Creating a new poll on election methods

This blog entry is related to the poll:How to improve Canadian federal elections? (Comparative poll on Election Methods) (Total: 3 posts)

I'm thinking about creating a new poll, reserved to members, on election methods. There are a few existing polls on the topic, but they are badly phrased or do not correspond to what I am after right now.

The main characteristic of the poll would be that it is comparative to the methods currently used. The question would be: how much better (or worse) would the given EM be compared to the existing method.
Of course, this would necessitate to provide a very precise comparison point: either the 1 round US presidential election plurality method, or the 2 round French presidential election plurality method.
The poll would be Emocracy -5 ~ +5.

What do you think?


Another Poll

I am opposed to the idea. We already have too many dead-ends to deal with, and this would be another. It can't possibly have any value until there is a spirited discussion of election methods to support the poll.

We need to be able to conduct a thoughtful exchange on a single topic with greater ease, and we need to be able to bring others into the discussion without getting them lost in a sea of complexity.

Discussing "Practical Democracy"

As more and more users join the site, the range of topics being discussed will only grow. Each user has their own agenda, priorities and topics of interest.
Start discussion threads on topics that matter the most to you, and focus on those, checking your personal tracker page.


I would like a spitrited discussion before a vote

I do have some very firm positions on many voting systems. So, it is unlikely that I will change my opinion, but let's go. As for your example, I hope we are all basing our vote on the same things:

I understand that the one round U.S. presidential plurality method "elects" college seats, state by state. It's more than 50 elections when you throw in college seats given to DC and the territories. How would the college elect a president if there was a three way result with no majority? What if Ross Perot's 20 million votes had given him the balance of power in the 1992 electoral college split? Do they settle for plurality?

I have the impression that the French presidential 2nd round is only required when no candidate has a majority in the first round using plurality. No college. Then the top two candidates from the first round got at it for two weeks. Every voter may vote in round 1 and may vote again in round 2 with the winning candidate claiming to have won a majority.

Are these descriptions accurate enough, with all the questions answered, to vote on?

I forgot the Electoral College!

Oops, I forgot the major difference that the Electoral College makes. Thanks for the reminder. It's an additional factor that complicates things. You are right about the French system. There is no such College in France: the results of the popular vote is used. I forgot if De Gaulle ever got elected in the first round. Certainly no other president in the French 5th republic got elected outright, so there has always been a second round for the presidential elections.

The electoral college complicates things. Thus, I'd be tempted to use the French Presidential elections as a comparison point. It'd have the benefit that we'd be able to poll on "One round plurality voting" compared to the current "two rounds plurality voting", alongside other options like Approval, IRV, IRV+, Range, Practical Democracy, Emocracy, etc.

Would Canada or the UK offer better comparison points?

Important point: the poll is a means to focus the discussion. Members can always update their vote after they have cast their vote. Whichever ways the discussion goes, members are allowed and encouraged to change their mind. Each proposed option can be discussed separately.

I have created the poll page, but polling has not started:
Polls operate like wikis. You can edit the page.

Canada's problem

I just read a little more about the electoral college in America. The more I read, the less I like. Rules for appointment/election vary from state to state.

Canadians have a pseudo electoral college of 338 districts. A plurality elects each representatative of the people, each having an unwavering obligation to a party and its leader. After our federal election where all 338 seats are decided on the same day,the Governor General invites a Member of Parliament to become Prime Minister and form a government. Canadians do not elect their Prime Minister. The Governor General decides, usually going with the party obtaining the plurality in the Commons.

So, the only thing comparable is how canadians elect their Member of Parliament, one at a time.

More on the US Electoral college

Tags:+Electoral College +National Popular Vote Interstate Compact (NPVIC)

I just found (and updated) some old content related the the US Electoral college.

Check our wiki page, with links to different proposals:
In particular, you may be interested to read about the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact.

We also already have a poll on the topic:
What do you think on the US Electoral College?

Contradiction in Terms

Good Morning, ran_in_93.

