New city council draft

Designed with the updates made by Kevin Baas in mind.  See here for Baas’s explanation of the changes, why the Hare quota was abandoned in favor of the Droop quota, the problems with the droop quota, and how to make the hare quota fair and effective: https://blog.opavote.com/2016/06/guest-post-rethinking-stv-fundamentals.html

Following the adoption of this ordinance, the city council shall draw, or cause to be drawn, 4 districts equal to each other in population, which shall be numbered 1 through 4, and which shall each choose 5 seats using the single transferable vote, in the following manner:

(1) Voters shall be permitted to rank, in the order they choose, as many or as few candidates as they choose.

(2) Ballots shall be counted in rounds. Each ballot shall count as one vote for the highest ranked candidate, until a round where the highest ranked candidate has either been elected, or eliminated.

(3) A candidate shall be elected who reaches the “quota” which shall be a number of votes equal to one fifth of the total number of valid ballots cast. Candidates shall not receive any additional votes after they have been elected. In a round where a candidate is elected, a transfer value shall be determined, and applied equally to all ballots counting toward the elected candidate, calculated in the following manner:

by first subtracting the quota from the total number of votes received by the candidate in the round the candidate was elected, then dividing the result by the total number of votes received by the candidate in that round.

this fraction to be multiplied by the value carried to the candidate by each ballot. The transfer value from the elected candidate shall be counted towards the highest ranked eligible candidate who has not yet been elected. The precision of the decimal counterpart of any fraction, as well as of the product of the fraction, and of the sum of the product and the number of votes counted to any candidate, shall be carried out to the fourth decimal place (that is, to the 0.0001, i.e., ten thousandths place).

(4) In a round where no candidate reaches the quota, the first candidate in the elimination order shall be eliminated and transfer their votes to the next available rank, and the ballots recounted, and if no candidate reaches the quota after the first candidate is eliminated then the first and second candidates in the elimination order shall be dropped, and the ballots counted again, and so on, until a round where another candidate is elected. Once a candidate has been elected, eliminated candidates shall be restored to eligibility, and the process of counting, elimination, and restoration shall continue until all seats are filled, or until only one seat remains unfilled and only one candidate remains eligible for it.

(5) To determine elimination order, the election commission shall count the number of ballots on which a candidate appears, at all rankings, and shall take note of how many times each candidate appears at each ranking. If a candidate appears at rank 1 on 1 ballot, they shall receive 1 point, and if they appear at rank 2 on 1 ballot they shall receive ½ of a point, and at rank 3 on 1 ballot they shall receive 1/3 of a point, and so on for all rankings provided by voters, and the candidate with the fewest points shall be the first candidate in the elimination order, and the candidate with the second fewest point shall be the second candidate in the elimination order, and so on, for all candidates, with the exception that: if a candidate appears, at all rankings, on less than 2 percent of valid ballots cast in their district, they shall lose eligibility and not be restored in any subsequent round of counting. If two candidates are tied for the same place in the elimination order, the candidate shall be eliminated first with the fewest first choice rankings, or if this number be the same for both candidates, then the candidate with the fewest second choice rankings, then the candidate who appears at all rankings on the fewest ballots. If the foregoing methods of tie-breaking be insufficient, then the council may, by statute, institute further methods of tie-breaking, but random tie-breaking shall only be employed if all logical methods of determining the less popular candidate based on the information provided by voters on the ballots counted have been exhausted.

(6) All seats in a district shall be contested by all candidates and shall not be designated for separate races, and all qualified voters who are residents of a district may vote on the candidates running, but non-residents of a district may not vote on who represents the district.

(7) Transition plan: the city council office-holders leaving office the year this ordinance takes effect, or in the election immediately following, shall be replaced by representatives of the odd-numbered districts, 1 and 3, to terms of 4 years; and the even numbered districts, 2 and 4, shall be elected two years later, to staggered terms of 4 years. All other officeholders shall leave office at the end of their regular terms.

