De-Bunking the No-STV website

I just happened to go over to the No-STV website and there is nothing that bugs me more than FUD. Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. And this website has it in spades.

I’ll point out 3:

#1… the “Hockey Analogy”: No-STV plots out a hypothetical 7 game Stanley Cup Final with Vancouver vs. Toronto:

With four wins by Vancouver compared to three wins by Toronto, Vancouver has won the Stanley Cup. But our adamant STV advocates would argue the point vigorously. “Not fair” they would shout! “Toronto had more goals! The Maple Leafs had twenty and the Canucks only fourteen!” They would be correct in counting goals but fundamentally wrong in interpreting what they mean. Everybody understands that winning the Stanley Cup does not involve counting goals but counting wins!

Here is where we are in fundamental disagreement.

We’re talking about democracy and a persons right to cast a vote. The right of Universal Suffrage is one of the pillars of freedom in our society. So I disagree completely with their conclusion. It *IS* about counting the goals, it *is* about counting the votes. It is my vote, your vote, our votes, that are supposed to determine the composition of our legislature and the direction of our government. In my opinion the electoral system must reflect the wishes of the voters as closely as possible. This is not a game.

#2: on “Vote Count Confusion” a.k.a. Your Neighbour might vote against you!

No-STV says:

Your second preference could get counted as 10% of a vote while your neighboour’s second preference could get counted as a full vote, as some value in between, or not at all. With BC-STV you cannot control what fraction of your vote is given to each of your preferences because how your vote is counted is determined by how other people vote.

What’s with the fear? How my neighbour votes is none of my business. It is their right to vote however they want. The only way my neighbours votes effects my vote in any way is if my neighbour doesn’t vote at all. The bar that MLAs will need to attain is determined by the total number of votes cast.

Are the NO-STV folks objecting to my neighbour having an opinion at all because if more of their “neighbours” vote, then it becomes more difficult for a candidate to be elected? Is that a bad thing? What are they trying to control?

If my neighbour wants to put their #1 choice down as some Communist who gets eliminated in the 1st round and her vote is then transferred at full value to her 2nd choice, then that is THEIR CHOICE. There is nothing unfair about it, because I could do precisely the same thing… the rules are the same for everyone, and if my neighbours vote eventually makes it to my own candidate that gets elected then it just might end up getting transferred to yet another preference right along side me!

You *can* control what fraction of your vote gets allocated to your 2nd preference, in a number of ways. One would be to put down only your #1 preference. That way, your vote will go to precisely the candidate you want and contribute as much as possible to that candidates chance. You wouldn’t need to worry about fractions, your vote would never be transferred to anyone else as it would be considered “exhausted”. With STV, you control where your vote goes and you have a real choice.

#3: The No-STV site then says:

Most people think our current system is fair since it elects the candidate who gets the most votes, but many don’t think it is fair for their neighbour’s second preference to count 10 times, or more, as much as theirs.

That is simply fear mongering. No voters ballot is worth any more than any others. One of the greatest strengths of STV is that a ballot is considered, until it elects someone or is exhausted.

That means you are potentially guaranteed to have your ballot elect someone if you rank every single candidate on the ballot. That guarantee is simply impossible with FPTP.

Think about that for a second. If BC-STV was implemented every vote you make in every election from now until the day you die could be guaranteed to elect an MLA.

Because there are multiple MLAs in each riding there must be a way to ensure that voters can affect the fortunes of more than one candidate. Otherwise there could be MLAs elected with extremely small vote counts. That’s why the system of transferring a fraction is used. It ensures that your ballot, that your choices, are taken into consideration as much as possible while remaining as fair as possible.

1st preference is still what will form the foundation of a candidates support, but it is the 2nd and 3rd choices of voters that will likely get those MLAs over the bar, and that means those MLAs must be accountable and appealing to as wide an audience as possible, women and men, rural and urban… etc etc.

How to find out target ridings for BC-STV

So there was a post this morning on the BC STV website about a volunteer in North Vancouver doing some online research and coming up with specific areas in their riding that had not reached 60% in the 2005 referendum so that they could be targeted with information pamphlets.

It’s actually not too difficult, at least if you know where to go.

So I thought I would post the resources here for people so that others could do the same for their riding.

#1: Go get Elections BC 2005 Referendum results.

#2: Find your riding in the PDF and print out the maps that have the voting areas.

#3: From the PDF you should be able to copy and paste the table from the PDF into an Excel sheet. This is the hardest step because sometimes it doesn’t copy and paste right… so you might have to copy it into a text file one line at a time, then import it into Excel. It’s important to get it into Excel so that you can calculate the percentages automatically. It makes everything else much easier! When you’re done, you can create an extra column with percentages… like I did with my riding here (download XLS file here)
Alberni Qualicum 2005 Referendum results
So now you have the voting geography… and the voting percentages…

#4: Now you can find your worst percentage areas and shade in the areas on your maps you printed out. (or do it digitally with a program like Photoshop or OmniGraffle)

#5: Now you need Carrier routes so you can tell Canada Post where you want your pamphlets to go. Go on the Canada Post HouseHold Counts and Maps webpage.

#6: Go to the Province and Urban area of your choice…

#7: Once you’re in your City, look for the “LCW Map” (Letter Carrier Walk). This will tell you where the different delivery routes are!

#8: Now you can note those routes on your maps. And maybe come out with something that looks like this!

Alberni region STV results
Qualicum region STV results
Alberni Qualicum region STV results

That’s it! (Click the images for the larger, zoomable, PDF versions of each)

Try out BC STV online!

This is really cool!

Some ingenious folks have created a website that mimics a BC Election using the BC-STV system.

You can select your riding, choose your candidates, and then see how your vote gets processed. I “voted” multiple times by going to different ridings so that I could see how my vote worked if I voted in different ways. Make sure you click on the “All Rounds” link when you get to the results so that you can see how the votes get transferred through all the rounds.

It is very interesting. And while it is clear it will take longer to have a final result under STV, it sure will be nice to have the choice and to be able to elect different foks from different parties! It really works!

Chris