Party leaders sabotaged the BC Citizens Assembly and referendum experiment.

BC parties.

Liberals.

The British Columbia Citizens Assembly on Electoral Reform was set-up on a promise of the Liberal leader, Gordon Campbell, after the New Democratic Party (NDP) won an election with more seats for fewer votes.

He kept his promise, which is more than most politicians have, in similar circumstances. Unfortunately, the First Past The Post system, like some goddess threatened by loss of worshippers, so switched her favors to the Liberals that the ensuing election obliterated the NDP but for two seats in the provincial legislature.

And when the Citizens Assembly, one woman and one man volunteer chosen at random from each district, was safely convened, they found that their recommendation would have to pass a double hurdle in the forthcoming referendum. 60% of the voters would have to say: Yes. And 60% of the districts would have to show a majority support.

FPTP had won back Liberal party allegiance with a vengeance. And short of insurgent levels of support for reform, the politicians, like an old aristocracy, would veto it. I have read that the double threshold was "eagerly" endorsed by the opposition leadership also.

This was sabotage on a major scale. French Quebec or indeed any other province could leave the Canadian Federation on winning over 50% of the votes. And try and stop them! Any other issue might pass on a democratic majority but the issue of democratic voting method: this was to be decided by undemocratic means to keep elections undemocratic. Votes were weighted for FPTP support at 40%, by half as much again, so that they count as much as reform votes up to 60%.

This set an ugly precedent, taken-up by two other Canadian provinces, Prince Edward Island and Ontario, which both held electoral reform referendums with the double 60% threshold. So, the scales of justice weigh heavily against Gordon Campbell and his turn-coat party. BC politicians irresponsibly failed to consider the ill consequences for their country of their unprincipled evasion of their obligations.

It must also be said that Gordon Campbell did conduct the Citizens Assembly in the spirit in which it was intended. He, or any other big-wigs, didnt so much as show their face in the place until the members' work was all over. And then he didnt try to personly sway public opinion as to the decision. And the assembly was given plenty of time to deliberate.

This was in complete contrast to the Ontario Citizens Assembly. I have already discussed this on another web page. Its chairman has since said that they didnt have enough time to do their work properly.

It has been contended that the BC CA was told what to say by resident academics supportive of STV. But the learning curve of the assembly doesnt support this claim. It followed a similar pattern to the Ontario assembly, until the latter was cut short, while the balance of opinion, between the Mixed Member Proportional system, and the Single Transferable Vote was still changing.

When Gordon Campbell's political soul is weighed in the scales of justice, we can be sure that they will swing wildly and it is highly doubtful that they will settle in his favor.

Greens.

But it is certain on which side the balance will rest with respect to the then BC Green Party leader Adriane Carr. Tho, some indulgence might be allowed her for enlivening politics like a Joan Collins prima donna in Dynasty, with an emphasis on the nasty.

The whole point of the Citizens Assembly was that ordinary citizens should decide the nature of the voting system, which is supposed to be the citizens' effective input into the constitutional procedure. The parties were to keep out of it. And the two main parties, Liberals and NDP, did not try to impose their views on the assembly. But the Greens did.

Previously, they tried to "hi-jack" the reform movement by flying a kite for an MMP referendum, pre-empting what system was to be adopted.

During the assembly deliberation, they flooded the submissions with a thousand or more forms, some of them worded slightly differently, to make it look as if they came from independent sources. Ever since, the impudent legend has been bruited about that this was the wish of the people.

The whole point of a deliberative assembly is to deliberate, not endorse the organised prejudice of some self-interested minority masquerading as a majority.

When the CA decided in favor of STV against MMP, contrary to the insistence of her supporters, Adriane Carr is said to have burst into tears. Doing her Joan Collins prima donna act, she vowed to use the Green party to defeat STV for FPTP in the 2005 referendum. The Green party wouldnt cut its nose to spite its face. But she succeeded in neutralising the party.

And this probably made enough difference to prevent STV achieving the impossible, as it won nearly 58% of the votes, just shy of the required 60%. This landslide, the biggest vote in BC history, was defined as a "defeat," such is the power of the dishonest use of words to affect people's thoughts, like mind-altering drugs.

In other words, this STV "defeat" was such, that, by the same standards, no other legislation would ever have been passed. You might as well have never had a provincial assembly.

