[E-voting] need help finding a reference

Fergal Daly fergal at esatclear.ie
Thu Feb 11 10:51:42 GMT 2010

On 11 February 2010 10:17, Michael McMahon <Michael.McMahon at sun.com> wrote:
> Colin Whittaker wrote:
>> I ended up in a debate yesterday with some colleagues about the impact
>> of plumping or bullet voting - this is voting for only a single
>> candidate in a multi seat election.
>> They were contending that this is bad and has an undue impact on the
>> result and voters should be required to express as many preferences as
>> there are seats or the vote will count as spoiled.
>> I "know" this is wrong but I need to find a nice reference that I can
>> point to that explains this. Anyone got any suggestions,
>> google/wikipedia not helping so far.
>> This is not a completely abstract debate as we intend to run a prstv
>> election next month to fill a bunch of committee positions and it turns
>> out this is the first time we have had more candidates than there were
>> seats.
>> Colin
> Generally, it's not in a voter's best interest to only vote for one
> candidate
> because if their candidate is eliminated, then they have no further
> influence on the outcome. If their candidate is elected, then while
> they have helped to elect them, they also have no further influence
> on the outcome of further seats.
> But, I think it might be a bit strong to say that voters should be required
> to express all preferences, or as many preferences as seats.
> First, because someone might genuinely have only a first preference
> and really doesn't care about the others. In that situation, it's reasonable
> in my opinion, to only express one preference.

Indeed. Colin, ask your colleagues if it's OK to abstain or spoil a
vote. It seems to me that if they follow their principal every should
express N preferences (N= number of candidates). Saying that 0
preferences is OK but 1, 2, ..., N -1 are not makes no sense. I can
put that on a web page for you if you like :)


> Second, it's hard to know exactly how many preferences are actually counted.
> It depends on the contents of the votes themselves, and obviously varies
> from
> one ballot paper to another. But, from my limited observations, it would
> be typically
> less than the number of seats.
> - Michael
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