Single Transferable Assigned Representative (STAR) voting (early version of PLACE)
NOTE: this election method has been refined and renamed; see PLACE FAQ for current version.
This is a method designed to replace first past the post (FPTP; that is, single-member district plurality). As explained below, it gets the considerable advantages of proportional representation without giving up any of the convenience of FPTP. The method works as follows:
- Candidates declare preferences
- That is, each declares which other candidates they prefer. Tied preferences are allowed. Party-affiliated candidates must put most candidates from their party into their top two preference levels, and cannot put non-party candidates at those levels.
- Voters choose one candidate. Each vote is converted into a preference order.
- The ballot explicitly lists candidates running in the same district, but allows write-ins of candidates from other districts. Voters may also vote by party if they like a party but not the local party candidate.
- When you choose a candidate, their predeclared preferences will be used to transfer your vote if needed (if they are eliminated, or if they still have leftover votes after being elected).
- Find the winners using a modified STV (Single Transferrable Voting)
- Before STV begins, candidates with less than 25% of an average district's vote are eliminated, unless they are among the top two candidates in their district. This prevents weak candidates from winning purely based on vote transfers, and ensures that even candidates in strongly partisan districts are accountable to the voters.
- STV works by setting a quota so that the total votes make up one quota per seat and one quota of possible wasted votes. As soon as any candidate gets a quota of votes, they are elected, and any leftover votes beyond a quota are transferred to the next preference of the voter's original choice. Until all the seats are filled, unelected candidates are eliminated one by one, in order of fewest direct votes. When a candidate is eliminated, their votes are transferred. Transferred votes go to make up a quota, but do not change elimination order.
- The winning candidates each get a territory
- Territories are one or more districts assigned by their party, so that each voter is in the territory of one representative per winning party, and each representative has about one quota of voters from their party.
The advantages of this method are as follows. First, the advantages common to all proportional representation systems:
- Equality: gerrymandering is impossible, and each party gets its fair share of seats.
- Visibility: Almost all voters are truly represented; even if you are a minority in your district, your vote helps elect a candidate of your favored party, and you have a sympathetic representative whose job is to listen to you.
This method also keeps all the strong points of the current voting system. (The current system is horrible in general, but it still has its strong points.)
- Simplicity: you just choose one candidate, and the ballot is short.
- Accountability: voters, not parties, choose who is elected.
- Unity: discourages splinter parties, because candidates without a strong local base of support are eliminated up-front.