Help me draft a Proportional Representation system for my home state.

Oh, I can do it myself, but I’d be interested in seeing others’ input.

Here’s the basic pitch:
A. Replace one chamber of a state legislature in the USA with a new body elected through Proportional Representation, which see.
A1. The system, unless and until someone shows me a functional way of doing proportional approval voting, should be a single-vote system, such as Single non-transferable vote (SNTV) , Single transferable vote (STV), or a Party Listsystem.

Now, the details I’m less certain of:

  1. I would like this to be structured with a single statewide pool & no internal multi-member districts.

I suppose I could be persuaded to split it into three districts (first major city & environs, second major city & environs, other) but then we get into arbitrary & somewhat silly lines. I was inclined to propose this as a way to avoid need for redistricting.

  1. My present inclination is toward an open-list system. Voters would pick a party & a candidate from that party; The party’s share would be determined by largest-remainder PR, the seats within the party by SNTV (or possibly approval voting).

SNTV is dependent on disciplined & a bit partisan voters, & perhaps a system that’s relatively foolproof would be better. Until this week, I was leaning toward SNTV almost for this reason, on the theory that a “simple” system which rewards intelligent political organization would appeal to the crafty. But I have to get it past the voters, & the fact that a party’s success is contingent on them knowing what they’re doing would somehow be a turnoff. I think foolproof is better.

I really believe that STV is the best & fairest system in the world, but perhaps it’s better for multi-member districts up to five seats? In any case, the people will whinge about a computer formula voting for them.

Closed-list in the general, with lists set in the primary election, is also on the table. But then we need another system (possibly also PR, probably SNTV or approval voting) to set the lists, so I’m not sure about that.

  1. I was leaning toward replacing the state senate (under 50 seats as it stands) rather than the lower chamber (over 150) in the interest of keeping bedsheet ballots small.

Anyone who misreads this as about the US Congress or as an advocacy of bloc voting is going to annoy me.

For any PR-related question, the website of FairVote is the place to start.

Approval voting scales to multiple member constituencies, so I’m not sure why it won’t work for you.

How big a link do you want between the elected and the electors?

Hmm… it seems you want no link at all. Just the Senate to be divided proportionately by the overall vote. Then Approval Voting won’t cope with so many. Well, it will, but it will be messy. You might as well go for the Party List system. But you’re going to exclude independent candidates. It will be a complete disaster.

For a state house elected by a PR system with the whole state voting as one electorate, you could look at the Legislative Council of New South Wales. It has 42 members, with 21 being elected every 4 years. No party has a majority there: currently it has 19 Labor members (supporting the government), 15 Liberal-National coalition members (supporting the opposition), 4 Green members, and 4 members from other parties.

One disadvantage is the large ballot papers – and the system does use paper ballots – but voters can choose to vote for a party list by marking just one box, rather than giving preferences to individual candidates, and about 90% of voters do vote for party lists.

Approval voting, while preferable to bloc voting, turns ugly in a multi-member district when one party has majority support. 51% of voters could assign 100% of three seats; not really proportional. I do think approval voting is a good idea for single-seat offices.

Three things on independent candidates:[ul][]Open-list allows a candidate to run as himself within a party.[]Those who don’t want their votes to go toward a major party can form their own “party”–or “associated candidate list,” a term I like because it allows someone to say he’s still a Democrat or a Republican as he may wish. Also, anatomy pun![*]Anyone who’s trying to succeed without other people in an association may not be getting that far anyway. If Team Jesse Venturoid can do well enough on its own, fine. But most won’t.[/ul]and Giles, thanks!

Quartz, your concerns have me thinking some kind of open-list may be the best way to go.

The biggest problem with PR is what you see in Italy or Israel -

The party puts forth a list. The more votes, the more members it gets elected. Sounds great, eh? NOT!

the problem is that now the impetus for the political hack is not to please his constituents, but to weasel his way up the list. You leave the job of persuading the electorate to the figurehead(s) who make good speaches. You just have to be higher than the magic number, based on the votes your party can attract.

So the members tend not to be people who care about the country, or even are trying to get whatever pork they can for their district, but instead they are looking to preserve the system and their own jobs. they are insider party hacks, the worst kind. If you ever had anything to do with student politics in college, they are the weasels who were more worried about the mechanics of student council and winning than actually providing services for students and actual “governing”. You just give them a better stage.

Odds are these “listies” stick close to the capital and spend all their time in party backrooms since this is what gets you ahead, not going out to campaign the grassroots. The people that have actual power today based on the fact that they have support in one locale or another - will have none in PR government. Imagine the congress run by the Dem and Rep backroom boys instead of someone who has to face the public…

Why do you think the countries actually run by PR are so ungovernanable? There’s fringe parties - the figurehead guys that get the votes for the listies, are usually nutbars who can persuade maybe 5% or 10% to vote for them. They are beholden to nobody else but that 5% and their hold is only as strong as how they satistfy that constituency who are too singleminded to believe in compromise; so they have no motivation to compromise and much motivation to be obstinate. A teabagger party, for example, would probably filibuster anything that increased government, taxes, powers, debt or whatever. Never mind that the banks needed saving - let the country sink… Never mind that people are dying - we won’t pay for their medical care…

Israel is more often than not is a stalemate situation for this reason, and Italy used to be worse before they changed half their reps (IIRC?) to constituency elections.

First past the post is bad, but most other systems are worse.

Countries like Germany, Ireland and New Zealand, for example?

And what makes the US governable when 41% of the Senate can block anything that it chooses to?

:dubious: In Italy, you can break off & form your own mini-party within a larger coalition. Seems like that’s a good alternative for those who would rather appeal to the voters than play insider games.

I live in a heavily one-party district. The party actives pick some hack, the rest of the party fall in line, & the dissenters are happily ignored.

I think a dual system might help. Keep districts for one chamber & use a PR system for the other. The PR chamber is impetus for those who are the political minority in their districts to vote; as it’s more responsive to turnout.