There seems to be lots of support for adopting mixed-member proportional representation (PR), and this change can improve fairness, but only if party lists are not used. Party lists (both closed and open) give yet more control to political-party leaders and take yet more control away from voters.
As eloquently explained in submission number 1388, a much fairer alternative to party lists is to give the compensatory (or provincewide) seats to the candidates who competed as local riding candidates, and who did not win in their riding, and who received the highest percentage-based level of support, and who are from the appropriate party. However, voting for a party must be kept separate from voting for riding candidates. ("Rank the candidates, and mark a party.")
Much of the support for PR seems to be based on a desire to correct the unfairness of riding-based elections. I recommend that first you correct the unfairness in riding-based elections by using preference ballots. Then it will be appropriate to consider PR -- without party lists -- as a way to further increase fairness. If instead you adopt PR without also adopting preference ballots, the bigger unfairness of using single-mark ballots will continue to undermine election legitimacy, and delay correcting the unfairness at its source.
There are additional ways to increase the fairness of election results. The web page at www.VoteFair.org/province.html contains the wording for a law that would implement even fairer recommended changes for Ontario. Those advanced recommendations are explained in Chapters 11, 12, 15, 16, and 20 of Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections, so the web page includes a link to an Adobe Acrobat (PDF) document that contains those chapters. (The book explains VoteFair ranking which, in its simplest form, is basically equivalent to the Condorcet-Kemeny method.)
The method recommended at the www.VoteFair.org website achieves the following seven principles defined by the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform: legitimacy, fairness of representation, voter choice, accountability, effective parties, a stable and effective government, and an effective parliament (both provincial and Canadian).
Along with most voting methods, the approach recommended here fails to achieve the principle of stronger voter participation. This principle is less important than the others because a low voter turnout can indicate voter acceptance ("other voters are producing results that are acceptable to me"), not just voter frustration ("my vote doesn't make a difference"). Simply allowing more voters to vote by mail increases voter participation, as demonstrated by the state of Oregon (in the U.S.) where everyone votes by mail.
The voting methods used throughout the world today are primitive. They evolved first by counting how many able-bodied men were available to fight on each side of a conflict, and recognizing that whichever side had a majority was likely to win, so the minority needed to make concessions. Just a few decades ago women were given the right to vote. Now computers have become available as a tool for transforming marked preference ballots into an overall ranking from most popular and second-most popular down to least popular. There are future advances that go beyond the voting methods introduced here, but they are too complex for the Ontario government to adopt at this time.
The citizens of Ontario have a precious opportunity to progress from primitive voting methods -- namely the single-mark ballot and first-past-the-post counting -- to much fairer voting methods -- namely preference ballots and pairwise-comparison calculation methods such as the Kemeny method. To reduce the well-known gap between what voters want and politicians do, please adopt these three recommendations:
1: Use preference ballots that allow voters to indicate their first choice, second choice, and so on, and publish pairwise counts that indicate how many voters prefer each candidate compared to each other candidate.
2: Use a combined Condorcet-Kemeny method (also called VoteFair ranking) to correctly rank all the candidates from most popular and second-most popular down to least popular (and of course choose the most popular as the winner).
3: If mixed-member proportional representation is adopted, choose the winners of the added seats based on the percentage-based popularity of non-winning candidates in local ridings.
As a closing reminder to the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform, remember to use pairwise vote-counting methods (not ballot-mark-distribution methods) to identify the election change that is preferred by a true majority of assembly members, and then separately vote to verify that a majority of assembly members prefer that change over making no change.
Link to Chapters 11, 12, 15, 16, and 20 of Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections
For a detailed explanation of why the following law
will increase the fairness of election results,
download and read the
document (19 MB)
that contains Chapters 11, 12, 15, 16, and 20 of Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections. (It's large because it contains lots of illustrations.)
Recommended Law for Electing Canadian MPPs
Below is a sample wording that defines how to fairly elect Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) in the Canadian province of Ontario. The wording implements the following recommended changes:
- Double the size of electoral districts, and allocate two seats for each electoral district.
- In each district's primary election, use preference ballots to allow voters to rank the candidates according to preference (first, second, third, etc.).
- Use VoteFair popularity ranking (which is mathematically equivalent to the Kemeny method) to identify the most popular, second-most popular, and third-most popular candidate in each party (in each electoral district), and allow only the most popular candidates to enter the district's general election.
- In the general election, use preference ballots that allow the voters to rank all the candidates (in the voter's electoral district). Also in the general election, allow (but don't require) each voter to rank all the political parties.