STV did win majorities, in all but two of the districts, where it lost only by a whisker, coming close to 100% majority support, compared to the required 60%, of districts.

New Democrats.

Consequently, Gordon Campbell allowed another referendum in 2009. There was a decisive difference, however. In 2005, the parties were kept out, having a conflict of interest in the decision. Only truthful information was allowed to be imparted on the two contending voting methods, FPTP and STV.

In 2009, the funding was put out to tender. Half a million dollars each went to a Yes to STV campaign and a No to STV campaign. The latter had for President and Treasurer, two high-ups from the New Democratic Party (NDP), Bill Tieleman and David Schreck. An impartial campaign was replaced by a partial campaign.

Instead of imparting information, the Yes campaign was spending its efforts in combating an anti-STV show trial prosecuted in the manner of the jobbing lawyer or partisan legislator. (My BC letters, in the section below, are mainly corrections of their misinformation.)

The No-STV president, Bill Tieleman, said they spent most of their funds on mass advertising. They didnt have an organisation on the ground. He was amazed by the 5000 canvassers for the STV campaign. (The Yes campaign said 6000.)

The first No and Yes to STV tv broadcasts lasted 30 seconds: time is money. The commercials cost a fortune to tell everyone as little as possible.

The No STV advert repeated that STV is "complicated," and said the votes were split-up into fractions and you wouldnt know where your votes went. They said the multi-member constituencies would be too big.

The Yes to STV advert repeated the comment: That's not fair! of the two BC elections, which saw the two main parties alternately under-represented and over-represented.

The july 2009 Fair Votes newsletter cited a post-referendum opinion poll showing that the public believed FPTP is not fair but STV is too complicated.
Apparently, people simply believed both adverts of the two campaigns.

This is not good enough.

Firstly, it should be ascertained whether the public is interested enough in a referendum, on any given issue, to follow it intelligently. Secondly, the issue should be given a series of public broadcasts to inform on the issue, and substantial debates to decide which contending views should be supported.

Instead, there was an ignorant farce of 30 second seminars which are supposed to decide an issue for a generation.

Judging by an online remark, shortly before 12 May, by Chrystal Ocean, she found tiresome how the mass media was full of prejudice against the reform. They say nothing, until they have to, and then all their established opinions come tumbling out, with no-one to disabuse them.

After the referendum, an STV canvasser recalled a greeting sneer that appeared on people's faces, as much to say: Oh youre the people pushing that stupid system.

Adriane Carr accepted a vice-presidency of the Greens, being effectively kicked up-stairs before the 2009 referendum, when the BC Greens got a supportive new leader. By now, tho, the NDP had broken the conflict-of-interest barrier, and their leader Carole James was voicing her opposition to STV. She wanted a party voting system, and held out the promise that voting against STV didnt mean that there would not be PR.

The siren voice of Carole James (who actually looks as glamorous as Joan Collins) was the third party leader who sabotaged the BC Citizens Assembly decision, which was for the voter-centered system of STV/PR, rather than the party-centered system of MMP, that the likes of Carr and James would control.

The No-to-STV campaign won decisively by over 61% of the 2009 referendum vote. STV got less than 39%. The No campaign, passing the 60% threshold that scuppered STV in 2005, was the final inglory to the heroic campaign of electoral reformers for an almost unknown electoral reform, that its opponents had successfully belittled.
The provincial assembly election was held on the same day. Despite vigorous attempts to improve the falling turn-out, it fell to a new low of about half the electorate.
Afterwards, someone commented: "British Columbia is ruled by fear and ignorance."

"STV is dead." (Long live STV.)

The No-to-STV president's victory announcement was: "STV is dead."

But, as someone rejoined on his blog: Then why are you still arguing against it?

Bill Tieleman knows better. Shortly after the referendum, he was approaching a Green web site (greenpolitics_ca) with its Adriane Carr badge, apparently putting out feelers on the possibility of the NDP and Greens joining over the MMP system. He was trying to delegitimise the Citizens Assembly decision for STV against the Carr Greens' choice of MMP.

Both the anti-STV supporters of the Greens and NDP have succeeded in doing down its democracy. But their victory has been hollow. The introduction of MMP would seal the demise of STV's representative democracy, while possibly advancing their partisan interest, should it turn out, in future, that the NDP cannot win without a Green coalition.

