Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Local interest

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  • Hebe, in reply to Emma Hart,

    Did you know that if a councillor or a mayor were convicted and jailed during their term of office that they could serve out the rest of their elected term from their jail cell? Apparently no law to force them out of office.

    Christchurch • Since May 2011 • 2899 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to Hebe,

    except many councils have attendance requirements (thank goodness)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Rich of Observationz,

    * several stops past Barking

    ...beyond the Dagenham Dye Works

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7953 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Wow! In the mayoral section for Auckland, Penny Bright is just a trainwreck:

    In a former life, I answered the email for the government portal (www.govt.nz as it was then). I used to receive at least 2 of Penny Bright’s missives a week. I read the first few, then wrote a rule that filed them in a separate folder that I reviewed once a fortnight to see if there was an actual email that needed to be responded to. It has amazed me since when *anybody* has taken her seriously at any level.

    IMHO, she gives new meaning to the term “fruitbat”.

    EDIT you could also check out "Her Warship's" profile (along with a very old picture) at vote.co.nz

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 2937 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd,

    Russell, you refer to “the glorious STV lottery that is the Auckland District Health Board vote[.]” Allow me to disagree with the use of the word 'lottery'.

    In that election, there are 27 candidates vying for seven places. Everyone has one vote, whereby they express their preferences for 1, some, or all the candidates, as they see fit. They give their first preference to the candidate they most want to see elected, safe in the knowledge that if that candidate is excluded from the count, or does not need all the vote to be elected, it will be transferred to the next available preference indicated on their voting papers, in whole or in part, as the situation dictates.

    I am sometimes asked, why allow for the votes to be transferred when the seven leading candidates after the count of first preferences are usually the ones who end up being elected? The answer is, they were the leading candidates because they were the ones who were the voters’ collective genuine first preference choices, in a situation where the voters knew they were *in no danger* of wasting their votes.

    That being the case, it stands to reason that the leading candidates are the ones who, by and large, will end up being elected after all the votes have been transferred, as the unsuccessful candidates are progressively eliminated. (Of course, candidates can, and do, come from behind, to snatch a seat.) But, the votes *must* be transferred for the system to work. If they’re not, then STV is reduced to an FPP variant known as SNTV – the single *non*-transferable vote (in multi-seat electoral areas), under which people would generally vote for candidates they think will win, rather than the ones they genuinely like, so as not to cast a vote that ends up being ineffective / wasted.

    So, STV is no lottery. The candidates elected are the ones the voters, collectively, genuinely wanted. Furthermore, in 19 of the 20 DHB elections, only 12.5% of all votes cast in each election will be ineffective in helping to elect at least one candidate. (The Southern DHB is divided into a 4-seat Otago constituency (20% ineffective) and a 3-seat Southland constituency (25% ineffective)).

    Contrast that with a multiple-FPP election. Take the Henderson-Massey Local Board election, for example. (That’s the one where those two ladies have changed their names, in the hope of obtaining an electoral advantage.)

    In that contest, 27 candidates are vying for *eight* places, and each voter has eight votes. A voter’s eighth preference has the same value (the value of unity) as that voter’s first preference. Some voters will use just one vote, others some votes, and some others will use all eight votes.

    The moment a voter casts a second and / or a third, and / or a fourth, etc., vote, that voter is voting against their most preferred candidate(s). Those later votes might well the ones that help *defeat* their most preferred candidate(s). (That cannot happen under STV.)

    In addition, it is very likely that over 70% of all votes cast in this election will not help to elect a single candidate – those votes being the majorities of the eight successful candidates plus the votes given for the 19 unsuccessful candidates.

    Under such appalling electoral conditions, the outcome of this election, and others like it, really *is* a lottery. The sooner the Auckland Council adopts STV, the better.

    Finally, I wish Cheryl Brown-Talamaivao and Anne Degia-Pala every success on 12 October. Their election to the board will hopefully be the catalyst for the names of the candidates in the 2016 elections in Auckland City to be randomised (NB. not pseudo-randomised).

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Todd,

    Further to my immediately preceding post, I thought I would back up the assertions I expressed there with some figures. I have now had a good look at the final results for the 8-seat Henderson-Massey Local Board and 7-seat Waitemata District Health Board elections. My comparison of these elections follows.

