Re: Pro-Con Voting

From: <dr-jekyll_at_att_dot_net>
Date: Wed Apr 27 2005 - 23:05:38 CDT

> I'd love to hear more about this... -joe

Hi Joe,

I checked my references on this topic and perhaps my idea is a bit more original than I thought. My concept of Pro-Con Voting is every vote for a candidate can either be a vote to add one for a candidate or a vote to subtract one from a candidate. The same holds true in case of IRV or cumulative voting. If you get to vote cumulatively for 10 candidates, you could cast a total 10 votes in any combination of pro's or con's.

Here's how positive and negative voting worked in Colonial and early Federalist Period Connecticut. My reference is "The Early History of the Ballot in Connecticut" by Professor Simeon Baldwin. It was published in Papers of the American Historical Association, Volume IV, October, 1890, pages 81-96. While the laws changed a few times, here's my paraphrasing of how it typically was:

Consider an election for 12 Assistants. They had a nomination process that typically proposed a maximum of 20 candidates. Each nominated candidate was considered in a separate balloting. The order of elections was determined by the current governing body and was related to the nomination process. A typical order would be all incumbents first, starting with the most senior in office, and then the challengers. A ballot with anything written on it was a yes and a blank ballot was a no for that candidate. If the affirmative total was greater than the negative total, he was elected (or re-elected). Once the requisite number of offices was filled, the remaining nominees would either not be voted on or the totals wouldn't matter. (See page 87)

The abuse of this process was accomplished by giving each elector only 12 ballots, the number of Assistants to be elected rather the number of nominees. That meant that anyone who wanted to vote for someone who'd be considered after the 12th ballot would need to abstain in at least one round of balloting on the first 12, typically the incumbents. This so favored the incumbents that "Between 1783 and 1801 only one Assistant who did not decline a re-election failed to receive it." (Page 93)

--
Kurt 
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-------------- Original message from Joseph Lorenzo Hall <joehall@gmail.com>: -------------- 
> On Apr 5, 2005 5:21 AM, dr-jekyll@att.net wrote: 
> > 
> > I was under the belief that I invented this crazy idea until I was reading 
> > some historic documents and discovered that pro and con voting with paper 
> > ballots actually existed in colonial Connecticut. Of course, the early 
> > elections in Connecticut were nothing to brag about as those in power built 
> > a system that shamelessly favored incumbents. That's 
> > probably why it's so difficult to get information about early Connecticut 
> > elections. 
> 
> I'd love to hear more about this... -joe 
> 
> -- 
> Joseph Lorenzo Hall 
> UC Berkeley, SIMS PhD Student 
> http://pobox.com/~joehall/ 
> blog: http://pobox.com/~joehall/nqb2/ 
> 
> This email is written in [markdown][]; an easily-readable and 
> parseable text format. 
> [markdown]: http://daringfireball.net/projects/markdown/ 
--
Kurt 
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Received on Sat Apr 30 23:17:17 2005

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