This potential left alliance, in turn, may have decisively turned away the BC Liberal voters from even STV's non-partisan PR in the 2009 referendum.

The point about STV is that it transcends party lines for freely ordered individual candidates of the same or different parties. Its individual liberty of choice allows any desired degree or kind of national unity. STV is representative democracy that alone offers a way out from party divisions and dog-fights.

STV will not be forgotten because of the second BC referendum. Its principle is as old as the Gospel incident of the loaves and fishes: transfer of surplus food from those who dont need it to those who do.
The Churches of England and Scotland both use STV.

One sarcastic online caption asked: What have Tasmania, Malta and Ireland in common?

I answered: The same thing, in Britain, that the Computer Society, the Statistical Society and the London Mathematical Society have in common. Indeed that the National Health Service, the National Union of Teachers and the National Union of Students have in common, or any number of professional bodies in English Speaking countries. Wikipedia gives some other examples.


Some of the following I also said at the time: It is not leadership to incite the herd instinct and stampede against anything unusual, regardless of real merit. The No campaign did not deserve their success, which was only in making fools of their country, like Rudyard Kipling's "The village that voted that the earth is flat."

There is a limited truth in the earth's being flat, just as there is a limited truth in the single majority system. (One limits oneself accordingly.) It is the most limited case of STV's multi-majority system (as explained on my page: Scientific method of elections, and elsewhere, including in my British Columbia letters below).

Letters to British Columbians.

To top

This selection was written during the second BC-STV referendum campaign of 2009. They were mostly on local on-line news-paper articles. Most of them saw little comment. I doubt all of them were read by a room full of people. But it was all I could do. Had I been there, I would have joined the 6000 STV campaigners personally meeting local people.

"What the heck" is BC-STV? (Reply to a UBC professor.)

Re the English prof. (at University of British Columbia) who wanted to know "what the heck" is the BC-STV option, British Columbians may vote for, in the 12 May referendum 2009.

STV, single transferable vote finishes the job that First Past The Post began. FPTP only takes a round of votes to elect the candidate who has more votes than any other single candidate. The more candidates, there are, the more split the votes, and the less votes and smaller minorities it takes for one candidate to be "elected."

The time is long over-due for the job to be done properly. To respect democratic majority, a candidate should win at least half the votes in a single member constituency. This can be done by excluding the candidates with least votes, until some candidate gets over half the votes. The excluded candidates' votes are re-distributed to their voters' second preferences. This is Instant Run-off Voting, also called the Alternative Vote, with a ranked choice 1, 2, 3,.. etc.

There are two outstanding problems with IRV, that STV over-comes. Firstly, IRV still allows up to half the voters to go unrepresented in any constituency. BC-STV proposes multi-member constituencies, averaging about 4 or 5 seats. The range is from 2 to 7 seats, depending on how sparsely or densely populated the constituency.

There would only be one 2-member and one 7-member constituency in British Columbia.
A 2-member constituency elects two candidates, each on reaching one third of the votes each, thus guaranteeing a proportional representation of two-thirds the voters. (By the same reasoning a 3-member constituency would give a PR of three-quarters its constituency voters. And so on.) So, STV gives more equal or proportional representation with far less wasted votes than FPTP or IRV.

The second problem STV overcomes is strategic voting, with FPTP's single X-vote for the least disliked front-runner. IRV does not so much waste votes but it still wastes a high proportion of first preferences, as only one candidate can win in a single-member constituency. But with STV in the 2007 Scottish local elections, nearly three-quarters of first preferences went to electing the representatives.

The vote being transferable owes to the transfer of votes from most prefered candidates giving up more than the elective proportion of votes they need, to second preferences. This is where the famous fractioning of the vote comes in. If your first preference is elected with more votes than she needs, then all of your one vote is not needed to elect her, and a fraction of it, determined by the size of her surplus, is transfered to your second preference.
Some of the least prefered candidates may have to be excluded, so their second preferences can go to candidates still in contention.

Some claim that party proportional systems using an X-vote for a list of candidates (abolishing representative democracy in the process), are more proportional than STV. This is actually not the case. You can add or subtract parties at will, just as you can individual candidates, and it will split the party vote different ways giving different proportions of support for them. The point is that a preference vote is just as essential as a proportional count.

