Saturday, March 10, 2018

What if every vote in Ontario counted this year?


If every vote in Ontario counted this year, what would that look like?

Rural and urban voters in every region of Ontario would have effective votes and fair representation in both government and opposition. That’s a basic principle of proportional representation.

For example, let’s see what would happen in Ontario’s new 124-MPP legislature, using the votes cast in 2014. I am using the mixed-member proportional system with open lists in ten regions with an average of 12 MPPs each (seven local MPPs, five regional MPPs).

Ontario-wide result
For the new 124 seats, with proportional representation I get Liberals 49, PCs 37, NDP 30, Green 8.

Did your vote count?
In 2014 many votes did not count, as the First-Past-The-Post system threw them in the trash.

In Toronto, Peel Region and Halton Region the 48% of voters who voted Liberal elected 91% of their MPPs (30 of those 33 MPPs).  Result: the Official Opposition PC caucus has no representative of those 370,000 diverse PC voters.  The 304,000 who voted NDP elected only three MPPs. The 54,000 Green voters might as well have stayed home.

But take the three regions (below) of southern Ontario surrounding the big four metropolitan areas, stretching from Pembroke to Windsor. In 2014 the 37% of those voters who voted Progressive Conservative elected 62% of the MPPs from those regions, so the 30% who voted Liberal elected only 21% of them, the 25% who voted NDP elected only 17% of them, and the 7% who voted Green elected no one.

The open-list MMP system: Every MPP represents actual voters and real communities
We’re not talking about a model with candidates appointed by central parties. We’re talking about the mixed member system designed by the Law Commission of Canada and endorsed by the Ontario NDP Convention in 2014, where every MPP represents actual voters and real communities. The majority of MPPs will be elected by local ridings as we do today, preserving the traditional link between voter and MPP. The other 39% are elected as regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party.

You have two votes. One is for your local MPP. The second helps elect regional MPPs, topping-up the numbers of MPPs from your local region so the total is proportional to the votes for each party. The ballot would look like this ballot that PEI voters chose a year ago.

Unlike the closed-list MMP model Ontario voters did not support in 2007, you can cast a personal vote for a candidate within the regional list. This is commonly called “open list.” All MPPs have faced the voters. No one is guaranteed a seat. The region is small enough that the regional MPPs are accountable.

How would regional MPs serve residents?

Competing MPPs:
You have a local MPP who will champion your community, and about five competing regional MPPs, normally including one whose views best reflect your values, someone you helped elect in your local district or local region.

Central West (Simcoe—Bruce—Wellington)
Voters electing nine MPPs from Central West Ontario would, instead of electing only two Liberals (Barrie’s Ann Hoggarth and Guelph’s Liz Sandals) and no New Democrats, have elected four local PC MPPs and two Liberals, along with a regional Liberal MPP (maybe long-time PR supporter Fred Larsen from Orillia), a New Democrat regional MPP (maybe Simcoe County's Doris Middleton or Guelph’s James Gordon), and a Green (no doubt party leader Mike Schreiner).

Central East (Kingston—Peterborough)
Voters electing nine MPPs from Central East Ontario would, instead of electing no New Democrats, have elected four local PC MPPs and three Liberal MPPs, along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Kingston’s Mary Rita Holland and Peterborough’s Sheila Wood).

Southwest (London—Windsor)
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Southwest Ontario would, instead of electing only one Liberal MPP and no Green, have elected two regional Liberal MPPs (maybe Windsor’s Teresa Piruzza and Huron school trustee Colleen Schenk) along with five New Democrat MPPs, four PCs, and a Green regional MPP (maybe London’s William Sorrell, Green shadow cabinet Labour critic).

Toronto
Voters electing 13 MPPs from Central Toronto-Scarborough would, instead of electing only one NDP member (Peter Tabuns) and no PCs, have elected seven local Liberal MPPs and one New Democrat, along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Michael Prue and Rosario Marchese or Jonah Schein), two Progressive Conservatives (maybe Justine Deluce and Prof. Liang Chen), and one Green (maybe Tim Grant, Green shadow cabinet critic for Transportation).

Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Toronto—Etobicoke-York would, instead of electing only one NDP member (Cheri DiNovo) and no PCs, have elected six local Liberal MPPs and one New Democrat, along with one New Democrat regional MPP (maybe Paul Ferreira or Tom Rakocevic), three Progressive Conservatives (maybe Doug Holyday, Robin Martin and Michael Ceci), and one Green (maybe Dr. Teresa Pun, Green shadow cabinet Health critic).

