[E-voting] Abstention - an accuracy issue?

Aengus Lawlor AengusL at eircom.net
Sat Mar 20 02:14:09 GMT 2004

Mark Dennehy <Mark.Dennehy at cs.tcd.ie> wrote:

> To quote from the Irish NOTA site here:
> http://www.noneoftheabove.ie/index.php?page=faq#ifincluded
> "If the 'none of the above' option beat all candidates on
> the ballot paper, there should be a political requirement
>  for a new election in that constituency.

This was obviously written by someone who doesn't understand how PR works -
you only need 16% of the vote in a 5 seater constituency to be elected. In
fact, you can be elected with only 5% or 6% of the first prefetrence vote.
Because we have multi-seat constituencies, the system actually punishes a
party that has one candidate that maximises his vote at the expense of
other party members. NOTA simply doesn't work with PR-STV.

> Ref:[Aengus Lawlor, Fri, 19/03/04 @ 15:52 -0000]
> > Abstention and "None of the Above" are not the same thing! "None
> > of the Above" implies a "negative vote", as Mark Dennehy explained
> > (but he doesn't explain who get's to run the country if "None of the
> > Above" wins the election). NOTA doesn't really make any sense in
> > a PR system - what happens if "NOTA" get's 2 quotas in a 5 seater?
> > Do you just fill the other 3 seats?
> As I pointed out in an earlier post, there are different
> mechanisms to handle this.

No, you didn't. You pointed out that there are mechanisms for managing NOTA
in "single-seat" constituencies. (The 50% or 35% options are little more
than window dressing, as anything like that level of interest in Ireland
would trigger the formation of a new party, something which simply isn't
practical in the US).

> I feel the most appropriate one is
> that if the NOTA vote receives more votes than the most
> popular candidate receives first preferences, then the
> election be declared void and the candidates ruled ineligible
> for a re-election attempt.

Noel Dempsey was elected on the first count in Meath in the last General
Election - with 18% of the first preferences. Are you seriously suggesting
that one fifth of the voters should have the power to declare the election
in this constituency void?

Dermot Fitzpatrick was elected with 7.6% of the first preference vote - in a
4 seater. Are you suggesting that the 40% of voters in that constituency who
voted for FF candidates aren't entitled to their 2 quotas, even if the vote
was "lopsided"? (Though he only scraped in by 74 votes).

Noel Grealish, in Galway West was elected with just 5.5% of the first
preference vote - but the total PD vote in the constituency was 12.5%,
because they ran 3 geographically diverse candidates to maximise the party
vote. 12.5% of the first preferences in a 5 seater is usually enough to get
you elected, once you get later transfers.

In Dublin South Central, the highest share of the first reference vote was
13.7%. The first candidate wasn't elected until the 9th count. But there
were candidates from 4 different parties elected in that constituency!

If you want to argue the case for NOTA in Irish elections, please do so on
the basis of specific Irish elections, and how the outcome would be changed,
and why it should be changed.

There are many reforms that could be made to improve the way the Dáil works,
and even the type of candidates we get to choose between. NOTA isn't one of
them. We really do deserve the government that we elect.

> There are other benefits to a binding NOTA voting choice. To
> quote from an american NOTA site (Nebraska and a few other
> states have NOTA votes on the ballot) :
> http://www.nota.org/aboutvnota.htm
> (I've edited out the ones directly related to the US voting
> system)

I've edited out the ones that don't make any sense in a multi-seat, STV
electoral system. :-)


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