This article reports that Nevada may soon join the interstate compact to award all state electoral college votes to the winner of the national popular vote, instead of giving all EC votes to the winner of the state popular vote. I don’t necessarily agree with the electoral college, but I think this plan is probably a bad method of dealing with it. I just can’t see how it will succeed. Maybe I’m wrong, but as far as I can tell, most of the interest in it is fueled by the national popular vote and the electoral college vote being different—for example, during George W. Bush’s first term, there was widespread interest in a plan like this one in states that had voted Democratic. But when Democrats took the White House, with an electoral college vote that matched the national popular vote, states that voted for Obama did not suddenly join the compact, though they obviously had enough electoral votes for the compact to succeed. The renewed interest, in the first term of another Republican president who also won the EC without the national popular vote, is still dominated by states that voted Democratic. Until and unless Democrats win the electoral college while losing the popular vote, this is a losing proposition.

You’re not going to get away from people’s partisan self-interest. You can complain about it, but it will still be there. But that doesn’t mean that people don’ have any sense of justice at all. If we’re willing to be sensible, it may be possible for that sense of justice to bring about a winning proposition.

It’s explicitly stated in the constitution that states can choose how their electors however they want.  The interstate compact depends on this, but it’s not the only option.  For example, even though it is overwhelmingly the custom, we are actually not obligated to give all of a state’s electoral votes to the same candidate.  The Maine-Nebraska plan absolutely proves this. Maine and Nebraska, which each have 4 electors, give 1 to the candidate who wins the popular vote in each congressional district, and 2 additional votes to the winner of the state-wide vote.

I have seen some people calling the Maine-Nebraska plan “proportional” and that annoys the hell out of me, because it is absolutely not proportional. If a candidate wins 51% of the popular vote in Maine, then they get 2 electors for taking the popular vote in the state, though it was only by a few points. That candidate will probably get at least one more elector, unless some bizarre magic causes them to lose both congressional districts but still win the statewide vote. That means your candidate with only 51% of the vote gets a minimum of 3 out of 4 electors.  Gerrymandering is another significant danger, since it depends on winners in single-seat districts.  A proportional system would obviously give half of the electors to the candidate that won half the popular vote, without considering district lines, nor adding any bonuses to the plurality “winner.”

In real life, of course, we may be limited to awarding whole numbers of electors to each candidate. Luckily, there are many methods of apportionment that are set up to deal with this as fairly as possible.

For example, the current method of awarding seats to each state in the House of Representatives is known as the “method of equal proportions” or “Huntington Hill method,” which starts everyone at 1 seat (or for our purposes, one electoral college vote) and assigns, in sequence, one more seat, or elector, to whoever has the highest “priority number,” which is calculated in this manner:

3-page TIMM voting
(Replace the population of a state with the number of votes for a candidate, and the number of seats in Congress with the number of electors a candidate has earned)

 

For the House of Representatives, each state is required to be apportioned at least one seat in the House. For the electoral college, a candidate should have to reach a minimum threshold equal to the fraction of the vote that a single elector represents. Since Tennessee has 11 votes in the electoral college, we would eliminate any candidate supported by less than 1/11 of Tennessee voters (so about 9.1%), and apportion votes to the others by priority number.

all

The count stops when all 11 EC votes have been assigned.

Another possibility is the “largest remainders” method, in which you simply take the fraction of the vote that each party gets, multiply that fraction by the total number of seats in the assembly, and round down to the nearest whole number. The number rounded down is then subtracted from the original number. Finally, the party (or state, or candidate) with the “largest remainder” gets one more seat, then the next “largest remainder” gets one more seat, until all of the seats have been assigned.

largest remainders

After the initial count is rounded down, there are 2 seats remaining unassigned.  Trump and Clinton are the 2 candidates with the largest remainders, so they both gain an additional seat.

In 2016, Donald Trump received 1,522,925 votes in Tennessee, or about 60.722%. Hillary Clinton received 870,695 votes, or about 34.716%. All others got 114,407 combined, less than the 9.1% threshold, and so none of them receive any electoral votes.

Both the method of equal proportions and the method of largest remainders give 7 electoral college votes to Donald Trump and 4 to Hillary Clinton, a very close match to their “ideal” number.

You’re not going to convince Tennessee Republicans that our state should give every one of its electoral college votes to a Democrat. It’s an absurd proposition. However, you might convince a state that is 60% Republican and 40% Democratic to give 60% of its EC votes to the Republican candidate and 40% to the Democratic one. But we have to be reasonable enough to ask why our state should give every single EC vote to the same candidate. And the answer is we shouldn’t.

Draft amendment to the Knox County charter.

