[E-voting] Help with STV issue and eVoting.

Ryan Meade ryan at meade.net
Thu Feb 2 12:11:30 GMT 2006


Ciaran Quinn wrote:
> David GLAUDE wrote:
> > We (Pierre and Me) see STV as a trojan horse for introducing eVoting
> > just like most "advanced" vote expression/counting method.
> >
> > If you read/write french you may want to help us bring your experience
> > on this matter. If you don't speak french, well guess what... Canada is
> > speaking english for the majority of the population and there should be
> > other place where STV and/or eVoting is discussed in english.
> >
> British Columbia had a referendum last year on whether to introduce STV
> for provincial elections. The referendum got 58% support but 60% was
> required for the measure to be passed. They have decided to have another
> referendum on STV in November 2008.
>
> As far as I know, they plan to use computers in the vote counting
> process. They are planning to use "Robson rotation"  on the ballot
> papers ie. candidates names are rotated so that if a party has 5
> candidates, 20% of the ballot papers have A as the first candidate for
> the party, 20% have B, etc.
>
> Ciaran Quinn

I don't know much about the situation in Quebec, but I have read up a little
on the British Columbia proposals.  There is no mention of electronic voting
or counting in the Citizens Assembly report which recommended the change to
STV: http://www.citizensassembly.bc.ca/public/extra/FinalRep_text.xml but I
believe some of the STV proponents have said that electronic counting is one
way of eliminating a perceived downside to STV, i.e. lengthier counting
process.

I think it's important to break any link between STV and electronic voting.
You can use the example of Ireland, where we have been counting STV by hand
for the best part of a century, but perhaps a better example is the assembly
elections in Northern Ireland, where they do proper fractional transfers by
hand.

I would hate to see support for STV in Canada being rolled back because of
fears that it is a "trojan horse for introducing eVoting".  If given a
straight choice between First-Past-The-Post counted by hand and STV with
eVoting, I would go for the latter.  FPTP is a system which is broken by
design, at least with eVoting there remains the possibility that the result
won't be broken.

You might also be interested to know that the fact that even we simple Irish
folk can get to grips with the system is being used to promote STV in BC.
See below :)

"Q: Isn't BC-STV too complicated?"

"A: For the voter, STV is straightforward. Voters choose their favourite
candidates, and then rank them in the order voters choose. The Irish have
been using STV for over 80 years, and British Columbians are certainly as
capable as the Irish! The counting system behind the scenes is involved,
true, but properly trained Elections BC officials will manage the counting
of ballots, as they always have. " - http://www.bc-stv.ca/Q&A.htm

Ryan




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