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Yes, the outworkings of a multi-seat constituency single transferable vote system can be quite complex if you want to maximise your seat/vote ratio, but I am always amazed at the degree to which they are understood even by non-political people. The vote count itself can extend to over two days as the votes of eliminated candidates have t be re-counted to see who the next preferred candidate on a ballot is.

It also has a significant effect on political culture, as few candidates get elected on the strength of first preferences alone. All candidates and parties therefore seek to be as "transfer friendly" as possible and avoid insulting or sharp ideological exchanges with their opponents, as these tend to turn most voters off. This has an overall moderating effect on discourse and you don't get quite the extremes you get in some European countries.

N. Ireland is an interesting real world laboratory experiment in the effect of voting systems because Westminster Elections are still held on the basis of single seat, first past the post elections while the same constituency boundaries are used for 5 seat constituency NI Assembly elections (due next month). The first system tends to favour the big sectarian parties while the STV system enables the non-sectarian Alliance party and smaller parties like the Greens and socialists pick up the odd seat in more diverse constituencies - generally in later counts due to the transfer of lower preference votes.

It is getting to the stage where Alliance can challenge all the major parties and pick up seats even in Westminster elections, but it would never have been able to develop that electoral base without its success in local and Assembly elections. I will do a diary on it soon, but at the moment its still all to play for, with the odds being that Sinn Fein will displace the DUP as the largest party and become entitled to the First Minister role, a hugely significant symbolic blow to unionism, even if it means little in practice, as the First and Deputy first ministers can only act in concert.

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by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 05:41:30 PM EST
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They don't even need to do multi-seat. Australia has been using single-seat preferential voting (or "instant runoff voting" as the USians call it) for its House 120 years. It ensures both majority support for every winner, and simplicity.

(Of course, something proportional would be better, but for single offices, PV is about as good as you can get).

by IdiotSavant on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 10:34:35 PM EST
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I'd make a joke about New Yorkers and how ridiculous their instant runoff election appeared from afar last year, but it wasn't any more disastrous than their normal elections, I guess.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Mon Apr 4th, 2022 at 11:29:51 PM EST
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Only two states conduct a "runoff election" when either of two candidates for a state or federal office does not obtain a simple majority of votes counted in the first ballot, ie. ≥ 50%. The date of the runoff election is set by the state's electoral law, eg. Georgia Code Title 21. Elections § 21-2-501.

In the US "proportional representation" is informally expressed as a ratio, total population of a jurisdiction (city, county, state) divided by fixed number of legislative seats prescribed by a state's constitution. This formula prevails for federal representation, too. The principal effect of the decennial census population estimate requires states' legislators to revise electoral districts according to changes in federal apportionment produced by a multiplier value.

In the US, electoral systems are prescribed by local government to the extent allowed by a state's constitution and superceding electoral statutes. Thus, NYC can enact "ranked choice" (preference, or elimination, ballots) formula to elect officers within its jurisdiction, but election to NY state offices requires candidates' to obtain a simple plurality of votes to prevail (no runoff).

Where Ranked Choice Voting is Used as of April 2022

Political party by-laws and caucus candidate election systems are proprietary--beyond the pale of public law to the extent they to not ultimately prevent voters to  elect anyone (including "write-ins") qualified for general election, administered by a state's electoral functionaries.  

by Cat on Tue Apr 5th, 2022 at 03:04:29 AM EST
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The greatest democratic nation in the worrulld [not counting India etc] doesn't have a common definition of what democracy is. I find that disturbing, but I tend to take that stuff too seriously.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Tue Apr 5th, 2022 at 06:27:31 AM EST
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by Cat on Tue Apr 5th, 2022 at 05:07:37 PM EST
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