This recognizes the limitations of state law for implementing proportional representation at the county level, including the limits on commission districts and ballot access requirements for third parties.  For partisan elections in Tennessee, we need the chance to vote independent.  Now we will have it.

 

Shall the Knox County Charter be amended by deleting § 2.03 A; §§6.01 B, C, and D; and § 8.01; and inserting all of the following in the locations specified:

Sec. 2.03. – Membership and election; district, seats, reapportionment and redistricting.

A. The Commission members shall be elected by the people of Knox County in the following manner:

(1) The Commission under this Charter shall consist of eleven (11) members elected from eleven (11) districts, and fourteen (14) at-large members chosen in compensatory manner by county-wide vote as specified in 2.03 A (2). The eleven (11) members elected by districts shall be residents of and represent the districts from which they are elected. Candidates running for at-large seats shall be listed separately according to which party they are a member of, if any, or as Independent/unaffiliated. For the purposes of section 2.03 A, the term “independent” shall include all candidates in Tennessee who would appear on the Knox County ballot as “Independent” under Tennessee law, and shall not exclude members of any political party that the state of Tennessee or Knox County does not recognize for ballot access. For the purposes of section 2.03 A, and 2.03 A only, the term “party” shall be inclusive of independents as if “Independent” constituted its own political party.

(2) Voters may rank any or all of the district candidates they choose in the order they prefer, and to win in a district a candidate must reach a 50% quota in the manner of the instant run off. Voters may also rank two (2) parties, and for each party selected, they may rank as many of its at-large candidates in the order they prefer. For a party to receive an at-large vote, a voter must have ranked that party first, unless the voter’s first choice party is disqualified, or as provided under 2.03 A (4). The number of at-large seats granted to each party shall equal the total number of seats they win by party vote, minus the number of seats that party won in districts. Each party shall win a fraction of the total number of seats on the commission, which shall be equal to the number of votes the party received divided by the number of votes cast, except that that fraction must represent a minimum of one seat in order to qualify for any at-large seats; and if the fraction does not result in a whole number of seats, then the number shall be rounded down and the unassigned seats shall be distributed in the manner of the “Method of Equal Proportions.”

(3) No party, having won a commission district seat in the manner specified, shall have that seat removed or reassigned, except that a party that has elected more candidates in districts than the total number that party has won, shall not receive any at-large seats, and all parties shall start out with the number of seats they won in districts, but all qualifying parties shall start out with at least 1 seat, even if they have won no districts, and the remaining seats shall be apportioned using the method of equal proportions.

(4) If a party qualifies for a number of seats that is larger than the number of candidates running for that party, then all at-large candidates from that party are elected, and the party shall retain no more than the portion of each ballot that would elect them to the number of seats they can fill, the rest to be transferred to second-choice party, if any, indicated by voters. The value carried by a ballot to the at-large candidates of each party shall be no more than the value carried to the party.

(5) Quotas for at-large candidates: individual at-large candidates shall be chosen separately for each party and for independents in the manner of the Single Transferable Vote, except that they shall meet a quota equal to the number of votes received by that candidate’s party, excepting ballots where no candidates have been ranked, divided by one more than the number of at-large seats received by their party. The instant runoff shall be permitted for parties receiving only a single at-large seat.

(6) The regular terms of Commission members shall be four (4) years. Those commissioners elected two (2) years after the adoption of this amendment shall serve an extended term of 6 years, after which the new districts shall be drawn and all seats shall be elected to regular terms according to the terms of this amendment.

Sec. 6.01

6.01 B The Board of Education under this charter shall consist of nine (9) members elected according to the Single Transferable Vote

6.01 C: At the county general election, all candidates for Knox County school board shall appear on the ballot, and voters shall be entitled to rank as many candidates from their district as desired. Districts A and C shall choose 3 candidates each during years that coincide with the election for president, and district B shall choose 3 candidates during mid-term election years.

6.01 D: The districts existing at the time this amendment is accepted, shall be combined into three districts, A, B, and C, as follows: District A shall include the previous districts of Districts 1, 4, and 9. District B shall include the previous districts of 3, 5, and 6. District C shall include the previous districts of 2, 7, and 8. To transition to the new districts, the final term of district 6 and 7 shall be extended by two years. Following the transition, all three districts shall choose candidates for regular terms of 4 years. The Commission may from time to time alter the boundaries of districts so long as all districts contain as near as possible the same population and elect the same number of seats, and comply with all constitutional requirements. On or before December 31,1991, and every ten (10) years thereafter, it shall be the duty of the Commission, based upon the most recent Federal decennial census, to reapportion the Board of Education districts so as to comply with constitutional requirements.

Sec. 8.01

A) This charter shall not be construed as to require a primary election, whether partisan or non-partisan, for any office; however, if by some authority a primary is required for election to Knox County office, then the form of the primary for each office shall be the same as the form of the general election for that office and shall choose the same number of winners, excepting that a non-partisan primary shall use the single transferable vote to choose a number of seats that is twice the number chosen in the general election.

B) Single Transferable Vote defined. Single Transferable Vote shall refer exclusively to a method of choosing multiple seats, either at large or in districts, where:

(1) voters rank candidates on their ballot in the order of the voter’s choosing,

(2) each ballot shall count exclusively for the eligible candidate ranked highest, until the first candidate has been elected

(3) candidates shall be elected who meet a quota equal to the number of votes cast divided by one more than the number of seats being chosen, rounded up to the nearest whole percent of the vote.

(4) ballots shall be counted in rounds

(5) in a round where no candidate meets the quota, the candidate with the fewest votes shall become ineligible and be longer a candidate

(6) in a round where a candidate meets the quota, that candidate shall be considered elected.

(7) when a candidate exceeds the threshold, the number of votes they received in addition to the quota shall be broken into a fraction applied equally to all ballots counting towards the candidate elected in that round, such that a ballot counting its full value to the elected candidate will transfer the fraction to candidates at the next available ranking, but a ballot counting a partial value to the elected candidate shall transfer only a fraction of the portion counting toward the elected candidate.

(8) The county commission may by statute adopt rules for counting, either by machine, or, if properly functioning machines are not available, then by hand, which comply with these rules, or that produce a result of equal or superior accuracy to these rules. If no statute is adopted providing for such detailed rules, then the Scottish method of dividing ballots into bundles, first according to the highest ranked candidate, then according to the candidates ranked next, and so on, in order to keep track of the transfer value applied to each ballot.

C Instant runoff defined—the instant runoff shall refer exclusively to an election having only a single winner, in which voters have ranked their candidates, and the ballots shall be counted in rounds, and a candidate elected who achieves 50% of the vote, and in any round where no candidate reaches 50%, the candidate having the fewest votes shall be eliminated and transfer their votes to the next-ranked eligible candidate, but the election shall end when a candidate reaches 50%, or when only a single eligible candidate remains, and no elected candidate shall transfer any votes. The instant runoff may not be used in any multi-seat district, but the single transferable vote shall be used instead. Any district that is required, by state law or any other authority, to have all seats separately designated shall be drawn as a single-seat district, other provisions in this charter notwithstanding.

D) For both B and C, in any round where two or more candidates are tied for elimination, out of those candidates in the tie the one shall be eliminated who had the fewest votes in the most recent previous round of counting before the tie occurred. If no such previous round exists, then the candidate shall be eliminated who appears on the fewest ballots at all rankings.

E) For both B and C, batch elimination shall be permitted, in the first round of counting, of all candidates appearing at all rankings on a total number of ballots that is less than 10% of the quota, unless the number of candidates remaining would be less than the number of seats.

Transferable Independent Mixed Member Proportional

a special implementation of the mixed member system for county commission in the state of Tennessee.

Even though I prefer the Single Transferable Vote (STV) over mixed member proportional (MMP), Tennessee state law presents some serious problems with using it in County Commissions in our state. Under Tennessee state law, members of the county board of commissioners cannot be elected from districts with more than 3 seats in them (§5-5-102 (d)), which greatly reduces the level of proportionality that STV can provide. Further, counties such as Knox County, which were designated “Class II” on or before 1 Jan 1999, must separately designate all seats in any multi-seat district (§5-5-102 (h)(3)), and must have at least 9 districts (§5-5-102 (a)(2)), so a pure STV system is legally impossible in these counties. 

However, MMP does offer proportional representation that is consistent with state law, since it coordinates disproportional district elections with a supplementary at-large tier that prevents gerrymandering and still allows minorities a voice. Ballot access laws for third parties in Tennessee present a barrier for a traditional German-style MMP, but this is much easier to surmount.

