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Voting matters - for the technical issues of STV
Issue 16, February 2003
(Complete issue in PDF, 116Kb.)
In the Republic of Ireland, plans for the introduction of electronic voting
(in the polling booth, not at this stage, via the Internet) have advanced to
a key stage. Suitable technology has been developed for the polling stations
and software has been written to undertake the count. ERBS was contracted to
test the counting software to ensure it adhered to the rules which are
identical to the hand-counting ones. On the 17th May, the Dáil
elections were held in which three constituencies were handled
electronically as an experiment, while the others were handled by the
traditional manual means. The software validation was completed in time
under the direction of Joe Wadsworth using a program for the Irish rules
written by Joe Otten and with the editor running over 400 tests, some
specially written for the occasion. I am glad to report that the counting
went smoothly on the day.
The Irish election data for the three constituencies (Meath, Dublin North
and Dublin West) was placed on the Internet with the full results of the
count. To my knowledge, this is the first time over 2,000 STV votes (ie, the
full set of preferences given by each voter) has been made publicly
available. It is now possible to analyse this data. It is immediately clear,
even by a manual inspection that many final preferences are in ballot paper
The developments with STV in New Zealand have been continuing throughout
2002 and are reported in the final article in this issue by Stephen Todd.
Other articles in this issue includes a note by Peter Dean showing how the
actual administration of STV has changed over the years in Tasmania (even
without the impact of computers). David Hill also considers a disturbing
example of changes to the preferences on ballot papers which are not visible
to the traditional rules.
Eivind Stensholt presents a rather technical article about the
implementation of Meek STV rules when equality of preference is permitted.
(Does the observed ballot-paper ordering with the Irish election indicate
that equality of preference should be allowed?)
The remaining article is a short one by myself about the vexed question of
Welcome to the McDougall Trust
This issue is the last one under the ERS banner. Following discussions
between ERS and the Trust, Voting matters is being transferred to the
Trust for publication for the time being. At this point, no significant
changes are envisaged.
Papers with citations
- P Dean: STV in Tasmania, p2
- E Stensholt: Implementing a suggestion of Meek's, p2-5
- I D Hill: What would a different method have done?, p5
[18, 11-12, PDF].
[19, 14-16, PDF].
- I D Hill: What sort of proportionality?, p5-6
- B A Wichmann: Proportionality Revisited, p6-8
[20, 12-22, PDF].
- S W Todd: STV in New Zealand, p8-10