I read most of this paper Pietro co-authored on an interesting modfiication to party-based voting – which goes something like this:
- A voter is allowed to select multiple parties, that she feels can represent her, in her voting ballot .
- Ballots can still only be asigned to one party (one man one vote) – which leaves the question to which of the parties is a ballot to be asigned.
- One sample solution is to count which party has the most ballots and then assign those ballots to that party – and that process is repeated creating a hierarchy of parties from largest to smallest … ensuring a majoritarian party. Other solutions may involve other decisions makers such as a president.
I found it to be an interesting and had some thoughts as I went through it.
My first set of thoughts are regading the publication process of such an academic paper:
- Are there public repositories in which such papers are published? I found it here through a direct link that Pietro sent out … I don’t think I would have found it on my own on the site in which it was published. This was also why I downloaded it and included it in this post … I didn’t trust that the paper would be responsibly archived and cotinuously available on that site.
- Why is it published in a enclosed container (PDF) and not as open HTML resource that can be searched and indexed.
- Why is it not published in a way that by default invites comment and conversation. Would it not be better if I could have seen other people’s thoughts on this paper or if I could have left my own comments so that others could relate to them too?
- Would it not be better (for the human race) if there was a lay-version of such an article. There are parts of it where I obviously had to withdraw because of the mathematic notation and attitude. There are parts I understood but were tedius for me, probably because of academic writing standards and expecations. But if this knowledge is truly intended to benefit people why not make it accessible, by intentional design, to lay-people, to non-academic and non-mathematicians. It could be something as simple as a lay-version or something more elaborate which could enable toggling from lay-reading to professional-reading. There is an inherent default to this format which I believe alienates many other non-professional readers who may be interested and could benefit from it.
My thoughts on the subject matter of the article:
- I found the cancelation of clone parties to be a very interesting feedback mechanism. Imagine that two large parties that have a very similar agenda compete in this system of voting. If they have a similar agenda they may appeal to a similar constituency – people that will select both parties on their ballot. Given the default selection process (described above) the party with the slightly larger vote-count will receive the votes of both parties – in essence integrating the political power and cancelling the weaker (however slightly) of the two parties. This is a powerful societal feedback mechanism giving priority to actual political agenda instead of personal political power.
- I wondered what would be the effect of an added veto vote on the ballot – this would allow every voter to indicate “anything but that party” … for example, allowing left wing voters to cancel out extreme right wing votes. Vetoes would be enacted before assigning ballots to parties. A veto is a sacrificial mechanism – because when a veto is applied the pro-votes on the ballot are also lost.
- Finally I also question the assumption that a voter is able to make a good decision by choosing a party … let alone choosing numerous parties … I don’t feel that is a substantial choice. I doubt that most voters are informed enouch to make such a choice. I would guess that most voters either choose a specific person (or people) or a specific agenda / subject with which they resonate in a party. What if such a voting mechanism allowed voting not for just a party but to assign social-domains to political parties. For example: each of the following social domains: economics, education, culture, defence … would give me a vote. I could then assign each domain to a political party I feel is best equipped to handle it. This may create more involved voting (requiring also more refined campagining) and may also inform the actual government that is created. Again making the choice of ministers more professional and less political / personal. I don’t know what the ballot assigning algorithm would be in this case.