APR: Steve's 18th dialogue with Richard Fobes
Richard (and everyone),
my travels have prevented me from responding earlier.
thank you for your answers. In addition to initiating this 18th
dialogue between us, I have also added a copy of our 17th
dialogue to refresh my memory. I look forward to your response this
(Also, I would be happy to email my most recent description of how APR works to anyone who requests it,)
as a result of reading your book ("Ending The Hidden
Unfairness…”), I think I do understand how both VoteFair
popularity and representation rankings could work. Again, I agree
that VoteFair popularity ranking offers the best way to elect the
president, a governor, or a major. However, I still see it as
offering less proportionality and representativeness than APR for
electing a legislative assembly. In fact, you seem to acknowledge
this APR advantage below:
explicitly say that you do not “dispute” the fact that “these
VoteFair-based linkages between a specific ballot and a specific
representative are not as obvious as … in your APR method”.
do not dispute your claim that your APR method has the advantage that
a voter can directly associate their vote with a particular elected
representative's voting influence. …
from these important relative weaknesses of VoteFair when compared to
APR for electing an assembly, I see VoteFair's greater mathematical
complexity, its remaining arbitrariness in determining its electoral
districts, and its still wasting some votes (for example by its
offering a more limited choice of candidates for electors) as seeming
to make it less likely (and less worthy than APR) to replace the
existing system in California. More Californians would understand
against this APR advantage you again claim that it is more vulnerable
to money corruption. Several times before you have suggested that
APR would be more vulnerable in this regard but I still have not seen
your exact reasons for believing this. Please try again to specify
the nature of the exta volnurability you see APR having in this
why do you seem to reject the case for believing that APR would be
less vulnerable in this regard as recalled by the last paragraph in
the following case for APR’s primary and associations:
Finding Common Ground and Forming a Working Majority Coalition
regard to finding common ground and forming a working majority in the
assembly with ideologically different congresspersons, paradoxically,
the advantage that each APR member of the House is likely to have is
that he knows that he has been elected by citizens who expect and
trust him to work and vote to promote their common scale of values.
As elaborated below, this ideological bond between each citizen and
her rep would seem more likely to provide the kind congresspersons to
engage in the kind of productive debates and negotiations in the
House to form a majority coalition to help solve the real problems
facing the country.
advantage is enhanced during APR’s general election when each
citizen guarantees that her vote will be added to the ‘weighted
vote’ in the legislative assembly of her most favoured
representative (or the one most favoured by her first choice but
eliminated candidate). It should also be understood that a
foundation for the growth of this qualitative advantage would have
been provided earlier by the way APR recruits its candidates.
APR’s primary election discovers the voluntary organizations in the
country that are most trusted by its citizens. It then helps
politically to energizes these organizations by recognizing them as
the official electoral ‘associations’ through which each citizen
will later elect their own congressperson. This recognition, in
turn, should stimulate more attractive candidates to seek to
represent both one of these associations and the citizens with whom
they have an ideological bond. In contrast to other electoral
systems, APR’s later election of the most favoured of these better
candidates would seem also to combine to raise the average quality of
representation in the assembly even further, both from the points of
view of citizens and associations.
growth of these closer bonds between citizens and their
representatives would seem to be assisted by another element of the
“bottom-up” primary election itself. It asks citizens to start
to familiarize themselves with the existing members, officials, and
other potential candidates of their preferred organizations months
before each voter has to finalize her ranking of candidates during
the general election. If so, the average breadth and depth of
knowledge so acquired by voters in order to rank individual
candidates would also seem likely to be greater than is generally
acquired by citizens using other electoral systems.
average closer bond between each citizen using APR and her rep would
also seem to grow partly as a result of the time between APR’s two
elections. These months would allow each association, its candidates
and its registered voters to coordinate their thinking and planning
about how best to run their common campaign in the coming general
an APR congressperson would be more clearly expected to work and vote
to promote the scale of values he shares with his largely homogeneous
electorate, he would seem to be both more able and likely to
negotiate solutions to common problems together with fellow but
ideologically different congresspersons. This is because each APR
rep would probably enjoy more trust from his electorate.
Consequently, each member’s explanation of why he and his
electorate should support a given compromise solution to a common
problem is more likely to be accepted by this electorate. While no
one may see the compromise as being perfect, each congressperson and
his electorate is more likely to accept that it at least provides net
benefits for each ideologically different sponsor and his electorate.