TIMM voting–or Transferable/Independent Mixed Member–takes the essential features of MMP, and incorporates many of the features that make STV a better system.

German Mixed member:

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

TIMM

*plurality in single seat districts

*closed list for at-large seats

*fully proportional by party (excluding independents)

*not proportional by candidate

*if 10% of at-large voters choose parties that don’t meet the 5% threshold, then results can become disproportional (rare)

*multi-seat districts with no at-large component (or at-large seats with no district component)

*fully proportional by candidate, and therefore also by party, faction, gender, ethnicity or any other voting bloc

*you can pick and choose candidates from the same party, different parties, or no party

*rendered non-functional by TCA §5-5

*Instant runoff or stv in districts

*stv for at-large seats

*fully proportional by party membership (including independents)

*partially proportional by candidate

*you can transfer your party vote

*still choose your own candidates to support (somewhat limited by party)

Knox County can use the instant run-off in single seat districts, while other counties may use STV in districts of two or three seats. When indicating party membership, voters may now choose “independent” and instead of the list system, STV is used to fill the at-large seats. At-large candidates are listed under their party membership, and must meet a quota determined by the number of seats their party is allotted.  District candidates are elected in an ordinary instant runoff or STV district election.

Compare:

German-style ballot:

Vote for one (1) DISTRICT representative

CANDIDATE A

CANDIDATE B

CANDIDATE C

CANDIDATE D

CANDIDATE E

CANDIDATE F

CANDIDATE G

CANDIDATE H

CANDIDATE I

CANDIDATE J

CANDIDATE K

Vote for One (1) party

Democratic

Republican

[can’t vote independent for at-large seats]

STV-style ballot

Rank as many or as few candidates in the order desired

CANDIDATE A

CANDIDATE B

CANDIDATE C

CANDIDATE D

CANDIDATE E

CANDIDATE F

CANDIDATE G

CANDIDATE H

CANDIDATE I

CANDIDATE J

CANDIDATE K

TIMM-style ballot:

Rank as many or as few DISTRICT candidates in the order desired

CANDIDATE A

CANDIDATE B

CANDIDATE C

CANDIDATE D

CANDIDATE E

CANDIDATE F

CANDIDATE G

CANDIDATE H

CANDIDATE I

CANDIDATE J

CANDIDATE K

Indicate your FIRST CHOICE and SECOND CHOICE for party membership

Democratic

Republican

NONE or other

Rank the candidates of your FIRST CHOICE and SECOND CHOICE party, as desired

DEMOCRAT A

DEMOCRAT B

DEMOCRAT C

DEMOCRAT D

REPUBLICAN A

REPUBLICAN B

REPUBLICAN C

REPUBLICAN D

INDEPENDENT A

INDEPENDENT B

INDEPENDENT C

INDEPENDENT D

Knox County under TIMM voting: 9 single-seat districts, 16 at-large seats

Sevier County under TIMM voting: 5 districts with 2 seats, 15 at-large seats

Blount County under TIMM voting: 4 districts with 3 seats, 13 at-large seats

It’s important to have more at-large (compensatory) seats than district seats, to prevent district manipulations from changing the balance of power.

Your district voting gives you all the same freedom as regular STV elections do, while the at-large tier ensures a maximum level of proportionality by party membership. 

(Blount and Sevier counties are only mentioned as examples)

Allotment of at-large seats under TIMM

The threshold is 4% of the vote to qualify for at-large seats (1 seat on a 25-seat board of county commissioners is 4%). Each party gets a fraction of the total commission seats equal to their fraction of the vote. Since that rarely produces a whole number of seats, the fraction is rounded down, and the remaining unassigned are allocated by the Method of Equal Proportions (the method currently used to apportion seats to each state in the US House of Representatives). 

(Simply rounding to the nearest whole is the most obvious method, but it can result in a number of seats being assigned that is greater or lesser than the total number of seats on the commission, so most countries include some further method of apportionment after calculating the initial fractions).

Party

votes

% of 25 seats

Rounded down

final

Democratic

37

9.25

9

9

Republican

56

14

14

14

NONE/other

7

1.75

1

2

Party

votes

# of district seats

# of at large seats

final

Democratic

37

1

8

9

Republican

56

8

6

14

NONE/other

7

0

2

2

As you can see, even though Democrats might be heavily gerrymandered out of the districts it hardly makes a difference, because the at-large compensatory seats translate the percent of the vote directly into the total number of seats each party deserves. Of course, over time it will become clear to map-makers that these manipulations are a waste of time, so manipulations will decrease until they eventually vanish.

Additionally, if your first-choice party doesn’t qualify for at-large seats, you can transfer your vote to a similar party and still choose some of the candidates elected at-large. 

Another problem for the German system is when a party is awarded a number of seats that is larger than the number of candidates they nominated.  Under TIMM voting, the total number of seats the party can fill is divided by the number awarded to them–that represents the percent of each ballot that was useful for electing a candidate of that party.  The unused portion is transferred to the second-rank party.  In the example above, 7% of voters chose Independent, which earned them 2 seats.  But if only 1 independent is running, then only 4/7 of each vote for Independent is able to elect an independent candidate.  So TIMM voting lets you transfer the remaining 3/7 to your second choice party, ensuring that Independents are still treated the same as Democrats and Republicans, no matter how many candidates are running.  (In a pure STV-style system, independent voters would simply indicate the specific candidates they supported, regardless of party, and if state law is revised to be more permissive it would be good to switch to a plain and simple STV system with 5-7 seats per district) 

The quota for district elections is the number of votes divided by one more than the number of seats elected by the district.  The quota for at-large candidates is the number of votes for a party’s candidates divided by one more than the number of at-large seats the party is apportioned. 

 

Method of equal proportions: also called Huntington-Hill. This is the method currently used to apportion seats to each state in the House of Representatives. It requires a little bit of math but is easily done by hand with a calculator, or plugged into a spreadsheet program like microsoft excel or Libre Office Calc. Unassigned seats are apportioned one by one to the state/party having the highest “priority number.”

3-page TIMM voting← Priority number

The priority number is a fraction. The top of your fraction is your state’s population; the bottom is a square root, which is taken of the number of seats your state currently elects times one more than the current number of seats. So if there are 500 people in your state, and you currently have 2 seats, you divide 500 over the square root of 6.

In LibreOffice Calc, you can select your columns then on the menu bar you can click on Data→Sort descending, and the highest priority number will be placed at the top. When you add another seat, the priority number will decrease. Select your columns again, then click “sort” for the next state. In LibreOffice Calc, your columns might be the name of your state (column A) your state’s population, or the number or percent of the vote your party won, (column B) your current number of seats (column C) then your priority number (column D). In column D you can enter an equation in the form: “B1/(sqrt(C1*(C1+1)))” assuming your state is in row 1. The term “B1” is an automatic number equal to your population (that is, the content of the first cell in column B) and “C1” is an automatic number equal to the number of seats (that is, the content of the first cell in column C). Change the content of C1, and D1 will change automatically, reflecting the new priority number. When selecting columns for sorting, start with column A then drag your cursor over to column D (otherwise your states will be listed Alphabetically by name). When you’ve apportioned all of your seats, you can drag your cursor in the opposite direction and alphabetize your list.

I have done this myself in Calc for the 50 states.  With fifty states it is tedious and time-consuming, but our country has been doing it every ten years since 1941.  For allocating 25 seats among 2 parties plus independents (if they qualify), I found it was a breeze. 

If you hate Gerrymandering, you love proportional representation.

Why Does Gerrymandering Work?

It’s embedded in the logic of Winner-take-all

20 Cyan40 Cyan60 Cyan80 Cyan
80 Pink60 Pink40 Pink20 Pink

4 completely different majorities, but only 2 results: Cyan and Pink each take 2 districts

Cyan can take easy advantage of this

For every 11 Cyan voters, there are 9 Pink voters, but Cyan takes 7 out of 8 districts.

Votes: 11-9

Districts: 7-1 (extreme gerrymander)

Traditionally, we like to blame dishonest politicians who draw district lines to favor themselves.

But that’s not enough to explain it.

When we use proportional representation, the advantage goes away.

20 Cyan40 Cyan60 Cyan80 Cyan
80 Pink60 Pink40 Pink20 Pink

Single Transferable Vote: 5 seats per district

1 Cyan2 Cyan3 Cyan4 Cyan
4 Pink3 Pink2 Pink1 Pink

Mixed Member Proportional: 1 seat per district, 16 at-large seats

1 Pink1 Pink1 Cyan1 Cyan
At-Large:
8 Pink
8 Cyan

Single Transferable Vote, 5 seats/district

Top Row
3 Cyan 2 Pink3 Cyan 2 Pink1 Cyan 4 Pink3 Cyan 2 Pink
Bottom Row
3 Cyan 2 Pink3 Cyan 2 Pink3 Cyan 2 Pink3 Cyan 2 Pink

Votes: 11-9

Seats: 11-9

Mixed Member Proportional: 1 Seat/district, 12 At-large

Top Row
CyanCyanPinkCyan
Bottom Row
CyanCyanCyanCyan
At Large:
4 Cyan 8 Pink

Votes: 11-9

Districts: 7-1

At-large: 4-8

Total Seats: 11-9

How it works

I mentioned 2 forms of proportional representation. Mixed member is supposed to be easier to explain (though I find when you get into different methods of apportionment, such as the d’Hondt method, this rapidly stops being true) but in principle, it compensates for the distortions of single-seat district races by apportioning a total number of seats to each party based on how much of the vote that party received; from that total is subtracted each seat the party won from a district race, and the rest are filled with each party’s at-large delegates. The overall vote for each party is translated into the overall number of seats that each party gets. The mixed member system encourages parties to nominate more diverse candidates, in order to gain as many votes as possible. Any demographic that feels ignored or disenfranchised also has the right to start its own political party, which will not be attacked for “splitting the vote” in the district, because any distortion in district races will still be corrected by the compensatory at-large tier.

The single transferable vote is based on candidates instead of party. It assigns to each seat a number of votes that a candidate must achieve in order to be elected to it (quota). Voters get one vote, but they decide where it may transfer to by ranking the candidates in order of whom they most want in office. Most places allow voters to rank as many or as few candidates as they want. When a candidate meets quota they don’t receive any more votes, because they have already been elected to office. Extra votes are distributed to next-choice rankings, to preserve the intent of voters in the majority. If no candidate meets the quota, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, and their votes transfer to next-choice rank. Voters in the minority are also protected, because they still have a chance to help one or more of their candidates meet the quota. Because it is candidate-based, the single transferable vote automatically conveys proportional representation in terms of party membership (including no party), ideological faction, race, gender, or any other voting bloc.

In both cases, the proportion of the vote is directly translated into the proportion of seats. Both methods demolish attempts at gerrymandering. The more proportional your method of election is, the harder it is to gain advantage by redrawing district lines. The opposite also holds true: the less proportional, the easier to manipulate. Districts using STV to elect only 2 seats are almost as easy to manipulate as districts only electing one seat. The minimum should really be 4 or 5. Mixed member systems where there aren’t enough at-large seats—or worse, where the at-large election is separate from the district election—can also be manipulated. There should be at least as many at-large seats as district seats, and they must be part of a fully integrated compensatory tier.

Draft Amendment for City of Knoxville

This is my current draft for Knoxville City Council elections using the single transferable vote:

Shall the charter of the city of Knoxville be amended by repealing §§ 702 and 707 and substituting the following in the places indicated:

702. – Time and place of elections.
The regular election for the offices of mayor, municipal judge and members of the council shall be held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November preceding the expiration of their regular terms. All other elections held under this charter, except those for the nomination of candidates for the offices of mayor, municipal judge, and members of the council, shall be known as special municipal elections. This charter shall not be construed as to require a primary for any office, but all candidates shall appear on the ballot in the general election, and voters may rank as many or as few candidates in their order of preference. If a primary is required, then the primary for each race shall use the single transferable vote to nominate a number of candidates equal to twice the number of winners in the general election, and shall take place on the last Tuesday in August preceding the general election. All elections shall be held at the regular voting places in each ward or precinct.