I get the impression that you favor party-based political systems. Since I don't, we may be unalterably opposed in our perspectives. However, I am curious to know how you feel about this question. You wrote, "A plurality elects each representatative of the people, each having an unwavering obligation to a party and its leader."

Is that not a contradiction in terms?


Party politics in Canada?

Constitutionally, Canada does not have a party system. But in elections, our poiticians try so hard to make voters believe that we are voting for a party and it's leader. Our federal election looks like a presidential election. That's so very wrong.

I would prefer a consistent democratic model. Voters in districts should elect a Member of Parliament (MP). The MPs should elect the Prime Minister. I would like majority rule both times. I would like to put parties in their place, outside our parliament!

Parties serve an important role in large group politics. When MPs go to parliament with 5 years to get something done, We can't have 30 million ideas on what to do, not even 338. If a party proves widespread support for their plan, like running candidates almost everywhere ... then it's a plan worth considering. Canada had 4 parties doing that in 2015. But their candidate? A party hack? No thanks, the voters could send an Independent to do it better. When voters in a district strongly favor the agenda that wins, they will probably also have elected a representative willing to do it.

What's in this for a party? Everything if they win. They get what they apparently wanted, but no power. A non partisan parliament composed of representatives of the people will make the changes that are doable from an agenda chosen by the people. Parties are where people go to make common cause for political change, nothing else.

Canadian/U. S. political structures

I suspect our Constitutional arrangements with regard to political parties are similar. Nothing in the U. S. Constitution expresses or implies the need for political parties. They are an extra-Constitutional invention, devised to advance partisan interest.

In the U. S., political parties sponsor candidates for public office by providing the resources needed to conduct a campaign for election. As a condition of their sponsorship, they require that the candidates support the party, thus giving the party ultimate control of the elected officials. Is the situation in Canada different?

You mention that "We can't have 30 million ideas on what to do", and I agree. Academia praises party politics because of its ability to aggregate political power by organizing a subset of those 30 million ideas into a power base. Unfortunately for those seeking democratic government, this is where a bottom-up concept is turned into a top-down arrangment and democracy is vanquished.

You close by suggesting that "A non partisan parliament composed of representatives of the people will make the changes that are doable from an agenda chosen by the people." That is (in my opinion) the goal of democracy. I've outlined one possible method of creating a political system structured so that "Parties are where people go to make common cause for political change, nothing else." I believe that's a goal we share. The difficulty is in finding a mechanism that separates political parties from political power.

In most of Canada, parties don't run in municipal elections

At least, not on paper, it may very well be the same gangs supporting the same people but they don't advertize it.

As much as our politicians want to do it like Americans, they are still afraid of the people. The Samara pollsters, in 2011, estimated that less than 2% of Canadian voters are members of political parties. As a whole, we don't like political party politics. In 1993, one of Canada's two big parties got virtually wiped out, going from a majority of 180 seats down to 2. Similarly, in 2006, the other big party was devastated, falling from a majority to 34 seats in 2011. In both cases the rats left the sinking ship. Popular grassroots ideas came in through policy reform because most of the big boys had gone home. Then they won majorties and guess who came back in, from the top down?

In my perfect nation, with a separate nation wide vote on election platforms, local candidates will run as independents because a voter is not using the ballot on district representation to help a party win, or a leader or even an agenda. Supporters of parties would still want to know that at least one candidate likes their party's platform. The party would seek affiliation because a certain candidate looks good on them. It would turn the tables on affiliation. A strong candidate would accept affiliation at his/her own peril. Yes, it is a head start in an election campaign if the organization comes along with it. But the voters may not be too thrilled if the big strings are still attached. Affiliation needs to be a different deal.


The devastation of the second big party occured in 2011, ignore that other year.

