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Voting matters - for the technical issues of STV

Issue 12, November 2000

(Complete issue in PDF, 1.1Mb.)


Issue 9 of Voting matters contained two articles on the vexed question of ordering candidates when preferential voting is used. In the first article here Joe Otten returns to this question in the light of some problems noted in the previous 'solutions'.

In the next two articles, David Hill questions the suggestions made in two different articles that appeared in Issue 11. As often happens in this area, a suggestion which seems fine initially, may have subtle difficulties - at least as far as people other than the author are concerned!

My own article for this issue considers the effect of numerical accuracy of STV when using the Meek algorithm. Unlike the hand-counting rules, the algorithm itself does not define the accuracy that should be used, although omitting this information is the convention with numerical algorithms.

Bob Jones questions what one wants from an electoral system and considers the use of Decision Analysis to make sense of the conflicting requirements. Readers are invited to make their own contribution. The editor hopes that, given sufficient response, a further article might be appropriate which should provide a view from the entire readership of Voting matters.

A major article is provided by Simon Gazeley in which a new algorithm is proposed for a computer-based STV count. As is to be expected with such an algorithm, it will take a significant effort to validate. No doubt, if a program is produced to implement it, some ambiguities will be noted. Given an implementation, then comparisons should be straightforward. It appears that the algorithm is essentially more complex than, say Meek - but does that matter?

David Hill provides a third article which is surely a warning to all who advocate STV. We have no 'standard' for STV and in some Australian elections, the rules do not appear to give the benefits which one would expect.

Recently, an Internet group has been formed on STV. As editor, I will keep a watching brief on this, both to report material in Voting matters and also to encourage others to write articles. As is usual with Internet traffic, it is rather informal and not suitable for direct publication. A combined issue for Volume 1 of Voting matters has been prepared. Unfortunately, it is not economic to print it, but it is available from me in the electronic format PDF which can be printed easily on most modern computers.

Brian Wichmann

Papers with citations

  1. J Otten: Ordered List Selection revisited.
  2. I D Hill: Tie-breaking in STV. [22, 1-6, PDF].
  3. I D Hill: Mixing X-voting and preference voting.
  4. B A Wichmann: The computational accuracy using the Meek algorithm. [19, 1-5, PDF].
  5. H G Jones: A Comparison of Electoral Systems using Decision Analysis. [14, 13-14].
  6. S Gazeley: STV with Elimination by Electability Scores. [15, 13-16].
  7. I D Hill: How to ruin STV.

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