A trusting voter is more likely to believe her own congressperson’s
claim that a given compromise is necessary.
closer bond between each rep and his electorate would also seem to
make each congressperson’s work in the assembly more focused and
known to be backed by his association and his electors. This greater
clarity and focus would seem to help each APR congressperson to
present the strongest possible case for his legislative proposals to
the other members of the House. Consequently, an assembly composed
of such able, different, well informed, clashing, and focused reps
would seem to provide an optimal debating and negotiating chamber for
the production of creative and evidence based solutions to common
problems. The wisdom of any decisions resulting from this
deliberative process is also likely to be aided by the simple fact
that it would take place in an assembly whose composition most
accurately reflects the real variety and intensity of the concerns of
extra ability with which APR reps would seem to be able to negotiate
compromises, would also seem to make it more likely that APR
congresspersons would respond to the imperative to form a working
majority in the assembly. Without such a majority coalition, any wise
legislative solutions to problems that such rational deliberations
might have discovered could not be passed into law. Each APR rep is
more likely to see that if he is not a part of the majority that will
shape the assembly’s binding decisions, his own agenda, and that of
his electorate, will not be advanced.
a parliamentary system, the formation of such a coalition also has
the advantage that the assembly can ensure that the government (the
executive organ of the state) will be led by a chief executive (prime
minister) who can be most trusted to apply the laws as expected by
summary, it is because APR is more likely to produce, on average, a
closer ideological fit between each citizen and her congressperson
that APR is more likely to help solve the real problems facing the
country. They are more likely to do this because of the greater
expectation on the part of their different electorates that progress
must actually be made with respect to the goals of each of the
ideological different electorates who elected them. To do this,
compromises must be made and a working majority coalition formed.
The likelihood of this happening contrasts with the gridlock that is
frequently produced by the more defuse, vague, and often conflicting
agendas held by the congresspersons and their electors using existing
primary elections and associations should also help to reduce the
sometimes anti-democratic power of great wealth, celebrity, and the
mass media. I see this as likely given the extent to which APR’s
‘associations’ would emerge from previously existing voluntary
organizations in society. These associations could benefit from the
loyalties among the population such organizations had enjoyed prior
to them being recognized as 'associations'. Presumably, many of
these organizations would already of have some communication and
mobilization resources that are entirely independent of celebrity,
the richest sections of society, and the mass media. Thus, the
adoption of APR would probably help to reduce the relative power of
these sometimes anti-democratic forces in determining how people and
their representatives vote. APR’s official political recognition of
these voluntary organizations would seem to assist many citizens more
firmly, securely, and independently to see that their own abiding
interests are best promoted and protected through the associational
and representational connections validated by APR.
do you think?
Date: Mon, 13 Apr 2015 22:48:18 -0700
ElectionMethods <at> VoteFair.org
election-methods <at> lists.electorama.com
stevebosworth <at> hotmail.com
> Subject: Re: 17) APR: Steve's 17th
dialogue with Richard Fobes
> On 4/8/2015 1:20 AM, steve
> > ...
S: >>2) ... unlike APR,
VoteFair ranking cannot allow each
> > elector to guarantee
that her one vote will continue to count in the
> > assembly
through the elected candidate (i.e. rep) she ranked most
> > 3) Also, unlike APR, VoteFair rankings
cannot allow each of its reps to
> > have a weighted vote in
the assembly exactly equal to the number of
> > electors
throughout California who had similarly ranked him most highly.
> Actually VoteFair ranking can achieve the equivalent of these
> assuming, as you do, that highly proportional
results are very important
> and the issue of how voting is
done in the legislature is ignored. …
S: Do you accept that the
“equivalences” which you claim would not offer either of these
two advantages as completely as APR would?
At the same time, I do not “ignore” your improved method by which
legislatures could vote. In fact, in an earlier dialogue, I agreed
that your VoteFair Negotiation Tool would offer a very efficient way
by which each proposed assembly decision could be finally formulated.
Each such formulation should then be either accept or rejected by a
majority vote in the assembly. An APR assembly should use your Tool
in this way.
To see how, let's get specific:
> Currently the California
State Assembly (the "lower house") has 80
representatives (legislators), and each representative is elected
> one of 80 districts. (A map of the districts is at:
> If VoteFair Ranking were used to
elect these state representatives in a
> way that produces
proportional results, the district boundaries would be
changed to form (say) 32 districts. …
Yes, this offers an improvement on the existing system. However, in
contrast to the way APR’s primary would allow citizen’s exactly
to determine the “electoral associations” (e.g. districts)
through which each wants to vote later for candidates, your
suggestion would both be less comprehensive and require more
arbitrary decisions to be made (e.g. perhaps some gerrymandered
…Each of these districts would use VoteFair representation ranking
to elect two representatives.
* Two years before the current election, each voter will have ranked
> the (qualified) political parties. …
Please consider that this would be more comprehensively achieved by
… The most popular of these candidates who are from the correct
political parties are elected to fill the 16 statewide seats. This
method would elect members of the California legislature in a way
that ensures proportional results.
However, this “proportionality” is not as exact as APR’s.
Again, you seem to accept this by saying below, that “the weight of
each legislator's vote” only “approximately” matches “the
number of people who elected that legislator”. Do you agree?
What you are overlooking is that each legislator elected this way
represents the same number of voters. It is not necessary for the
representatives to have different voting weights and represent
different numbers of voters.
