Re: time to (re)consider preferential voting?

On 25/02/2008, Shaun McCance <shaunm gnome org> wrote:
> [snip plenty of good discussion]
>  On Sun, 2008-02-24 at 10:33 +0900, James Henstridge wrote:
>  > On 17/02/2008, Shaun McCance <shaunm gnome org> wrote:
> > >  Any preferential voting systems is going to make the
>  > >  voting process more difficult.  If I had had to order
>  > >  my votes in previous elections, I'm sure it would have
>  > >  been mostly arbitrary.  If it's not solving any real
>  > >  problems, why bother?
>  >
>  > Is it really that much more difficult to order a list of ten
>  > candidates as opposed to selecting 7 out of the 10?
> I don't want to drag this argument out, and I'm not going to
>  fight against preferential voting if that's what people want.
>  But yes, I really do think it's hard to order a list of ten
>  candidates.  I don't usually even select seven out of ten.
>  In the last election, I selected maybe four or five.  Why?
>  Because I just don't have a strong enough opinion on the
>  others, and I think a random vote is worse than no vote.

This is certainly a problem with STV (the need to order candidates
that you consider irrelevant), but I don't think it is worse than the
problems with our current system.

Perhaps there are other systems that don't have the problem worth considering?

>  > Even if you aren't sure of a total ordering, you can probably pick a
>  > few candidates that you definitely want elected (put them at the top)
>  > and some candidates you definitely don't want elected (put them at the
>  > bottom).  You might decide to order the remainder randomly if you
>  > don't care about them.
> If, as your argument above indicates, this ordering can
>  have drastic impacts on the outcome of the vote, I would
>  not want to order them randomly.  Would the system still
>  allow me to order my top five, and abstain of everybody
>  else?  A voting system that doesn't allow abstaining has
>  problems.

Most STV vote counting systems specify how to handle incomplete
ballots (often they are extinguished once the preferences run out, and
maybe the quota gets adjusted).

Of course, an incomplete ballot is probably not what you want if there
are candidates that you absolutely don't want elected (i.e. someone
you would consider being worse than an unknown).

That said, I don't really see assigning preferences much of a problem
given the number of candidates in the last few elections.  It isn't
like the senate ballots in Australia :)


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