Proportional Representation

Voting Systems

There are several methods of voting. Each system can produce a different winner. Voting experts group electoral systems into three general categories. They are proportional representation voting systems, mixed member voting systems and plurality voting systems. Follow My Vote plans to implement all methods of voting in our verifiable voting software. These features will be added in order as we listen to our customers and gauge popular demand.

Proportional Representation Voting Systems

A proportion representation system is a multiple winner method and works by making sure each winning option represents approximately the same amount of voters. This is accomplished by using a quota. The quota is the number that reflects the representation of the voters. For example if the quota is 500 voters, each candidate represents the opinions of 500 voters. If the total voting population was 2000, there would be 4 winners.  The margin of error can be calculated using the Gallagher index.

The basic idea of a proportional representation voting system is that a higher quantity and quality of ideas will be produced due to a reasonable number of groups or parties competing.

Proportional Representation Voting Systems

Pros and Cons

Pros

  • With more than two parties, voters experience more choice options. There is a higher likelihood of having ones beliefs or convictions represented.
  • A majority for any one party is less probable due to the high number of parties represented.
  • Unlike a majority type vote, the borders of the constituencies are not as important or relevant to the election. This also leads to disincentivizing border manipulation, which is seen in majority elections.

Cons

  • Small parties have the potential to abuse their position to get support for special interest.
  • With multiple small parties comes the risk of lacking consensus and widespread disagreement. If disagreement prevails there may be a threat to political stability.
  • In some cases with proportional elections parties decide who will represent them. If this is the case, the leader chosen might not be the most representative due to bureaucracy and party hierarchy.

Types of Proportional Representative Systems 

Party List Proportional Representation

The majority of proportional representation voting systems use the party list voting method.  This method dictates that voters vote for parties instead of individual candidates. Based on the quota discussed previously,  when a party receives a quota of votes, the party wins a placement of representation on the council or legislature. There can be different ways to set a quota and round off the remainder of votes to match the number of representative positions.

Party list proportional representation must also be classified as an open or closed list. Open list systems let voters choose the candidates that represent the party. A closed list system limits the candidate selection to the decision of the party.

Single Transferable Vote (STV)

The single transferable vote representation system works by allowing voters to rank their favorite candidates in order. STV systems do not need political parties and works similarly to instant runoff voting systems. Votes from eliminated candidates and candidates who already have a quota met are transferred to the next candidate on the individual voter’s ranked choice list. STV systems can be considered a muli-member version of instant runoff. Watch the following video for an example of how and why single transferable voting would be desired.