[E-voting] Abstention - an accuracy issue?

Aengus Lawlor aengusl at eircom.net
Sun Mar 21 21:05:25 GMT 2004

Mark Dennehy <Mark.Dennehy at cs.tcd.ie> wrote:
> Ref:[Aengus Lawlor, Sat, 20/03/04 @ 02:14 -0000]
>>> "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.
> First off, it didn't say "if NOTA is elected", it said "if
> NOTA beats all candidates". *Not* the same thing. As to the
> low percentage levels of first preferences needed to be
> elected, I'm not sure that that counts. If 40% vote NOTA and
> the remaining 60% is split between nine or ten candidates,
> then NOTA is the clear majority, unless one candidate got
> 41% - in which case it's a moot point at any rate.

How about we stick with real Irish elections, and not with fairy tales,

Our electoral system is specifically designed so that minorities can get
representation. If 17% of the voters in a 5 seater constituency vote for
a person, then that person is elected. No ifs, ands or buts. It doesn't
matter if that 17% are all Fine Gael voters, and the othe 83% are all
Fianna Fail voters - the FF voters can't deny the 17% FG voters their
representative. That's not just an odd side effect of PR-STV, that's the
whole point of PR-STV.

So even if 83% of the constituency voted NOTA, there would still be a
candidate elected, because that's how PR-STV is designed to work.

> Basicly, I think the low percentages are just an artifact of
> the system and don't impact on the decision.

Apparently, you've never bothered to actually look at the history of why
we use PR-STV. The low percentages are fundamental to why PR-STV was
imposed on us in the first place. They are most definietly _NOT_ an
artefact of the system.

> However, if the idea of the largest group getting what
> it wants in an election disturbs you,

That's why we have multi-seat constituencies, Mark. FF are the largest
single part in almost every constituency in the country. So yes, you
could say that the "idea of the largest group getting what it wants in
an election disturbs" me, because we don't have a 2 party system, so the
"largest group" often only has 35% of the vote.

> I'm sure you could
> require a majority of the *electorate* to vote NOTA for NOTA
> to win (i.e. 51% of the vote must be won by NOTA, versus
> 16% for a candidate in a 5-seat constituency). It's not
> particularly fair to my mind, but it'd be an improvement on
> the current situation.

What "current situation", Mark? The current situation is that we elected
166 TDs from 41 constituencies in 2002. Give me a concrete example from
any one of those 41 constituencies where you think that NOTA would have
made a difference, and what the outcome might have been. That's all I'm
asking for. I know how it works in Nebraska and other single seat
situations. But unless you're proposing that we dump PR-STV and adopt
single seat constituencies, I'm still in the dark as to how do you
expect NOTA to work with PR-STV?


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