In short, STV is essential for representative democracy. The BC Citizens Assembly report on electoral reform knows what it's talking about and is put in an accessible style by the people for the people.

BC did not use STV in 1952. (Correction of an academic's article.)

This article (by an academic) is like saying that countries using party list systems use "an adapted" first past the post system, because both systems employ an X-vote. It is just as misleading to say the BC elections of 1952 and 1953 used "an adapted STV system" just because both systems use a preference vote.

The 1952 BC election was highly disproportionate. Enid Lakeman in her standard work, How Democracies Vote, described the multi-member system count used as effectively the same "as if the same people voted three times in three single-member constituencies." This means that the largest faction, not necessarily an over-all majority, say forty per cent of the voters could decide all three seats.

BC-STV, recommended by the Citizens Assembly for the 12 May 2009 referendum, uses a proportional count of a preference vote. In a three-member constituency, forty per cent of the voters could only take one seat out-right. And a minimum of three-quarters of the voters would be represented, instead of say 40%.

On average BC-STV constituencies will have more seats per constituency and thus highly equal or proportional representation.

BC-STV has the essential combined reform of both the vote and the count: preference voting to end the need for strategic voting with a single preference X-vote, and proportional counting to end the wasted votes on a first past the post count.

Consequently, the dubious history of provincial politics outlined by the academic is totally irrelevant as a lesson in STV usage. BC needs STV to end strategic voting (i.e. tactical voting) and wasted voting.

The No-STV president doubts Irish elections.

Bill Tieleman is using some good evidence about Ireland's party control, which we can learn from. It is a pleasure to see some real arguments, for once, but the balance of evidence from Ireland is decisive in favor of STV.

When STV was first introduced in 1922 to Ireland, the two main parties banded together to nullify the result by adopting a panel of candidates. They also issued a joint manifesto against any other candidates. With First Past The Post, this would have rendered the rest of the candidates as wasted votes. But with STV in multi-member constituencies, the Irish voters were able to prefer individual pro or anti-treaty candidates so that they were proportionly represented decisively on the issue of the Irish treaty on Independence, and the people's decision was upheld.

From the start, Ireland has had independent MPs with STV, tho almost unknown with FPTP. The major party came to resent its lack of false majorities of seats with FPTP, enjoyed by the two main British parties. Fortunately, this eventuality had been foreseen and STV-PR's evident fairness had got it safeguarded by referendum.

The Irish people twice supported STV and even the supporters of the larger party in the mainly rural western Ireland did not support a supplementary question whether they wanted smaller single member constituencies.
The biggest Irish party has whittled down the seats per constituency and reduced proportionality to inflate their representation. But BC-STV would be significantly more proportional than STV in Ireland now.

The continued Irish popularity of STV prevents further party initiatives getting beyond the select committee stage. They can't win another referendum. STV opponents point out that BC is huge compared to Ireland. Ireland is huge compared to ancient Athens but democracy does not have to give way to oligarchy and dictatorship on any scale of representation. It is the accuracy of the measure of representation that is decisive and this is what STV gives far better than any other system.

That is as well as the efficiency of modern communications that even makes a federation like Canada possible. And there are possible levels of government for any degree of locality you want. The argument is bogus that locality is more important than election so that you have to reduce choice to a monopolistic constituency.

The preliminary Plant report of the British Labour party rejected STV precisely on the basis of figures of the turn-over of Irish MPs of the same party replacing each other.
I suspect this is what is meant by Bill Tieleman's quoted nastiness of Irish politics. It is an expression of disapproval of intra-party as well as extra-party competition. The party high command want to control who of their candidates gets elected. It is certainly why the Plant report recommended a selection of any other prominent voting method but STV.

The rest is history. As I like to repeat: Britain has half a dozen undemocratic voting methods where STV would do. (The 2007 Scottish local STV elections escaped London's censorious jurisdiction.)

The fact is that typical STV candidates must reach beyond votes of party supporters and that makes STV more unitive than the two-party system or the dogmaticly partisan list systems, including MMP.

Bill Tieleman claims STV under-represents women.

The problem with First Past The Post elections is that leaders come to deceive themselves that their majorities of seats reflect their popular support. Proportional representation is needed to banish this absent-mindedness and oblige politicians to work together on how to reach agreement with more properly thought-out legislation.

