Posts Tagged ‘voting’

Getting out of that funk.

November 3, 2009

Reposting from my blog about UBC Professor Michael Byers’ proposal for how to the NDP and Liberals could get our democracy out of the funk it’s in with a little creative thinking.


Don’t let them out of downtown without thinking about BC-STV

May 11, 2009

Hey there.  One more day to go.  Tomorrow is the big vote and we’ll see if the forces of reason win out over the forces of fear and lack of information (its a weak force 🙂 )

Take  a look at the events map, there are some people planning to cover skytrains in vancouver and maybe bridges too so that no one can get home tonight without having to think about BC-STV again, at least for a second.

If you haven’t already, take a look at this video from Christy Clark, former Deputy Premier of BC and current host on CKNW.  Be sure to rate it with five stars and leave a comment. This has drawn some attention and some people think it may be turning the tide in our favour.  We’ll see tomorrow night.

Star Trek: STV – Where no referendum has gone before #startrekstv

May 6, 2009

First of all a confession, without any shame, I am a Star Trek geek.  I don’t dress up as a Klingon or anything, but I like it a lot.  So in the next week there are two exciting things going on: 1) the biggest election of my lifetime (so far) with a real chance to begin the process of electoral reform in Canada on May 12 and 2) the Star Trek prequel movie is coming out which could lead to the rebirth of a healthy Star Trek storyline.

Are these two passions related in any way?  Not really, but that won’t stop me! Because it occurred to me the other day that the electoral system that a society chooses to use says a lot about what they value in democracy and it influences the way their society grows by giving different incentives to leaders.  So, the thought experiment for Star Trek fans is, which electoral systems would the civilizations in the Star Trek universe use?

I’m going to tell you what I think but first we need a few ground rules.  Lets assume every Star Trek civilization has some form of representative democracy that involve an election system of some kind.  We’ll try to limit ourselves to existing electoral systems in use around the world or plausible ones that could be created.  Here is a map of electoral systems in use around the world right now and the wikipedia page on electoral systems to give you an idea of what they are.

I’ll update the page as I think of more and you should feel free to add comments here on what I got wrong or right or what the races I missed would use.  You can also join the discussion on twitter with #startrekstv.

Note: to star trek pedants, I realize star trek STV sounds like I may be talking about the “movie” Star Trek V: the Final Frontier, but since I have decided to ignore the entire existence of that horrible film and there is no reason to talk about said film I didn’t think it would be too confusing.

The Electoral Systems of the Races of Star Trek

Klingons – FPTP – Clearly the Klingons would use a single member plurality system, or First-Past-The-Post (FPTP), which is used currently in Canada, US, Britain, India and a few other places.  FPTP is winner take all, you don’t need consensus, or a majority you just need to be the strongest one in the room and the last one standing.  Is it an honourable system?  Its simple and I suppose it seems honourable if honour is equivalent to strength for you rather than wisdom or fairness.  In addition to FPTP used on Earth of course, the Klingons would not just throw away all the votes for the losing candidates, they’d have the losing candidates killed, fair’s fair.

Romulans – Closed List MMP – The Romulans are a logical bunch, a trait they got from their Vulcan ancestors, and they actually do have a democracy in Star Trek with a Roman style senate.  However, they don’t seem too interested in grass roots movements or losing control of the central levers of power. So it seems like the Romulans would use a robust proportional system that placates the people but then rig it so that they have as much control over who wins as possible.  One way to do that is to use a list proportional system like Mixed Member Proportional but instead of openly published lists, which is what we normally do on Earth and is  a good idea, the Romulans would have closed, secret lists chosen by the party.  Of course, in addition to that, the ‘parties’ in the Romulan Senate are probably just fronts that pretend to hate each other to convince the electorate there is competition.

Vulcans – ??? – I’m still undecided on what the  Vulcans would use. Vulcans are very logical so perhaps they’d use the most reasonable and logical system, STV.  But they probably aren’t actually interested in fairness as much as balance so they may aim for something that is less combatative than a standard electoral system, something that requires a great deal of consensus or even a unanimous vote.  One idea is that they would use an electoral college system that always requires unanimous votes.  Once a local representative is chosen they go to the central legislature and analyse policies until unanimity is reached.  One thing I’m sure of is they would not allow campaign advertising which tends to play on emotions or a long campaign period.  The various candidates would list their policies in detail.  Then all citizens would have a week to study them and then choose, without discussion, the most logical candidates.

