping track of the voting, which could possibly mean bringing in voting machines, which we all know have been working so well south of the border... Larger ridings could end up with 30 or more candidates to try keeping track of, and THAT could certainly lead to voter burnout after one election. Not to mention serious ass paper cuts. Another reason was probably the initials sounding like something you see the school nurse about.

In any case, since it was almost given enough support by the general populace, all the parties have been grunting "change, change" about political representation in the province. To benifit all of them, I'd like to humbly propose my own fix: Thursdays Plus/Minus System, or Ts PMS!

Well... I can work on the name.

One of my pet peeves talking to people as an election nears is hearing them say they're going to "vote strategically", as in voting not for the person or party you want so much as voting in favour of whoever has the chance to beat the person or party you DON'T want. This is also called "negative voting", and it blows because the person you want to vote for ends up with 20 votes and the putz you hate gets in anyways. Voting against has been a feature of democracies ever since the first negative ad campaign, where Appolonius of Crete (241 - 180 B.C.E.) accused his opponent Herodus (220 - 146 B.C.E.) of being sexually deviant, what with his not liking to have sex with boys and all.

Anyhow, my point is: why not bring the negative vote out in the open? Everyone gets two votes: one positive, for the statesman you like; one negative, for the unnatural beast that makes dogs bark and children cry. The brilliance of it is, the party that the most voters find LEAST objectionable is most likely to get in, which improves the chances of a third (or fourth) party being elected, until next election when they end up with -24,000 votes because the two usual parties suddenly realised that they spent all their negative votes on each other, and a third party slipped in when they weren't looking. There will have to be some kind of minimum threshold of positive votes, say 10% of votes cast, for the party to be considered.

An example:

Party A (Fascist Dictatorship Party) is the ruling party, sometimes interrupted by Party B (Peoples Democratic Republic of Party Party). Party C (Hug Everybody Party) always gets a few votes, frequently siphoning them off of Party B, keeping them in a perpetual second place. Party D (Rational Government Party) has always been a bit of a joke, but they keep putting their names on the ballot in semi-psychotic bouts of optimism. Finally, there's Party E (Alien Abductees for Buddha Party), a single-issue party that gets widely ignored. In some places an independent will run, despite knowing full well that the only independents that get elected are ones that won the seat for a party last election, then had a major falling out with her campaign manager/husband. They're still considered members of the party they left, Chuck Cadman notwithstanding.

The results of last election were Party A - 42,000 votes; Party B - 37,000; Party C - 11,000; Party D - 4,000; Party E - 1,000; and Independents/Write In/None of the Above - 5,000. Other than having suspiciously round-numbered voting, this is pretty standard in a jurisdiction with 100,000 votes. Party A wins, despite only having 42% of the people voting liking them. Party A declares a landslide victory, the majority of the voters are left to grumble. So how does my PMS change this?

Observe:

After decades of being the only two parties to win power, supporters of Patry A and Party B have built quite a hate for each other; Party C thinks Party A is evil incarnate, but B and D aren't that great with their feelings either; Party D is a split off from Party A, so they tend to be more opposed to Party B and C, but A has gotten corrupt and has to be taught a lesson, too; Party E loathes Party A for "the cover-up", and Party B for continuing the charade; and the rest have their negative votes evenly spread amongst the others.

Most of the negative votes cast by Party A go against Party B (80%), but a few are cast against those hippy freaks in C (20%).

Party B knows who the enemy is and votes as a block against Party A (100%).

Party C mostly oppose whoever's in power, and right now that's A (80%), with a little spite versus Parties B (10%) and D (10%).

Party D is queasy about Party B (40%), shudders at the thought of C (40%), and disdains A (20%).

Party E, well who knows what the hell's going through their heads. Oh right: I do, since I'm making them up: 90% against A, 10% against B.

And the rest are evenly split.

Here's the new results:

Party A: 42,000 votes for; 48,500 against = -6,500 votes.
Party B: 37,000 votes for; 37,400 against = -400 votes.
Party C: 11,000 votes for; 11,000 against = even.
Party D: 4,000 votes for; 2,100 against = 1,900 votes.
Party E: 1,000 votes for; 1,000 votes against = even.
Others: the rest. How much work do you want me to do for crying out loud?

And the Hug Everybody Party wins the jurisdiction.

It gets real interesting during the second election called after this system is put in place, because suddenly everybody knows that they just need 10% of the (positive) vote, and their party could have a chance of winning! Established parties would have no idea who to negative campaign against!

As an added bonus, it would drive pollsters bugnuts, and that's never a bad idea.

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posted by Thursday at 4:17 pm

2 Comments:

Blogger Amber said...

I like this. What would it take to get it installed and working in Canada? Aside from that love the party names :)

6:02 pm  
Blogger Thursday said...

It couldn't cost much, I don't think: the polling stations are already in place, and it only means widening the ballot to include the negative vote column plus a little extra time to add it all up.

My favorite feature is still in the last sentence...

9:24 pm  

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