[E-voting] Abstention - an accuracy issue?

Karen Devine kadevine at tcd.ie
Wed Mar 24 00:16:01 GMT 2004

>This was obviously written by someone who doesn't understand how PR works -
I wrote it and I do understand how PR-STV works.  I think you may have
misinterpreted the text (Mark, thanks for helping to clarify that in my
absence) and I am happy to re-write the text in clearer terms, given the
likelihood of misinterpretation.
>NOTA simply doesn't work with PR-STV.
I respectfully disagree and will be posting suggestions of ways in which the
NOTA option can be implemented under PR-STV on the website when I've finished
writing the submission.  The question is how to implement nota in the most
'democratic' manner, and that is proving a headache to figure out. A debate
and your opinions and constructive criticisms would be most welcome (but
please note final (final) comment below)!
For the record, I believe the option should not be implemented in such a way
that it effectively does away with the proportionality of the PR-STV system
(and I realise this should have been made clearer in the website text),
therefore nota can only have electoral effect when it beats *all candidates*
i.e. the totality of the seats.  The entire constituency's seats would have to
be re-contested, not just one or two seats.  Also I don't believe the nota
option could function as a 'candidate' per se, it could not be used as a third
or fourth preference, for example, it could only realistically operate as an
expression that *none* of the candidates should be the voter's political
representatives, blunt instrument that it is.
I don't think it's worthwhile getting caught up in debating fairly wild
theoretical scenarios either; it's extremely unlikely nota would beat all
candidates in an Irish constituency and I think the political system would
have collapsed long before the extreme, theoretically-possible situation could
occur - in which nota beat all candidates in every constituency.
There's no doubt it is harder to implement the option under PR-STV than
FPP/single-seat constituencies, but it's not impossible.  Regardless, it can
easily be provided as a non-binding option on the ballot.
Finally, the same people have stated many times their disagreement with the
provision of the nota option and I am again happy to acknowledge their
Given Colm's and Tim's comments, it's also worth mentioning that I have always
suggested the nota/abstain issues should be dealt with off this list in
recognition of the fact that these issues are not relevant to ICTE's goals,
and on this occasion I have taken the opportunity to respond to the criticisms
made of the noneoftheabove.ie website because they were made on this list.
All the best,

>> 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. :-)
>E-voting mailing list
>E-voting at lists.stdlib.net

Karen Devine,
PhD Candidate,
Department of Political Science,
Trinity College,
1 College Green,
Dublin 2.

Email: kadevine at tcd.ie
Webpage: www.tcd.ie/Political_Science/postgrads/Karen.Devine

Have you signed the Petition at www.noneoftheabove.ie?

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