    (Warning: This post is far longer than I imagined would be necessary to present a meaningful comparison, but, as something like this has not been done before, it might nevertheless be of interest to those interested in electoral systems generally, and STV in particular.)

    In the Henderson-Massey board election, there were 72,461 electors, of whom 22,599 (31.19%) voted. Of those who voted, 197 cast an informal vote, and 653 left this issue blank, leaving 21,749 who cast valid votes.

    Those 21,749 voters cast a total of 146,582 votes for the 28 candidates, an average of 6.74 votes each. The eight successful candidates received a combined total of 60,449 votes (41.24%), and the 20 unsuccessful candidates received a combined total of 86,133 votes (58.76%).

    The highest polling successful candidate (Linda Cooper, who was elected to the governing body of the Auckland Council and who therefore cannot take up her seat on the board – section 88A(2) of the Local Electoral Act, via section 8(1) of the Local Government (Auckland Council) Act 2009) received 9,490 votes (6.47%), and the lowest polling successful candidate received 6,558 votes (4.47%). The highest polling unsuccessful candidate (the subsequently-elected Chris Cooper) received 6,450 votes (4.40%), closely followed by incumbent board member Tracy Kirkley, with 6,430 votes (4.39%).

    (Note: I am including Linda Cooper’s votes in this analysis, on the basis that those electors who gave her one of their votes, did so without knowing their vote would not count.)

    The combined majorities of the eight successful candidates (being the total of votes for each successful candidate, less 6,451 in each case) summed to a total of 8,841 votes (6.03%). Therefore, a total of 94,974 votes (64.79%) – 66.22% in 2010 – were ineffective in helping to elect any of the candidates.

    In addition, it will be noted that, as is very common with FPP elections (and multiple-FPP elections, such as this one, are no exception), the eight successful candidates were elected on considerably less than 50% of the total of votes cast; on just 41.24%, in fact (46.41% in 2010). (For the record, if the figures are adjusted to take account of the fact that Linda Cooper is treated as having vacated office as a member of the board, the eight candidates actually elected received 41.88% of the total of votes cast – 57,409 / 137,092.)

    So, not only do the people of the Henderson-Massey board area continue to be represented on their local board by members enjoying minority support, but they are also unequally represented.

    In this regard, the successful candidates received varying numbers of votes, ranging from 9,490 down to 6,558, a difference of 2,932. In addition, some electors will be represented by several members for whom they voted (who could well be in political opposition to each other), some by one or two, some by six, seven, or even all eight, and, of course, many will not be represented by a single candidate they voted for.

    This unstable state of affairs is brought about, of course, by electors having too many votes (each of equal value, the value of unity) and using them, to the tune of an average of 6.74 each. It is this random nature of multiple-FPP elections that will have contributed to Tracy Kirkley’s narrow defeat in the lottery that was this particular election.

    Compare all this with the election for the Waitemata DHB, conducted by single transferable voting (STV).

    In this election a total of 111,590 valid votes were cast for the 35 candidates. The initial quota for election, therefore, was 13,948.750000001 (111,590 / 8, plus one one-billionth of a vote), being 12.50% of the total of valid votes cast.

    The seven successful candidates received a combined total of 69,880 first preference votes (62.62%), and the 28 unsuccessful candidates received a combined total of 41,710 first preference votes (37.38%).

    (The figure of 62.62% is a little low, because of the large number of candidates – more than for any other DHB election this year. The corresponding figure in respect of the Capital & Coast DHB election, for example, where there was only 23 candidates, was 69.24%.)

    First preference votes received by the successful candidates, and for the runner-up candidate, were as follows—

    Max ABBOTT 14,990 (13.43%)
    Christine RANKIN 12,297 (11.02%)
    Pat BOOTH 11,976 (10.73%)
    Sandra CONEY 9,010 (8.07%)
    Warren FLAUNTY (elected 6th) 7,602 (6.81%)
    James LE FEVRE (elected 5th) 7,269 (6.51%)
    Allison ROE 6,736 (6.04%)

    John TAMIHERE (Runner-up) 6,201 (5.56%)

    The next three most popular candidates (on the basis of first preference votes received) were Mary-Anne BENSON-COOPER 3,587 (3.21%), Tracey ADAMS 3,472 (3.11% – 25th to be excluded), and Brian NEESON 3,414 (3.06% – 26th to be excluded).