- In each district use VoteFair representation ranking to fill one seat with the most popular candidate and fill the other seat with the candidate who best represents the voters who are not represented by the first winner.
- If desired to increase proportionality, allocate 11 or 15 (out of 107) provincewide legislative seats and fill those seats using VoteFair cross-district partial-proportional representation.
Making these changes will reduce the gap between what voters want and politicians do.
Clarification: From the perspective of a voter, voting is simple. In a primary election, just indicate an order of preference for a single short list of MPP candidates (who are in the voter's electoral district and political party). In a general election, just indicate an order of preference for the seven MPP candidates competing in the voter's district, and also indicate the voter's most-preferred political party and, optionally, indicate secondary preferences for other political parties. The following legal description is lengthy because it specifies how computer software handles the many calculations.
The first section implements order-of-preference voting for candidates. This means that a voter can indicate a first choice, second choice, third choice, and so on down to the voter's least-preferred choice. Other sections explain how the preferences are used.
Section 1. In each primary election and each general election all voters shall be allowed to indicate their first preference, second preference, third preference, and so on, for all the candidates in each race for one or more MPP seats. A voter shall be allowed to indicate a different preference level for each choice in the race. A voter shall be allowed to indicate ties among any choices. The order of choices on any ballot shall not be influenced by any request from any political party.
Ballots and voting methods shall be designed to make it difficult for voters to unintentionally indicate preference levels in ways that are ambiguous. If a voter assigns the same choice to more than one preference level, the highest indicated preference level for that choice shall be used. If a voter does not assign a choice to any preference level, the lowest preference level, below the preference levels of all the assigned choices, shall be used. On any ballot or any combination of ballots the skipping of preference levels and the shifting of choices to higher or lower preference levels without changing the relative preferences shall have no effect on the outcome of the election. Valid preference information shall not be ignored because of invalid markings elsewhere on the ballot.
[Optional:] The Legislative Assembly shall enact legislation as needed to ensure that all citizens who choose in advance of an election not to go to their polling place are allowed to vote by mail in a way that does not require tools beyond a pen and pencil.
The second section implements order-of-preference voting for political parties. Other sections explain how the results are used.
Section 2. At each general election all voters shall be allowed to use ballots or voting methods to indicate their order of preference for political parties using the method described in Section 1, which means that each voter shall be allowed to indicate their first preference, second preference, third preference, and so on, for all the listed political parties. These political-party preferences shall be used as explained in Sections 3, 4, and 8.
The number of political parties listed on the ballot for political-party preferences shall be limited to either ten political parties or the number of political parties from which MPPs, other elected provincial officers, and Canadian Parliament members from this province have been elected within the last ten years, whichever number is larger. If all the MPPs, other elected provincial officers, and Canadian Parliament members have been elected from fewer than ten political parties, the Legislative Assembly shall establish rules for selecting additional political parties up to the limit of ten political parties, and those rules shall be designed such that political parties that are more popular shall be more likely to be listed.
The third section explains how two MPPs are elected from each electoral district. The first seat is filled by the overall most popular candidate, and the second seat is filled by the candidate who best represents the voters who are not adequately represented by the winner of the first seat.
Section 3. The Legislative Assembly shall provide for voters to elect MPPs using ballots or voting methods in which each voter can indicate their order of preference for the MPP candidates in their electoral district using the method described in Section 1.
Two districtwide MPPs shall be elected from each electoral district. All candidates for both districtwide seats in the same district shall appear on the ballot together and shall compete in the same race.
The information from one district indicating voter preferences for the candidates in that district shall be combined to create a districtwide VoteFair tally table using the method described in Section 5. In each district the districtwide order of preference for districtwide MPP candidates shall be based on the numbers in the districtwide MPP VoteFair tally table and calculated using VoteFair popularity ranking as described in Section 6.
In each district the candidate who is most preferred according to VoteFair popularity ranking shall be elected to one of the two districtwide seats. The candidate elected to the other districtwide seat in the same district shall be determined using VoteFair representation ranking as described in Section 8 and shall be based on the districtwide MPP tally table.
[Optional:] Write-in candidate names shall be allowed for the election of MPPs. Write-in candidate names shall be handled as described in Section 10.
