Wednesday, May 11, 2022

Wasted Votes – an informal, but important, phrase

In an attempt to express the shortcomings of the First Past The Post electoral system, people often use the informal phrase “wasted votes.”

The use of this informal phrase is critiqued by Christopher Kam in his blog post/comment entitled, “Logic Please.”

In this excerpt, Kam begins by quoting the phrase he then critiques:

“Under FPTP, many people’s votes don’t count / are wasted”. 

“…I can only infer from such claims that the speaker thinks that every vote cast under their preferred system will go toward electing a candidate, ergo, no votes will be cast for losers.  But here’s the thing:  Logically, we could only achieve this if we guaranteed ex ante that every candidate who ran would win.”

My analysis:

Of course there is no electoral system where “every” vote cast goes toward electing a candidate. But there are some systems that, relatively speaking, have a better record than other systems in that measure of representation.

If we use “effective representation” as a measurement then changing to an electoral system which has relatively less “wasted votes” is an improvement.

For example, the Single Transferable Vote electoral system (ranked ballot in multi-member ridings)  provides more proportionality by transferring votes to minimize “wasted” votes. Notice I used the word, “minimize,” not “eliminate.”

Of course there are more precise ways of discussing what many informally call, “wasted votes”:

On a closely related topic, a much broader analysis and exploration of using “effective representation” as a measurement of electoral systems is done by Antony Hodgson in the affidavit that he is presenting on behalf of Fair Voting BC in a Charter Challenge for Fair Voting. That affidavit entitled, “Fair Voting BC Affadavit” can be found at this link (click on “Fair Voting BC”) (PDF). 

Hodgson compares several different countries using three types of indexes (quoted from affidavit):

1. The Representation Metric (RM), which identifies the percentage of voters who are represented by an MP for whom they voted;

2. The Legislative Power Share (LPS) Score, which expresses the share of legislative voting power held by individual voters relative to a situation of parity; and

3. The Legislative Power Disparity Index (LPDI), which summarizes the integrated impact and effect of disparities in legislative power that are felt and measured at the individual voter level by the LPS score.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.