    It will immediately be noted that, even before Abbot’s surplus of 1,041.25 votes is transferred, and then, subsequently, the votes of the lowest polling candidates, six of the seven successful candidates have already received a higher percentage of the votes cast than was received by Linda Cooper in the Henderson-Massey board election.

    It will also be noted that the seven candidates leading on the count of first preferences, were the seven candidates who were eventually elected (with one change of position), the reason for this being pointed out in my immediately preceding post.

    The surplus votes of the successively elected candidates, and the votes of the successively excluded candidates, were transferred to continuing (still hopeful) candidates in accordance with the preferences indicated on the relevant votes, through 45 more iterations, until the final outcome was produced.

    At the completion of the count, a total of 104,400.509359888 votes remained in the election, 7,189.490640112 having become non-transferable. The votes that had accumulated upon the seven successful candidates throughout the count amounted to 95,426.617111869 (91.40%). The remaining 8,973.892248019 votes (8.60%) had accumulated upon the runner-up candidate.

    The votes for the seven successful candidates at the final iteration all exceeded the final quota (13,050.063669987 – 104,400.509359888 / 8), which, of course, they must do. The votes, plus those for the runner-up candidate, were as follows—

    Max ABBOTT 13,445.249362985
    Christine RANKIN 13,659.674789627
    Pat BOOTH 13,596.379644577
    Sandra CONEY 13,744.199079694
    James LE FEVRE 13,740.341465062
    Warren FLAUNTY 13,663.635514684
    Allison ROE 13,577.137255240

    John TAMIHERE 8,973.892248019

    The final total of surplus votes, being the final votes of the seven successful candidates less the final quota, in each case, amounted to 4,076.171421960. As there was no point in transferring this surplus, because the seven winners had been found, it cannot be said that the surplus votes of each of the successful candidates were ineffective in helping to elect them.

    Hence, the percentage of *effective* votes in this election is the aforementioned 91.40 (rather than 87.50 (12.50 × 7)), compared to 35.21 in the Henderson-Massey board election (100 – 64.79). *Ineffective* votes were those that accumulated upon the runner-up candidate, amounting to 8.60%, compared to 64.79% in the H-M board election.

    In addition, the people in the Waitemata DHB area are *equally* represented on their DHB, because the successful candidates all received approximately an equal number of votes. Furthermore, the successful candidates are all of *equal* status, because they each attained the required (final) quota of votes.

    In my view, the superiority of STV over FPP is clearly demonstrated by the comparison I have made of these two elections.

    Finally, while the number of first preference votes received by each candidate is certainly a measure of their popularity, the more significant measure of each successful candidate’s popularity is their final keep value.

    Therefore, for the record, the final keep values for the successful candidates, and for the runner-up candidate, in descending order, are as follows—

    Max ABBOTT 0.710716544
    Pat BOOTH (elected 3rd) 0.737846231
    Christine RANKIN (elected 2nd) 0.751025633
    Sandra CONEY 0.860048524
    James LE FEVRE 0.927156656
    Warren FLAUNTY 1.000000000
    Allison ROE 1.000000000

    John TAMIHERE 1.000000000

    The final keep value for Warren Flaunty and Allison Roe, both of whom were elected at the final iteration, and for John Tamihere, the runner-up candidate, is 1.0 in each case, because their votes were not transferred.

    What these figures mean is that Max Abbott, for example, needed to keep only 71.07% of all the votes he received during the count, in order to be elected, whereas Warren Flaunty and Allison Roe needed to keep 100% of the votes they received.

    While Christine Rankin was elected second (at iteration 30) and Pat Booth was elected third (at iteration 32) (and indeed received 321 more first preference votes than he did), Booth ended up with a slightly lower final keep value, indicating that he had slightly broader support than her across the entire DHB area.

    Wellington • Since Jul 2013 • 125 posts Report Reply

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