In each district the districtwide ranking of political parties shall be calculated as described in Section 9 and shall be based on the prior general-election ballots from only that district. The highest-ranked political party in each district shall be allowed three districtwide MPP candidates in that district. The second-highest-ranked political party in each district shall be allowed two districtwide MPP candidates in that district. The third-highest-ranked and fourth-highest-ranked political parties in each district shall be allowed one districtwide MPP candidate each. If the four highest-ranked political parties in a district do not enter as many candidates as they are allowed, additional political parties shall be allowed to have one districtwide MPP candidate each up to a total limit of seven districtwide MPP candidates for all political parties. Each party must enter only its most popular candidates based on primary-election ballots and VoteFair popularity ranking as described in Section 6.
If there is a tie in any of the calculations regarding the election of a districtwide MPP, the tie shall be resolved using the method described in Section 7.
The fourth section explains how provincewide MPPs are elected. These MPPs are chosen from any political parties that are not adequately represented by the districtwide MPPs.
Section 4. There shall be eleven [or 15 or 19] MPPs who shall be provincewide MPPs.
Each political party shall be allowed to conduct a primary election for candidates for provincewide MPP seats provided that all the candidates from the same political party compete in the same race, and provided that the voting methods described in Sections 1 and 6 are used to identify the overall order of preference among each political party's candidates, and provided that the candidate who is least-preferred is not qualified to be elected as a provincewide MPP. If an exact tie occurs, the political party is allowed to resolve it by adding one tie-breaking vote to the tally table. If a political party does not conduct such a primary election, or if this primary election does not meet the stated requirements, the most-preferred provincewide candidate in a target party shall be regarded as the candidate who is from the target party and who is a districtwide MPP candidate in any district within the province and who did not win a districtwide MPP seat and who received the most first-choice votes from voters who also designated, without any tie, the target party as their most-preferred political party.
Provincewide MPP seats shall be filled by MPP candidates from political parties identified using the following method. The purpose of this method is to increase the proportionality of representation based on the political-party preferences of the voters.
Using the current election's provincewide political-party preference information for each political party, the number of voters in the province who rank that political party as their first preference shall be counted. A voter who assigns more than one political party to the highest preference shall have their single vote split into equal decimal numbers distributed among the political parties assigned by that voter to the highest preference. The sum of all the first-choice votes for all the political parties shall be regarded as the number of voters in the province who expressed their first choice for any political party. The number of first-choice votes for each political party shall be multiplied by the total number of the province's MPPs, including both provincewide and districtwide MPPs. The resulting number for each political party shall be divided by the total number of voters in the province who expressed their first choice for any political party, and all significant decimal digits shall be retained. These numbers shall be regarded as the proportional target numbers for the number of MPPs from each political party.
Provincewide seats shall be filled by repeating the following three steps until the available provincewide seats have been filled. First, for each political party, the number of provincewide and districtwide MPP seats filled by candidates from that political party shall be subtracted from the proportional target number for the same political party. Second, the political party for which the difference calculated in the first step is the largest non-negative number shall be regarded as the target party for the next available provincewide MPP seat. Third, the most-preferred provincewide candidate from the political party identified in the second step shall be elected to the next provincewide MPP seat.
If there is a tie in any of the calculations regarding the election of a provincewide MPP, the tie shall be resolved using the method described in Section 7.
The fifth section explains how to combine order-of-preference votes into a VoteFair tally table.
Section 5. A VoteFair tally table shall list every possible combination of two choices. For each combination of two choices, the VoteFair tally table shall indicate the number of voters who prefer the first of the two choices over the second choice, the number of voters who indicate no preference between the two choices, and the number of voters who prefer the second of the two choices over the first choice. The sum of the three numbers that apply to each pair of choices shall equal the number of voters who cast valid votes in that race. All the numbers in all VoteFair tally tables shall be made available to the public.
The sixth section explains VoteFair popularity ranking, which converts a VoteFair tally table into an overall order-of-preference result.
Section 6. VoteFair popularity ranking, which is described as follows, shall be used to calculate the overall order of preference for any race based on the information in the VoteFair tally table. Every possible sequence of choices shall be considered and a sequence score shall be calculated for each such sequence. The sequence score for a sequence shall equal the sum of the applicable tally numbers for each pair combination, which means that if there are three choices labeled A, B, and C, the sequence score for the sequence of B being the first overall preference, C being the second overall preference, and A being the third overall preference equals the number of voters who prefer B over C, plus the number of voters who prefer B over A, plus the number of voters who prefer C over A. The sequence that has the highest sequence score shall indicate the overall order of preference expressed by the voters. If more than one sequence has the same highest sequence score, the overall order of preference contains at least one tie and the tied choices and their preference levels shall be identified. Each calculated overall order of preference shall be made available to the public.
