ForumTouchy Subjects ► Voting Systems: FPTP, MMP, PR, AV, STV
Wikipedia: Electoral System

Which voting system is the best system?

FPTP is a horrible system which results in unrepresentative governments with wasted votes. You have to live in the right part of the country where you agree with your next-door-neighbours. But if you're an oddball in your neighbourhood, your vote means nothing, even if all the other neighbourhood oddballs across the country add up to 20% of the country.

MMP is better, but still flawed. It usually comes with arbitrary thresh-holds designed to keep small parties out. A better way to keep small parties out is to not vote for them. If people do vote for them, then they should get them. And I don't think it's right mixing national and local politics, it creates technicalities.

I think PR is probably the best, or AV is good because it lets people rank choices. I think the more a system forces people into "tactical voting", the worse it is. People should feel free to vote for what they like, instead of having to worry about what other people like.

  
I would highly recommend providing keys when you're dropping maps from Wikipedia. This is a few times where an color-coded map was provided without context, which is not very helpful.
  
I think voting by party is toxic. (If I had my way, it would be illegal to display party affiliation on ballots.) I support STV for all elections. No need for anything more complicated.
  
There is in multi-winner elections. STV with quotas deals with that.

I agree about parties. In particular party-list additional candidate is a mockery.

I haven't seen it proposed elsewhere, although I doubt it is an original idea, but I would like the opportunity to vote against a candidate. A candidate would then need an overall positive vote to succeed. For example, with 10 votes to distribute, a ballot might look like
  • Arthur
  • Bloggs
  • Campbell : -3
  • Davidson : 1
  • Evans
  • Fox : 4
  • Grey
  • Harris : 2
Which says I strongly prefer Fox, then Harris or Davidson. Campbell would be a disaster, the rest I don't care about. (There could be rules to limit negative votes, and you might need more votes to give the option of a fuller ranking, this is just a quick-fire illustration)
  
I would highly recommend providing keys when you're dropping maps from Wikipedia. This is a few times where an color-coded map was provided without context, which is not very helpful.
Wikipedia's maps do not come with keys as images. I provided a link to the article at the top of the post. Even without a list of names, the map shows the diversity of systems around the world. I assume people know the name of their own system and can see where it's used. I took a screenshot of the key and added it.
  
DIAV, I think your system would end up encouraging strategic voting and provide less information about voters' will than ranked choice. Without proof, my intuition is that instead of providing weights representative of their approval of each candidate, most people would end up allotting all their positive votes to their preferred candidate and all their negative votes to the strongest alternative. I think this is a more likely version of your example ballot, assuming the same +/- totals:
  • Arthur: 0
  • Bloggs: 0
  • Campbell : -3
  • Davidson : 0
  • Evans: 0
  • Fox : 7
  • Grey: 0
  • Harris: 0
And this doesn't convey the preference for Harris over Davidson.

And that's assuming Campbell is the strongest alternative to Fox. If, say, Harris were the strongest alternative, you might end up with that voter giving -3 to their second-favorite candidate.
  
That's possible - I haven't analysed it in depth.

I believe that the version I provided would have the effect I wanted if those were my actual preferences. Your version does not rank several candidates, and I would potentially get a non-preferred candidate if I chose to vote tactically. Whether that is enough of a disincentive I don't know.

The scenario I am trying to address is one which I see quite often where there are 3 or 4 "reasonable" candidates who split the vote and one asshole who gets in on minority support.
  
Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think STV already handles that case. If the asshole doesn't reach the quota, then one of the reasonable candidates gets knocked out, and their votes get transferred. Eventually, if the asshole is more disliked by the majority than the combined reasonable candidates, you should end up with one of the reasonable candidates. One of the things I like about STV is that it does a reasonable job of reducing both tactical voting and the spoiler effect.
  
There is a problem with basic STV in multi-winner elections. The full value of votes is re-distributed once a candidate is elected. A party can run a slate where they get their supporters to vote for the candidates in a fixed order. When they get their first candidate in, then all of the votes transfer to the next candidate, and so on down the line. Done right, that can mean that their whole slate gets elected.

The fix is to assign a fractional value to the re-distributed value corresponding to the proportion by which the candidate was over quota. It's a bitch to count (I've done it), but a slate needs different organization, accurate prediction, and can get a maximum of 1 extra candidate through.


On the negative vote point - in order to vote against someone in STV, you need to rank all the candidates. That often means you give false preferences, which is not a good idea. Your idea about tactical voting against the strongest opposition would apply under STV, too.
  
STV certainly works for individual positions like senators or presidents or as a supplementary system for FPTP districts, but for party systems seems overly cumbersome. My main concerns would be
1) how do you make sure there isn't an exhaustive 20 person list for one position like seemingly every primary season in the US? There genuinely is a limit to viable political positions.

2) how do you make sure voters are informed? Candidates with money or backing would rise to the top in a hurry.

We use STV for local elections and genuinely I tried reading everyone's bio, but 90% of the time they just wrote about their commitment to accountability and effectiveness so I just voted for the Labour/Green equivalent, and literally all the people who wrote a single policy, including some I disagreed with purely to give them a morale boost and thank them for actually putting a flag in the ground (you're welcome communist party and libertarians).

