Moving to

I'm moving to Mostly.

I plan to use that site as a "self-marketing website" of sorts and to manage content in a way that I would otherwise not be able to do on blogger alone.

This blog will stay, ostensibly for more provisional ideas prior to refinement. I'll be gradually moving content (I still like) over to the other website. =)

Sunday, May 8, 2011

Election Aftermath in Punggol East: Plurality vs Approval Voting

The aftermath of the General Elections in Punggol East is sad, especially for SDA's Desmond Lim who garnered only 4.45% of the valid votes in a 3-cornered fight and will lose his $16,000 election deposit.

Our electoral system, with the electoral deposit in place, is broken. The intent of the deposit is to prevent frivolous nominations for the ballot by demanding some level of assurance that the voters think of the candidate in question as a viable representative of their interests in Parliament.

Even in one-on-one straight contests, this intent is subverted. It is possible that both candidates are thought of as viable candidates by, say 40% of the voters, but one candidates has more people who thinks of him/her as a possible representative. There can be voters who think of both candidates are possible representatives. Say the approval ratings stand at 80% - 60%, and in some extreme case the results of a plurality vote turn out to be 90% - 10% of the valid vote. The 10% candidate loses his/her deposit needlessly.

I have previously written about approval voting and feel that it is the right voting system for gauging the mandate of the people. The results of an election are directly translated into a mandate: a candidates percentage of valid approval votes is exactly the number of voters who approve of him/her as a representative. If a voter thinks a candidate is a possible representative, that's a +1 for a candidate's/group's mandate, nevermind that that same voter also approves of another candidate/group.

Politically, this has implications. In a non-polarized Singapore, this will lead to the ruling PAP winning more seats as their candidate will be seen as "viable" by more people, while their base will staunchly disapprove of the opposition.

From an (behavioral) economics standpoint, in a polarized nation, the modeling assumption of internal perceptions being approve/disapprove are greatly weakened/broken by the clear favoritism that hardcore party supporters have. Even if they would approve of the candidates of the opposite camp, the huge favoritism would lead them to lie about their preferences on the ballot slip. This is because the assumption is "no favorites, only approval-disapproval".

Perhaps with a more mature electorate with less polarization, this better form of voting will be feasible.

No comments: