Legal Beagle by Graeme Edgeler

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Legal Beagle: STV Q&A

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  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I'd have done it earlier, but I figured you all knew!

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Tip for dummies (like me I think):

    Don't get so into STV voting that you vote for the DCC, Health Board, and then Otago Regional Council with numbers. Because the ORC still uses FPP voting.

    Stupid different voting systems for different parts of the form. What stupid parliament allowed that to happen?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    In Christchurch there are 28 candidates for the DHB. It's hard enough finding 7 I can happily endorse- let alone ranking the rest in descending order according to subtle nuances in their nuttiness rating (you need to see this to believe it!) and my political intolerance.
    This doesn't seem the best system for Health Boards. (And I don't see how it can fairly be called 'proportional'- wouldn't that depend on, y'know, there being political parties involved?) The only advantage it seems to offer over first past the post is that it could favour people who spend a lot of time pondering it, and fill in at least 27 boxes. Although I imagine it coming down to final preferences would be a very rare case.
    And... I wanted to spoil my ballot, by writing on the back who I'd likely have voted for as regional councillors, had Mssrs Key, Smith, Carter and Hide not decided I'm not worthy of making that decision.
    Still. Rankles. Bastards!

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Why is voting for District Health Boards silly? Do you really want a bunch of government appointees running our hospitals and health services without any accountability to their communities?

    In my experience the elected members are invaluable particularly for bringing a consumer perspective and encouraging the voices of other consumers to be heard. DHBs hold the funding for the PHOs, a great deal of aged care, disability services and community health. What's wrong with a bit of democracy in the governance?

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Rich of Observationz,

    If DHBs had revenue raising powers then you may have a point.

    But they don't, so you're basically nominating a deckchair attendant for the Titanic.

    If elected DHBs are a good idea, why not have police boards, transport boards, tourism boards and the met service chosen by election?

    Back in Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 5550 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    If elected DHBs are a good idea, why not have police boards, transport boards, tourism boards and the met service chosen by election?

    A pretty good response. If my hospital isn't working well, I will hold the Government to account. The major purpose of DHBs appears to be that there will be someone for the Government to blame if things go wrong. Particularly when over half the members are government appointees.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Ian MacKay,

    In the 90s my first choice was MMP.
    Second choice STV.
    A distant last was FPP.
    I imagine that computers would make short work of sorting the priorities in STV but MMP with a few tinkerings would be great.

    Bleheim • Since Nov 2006 • 498 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    Why is voting for District Health Boards silly?

    Hope you didn't think I meant that. While I take Rich's point too, I don't want, y'know, segregated communities with 6 deckchairs each, while the rest of us sit on the deck :)
    I just feel doubtful STV is best way to do it, if one feels obliged to rank 28 people in a long descending line from 'great' to 'disasterous'.
    Though in practice, numbering the candidates you like and leaving the rest blank should be enough in most cases.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    (And I don't see how it can fairly be called 'proportional'- wouldn't that depend on, y'know, there being political parties involved?)

    Why? Shouldn't 20% support for an individual, see the people who want to be represented by that individual be represented?

    The problem with block voting for councils is that a majority can force unanimous support. You would think that when 60% of people support one group of people on a five person council, and 40% support some other people that the first lot could have three representatives, and the second lot could have two.

    Under block vote, the 60% can get all of the positions. STV enables different groups of voters to be represented proportionately.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Danyl Mclauchlan,

    My DHB voting system. I met a friend who is a health reporter, bought her coffee and gave her my voting papers and she filled in the DHB section. So I feel like I made a pretty informed vote. Not sure what the 99.9% of the population that aren't friends with a health reporter will do.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 927 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    (And I don't see how it can fairly be called 'proportional'- wouldn't that depend on, y'know, there being political parties involved?)

    STV isn't proportional in the way that MMP is proportional.

    In fact STV isn't necessarily proportional at all. But it is more likely to be so than FPP, largely where there are multiple vacancies, though it does have some benefits in single vacancy elections (were the left or right is split between two candidates for example, one might come 2nd or 3rd in the first round, but then pick up the votes of their competitor and beat the person who led in the first round on 2nd round choices).

    It does guarantee that a candidate must have been the choice of at least 50% of the voting public (single vacancy) at some point down the chain.

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Rich, you could use that same argument to say why bother having voting for regional councils and end up going the way of ECAN. We used to have a lot more democracy in our public institutions such as harbour boards, licensing trusts in every region. We cope with school boards? What's wrong with more democracy everywhere?

    Graeme have you ever been to a meeting of something like a Disability Services Advisory Committee or the Public Health Advisory Committee of a DHB and seen that elected board members can actually make a difference in setting the agenda and getting issues raised, particularly in seeking that consumer perspective that is unlikely to be part of (particularly right wing) government appointments. Certainly have in CCH.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 3214 posts Report Reply

  • Rob Stowell,

    It does guarantee that a candidate must have been the choice of at least 50% of the voting public (single vacancy) at some point down the chain.

