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Voting matters - for the technical issues of STV

Issue 9, May 1998


I must apologise for the absence of an issue since May1997, but this has been due to a lack of material. There is no doubt that the primary reason for this lack has been the May 1997 elections and the consequences in terms of the political debate on voting reform which has engaged many potential contributors.

The first article by David Hill considers the vexed question of constraints. After producing an elegant possible solution to the problem, he advocates that constraints should not be used. It seems to me that constraints can be used, but only modestly. For instance, if a Council is to be elected having a treasurer who must be a qualified accountant, then a constraint is better than having a separate election. Also, for national bodies, it is difficult to get young people elected since they are not as well-known which again seems to me to be reasonable grounds for a constraint. What do others think?

The second paper was prepared to submit to the Scottish Office as a result of the paper giving the proposed electoral system for the Scottish Parliament. This has obviously been partly overtaken by events.

The third paper on voter choice and proportionality was prepared as a result of the ERS AGM, and has been submitted to the Electoral Commission.

The last two papers consider a topical issue: how to prepare an ordered list of candidates given preferential voting. In this case, the Liberal Democrats and the Green Party have decided upon different methods which are specified in these two papers. The one point of agreement, which is also supported by others, is that the method of ordering a list given by Newland and Britton should not be used for this purpose! In both the second and third edition of Newland and Britton's book, they suggest that the order of election within the STV stages should be used to order the candidates (see section 2.5).

For the tenth issue, I plan to produce a combined index of all the issues to that date. I also hope to produce a volume containing all these issues in one binding, hopefully with good reproductive quality. The intent is to provide a more convenient permanent record.

I also plan to provide Internet access to Voting matters via the UK Citizens On-Line Democracy, which has been agreed by ERS. This Internet site provides discussion groups and other informal material on democratic issues. UKCOD has also collected comments on the Government proposals for a Freedom of Information Bill (http://foi.democracy.org.uk/). I believe that providing access to Voting matters by this means will encourage further international contributions. The printed version will be the authoritative one, since it is not possible to control layout precisely on the Internet, nor can references be guaranteed to remain valid over a long time-frame. The Internet version may also be delayed by the conversion effort required.

Brian Wichmann

Papers with citations

  1. I D Hill: STV with constraints [10, 3-4]. [11, 6-8]. [12, 2-5]. [13, 4-7]. [22, 7-10, PDF].
  2. I D Hill, R F Maddock and B A Wichmann: Comments on the Scottish Electoral proposals
  3. B A Wichmann and R F Maddock: Voter Choice and Proportionality
  4. C Rosenstiel: Producing a Party List using STV [10, 3]. [12, 2-5].
  5. J Otten: Ordered List Selection [12, 2-5].

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