Friday, December 15, 2006

The Mathematics of Senate Reform II

Yesterday I noted the complexity of the "Single Transferable Vote" system the government wants to use to elect Senators.

So to better understand how this system works I asked the Prime Minister's Office to send me a backgrounder.

It didn't help.

Here's the explanation they sent me:

Under STV, voters will rank their preferred Senate nominees, beginning with their first preference (i.e. by marking the number “1” beside that nominee’s name) and then expressing consecutive preferences up to the number of “vacancies”* available (i.e. by marking the number “2” by their second choice, “3” by their third, and so on).Under the STV counting system, a Senate nominee must receive a number of votes equal to a pre-determined quota in order to be selected. This quota is determined by dividing the number of validly cast ballots in the province by the number of vacancies, plus one; one is added to the dividend; and the result is the quota. In other words, the quota is determined by the following formula:

Valid Votes Cast
------------------------------------- +1
Number of Vacancies +1

Therefore, for example, if there were five potential Senate appointments for a province, the quota for the province would be 1/6 of the total votes, plus 1.

To determine who has met the quota, all first preferences on the ballots are counted. Any nominee receiving enough first preference votes on this count are selected.

If a nominee receives more than the quota, then his or her “surplus votes” (that is, those in excess of the quota) are distributed to the second preferences indicated on those ballots. If on any count, no nominee reaches the quota, then the nominee with the fewest votes is eliminated and his or her votes are distributed to the continuing nominees. This process continues through subsequent preferences until the number of nominees equals the number of vacancies available.


This is what happens when you let government bureaucrats come up with an idea. Anybody else would have said, here's how you vote for a Senator -- put an "X" next to the name of the guy you like.

But for bureaucrats that unnecessarily simple.

Whenever they come up with an idea it's usually determined by the following formula:

Number of needlessly stupid ideas
------------------------------------- +1
Number of bureaucrats +1

Crossposted at the National Citizens Coalition Blog.

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