707. – Manner of holding elections.
Candidates for mayor, municipal judge, [and] members of the council shall be listed as provided by the general election laws.
(A) Offices and manner of election: the offices of Mayor and Municipal Judge shall be elected as single-winner elections by means of the instant runoff. All elected offices in Knoxville city government having only a single seat shall be elected in the same manner. The office of city council shall be elected as multi-winner elections by means of the single transferable vote, from districts of equal population and having 5 seats.
B) Single Transferable Vote defined. Single Transferable Vote shall refer exclusively to a method of choosing multiple seats, either at large or in districts, where:
(1) voters rank candidates on their ballot in the order of the voter’s choosing,
(2) each ballot shall count as one vote exclusively for the eligible candidate ranked highest, until the first candidate has been elected
(3) candidates shall be elected who meet a quota equal to the number of votes cast divided by one more than the number of seats being chosen.
(4) ballots shall be counted in rounds
(5) in a round where no candidate meets the quota, the candidate with the fewest votes shall become ineligible and be longer a candidate
(6) in a round where a candidate meets the quota, that candidate shall be considered elected.
(7) when a candidate exceeds the threshold, the number of votes they received in addition to the quota shall be broken into a fraction applied equally to all ballots counting towards the candidate elected in that round, such that the elected candidate retains a number of votes equal to the quota, and a ballot counting its full value to the elected candidate will transfer the fraction to candidates at the next available ranking, but a ballot counting a partial value to the elected candidate shall transfer the same fraction of only that portion that counts toward the elected candidate to the next available rank.
(8) The city council may by statute adopt detailed rules for counting, either by machine, or, if properly functioning machines are not available, then by hand, which comply with these rules, or can be modified so that they do. Examples of acceptable rules include those provided by the Scottish parliament in 2007 for local races in that country (so-called “Scottish rules”) similar rules currently in use in Minneapolis, Minnesota, or rules designed for hand-counting of ballots by the Electoral Reform Society in 1997 (so-called “ERS97 rules”). If no statute provides a set of rules designed for Knoxville city council elections, then Scottish rules shall be in effect, except where modified by this charter.
C Instant runoff defined—the instant runoff shall refer exclusively to an election having only a single winner, which shall follow the process specified in B, with the exception that the election shall end when a candidate reaches 50% of the vote, or when only a single eligible candidate remains, and no elected candidate shall transfer any votes. The instant runoff may not be used in any multi-seat district, but the single transferable vote shall be used instead. Any district that is required, by state law or any other authority, to have all seats separately designated shall be redrawn as a number of single-seat districts equal to the number of seats it otherwise would have chosen, other provisions in this charter notwithstanding.
D) For both B and C, in any round where two or more candidates are tied for elimination, out of those candidates in the tie the one shall be eliminated who had the fewest votes in the most recent previous round of counting before the tie occurred. If no such previous round exists, then the candidate shall be eliminated who appears on the fewest ballots at all rankings.
E) For both B and C, batch elimination shall be permitted, in the first round of counting, of all candidates appearing at all rankings on a total number of ballots that is less than 10% of the quota, unless the number of candidates remaining would be less than the number of seats.

The city council districts following the adoption of this ordinance shall be consolidated from the districts existing at its adoption, in the following manner: District A shall consist of all those precincts enclosed by districts 4 and 5, District B shall consist of all precincts enclosed by districts 3 and 6, and district C shall consist of precincts enclosed by districts 1 and 2. In the election following adoption of this ordinance, the term for district 5 shall be extended 2 years. Districts A and C shall each elect 5 candidates each following the regular end of the term of district seats 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 and the extended term of seat 5. Following the end of the regular term for at-large seats A, B, and C, District B shall elect 5 seats to terms of 4 years.

8 years after this ordinance is adopted, the voters of the city of Knoxville shall be asked, by yes or no vote, to add 10 additional seats, to be elected from 2 additional 5-seat districts, using the single transferable vote. The districts, if adopted, will be designated D and E, and shall be elected in the same years as district B.

First post.

This is my new WP for talking about proportional representation in Tennessee, most especially Knoxville and Knox County. Hopefully I can get more people informed, recruit some volunteers, and amend the Knox County charter. Implementation on the county level is the first step to state-wide use.

There are 95 counties in Tennessee; only two of them have the charter form of government that allows voter-initiated amendments. Knox county is one of them. There are 8 counties adjacent to Knox County, none of which have their own charter. I don’t imagine each one of them would like to have a charter identical to Knox County’s, although all 8 of them currently have the same form of governance specified for them by state law.

Switching to a charter can be accomplished by collecting the signatures of registered voters in each county. Existing county charters can be amended the same way.