Peel—Halton
Voters electing 15 MPPs from Peel and Halton Regions would, instead of electing only one NDP member (Jagmeet Singh) and no PCs, have elected eight local Liberal MPPs and one New Democrat, along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Gugni Panaich and Kevin Troake), and four Progressive Conservatives (maybe Effie Triantafilopoulos, Ted Chudleigh, Jane McKenna and Jeff White).

York—Durham  
Voters electing 15 MPPs from York Region and Durham Region would, instead of electing three PCs and only one NDP member, have elected two more PCs (maybe Jane Twinney and Farid Wassef) along with two New Democrat regional MPPs (maybe Laura Bowman from East Gwillimbury and Whitby’s Ryan Kelly), three Progressive Conservatives (maybe Doug Holyday, Robin Martin and Michael Ceci), and one Green (maybe Peter Elgie or Stacey Leadbetter).

Central South (Hamilton—Waterloo—Niagara—Brantford)
Voters electing 16 MPPs from Central South Ontario would, instead of electing only three PC MPPs and no Green, have elected five MPPs from each major party and a Green regional MPP (maybe Kitchener’s Stacey Danckert, Green shadow cabinet Finance critic).

Ottawa—Cornwall
Voters electing ten MPPs from Central East Ontario would, instead of electing no New Democrat or Green, have elected four Liberal MPPs and four PC MPPs along with a New Democrat regional MPP (maybe Ottawa’s Jennifer McKenzie) and a Green regional MPP (maybe Andrew West, Green Shadow Cabinet Attorney General critic).

Northern Ontario
Voters electing 12 MPPs from Northern Ontario would, instead of electing only one PC MPP and no Green, have elected a regional PC MPP (maybe Timmins mayor Steve Black) along with five New Democrat MPPs, four Liberals, and a Green regional MPP (maybe North Bay’s Nicole Peltier, Green shadow cabinet critic for Consumer Services).

A projection
This projection assumes voters voted as they did in 2014. But, as Prof. Dennis Pilon says: "Now keep in mind that, when you change the voting system, you also change the incentives that affect the kinds of decisions that voters might make. For instance, we know that, when every vote counts, voters won't have to worry about splitting the vote, or casting a strategic vote. Thus, we should expect that support for different parties might change."
Technical Notes:
1. The calculation for any PR system has to choose a rounding method, to round fractions up and down. I have used the “largest remainder” calculation, which Germany used until recently, because it is the simplest and most transparent. In a 10-MLA region, if Party A deserves 3.2 MLAs, Party B deserves 3.1, Party C deserves 2.3, and Party D deserves 1.4, which party gets the tenth seat? Party D has a remainder of 0.4, the largest remainder. In a region where one party wins a bonus (“overhang”), I allocate the remaining seats among the remaining parties by the same calculation.

2. The purpose of the compensatory regional seats is to correct disproportional local results, not to provide a parallel system of getting elected. The Law Commission recommended that the right to nominate candidates for regional top-up seats should be limited to those parties which have candidates standing for election in at least one-third of the ridings within the top-up region. Jenkins recommended 50%. This prevents a possible distortion of the system by parties pretending to split into twin decoy parties for the regional seats, the trick which Berlusconi invented to sabotage Italy’s voting system.

Sunday, February 4, 2018

“Local” STV (“Local PR”)

I do not generally comment on electoral reform models for Ontario other than the Mixed Member Proportional system. Some people falsely call it the NDP model, but it has been used in Germany since 1949 (after being invented in the British Zone with the help of British political scientists). It was adopted by New Zealand in 1993, and Scotland and Wales in 1998. It was recommended for Canada by the Law Commission of Canada in 2004, just as the NDP also decided to propose it and for similar reasons.     

However, a group in Guelph has designed an STV model for Ontario with an unusual twist, that they call “Local PR” (also described here) although I would call it “Local STV.” STV is the system used in Ireland.

So here is a simulation on how it would have worked on the votes cast in the 2014 Ontario election.

(Feb. 11 note: I am about to update this blog post.)

This model groups ridings into regions of 4-7 ridings, like any STV model. But the present ridings continue as nomination districts: each party can nominate one candidate in each former riding. And the counting rules will prevent more than one candidate nominated in a nomination district (former riding) from being elected, so each nomination district will find one of its candidates elected. That’s the unique feature of this model.

All of the ballots in a region contain the same candidates, organized by riding (the columns) and party (the rows).

