Wednesday, April 18, 2012

My alternative election wish

As I have done for pretty much every election in my living memory, I am going to analyze the results of this provincial election in a different light. I envy the people of New Zealand, because as far as I am concerned they have one of the fairest, simplest, and most representative voting systems in the developed world.

Here is how it works.

The national parliament is divided into thirds. Two-thirds of the seats are constituency seats. One-third are called list seats. When a voter gets to the ballot box, the ballot would look something like this, using my riding as an example.

1. Choose your preferred candidate.
Forsyth, Alan-Wildrose
Laurin, Wanda-NDP
Oberle, Frank-PC
Tardif, Remi-Liberal

2. Choose your preferred party

You get two choices on each ballot. So, for example, in my riding, if I really liked, say, Mr. Oberle, the incumbent, because he is a hard-working, honest MLA, I could vote for him but still support the, say, NDP party. Just a hypothetical here.

Then, this is how the results work. They add up the votes for all the parties to arrive at a popular vote percentage. Using a mathematical method called the Saint-Lague formula, they allocate the number of seats each party is allotted as a percentage of the total seats in the Parliament. The formula just allows for equal allotments of seats and avoids rounding errors in favor of one party over another.

Now, in each constituent riding, whoever gets the most votes wins. So, let's say the PCs got 30 members elected in their constituencies but their popular vote allotted them 4o seats. They would now get 10 extra members elected into Parliament in the list seats. These would be taken from a prepublished and predetermined "list" posted by each party before the election.

Here is how I see this working in Alberta and how I have set it up to analyze the results after election day and come up with an "alternative" Legislature in Alberta.

I've taken each of the 87 ridings in Alberta and come up with an alternative alignment. It is rough and if it was ever done more strict criteria would be involved. I basically just took the 3 closest by geography. So let's say 3 Northwest Alberta ridings as an example. They would be lumped together, then split in 2. Those 2 ridings would be 2 constituent seats. The whole of the 2 ridings would be a list seat. So the people in each riding would have an MLA for themselves, and then 1 list MLA would oversee the larger area represented by the 2 ridings. The 2 constituent MLAs would be voted in as they are now. The list MLA could come from a predetermined list or they could look at the candidates for each party with the highest levels of popular support province-wide and give out the list seats remaining for each party in descending order of support gained.

So this is what I shall do. I will look at the results in each riding. Whichever 2 candidates get the highest percentage of popular vote in their ridings will be my "constituent" MLAs in those 2 ridings out of the 3 I lump together. The remaining candidates will go onto the list.

I'm interested to see how this method will realign the seat allotment in Alberta and also the MLA makeup in the Legislature. It is only a completely nerdy academic exercise on my part, but I hope to see a proportional representation system similar to that used in New Zealand adopted in Alberta some day, and, more hopefully, across Canada.

No comments: