STV lifts female representation: research

The city’s single transferable vote voting system increases the number of female councillors, boosts competition, and provides a guarantee the mayor elected has a majority mandate to govern, a Dunedin academic says.

Dunedin city councillors will today vote on whether to change from the single transferable vote (STV) system, used since 2004, to a first past the post (FPP) system; stick with STV; or hold a poll seeking the public’s input.

Janine Hayward, of the University of Otago department of politics, is researching the difference the STV system makes for local elections.

Unable to attend today’s council meeting to speak in the public forum, she supplied councillors and the Otago Daily Times with her research.

STV was usually described as a proportional electoral system because it tended to minimise the number of votes that did not help elect a candidate, Prof Hayward said.

"STV election results are, therefore, likely to better reflect the preferences of large communities of interest and avoid the over-representation of some groups which can occur under FPP."

Those were the qualities STV advocates emphasised when the option was first introduced in 2004.

Underlining today’s discussion is a petition circulating in the city promoted by the First Past the Post Working Group, which is seeking at least 5% of those who were enrolled to vote at the 2019 Dunedin election, or 4674 voters, to demand a vote on the issue.

Chairman Pablo Dennison said he expected the council to "simply" stay with the status quo.

"Dunedin ratepayers and residents ... have voted under single transferable vote for the last six elections and, quite frankly, because many voters are now struggling to comprehend the system we believe it is time to give people a choice as to how they vote every few election cycles."

Prof Hayward said a decline in voter turnout was happening worldwide and the research on which she was collaborating indicated there was little difference in turnout decline between FPP and STV elections in New Zealand.

There was also evidence voters were confident using either system.

"This also makes sense; numeracy rates are extremely high in New Zealand and the only systematic survey of voters using STV found that voters understood the system and felt confident using it."

In 2016, three FPP mayors were elected in New Zealand with under a third of the votes cast.

In 2019 the number increased to six.

The defeat rate for mayors also tended to be slightly higher under STV than FPP and more candidates tended to stand for mayoralty under STV.

In some elections, a STV system could boost women’s representation by up to 10%, she said.

Jack Cowie and Peter Barron will talk on the topic during the council’s public forum today.

Mr Barron, a former member of the Southern District Health Board, which uses the STV system, said he hoped the matter was not taken to a poll.

The council has estimated a poll will cost $220,000.

He believed by-and-large Dunedin residents did not want to change back to a FPP system that was "fundamentally flawed" in all elections except those that were a "two-horse race", he said.

In STV systems, rather than voting for one candidate, voters use their one vote to rank consecutively their preferences, voting for as many, or as few, candidates as they like.

hamish.maclean@odt.co.nz

 

Comments

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STV promotes the election of people with extremist views and reduces the likelihood of the most competent candidates being elected. In the present difficult times, Dunedin faces and will continue to face as we go into a serious economic recession triggered by lockdown, the city needs the most competent civic leaders, not token gestures to identity politics.

Reduces the likelihood of the most competent candidates being elected?? Oh pleeeease, no it doesn't.

Under STV we got a wide range of councillors with diverse viewpoints who far more accurately represent the political leanings of our community than FPP does.

I don't like all the councillors who were elected, many of them I didn't vote for as I believe they are in local body politics for their own benefit rather than the good of the town they're meant to be serving, BUT I still respect the fact that a decent number of my fellow citizens thought they ought to be there, I suggest you do the same because that's what democracy is - a representation of the people.

Luci, STV has been experimented with around the world as a voting system since the mid 1800's. Only a very few countries now use STV, namely, some parts of Australia, the United States, Northern Ireland, Malta and the Republic of Ireland. Now too, only eight NZ councils use STV. Many councils have come back to FFP. Christchurch used STV for a few years on and off in the early to mid 1900's. The primary problem mant see with the STV system is that the redistribution of votes occurs when a particular candidate reaches their quota. That redistribution can actually damage the public's preferred candidates chance of winning the election. Therefore, we end up with an elected official who has won purely by chance of sometimes multiple redistributions then landing in their favour. At the end of all this, actually, what matters, is that the PUBLIC choose the system, just as we did for MMP in 1993. The public should be making the choice, NOT the Council. So yes, STV does reduce the likelihood of the most preferred candidate being elected. We're witnessing that right now.....there's a reason STV is unpopular, the majority don't like it.
(My information sourced from Dept Internal Affairs NZ)

FPP
Man's World!

So let me get this right.
Voting for the candidate you want to lead is "fundamentally flawed".....
Righto champ.

STV also gives chance to incompetent mayors that otherwise would never get the support of majority. Lesson learnt: cast one and only one vote per vacancy in the next local elections

STV is confusing for many voters (therefore not reliable) and gives candidates with minority support - like our current mayor - the means to be elected. It is a complete sham.

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