Please explain how you calculate that “each legislator” would
“represent the same number of voters”. It seems to me that
number of voters in each of your 32 districts would be at least
number of voters who have preferred the 2nd elected rep in a given
district will probably have received fewer preferences than the 1st
elected rep; and
voters may not see either rep as representing them.
this not the case?
R: As for the linkage, let's consider an
example. A voter in a very
> "conservative" district
who is a lesbian can rank as her first choice a
party hypothetically named the Stay-Out-Of-My-Personal-Life --
SOOMPL -- party. Her vote will directly translate into electing the
> proportional number of candidates from that political party.
> Specifically, if 10 percent of the voters rank the SOOMPL
party as their
> first choice, then about 8 of the elected
representatives (which is 10
> percent) will be from that
But unlike APR, her candidate rankings will not help to determine
which 8 from that party will be elected. Also, by say “about 8”,
again, you seem correctly to accept that this proportionality would
not be as exact as that offered by APR?
Unlike in your APR method, she will not know which representative she
"elected," yet collectively the 8 representatives will know
that they represent that specific 10 percent of the voters. …
So this is good, but not as good as APR. Do you agree?
Now let's consider the two winning candidates from each district.
> current conditions most districts would elect one
Republican and one
> Democrat. If a district is split into 60
percent Republicans and 40
> percent Democrats, the Republican
winner represents the Republican
> voters, and the Democratic
winner represents the Democratic voters. …
Yes, and this means that each voter in the 60% has a smaller share
in the Republican’s one vote in the assembly, i.e. as contrasted
with the larger share in the Democrat’s one vote held by each voter
in the 40%. Unlike APR, this is not one-person-one-vote and it again
illustrates the above point that your different VoteFair reps will
represent different numbers of voters even though each rep will have
only one vote in the assembly.
… Other districts would probably have the opposite bias, so the
> errors" would tend to cancel out.
Importantly, the overall balance of elected Republicans and elected
Democrats would be very close to the statewide balance, because these
numbers are adjusted to be as proportional as possible ….
Of course, this would be our hope but it might or might not work out
in that way, i.e. we should say “might” rather than “probably”.
APR’s exact proportionality and representativeness does not depend
… within the limitations of holding district-based elections --
which is an essential part of U.S. culture.
Please remember than APR will elect reps from every geographically
defined “electoral association”, as well as any sufficiently
popular non-geographically defined “associations”.
by saying that “holding district-based elections” is an
“essential part of U.S. culture”, are you claiming that U.S.
culture could not allow any reps to be elected from
non-geographically defined associations? APR’s primaries would
test this belief. If they are essential in this sense, this would be
confirmed. At the same time, these primaries would allow each
citizen whose political identity is not defined mainly by her
geographical residence also to be more efficiently represented.
The biggest unfairness gap is if one party or the other wins "too
> of the district-based seats. Yet the other party
would then get the
> advantage over tiny political parties,
such that tiny parties might not
> win any seats.
What do you mean by “too many”? Appropriately, APR guarantees
that each sufficiently popular association (e.g. party) will elect a
number of reps with weighted votes exactly equal to the number of
citizens who elected them. Is not this ideal from a democratic point
If you want to claim that these VoteFair-based linkages between a
specific ballot and a specific representative are not as obvious as
> linkage in your APR method, then I would not dispute
that claim. Yet
> mathematics can identify the linkages.
So, regarding the "wasted votes" concept that you like to
refer to (with
> various wordings), both VoteFair ranking and
your APR method have
> similar percentages of "wasted
votes" -- as I indicated earlier.
> You ask how I
arrived at those percentages. A rigorous measurement
require running lots of election scenarios through appropriately
written software, and we don't have that. Instead I estimated
> Could my estimates be incorrect? Of course. As I
said, they are
I can see how Vote-Fair methods could easily waste some votes, and,
yes, perhaps we currently can only estimate the probably of these
percentages. However, as yet I cannot see how any vote could be
wasted using APR except by any citizens who does not participate at
all, or perhaps by each citizen whose ranked candidates all fail to
be elected when she has also not allowed her first choice candidate
but eliminated candidate to transfer her one vote to the weighted
vote of the rep most trusted by that candidate. This is why I say
that APR would allow each Californian to guarantee that her vote will
not be wasted, e.g. that it will be added to the weighted vote of the
most trusted rep (among the 80).
R: I will argue that when VoteFair ranking is used, money cannot
be used to
> promote -- in an effective way -- a voter to
choose a candidate or party
> in a way that does not also
undermine the voter's real preferences. …
S: The same claim
should be made for APR.
This advantage is significant because all other voting methods that I
know of -- including your APR method, and including STV (the
single-transferable vote) -- are vulnerable to money-backed tactics
that take advantage of counting weaknesses.
S: Please explain the
“counting weakness” you see in APR in this regard.