Re: Voting system for elections

From: Ian Jackson <ijackson(at)chiark(dot)greenend(dot)org(dot)uk>
To: Peter Eisentraut <peter(at)eisentraut(dot)org>
Cc: spi-general(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: Voting system for elections
Date: 2016-08-16 15:28:04
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Peter Eisentraut writes ("Re: Voting system for elections"):
> On 7/18/16 9:29 AM, Ian Jackson wrote:
> > As has been discussed here many times previously, Condorcet is a bad
> > system for multi-seat elections. Rather than electing a board whose
> > composition reflects, proportionately, the views of the electorate,
> > the majoritarian or consensus candidates (as applicable) will sweep
> > the board.
> I have a concern about this:
> If, for example, there were an issue that sharply divides the SPI
> membership say 66% to 33%, an STV election would elect 6 board members
> in favor of A and 3 in favor of B, whereas a Condorcet election might
> elect 9 in favor of A. The problem with the STV board would be that
> they would constantly disagree with each other instead of getting work done.

And, once again I feel the need to repost an article I posted to

From: Ian Jackson <ijackson(at)chiark(dot)greenend(dot)org(dot)uk>
Cc: spi-private(at)lists(dot)spi-inc(dot)org
Subject: Re: [Spi-private] Vote form concerns
Date: Thu, 4 Aug 2016 15:54:40 +0100

Anthony Towns writes ("Re: [Spi-private] Vote form concerns"):
> On Thu, Jul 21, 2016 at 04:14:45PM +0100, Ian Jackson wrote:
> [on adopting STV rather than repeated Condorcet]
> > Hopefully in SPI we won't get into some kind of ideological split.
> > But suppose we did.
> [ if it happened, would it be better to to have an ideologically
> divided board, or to have a homogenous board, and let the dissenters
> split off into a different organisation? ]
[ (quote reworded to redact -iwj 16.8.16) ]

The situation I described was an example, with a deliberately
exaggerated political difference. But the same problem applies in any
election, even if there is no big irreconcilable ideological
difference. It's just more subtle.

In SPI the most obvious "clumping" of candidates and voters is whether
they are primarily associated with Debian. We have made good progress
in making SPI more diverse in that sense. But because our voting
system exaggerates the influence of any majority, it exaggerates the
influence of those of our contributing members who are familiar with,
and support, the board candidates with a Debian background.

And, in direct answer to your question: in the absence of difficult
ideological problems, a homogenous board is *much* less desirable.
It is an established principle of good governance that diversity, on a
governing body, is a good idea.

If the minority's ideas are wrongheaded, then presumably they won't be
able to carry the board with them. But a minority often has a useful
different perspective.

(As an aside, I think there is nothing wrong with voters preferring
candidates that they are familiar with. An important part of being a
good candidate for the SPI board is to have a good reputation,
particularly in one's "origin" project(s). That does not mean that
board members from different backgrounds cannot work together. On the
contrary I think we have demonstrated that largely they can.)

[ irrelevancies from -private deleted -iwj 16.8.16 ]


Ian Jackson <ijackson(at)chiark(dot)greenend(dot)org(dot)uk> These opinions are my own.

If I emailed you from an address or, that is
a private address which bypasses my fierce spamfilter.


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