In America, it looks like most chiefs of police and judges are elected by the ordinary voters. A lot of power at stake and a very good reason to party. Canadians don't do that. The Canadian process has elected municipal councils hiring police chiefs, and the provincial law societies hiring judges from their membership. Obviously there's politics going on. It does not seem to be an old boys club, or is it that we don't look too hard?

comparing election methods on national leadership

Americans elect people to the Electoral College, who then elect the President (the Head of State). In France, the people elect the top two choices, and then elect one of those two to be President (the head of state). In Canada, the Governor General (the official, but largely figurative head of state) chooses a Member of Parliament to be Prime Minister .

Do I prefer a system where the people elect people to decide for them, or let the people decide for themselves, or let an apponted person decide for them?

Maybe Ireland is worth a look.

Questions and Answers

Good Morning, ran_in_93

Your "perfect nation" might be an improvement on what we have in the U. S., but I'm not clear on how it would work. I think you mean that candidates would be self-selected, but I'm not sure that's what you have in mind. How will candidates, running as Independents, finance their campaigns? Would the public have to make their decisions about a candidate's character and attitudes based on the candidates' assertions or would they have a way to examine them?

You said, "In most of Canada, parties don't run in municipal elections". May I ask who decides who will be the candidates for municipal office? When you ran_in_93, did you just stand up and say, "I am a candidate for (some office)?" Were there other people who put your name forth?

If the former, did you speak to others in the community before you made the announcement to gauge the amount of support you would have?

If the latter, who were these people. Were they associated with each other and with you. For example, were you a teacher in the local high school and were your supporters other teachers who felt you would be a benefit to the community?

If this latter is the case, I hope we can discuss the mechanism because, in my opinion, the selection of candidates is, by far, the most important aspect of a democratic political system.

Did you fund your candidacy yourself? If not, how and where did you get the funds necessary to conduct a campaign?

An aside: Although I'm not familiar with Canada's political system, some years ago I read a little about the Citizens' Assembly on Electoral Reform in British Columbia. I remember my disappointment when, at the end of those proceedings, the assembly recommended a party-based electoral process. I had hoped they would be able to move past that.

You posed some interesting questions at the end of your post. My reactions to the options you offered are:

  1. I prefer a system where the people elect people to decide for them, provided the selection of the elected people is made by their peers.
  2. I oppose the idea of letting the people decide for themselves because the people's susceptibility to manipulation is well-known and easily demonstrated. Note: The susceptibility to manipulaton people show when acting in concert with others disappears when they act individually. The extreme example is the lynch-mob, but the same phenomenon is at the heart of marketing.
  3. I oppose the notion of letting an appointed person decide for me. Such people will advance the interest of those who appointed them rather than the interst of the people - of which I am one.

Thanks, ran_in_93. Your

Tags:+Representative democracy +Canada +Politics of Canada

Thanks, ran_in_93. Your summary is useful. I shows the variety of implementations of representative democracies.

I've been thinking about the question I asked you, regarding which country/election to use as a comparison point in our poll.
It bothered me to use a French election in an English-speaking web site (BTW, we have a French-speaking sister site at to share with French Canadians). Let's stick to an English speaking country represented by some members.

One way or the other, every country uses a form of Plurality voting, but scores of other factors come into the mix, which makes each country different.
So, because I do want a specific comparison point which will make the poll really interesting, I finally came to the conclusion that each country deserved its own poll. We won't create all of them right now, mind you! Why don't we start with Canada's main national election (Parliamentary elections in 338 districts, if I understand well) as a comparison point?

You'll see how minguo polls work: we can create discussion threads on each 'candidate' (i.e. election methods or other potential improvements). And if those same 'candidates' appear in another poll (e.g. a similar poll using the US presidential election as a comparison point), discussion on those will merge into the same discussion pool on the relevant topics. (Sorry if I sound confusing. You will see what I mean very soon, anyway.)

That should be interesting.


I have updated the poll, and added a few options so that we can start to concretely see what the poll is about.

How to improve Canadian federal elections? (Comparative poll on Election Methods)

I have tentatively added the first few options, and more will come.
Do you have any suggestions or comments on the current phrasing?
What would you change?

Poll activated

Apparently, there were no major objections, so I activated the poll.
The poll description still needs further improvement, though. I'll work on it when I have time.