The seventh section explains how ties are resolved.
Section 7. If an overall order of preference contains any tie, the Superior Court of Ontario shall have jurisdiction over the recounting and checking of votes and declaring any adjustments. If an exact tie persists, the Superior Court shall resolve the tie by generating and introducing into the VoteFair tally table a single order-of-preference vote that contains no ties and does not alter the overall order of preference except to eliminate all ties, and this untied result shall be used as the final overall order of preference.
The eighth section explains VoteFair representation ranking, which identifies the candidate who deserves to win the second districtwide seat in each district. This calculation method is also used to identify a district's second-ranked political party.
Section 8. When there are two equivalent seats to be filled in the same election and all the candidates compete in the same race, the second seat shall be filled by the second-most representative candidate as identified using the following steps. First, identify the ballots on which the first-most popular choice is ranked as the voter's first choice. Second, using only the ballots that are not identified in the first step, and excluding preference information about the choice identified as the first-most popular choice, use the methods described in Sections 5, 6, and 7 to identify a new most-preferred choice. Third, again consider all the ballots. Fourth, identify the ballots on which the first-most preferred choice is preferred over the choice identified in the second step. Fifth, calculate a number equal to the number of ballots identified in the fourth step minus half the total number of ballots marked for the race. Sixth, calculate a reduced-influence scale number that is equal to the number calculated in the fifth step divided by the number of ballots identified in the fourth step, and retain all significant digits. Seventh, again consider all the ballots. Eighth, for each ballot identified in the fourth step use a partial vote equal to the reduced-influence scale number, and for each ballot not identified in the fourth step use one full vote. Ninth, based on the reduction of influence of some ballots as described in the eighth step, and using a corresponding adjustment in the total number of ballots, and excluding the first-most preferred choice from consideration, use the methods described in Sections 5, 6, and 7 to identify a new most-preferred choice. Finally, identify this new most-preferred choice as the second-most representative choice.
The ninth section explains how political parties are ranked according to popularity. This method prevents the use of tactics that otherwise could unfairly reduce the influence of small parties.
Section 9. Each electoral district shall have its own districtwide ranking of political parties and this ranking shall be based on the ballots cast within that district. An optional separate provincewide ranking of political parties can be based on all ballots cast in the province.
The first-ranked political party shall be the first-most popular party based on VoteFair popularity ranking as described in Section 6.
The second-ranked political party shall be the second-most representative party based on VoteFair representation ranking as described in Section 8.
The third-ranked political party shall be the first-most popular party based only on the preferences of voters who rank as their only first choice a party that is not either the first-ranked or second-ranked party. If no ballots fit this criteria, the third-ranked party is the most popular party after excluding the first-ranked and second-ranked parties, and successively ranked parties shall be identified using VoteFair representation ranking.
The fourth-ranked political party shall be the most popular party based on VoteFair popularity ranking as described in Section 6 after excluding higher-ranked parties.
The remaining political parties shall be based on VoteFair representation ranking as described in Section 8 where the next-higher-ranked party serves the role of the most popular party in the Section 8 description.
The tenth section explains how write-in candidate names are handled, if they are allowed.
Section 10. If the name of a candidate for MPP is written on some ballots, the ballots on which the candidate's name does not appear shall be regarded as having that candidate assigned to the preference level below the lowest preference level of the listed candidates. The name of a write-in candidate shall be included in a VoteFair tally table only if that candidate name appears on enough ballots that the write-in candidate has a reasonable chance of winning an MPP seat.
Optional: If desired, the following law can be added to Section 1. It disallows political parties that are based on religion, gender, or race.
In any election the name of a political party shall not appear anywhere on the ballot if the political party in any way discourages the participation of prospective candidates within the political party based on religion, gender, race, or physical appearance. The absence of significant participation by citizens whose religion, gender, or race is already heavily represented in the Provincial Legislature shall not be regarded as discouragement. The Superior Court of Ontario shall have final jurisdiction regarding such cases. This provision shall not be used in any way to prevent any person or any religious, gender-based, or racial group from using free speech to promote any political party.
© Copyright 1999, 2000, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2007 by Richard Fobes, author of Ending The Hidden Unfairness In U.S. Elections and The Creative Problem Solver's Toolbox. Permission to publish this proposed law is hereby given if this full copyright notice remains attached.
Permission to use any portion of this wording in any legal document is hereby granted unconditionally.
© Copyright 2007 Richard Fobes
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