    Yeah, I get that.
    Just that if it got toooo far down the ol' chain, it might be dragging one's vote through a fair bit of muck on the way to the magical "50%"
    And even more complicated with multiple candidates.

    Whakaraupo • Since Nov 2006 • 2108 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    STV isn't proportional in the way that MMP is proportional.

    In fact STV isn't necessarily proportional at all.

    Well, John Cleese says STV is a form of Proportional Representation:

    If a Nationwide election were conducted using STV, and everyone who supported National, voted 1 for John Key, and 2 for Bill English and 3 for Gerry Brownlee, all the way down through the National Party List, and Everyone who supported Labour had voted 1 for Helen Clark, and 2 for Michael Cullen, etc. the results would be the same as a list-based Proportional Representation election (not necessarily identical to one conducted using Sainte-Laguë, but one of the other alternatives, I forget which one, maybe Hare?).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    What's wrong with more democracy everywhere?

    Because more voting doesn't necessarily mean more democracy. That said, I don't want to diminish from your positive experiences of it and having public input into decision-making is beneficial, but I think I prefer the system where I vote for National and Local Bodies whom I can hold to account, rather than voting for the dogcatcher or Sanitation Commissioner like TV tells me they do in the US.

    When you're voting for something that so few people can make any sort of informed decision about, democracy can actually suffer.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    If a Nationwide election were conducted using STV

    But STV nationwide wouldn't be conducted by a nationwide list.

    It would be conducted with a list in each electorate. So you'd get all your electorate candidates, and you'd vote for them. You're unlikely to get many minor party MPs as a result (because they'd get kicked off before the National and Labour MPs in most electorates).

    You would get a different result than under a FPP system, but it would still be overwhelmingly not proportional.

    It would look different again if there was more than one MP from each electorate. In that case it would really depend on what the rules allowed. If each party could stand more than one candidate, then again, the major parties would dominate. If they were limited to one (and I can't imagine either Labour or National would allow such a system in), then you might even get results unproportional the other way (say for example, 40 electorates, 3 vacancies in each, National has a maximum of 40 MPs, yet they might have over 50% support as they do now).

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    I'd be happy voting for district health boards if they were able to collect money. At present they're just elected people set up to fail by standing in front of the Minister of Health. Surely the government can appoint anyone they want to do that?

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • Isabel Hitchings,

    For things like the DHB where you are voting for several people all at once I'd really like some way to vote in tiers so I could nominate a bunch of people I actively wanted, followed by a bunch of people I didn't hate and then a group who should never even get near public office. Trying to figure out if candidate A is more or less sort-of-ok than candidate B does my head in.

    Christchurch • Since Jul 2007 • 719 posts Report Reply

  • bmk,

    Thanks for the article.

    The thing I am still curious about is how STV differs from the Preferential voting system using in Australian federal elections? Is it in the method used to count the votes?

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    Graeme: I note that the instructions to programmers in the local electoral act works as you describe - but does say section 5B(b) also apply? requiring "an absolute majority of votes for election" to win at every step (given that 5B(b)(v) invokes 5B(b)(iv) which invokes 5B(b)(iii) which requires an absolute majority as mentioned in 5B(b)(ii))

    I've heard it argued that both the 5B(b) absolute majority and the instructions to programmers apply and to be elected a candidate must meet the most restrictive of the two slightly differing requirements

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    The thing I am still curious about is how STV differs from the Preferential voting system using in Australian federal elections? Is it in the method used to count the votes?

    The Australian Federal system uses two voting systems: STV for the Senate, and Preferential Voting for the House of Representatives.

    The major difference is that STV uses multi-member constituencies (12 senators per state, although usually only 6 are elected per state in an election), and that preferential voting uses single member electorates.

    When you're electing one person, STV and preferential voting are identical.

    One difference between the voting systems in Australia and the STV system in New Zealand is that in Australia you have to rank everyone, or your vote is invalid.

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • bmk,

    Thanks for that.

    So if STV were to be implement in New Zealand at government level would it be likely to be single member electorates? Because if so I imagine we would end up back in a position very similar to FPP where National and Labour would hold nearly all the seats.

    To me it sounds like multi-member electorates are more preferable as it then allows more proportional representation.

    Since Jun 2010 • 327 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    oops that should be 5B(b)(iii) etc - missed the '(b)' for that example (edited)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

  • Graeme Edgeler,

    I've heard it argued that both the 5B absolute majority and the instructions to programmers apply and to be elected a candidate must meet the most restrictive of the two slightly differing requirements

    You may have heard it argued ... and it may actually make sense, reading the Local Electoral Act, but that's not how it is applied in practice. See for example the 2007 Wellington City Mayoral election (12KB .pdf).

    Wellington, New Zealand • Since Nov 2006 • 3205 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Campbell,

    That I understand (that that's not what happens in practice) - I've heard people talking about using it to challenge an election in court if someone gets elected but doesn't get an absolute majority of the votes cast (which may happen if people DONT rank every candidate)

    Dunedin • Since Nov 2006 • 2620 posts Report Reply

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