Ferengi – Pure Capitrocracy – The Ferengi are definetly not interested in fairness, voter choice or even the most logical choice.  They want to be lead by those with the best business acumen who can increase the profits of the empire the most.  So, every four years the government would be replaced by the CEOs of the most profitable corporations of the previous four years. Ministerial jobs such as Environment would be selected based on the leading corporations from different industries such as resources and mining.

Borg – Continuous, Online Forced Consensus Voting – Ok, the Borg are a little different, they really do vote I’m sure. Its a plurality system, sort of.  Once more than half the collective decides, “one drone one vote”, then all other drones who disagreed are reprogrammed to agree with the decision. So after the fact it is always a completely unanimous democracy, ‘perfect’ as the Borg would say.

Humans/Federation – STV – The Federation of United Planets is primarily interested in fairness, equality and hearing all voices.  Despite accusations of being a ‘Homo Sapiens only club’ they would want broad representation of the many varied viewpoints on each planet and across the federation.  So clearly they would want a largely proportional system that also has local representation.  Each planet would need to send multiple representatives so that they are not viewed through a single, oversimplying stereotype.  Decisions in the government would be made using a parliamentary system where a majority rules but the majority would need to be formed through consensus and coalitions between individual representatives from different worlds or multi-world parties if these formed.

Now, what do you think?  I left out a lot of civilizations and I’m sure you disagree with something in my analysis, let me know.

Should I rank all the candidates in BC-STV?

April 14, 2009

Under the proposed new electoral system for British Columbia, BC-STV, you rank candidates rather than choose a single winner.  You may rank as many or as few candidates as you wish but people often ask “Should I rank everyone or is it better to just rank a few or one?”

Read the rest of this entry »

Why BC-STV is the most important issue this election

April 2, 2009

In the upcoming election there are many important issues to consider as you decide who to vote for, but there is one issue that is more important for the long term than any other.  The choice British Columbians make in this election about their electoral system will ring through decades and change how your voice will be heard in all following elections.  But it seems that, so far, people don’t see this.

Read the rest of this entry »

Now is not the time for Apathy

March 26, 2009

Thanks to everyone who came out and helped organize the Referendum Of A Liftetime info session this afternoon in the Norm Theatre.  Thanks especially to all our speakers Stephen Owen, Jane Sterk and Craig Henschel as well as Dan Grice from the campaign.  In case you missed it I was livetweeting the whole event, you can find it by looking up #roal on twitter. Read the rest of this entry »

AMS election results: good news for BC-STV

February 5, 2009

There were many reasons to be optimistic about last night’s AMS election 2009 results:

1) Strong BC-STV supporters elected to key positions

UPDATE: It appears that Blake Frederick has been disqualified for ‘slating’ (collaborating too much with other candidates), which would make Alex president.  Details and commentary posted here.  There could be an appeal, so this may not be final.

We at Fair Vote UBC were happy to see that the two candidates we endorsed, Blake Frederick for AMS president and Tim Chu for VP External, were both elected in their respective races. It is crucial that in the coming months leading up the May 12 BC-STV referendum that we have a supportive AMS executive that will help raise awareness among the UBC community. Both Blake and Tim support an AMS endorsement of BC-STV, and we hope that the AMS will take a leading role in promoting BC-STV in the coming months.
Read the rest of this entry »

US election recap

November 15, 2008

Ten days after the US elections, the votes are still being counted in several states.  Preliminary estimates show a turnout of about 61.4% of eligible voters, the highest since 1968, which, combined with Canada’s historic low turnout in its recent federal election, means that for the first time in recent memory the US actually had higher voter turnout than Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

Voting about news about voting to support voting

October 27, 2008

Welcome VFM voters! If you are a UBC student and you are passionate about democracy (which I assume is why you are reading this blog) you should check out an interesting initiative Read the rest of this entry »