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Voting matters - for the technical issues of STV
Issue 23, February 2007
(Complete issue in PDF, 180Kb.)
There are 5 papers in this issue, all of which are comments or reviews of other
- David Hill: Comments on Newland's paper
Here, David Hill responds to some specific technical points in Newland's paper.
- Edited comments on Robert Newland's suggestions.
Robert Newland's article, written in 1983 made many suggestions which were
thought to be an appropriate topic of a moderated email discussion. A heavily
edited version of this discussion appears here. It points to a number of topics
which could well be the subject of future papers in Voting matters.
- Brian Wichmann: Review of The Machinery of Democracy
The report reviewed here is one undertaken by leading experts in the US to
show what is needed to avoid some of the problems that occurred during
the Presidential election of 2000.
Parts of this report are relevant to the use of scanning machines for
the Scottish local elections to be held later this year. The US
Freedom of Information Act ensures that electoral data is open
to public scrutiny, whereas the position in Scotland is uncertain at
this point. This implies that the transparency of the Scottish
STV elections might be less than those of Northern Ireland for
which manual procedures are used.
- Jonathan Lundell: Review of the Second Report of the Irish Commission on Electronic Voting
The Irish Commission has completed its work with its second report. It is unclear
at this stage what action the Government will take. This report has some
similarities with the previously mentioned US report which makes for some
- David Hill: Review of Collective Decisions and Voting by Nicolaus Tideman
The book reviewed here is central to many of the issues covered in Voting matters,
and hence this review should be of interest to many of our readers.
The final stages of the legal process for the local STV elections in
Scotland have been agreed. The counting method is based upon the
Weighted Inclusive Gregory Method, but is as simple as it could be in
computer terms. Hand counting using this logic is possible, but would
take longer than current manual counts because of the need to examine
all of the elected candidate's papers when a surplus is transferred.
It is interesting to contrast this with the Meek method, which is more
complex, since the quota is recomputed and transfers are made to
elected candidates. In electoral terms, Meek has the advantage that
the intervention of a no-hope candidate cannot change the choice of
the elected candidates - a failing of all the rules used for
current hand-counting STV methods.
The Order approved by the Scottish Parliament at the end of January will
require the Returning Officers to publish much fuller details about
votes and transfers of votes at each stage of the count than the
corresponding legislation for STV elections in Northern Ireland.
However, the rules strangely include a requirement to publish the
numbers of non-transferable papers at each stage but not the numbers of
non-transferable votes. That vote is needed because, with WIGM, the
non-transferable papers will have different values when they become
Because the ballot papers will be scanned and counted electronically,
there is a new requirement for one copy of the electronic information so
obtained to be kept for four years after the count, while the paper
records need to be kept for only one year, as usual. However, it is
most regrettable that the release of any of the electronic information,
even in anonymous form, is specifically prohibited. One ray of hope for
a more enlightened approach is that the Scottish Executive has given an
undertaking to consult on this. I certainly hope that full
preferential data will be made available because that would be in
everyone's best interest.
Readers are reminded that views expressed in Voting matters by
contributors do not necessarily reflect those of the McDougall Trust
or its trustees.
Papers with citations
- David Hill: Comments on Newland's paper. (p1-2, PDF 88Kb)
- Editor, et al: Edited comments on Robert Newland's suggestions. (p3-9, PDF 288Kb)
[23, 3-9, PDF].
- Brian Wichmann: Review - Machinery of Democracy. (p10-12, PDF 116Kb)
- Jonathan Lundell: Review - Irish Commission on Electronic Voting. (p13-17, PDF 208Kb)
- David Hill: Review - Collective Decisions and Voting. (p18-20, PDF 136Kb)