I like parties as a bog standard stand in for a general political position. I do not like personality politics at all and I view presidential systems and district-oriented systems which emphasise individual representatives like mayors or British/American style representatives as usually descending into a competition between the candidates people view as personable. Admittedly people vote for appealing party leaders here and it depresses me.
  
I think having an informed electorate is difficult, but that applies regardless of the voting system.
  
Sure, but it's easier to know if you generally have left or right values than read through a crop of politicians. A lot of people get flak for voting with their parents, but if you generally agree with their values good for you for voting. It gets worse if you're of a minority opinion in a district that votes one way, which I'm not convinced STV solves.
  
Would you mind defining your acronyms? For instance, "MMP" doesn't appear in the linked Wikipedia article.
  
MMP - Mixed Member Proportional
  
DIAV said:
On the negative vote point - in order to vote against someone in STV, you need to rank all the candidates.
Is that really so onerous?
DIAV said:
Your idea about tactical voting against the strongest opposition would apply under STV, too.
I don't think so because the votes only transfer if your preferred candidate is already knocked out. Come to think of it, this might not be an issue with your system depending on how you tally the numbers. (I was assuming highest total score = winner.)

As long as the end result is election of individuals, I don't think there's any excuse for not researching the candidates you may be putting into power. Put in the work to research their individual views and past performance, especially their voting records if applicable.

I know it's an unpopular opinion, but if someone is unable or unwilling to do their civic duty and educate themselves, then they shouldn't exercise their right to vote. Voting by party is lazy and dangerous.
  
Voting by individual rather than party ultimately requires districting of some form. Would you be happy if people were districts by name? If every John or Peter voted for a candidate etc would you feel you had a fair chance at securing a candidate who matched your values? Even with STV, some people (as much as 49%) will find themselves completely unrepresented in whatever chamber of government exists.

With PR, MMP or similar party oriented systems, provided your views meet some threshold (usually 5% but I would argue 3% is more fair) you will get at least some representation in government.
  
Voting by party is lazy and dangerous.
Under systems like PR and MMP, there is a literal party vote. So you have to vote by party because that's what you're being asked, the ballot is a list of the parties. I think this system is better, because it ensures everyone in the country gets the same choices. If it's your first time voting then you can see which party represents your views and vote accordingly. Next time, if you haven't changed and the party hasn't changed, then you vote for them again.
Grayseff said:
With PR, MMP or similar party oriented systems, provided your views meet some threshold (usually 5% but I would argue 3% is more fair) you will get at least some representation in government.
I don't think there should any artificial threshold. There should only be the natural threshold of earning enough for a seat.
  
> Under systems like PR and MMP, there is a literal party vote.

Which results in some number of individual party members actually getting elected, no? The party itself doesn't collectively legislate/govern.

> If it's your first time voting then you can see which party represents your views and vote accordingly. Next time, if you haven't changed and the party hasn't changed, then you vote for them again.

That would work great if political parties were a hivemind, but they're not, and in my experience, members of the same party can have wildly varying beliefs, integrity, competency, etc.

> Voting by individual rather than party ultimately requires districting of some form.

Yes, and you can achieve reasonably proportional representation by allotting a large enough number of representatives per district (not even all that many in practice).
  
So you wouldn't have a party vote, only a local candidate, and the public wouldn't be allowed to officially know which party they belonged to, although they could probably guess?

I still think there's the problem of post-code lotteries. Unless you abolish local candidates and have national candidates, but people can't be expected to familiarise themselves with hundreds of candidates. In a system based on local candidates, people in district A get different choices to people in district B. You end up with vote-swapping apps. I think national legislatures should be determined by national votes, rather than:

District A choices:
Mr. Moreschools
Mrs. Moretrees
Mr. Lessimmigrants
Mrs. Morereligion
Mr. War

District B choices:

Mr. Morehouses
Mr. Moreimmigrants
Mrs. Lesstax
Mrs. Moretax
Mr. Peace

District C choices:

Mr. Farm
Mrs. Farm
Mr. Differentkindoffarm
  
In our system at least electoral members (district representatives) have broad scope for votes of conscience, but list members (people who are only there because of party votes) have essentially very little scope for votes outside of party lines, since the party infrastructure can and will remove them. So yes, parties do operate as more of a hive Mind.

In one case, a list MP who switched parties was expelled from parliament by Supreme Court ruling.
  
Fwip said:
Would you mind defining your acronyms? For instance, "MMP" doesn't appear in the linked Wikipedia article.
FPTP = First Past the Post
MMP = Mixed-Member Proportional
PR = Proportional Representation
AV = Alternative Vote
STV = Single Transferable Vote
  
Thanks 💚
  
Some of these examples are variants of other ones. MMP is a type of PR. The Youtube video Grayseff linked explains MMP very well. Here is the same person explaining AV with the same cute funny animals:

  
Grayseff said:
list members (people who are only there because of party votes) have essentially very little scope for votes outside of party lines, since the party infrastructure can and will remove them. So yes, parties do operate as more of a hive Mind.
Interesting, that doesn't sound too bad then, as long as the field of political parties is diverse and dynamic enough.
  
MMP is most famously used in Germany and New Zealand:

In Germany it boils down to 7 parties, and in NZ it boils down to 4, with a 5th there as basically a glitch in the system. That's the one flaw in MMP, parties can get national power on purely local support.
  
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