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Voting question

By steele_blade - 12 October 2012 12

On Page 11 of the ACT Election 2012 booklet it says “If a candidate has more votes than the quota…..the surplus votes of that candidate are distributed….”

My scenario is –

The Electoral Commission counts the votes from a polling booth which heavily favors Candidate “A” first, Candidate “B” second, Candidate “C” third (perhaps “B” lives near the booth and “C” doesn’t). “A” gets their quota, “B” gets some first pref. votes and “C” gets less than “B”. Then the EC starts counting another polling booth where “A”s votes are redistributed but this time “C” is favored as second pref. more than “B” is. So “C” gets their quota.

But had the EC counted the polling booths in different order, there could likely be a different election result. Of course it wouldn’t work that way as neatly in practice, but I hope the gist of the scenario is valid.

My questions are: Is the scenario possible or is there another mechanism to ensure dumb luck doesn’t play a role in the outcome? Or do we just rely on the law of averages to work some magic?

What’s Your opinion?


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12 Responses to
Voting question
wildturkeycanoe 5:47 am 15 Oct 12

What’s the point of having quotas? If everyone votes you in, you win. Simple as that. If there were no votes for a candidate, they don’t get in. If there are five seats, the five people with the most votes get in. Why did they come up with such a hare-clark brained scheme with quotas, surpluses, part vote distribution etc.? There’s only one sure way to make sure your vote goes exactly where you intended…..

thisnexus 4:48 pm 14 Oct 12

blah argh

Nightshade 10:42 am 13 Oct 12

simsim said :

One of the functions of Robson rotation is that multiple variations on the voting slips are printed with the candidates in different order. So the party could have a preferred pecking order, but it’s not particularly helpful when you get to the voting booth as they’re likely to show up in a different order on the slip you actually get.

I find it a bit strange that they don’t even try to have a pecking order. Do they think we’re all too stupid to write it down or take in a how-to-vote card? But I also like that the party candidates are on a more equal footing with one another and the established ones don’t have the advantage of being at the top of the list. There’s more point in voting for a new candidate when other people are likely to be voting for them too.

housebound 10:15 am 13 Oct 12

The gotcha with Hare Clark is that some people’s votes elect more than one candidate, others’ only one; you can also end up supporting someone you can’t stand.

If you vote ’1? for a popular candidate who gets more than a quota, your vote can elect two candidates – one when you help the candidate get a quota, and again when all their votes are distributed to people’s 2nd preferences at their fractional value. You also support someone you didn’t vote for because your vote helped create more than a quota – even if you only put a ’1? on your ballot paper (and no other numbers).

What if you vote ’1? for someone who doesn’t get a quota? Your vote is distributed according to your preferences at their full value. Eventually it will end up with someone who gets a quota. Your vote elects one candidate only. If you didn’t number all the boxes, you might run out of preferences before you can elect a candidate: your vote is exhausted.

If a candidate gets a quota after getting reduced-value preferences from another candidates, any ’1? votes for them before then are safe. They stay with the no. 1 candidate and are no longer counted (other than to establish the quota). They still enable support for other people’s preferences, even though only the new votes from other excluded candidates are redistributed.

Sounds complicated? It is.

I tend to avoid voting ‘1’ for candidates likely to get more than a quota (Stefaniak and Stanhope in the past) because I don’t want my vote to add to other people’s choices.

simsim 7:15 am 13 Oct 12

steele_blade said :

Thanks for the excellent replies and links. Is it another feature of the ACT that parties don’t or can’t express in which order their candidates are elected? I’m used to seeing a pecking order on how-to-vote cards.

One of the functions of Robson rotation is that multiple variations on the voting slips are printed with the candidates in different order. So the party could have a preferred pecking order, but it’s not particularly helpful when you get to the voting booth as they’re likely to show up in a different order on the slip you actually get.

steele_blade 11:29 pm 12 Oct 12

Thanks for the excellent replies and links. Is it another feature of the ACT that parties don’t or can’t express in which order their candidates are elected? I’m used to seeing a pecking order on how-to-vote cards.