Regions:

I have divided Ontario into 19 regions which, on the 2014 total of 107 MPPs, each have an average of 5.63 MPPs. Although the rules call for regions of 4-7 ridings, Northwestern Ontario had only 3 ridings in 2014 although they will have four ridings in the 2018 election, so I have made it a separate region.

Province-wide outcome:

A fully proportional system would, on the votes cast in 2014, have elected 42 Liberal MPPs, 34 PCs, 26 New Democrats, and 5 Greens, rather than the actual outcome of 58 Liberal, 28 PCs and 21 New Democrats.

Because of the small regions, “Local PR” would have elected no Greens. I estimate the result would have been 47 Liberal MPPs, 33 PCs, and 27 New Democrats.

Regional MPPs or local MPPs?

In almost all of the 19 regions, voters for all three parties would have elected a representative. (No New Democrat in four-MPP Ottawa East-Cornwall, no PC in three-MPP Northwest Ontario.) Every vote counts, almost.

However, are these MPPs “regional MPPs?” Or do they claim to represent only the nomination district (riding) under whose name they were listed on the ballot?

Really, they are both at once, so they can claim to be local MPPs when it suits them, or regional MPPs when it suits them. They will need to hope “their” riding is not jealous of the time they spend across other ridings. Will they have offices in each riding? If that MPP is the only one representing his or her party in that region, they’re going to need offices across the region.

Local results and “wrong-winners”

Take the nine New Democrats who were defeated in 2014 but would have been elected in place of Liberals. In Toronto, Rosario Marchese would have been re-elected in Trinity—Spadina despite getting fewer votes in his riding than Liberal Han Dong. Critics of this model will say this is a “wrong-winner” outcome.

On the votes cast in 2014, Tom Rakocevic would have been elected in York West in place of Mario Sergio. Neethan Shan in Scarborough—Rouge River in place of Bas Balkissoon. In York Region, New Democrat Miles Krauter in Oak Ridges-Markham in place of Minister of Community and Social Services Helena Jaczek. In Brampton--Springdale, Gurpreet Dhillon in place of Status of Women Minister Harinder Malhi. In Halton, Nik Spohr in place of Minister of Education Indira Naidoo-Harris. In Ottawa Centre, Jennifer McKenzie in place of Attorney General Yasir Naqvi. In Kingston, Mary Rita Holland in place of Sophie Kiwala. In Barrie, David Bradbury in place of Ann Hoggarth.

Those Liberal star losses would not happen so much in MMP, where a strong candidate running in another party’s stronghold can be elected to a regional top-up seat.

Three current New Democrat MPPs would have lost instead of being elected: two in Northeast Ontario and one in Hamilton.

Counting the ballots:

As usual with STV, any candidate who has reached quota is elected. I will use the example of a six-MPP region, where “quota” is 14.29% of the votes cast in the region.

On the votes as cast in 2014, no MPP – not even France GĂ©linas, the NDP MPP for Nickel Belt who got 62.7% of the vote, the highest in Ontario – would reach quota on the first count. In a real election, no doubt Kathleen Wynne, for example, when running in the six-riding North York region with enough Liberal voters to elect 3.7 MPPs, would reach quota on the first count once every voter in the region could vote for her. 

(The original counting system proposed in "Local PR" is even more complicated than described below, which I will update shortly.) 

If a candidate is elected, no other candidate nominated in that riding can be elected, so those candidates are eliminated. Next, the elected candidate will often have more votes than the quota. His or her surplus votes are transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated (so that will be a candidate from a different nomination district). These transfers might put another candidate over quota, and again the surplus will be transferred. Finally, ballots for the candidates eliminated because a candidate from their nomination district has been elected will be transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated.

Once all candidates who have reached quota have been elected, the candidate in the region who has the fewest votes is eliminated, and those ballots are transferred to that voter’s next choice not yet eliminated. However, if that candidate is the only one nominated in that riding who remains in the count, that candidate will be elected even without having reached the quota for election. This would happen quite often on the votes cast in 2014. This elimination process continues until six MPPs have been elected from that region.

One important point about STV is that, on the final count, there will be seven candidates, six elected and the “final count loser.”

Note on Simulation:

For the purpose of this simulation, I used the over-simplified assumption that voters are 100% loyal to their party, so their ballots will transfer to another candidate of the same party. If all candidates from that party have either been elected or eliminated, I have no data on second choice parties in 2014, so I have used 2015 federal data.