Of more immediate concern is the negative advertising that has already begun to show itself by the No STV campaign. Of their half dozen claims tested for effect on the voters, one of them is actually true: politicians would have less power. Or rather it would be true if you added: to misrepresent the voters.

The other claims include: STV is only used in two small countries and women would be less likely to get elected. These claims refer to STV in two devoutly Roman Catholic countries, Malta and Eire, where women were recently reminded by their church to stay out of politics.

Bill Tieleman of No STV admitted that campaigners were not "choir boys". Indeed, when Bill shoulders his way thru the pearly gates, he will be crooked by St Peter to know why he made out STV rather than his holy church was responsible for fewer women MPs in Eire and Malta.

St Peter will then go on to reprove Bill that the angels in Britain's National Health Service were only proportionly represented when STV replaced FPTP. FPTP elections left the General Medical Council dominated by white male GPs. STV proportionly represented women, immigrants and specialists. (Electoral Reform Society, 1979 Audit.) New Zealand's Health Boards are also now elected by STV. As will be Scotland's Health Boards.

STV is used all over the world in non-political elections (That is where there are no politicians to monopolise a proportional count solely for political parties.) STV has made hard-won progress in political elections, at state or local level, usually in freedom-loving English-speaking countries against their power-loving politicians. STV has many advantages, which are worth getting to know, so that BC can take advantage of its unique referendum opportunity on 12 May 2009.

David Schreck's scepticism.

If STV is complicated, this David Schreck article needs a translation. FPTP does not elect "the candidate with the most votes" only the candidate with more votes than any other. That's the difference between (over-all) majority of over half the votes, and an unrealised majority.

The FPTP count is not finished. There is no finishing post. It takes STV to provide that. Mr Schreck means that in an STV two-member constituency, two candidates each need to win one-third of the votes, leaving the remaining third of the voters unrepresented.
In a seven-member constituency, seven members would each need one eighth of the votes, for a proportional representation of at least seven-eighths of the voters. The 2 and 7 member seats are just for the sparsest and densest populations. Most BC constituencies would have about 4 seats, with a PR of four-fifths the voters.

Some candidates get more than the quota or elective proportion of the votes in the multi-member constituency. Their surplus vote is not wasted but transferable to that winning candidate's voters' next preferences, all of which get an equal share, at a fractional value, of the surplus to be transfered.
The arithmetic of an STV count needs trained returning officers. The gain is that STV does away with strategic voting and wasted votes.

Mr Schreck states how decisive a minority was the BC Citizens Assembly vote for systems other than STV.
He complains that the New Zealand procedure was not followed, not mentioning that the referendum was by First Past The Post, which split the anti-FPTP vote between several reform options. MMP was, as usual, the best known reform system, because small parties, wanting seats, know that the bigger parties are more receptive to MMP as a party-based system, while the public remain unaware of STV, which is a voter-based system. The small party lobbying for MMP gave it a small lead in the polls, which as Graham Kelly, New Zealand High Commissioner to Canada, said (in his Ontario Citizens Assembly submission) led the public to rush like "lemmings" behind MMP to avoid splitting the reform vote.

The main story, behind the majority of BC CA submissions being behind MMP, was an incitement by the then Green party leadership to support MMP even against STV. The result was a lot of their supporters sending in almost identical form messages, which showed no depth of understanding.

The whole point of the CA was to study the issue for a year and make an informed decision, not merely act on parroted instructions from the current Green leadership.

Then Mr Schreck says a new BC CA might go an entirely different way. But the Ontario CA were moving towards STV before the shorter schedule ended their decision while still in flux. Had the BC CA been likewise cut short, then they would have still had a majority for MMP. That is why mature study of the issue was necessary to come to a settled conclusion.

Mr Schreck seems to think the correspondent, he quotes, is wrong because he says so.

The No campaign claim STV is complicated and confusing and wont do.

No to STV is campaigning that STV is complicated, confusing and doesnt do the things it claims it does, and they dont feel it is in any way a real proportional system. (LadysmithChronicle.com)
Such remarks have, as usual, been instantly and admirably nailed by pro-STV campaigners. Hardly anybody seems to be defending First Past The Post. The No STV campaign is concerned to split the anti-FPTP vote, precisely because they cannot defeat STV in an argument on its merits compared to FPTP.

So, just let's look how FPTP fares on the very charges brought against STV.

FPTP is complicated - not in the count which is simplistic beyond the point of gross negligence (and which STV puts right). But FPTP is complicated in the boundary drawing. If I had to be an electoral commissioner, give me STV anyday for simplicity of implementation compared to FPTP.

FPTP is confusing. With the continual boundary revisions, constituents are continually being shuffled this way and that into changed constituencies with no stable identity as a community.
With STV, the boundaries serve the communities rather than the communities serve the boundaries, so safe party men can monopolise safe party seats in single member constituencies. Also STV is far less sensitive to gerrymandering.
STV is thus less contentious and less time-consuming and less expensive. Population shifts can be met by one more or one less seat in any stable community constituency.

In 2007, Scotland used MMP for the Parliament, and for the first time, STV for local elections. These elections were held on the same day. Despite these unpropitious circumstances, there were less than 2% of ballot papers spoiled using STV. Whereas there were more than twice that many spoiled using the already tried system of MMP, resulting in an official enquiry and an apology.
This belies the standard complaint by opponents that STV is too complicated or that MMP would be a better system.

STV is a proportional count of a preference vote. Its opponents are canny enough to say they dont "feel" it is a proportional system, because the fact is undeniable. Also, its opponents cannot get over the fact that STV allows the voters to prefer, in order of choice, the candidates that best represent them from a better choice, including more than one candidate from each party: STV is truly representative democracy, eliminating the need for strategic voting.

Whereas FPTP has already cordoned-off the choices into single member constituencies, where each party presents its monopoly candidate. FPTP supporters effectively want the least elective of elections, where the best choices have already been made by the parties for the parties. Naturally, the beneficiaries of the FPTP system of disproportional representation, or distortionate representation, are desperate to keep it, so much so that they have dragged disproportional representation into the 12 May 2009 BC-STV referendum, with its required double 60% threshold..

(The above letter includes an after-thought paragraph from an other letter.)

The National Post article against STV.

Bernard Shaw said of debate: Never argue, just repeat yourself. The National Post has reprinted the self-same article published the day before on 6 May as: Jonathan Kay on B.C.'s electoral-reform referendum: Say no to STV.
I, for one, took a lot of trouble to answer it in detail, only to find my comments by-passed here. [The comments follow:]

J Kay says *our perfectly functional first-past-the-post electoral system* This is just dogmatism. And wrong assertions about the Citizens Assembly have been refuted by members themselves. By the way, STV is not a *hybrid* electoral system, which combines two systems, like MMP.

J Kay doesnt bother to find out where STV comes from but just imagines. The first and foremost *theoretician* of STV, as a system of preferential voting with proportional counting, was John Stuart Mill MP in his speeches on Parliamentary Reform in the 1860s. I have discussed this on my Democracy Science web-page. Mill's speeches are also on my website, taken from Hansard online.

Opponents of STV talk about understanding the count, as if users had to be engineers before using any engines. Kay's next paragraph starting *The idea behind STV...* is nonsense: it makes no sense, because he leaves out that STV is a proportional count, and how that saves wasted votes.
Kay makes the usual inaccurate statement that FPTP elects the candidate with "the most votes." It sounds better than the truth: the candidate with more votes than any other single candidate and usually a smaller minority of the vote, the more candidates.

J Kay misses the main point of his statement that generally the candidates who get the most first place votes prevail. In the 2007 Scottish STV local elections, nearly three-quarters of first preferences prevailed in electing candidates. That compares to maybe some 40% with FPTP. But even that scarcely does justice to the superiority of STV, which does away with the need for strategic voting, as FPTP X-votes are not necessarily first preferences. And even if FPTP X-votes were all first preferences, they are still inferior to STV first preferences, which are decided from a better choice of candidates, some from the same party, in a multi-member constituency.

The *loony tunes* first prefernce strategy is an argument - not an election finding - purists put forward to justify Meek's method of computer counting STV, as New Zealand used for the first time in their official STV elections. Even with a count as systematic as Meek, there are still possible logical objections. The science of elections, like every other science, is a progessive endeavor. The public will not be *alienated* despite *eggheads* just because the No STV campaign hasnt discovered the division of labor. The STV count requires trained personnel but its specialists will be respected as we all respect and rely on each other's special training.

The Citizens Assembly's decision of BC-STV achieves an excellent balance of efficiency, at some sacrifice to simplicity, in order to provide accurate results. It is FPTP which provides *unpredictable* results in BC.
The FPTP *link* is a euphemism for monopoly on representation.
STV is the only system that can avoid *ineffectual* coalition. To do this, the voters can rank the individual candidates they most prefer, so that the majority that forms a government is from the most prefered representatives across party lines. That might lead to a coalition but it would be the prefered coalition of a majority of the voters.

No-STV post-referendum 2009 remarks (greenpolitics_ca).

Letter 1:

I can't improve on Wayne Smith's corrections and I also generally agree with Skinny Dipper, until the end, where wastefully venting one's energies, on the NDP or in public, is like telling people your cause is hopeless.

Voting method is still a primitive science because there is too much of a vested interest in the stupidity of FPTP when there are more than two candidates. If I may say so, an essential objective of proper electoral reform is to understand the basic principles of voting method that cannot be denied, however hard opponents try to ignore them.

The simplest voting system gives one choice (a single order of choice) for one of two candidates decided by a single majority of over half the voters. This is FPTP but it fails when there are more than two candidates, because this requires a vote that gives more than one choice of one candidate over another.

Instead, many candidates require the voter to give a multiple order of choice (not just a single order of choice given by the X-vote).This is the Alternative Vote but electoral reform cannot stop with reform of the vote.

The same logic applies to the count, where one majority of over half the votes generalises to two majorities of over one third the votes each in a two member constituency. That is a PR of two-thirds the voters. Three member constituencies likewise give a PR of three quarters the voters, and so on.

The point is that logical voting method generalises FPTP from a one-preference X-vote for a one-majority count to a many-preference, number order vote to a many-majority count. This generalised system of greater choice in the vote and greater equality in the count is STV, sometime called "the super vote" in Joe Rogalay's book Parliament for the People.

It's quite right that the Yes to BC-STV should go over their failed logistics and tactics, the battle for people's minds, which the No-campaign won, at least among the less informed.

I hope to remind you about the basic right and wrong way of conducting elections, based on irrefutable logic of choice, which is what must be carried, or allowed to recommend itself, to the popular mind. On that basis, the public then can decide for themselves whether they want to keep the simplistic FPTP, which doesnt properly do the job for multiple choices.

If the public want another system for multiple choices, they should at least be made aware that there is one basicly right way and innumerable wrong ways. Of course, the final choice is up to the people, no matter how perverse it may seem to students of voting method, like myself.

Letter two:

Bill Tieleman follows Bernard Shaw's advice on debate: never argue, just repeat yourself. Such debate is no debate at all. It is dogma. He merely repeats STV is complicated, obscure and the constituencies are too big.

However often falsehoods are repeated that doesnt make them true, tho it may succeed in indoctrinating the uninformed thru superficial mass media.
So, let's put the record right.

The STV count is *complicated* in that it is completed, unlike FPTP. But complicated tho the STV returning officer's job is, it is not nearly so complicated as the Boundary Commissioner's job of continuosly redrawing single member constituency boundaries that gerrymander themselves, even without the help of politicians.
I know which job I would rather have to do.
FPTP continuously rubs out local boundaries and stable community identity. And all to artificially restrict elections into monopolistic locations for place-men.
BC-STV constituencies were about as big as federal single member conbstituencies. Not too big then.
The No-campaign's minimalist mentality is the same as those who claimed that democracy was not possible outside a city-state the size of ancient Athens.

As to the claim STV is obscure, in the sense of hardly being used anywhere, even in political elections, STV has some use in many English-speaking countries all over the world. What is more, it has a widespread use in non-political elections. In Britain, many professional bodies use STV. It is the system of choice for mathematicians, statisticians and computer scientists, for the medical profession, teachers and students, and many others.

These bodies are not *true believers*, as Bill would characterise people like myself, but eminently qualified to judge for themselves his claim that STV is *such a flawed electoral system.*

The No to STV campaign is a self-fulfilling prophecy that democracy is too hard.


Richard Lung.
8 august 2009.

To top

To home page