Nightshade 9:52 pm 12 Oct 12

I was wondering the same thing. If the quota was 10,000 votes and candidate A got 15,000 votes, which 5000 votes would be given to their 2nd preference? The Elections ACT website has a fact sheet on the Hare-Clarke system, and my understanding now is that rather than a particular 1/3 of A’s votes being passed on, 1/3 the value of *each* of the 15,000 votes would be passed on. I.e. for each of the 15,000 votes, 2/3 would go to making up A’s quota, and the remaining 1/3 goes to the 2nd preference. So everyone’s 2nd preference is transferred equally.

From the fact sheet: “The value of the surplus votes gained by an elected candidate is passed on to other candidates according to the preferences indicated on ballot papers by the voters. If a candidate has received more than a quota of first preference votes, all the ballot papers received by the candidate are distributed at a reduced value called a fractional transfer value (see below).”

The fractional transfer value is calculated as the number of surplus votes divided by the total number of ballot papers with further preferences shown.

Starrie 9:42 pm 12 Oct 12

No dumb luck but a proportional system.
Once a candidate reaches quota, ALL of the ballot papers with that candidate as a first preference are recounted and piled according to the next preferences (or finalised if they have reached the end of their preferences), then the number of votes that the candidate is over quota is reallocated according to the proportion of the preferences shown.
So if the candidate had 1000 votes over their quota and 42% of the people who voted for them put Candidate C as their second preference then Candidate C would be allocated 420 votes.

pezza 9:40 pm 12 Oct 12

http://www.elections.act.gov.au/publications/act_electoral_commission_fact_sheets/elections_act_factsheet_hare-clark_electoral_system

All votes are collected, verified as formal, and tallied first. If any candidate exceeds their quota and there are still empty seats, then ALL the votes for that candidate with a second preference listed are counted. Preferences in Hare-Clark don’t count as a full vote though, but as a fraction determined by the number of surplus votes for that candidate, and the number of people who listed a preference and didn’t just mark a ‘1’. (If they have a surplus of 1000, then the distributed preferences would add up to 1000 votes.)

Jethro 9:18 pm 12 Oct 12

From the fact sheet

“If a candidate has received more votes than the quota, the number of votes over the quota is called the candidate’s surplus.

The value of the surplus votes gained by an elected candidate is passed on to other candidates according to the preferences indicated on ballot papers by the voters. If a candidate has received more than a quota of first preference votes, all the ballot papers received by the candidate are distributed at a reduced value called a fractional transfer value.”

“The fractional transfer value is calculated using the following formula:

number of surplus votes
—————————————————————————————
total number of ballot papers with further preferences shown “

So basically, it’s really complicated.

http://www.elections.act.gov.au/publications/act_electoral_commission_fact_sheets/elections_act_factsheet_hare-clark_electoral_system

c_c 9:08 pm 12 Oct 12

I don’t know why you are distinguishing ‘booths’ nor can I comprehend how you think the order in which booths are counted can somehow affect the outcome.

The vote is not done at each booth, the raw data is fed in centrally, and then goes through multiple counts until distributions are made and quotas filled.

You can see the process here:
http://www.elections.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0004/6592/table2.Molonglo.pdf
http://www.elections.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/6588/table2.Brindabella.pdf

Antony Green also has a good and detailed explainer in the Tassie context, scroll down a bit: http://www.abc.net.au/elections/tas/2010/guide/hareclark.htm

taninaus 8:52 pm 12 Oct 12

Not quite my understanding – I think it works out that if you voted for A and your vote is deemed to be an above quota then your vote shifts to whoever you put as 2 on the ballot which could be B, C, D etc. Now how they deem which votes are over quota I am not sure and your scenario may play out if the order of votes is important for passing on the overquota votes. Maybe we have a scrutineer hanging out in the forums.

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