A Project of the Political and Electoral Reform Working Group
Request for Funds from the General Assembly: $538
Project Spokespersons for Questions and Updates:
Stefan Agapie @stefan
Political and Electoral Reform Working Group Proposal for Alternative Voting Experiment
The PERWG is devoted to investigating and exploring reforms that would lead to a more direct democracy and a more representative government. Among these potential reforms are recommendations to states and localities to experiment with alternative voting methods such as ranked choice voting, range voting and approval voting. There are not very many concrete experiments that have been conducted comparing and contrasting these voting systems and methods with plurality voting, the most common method employed in the United States.
We have therefore begun preliminary work for an experiment that would allow our working group to collect data on how different voting methods and systems affect the outcome of votes on a variety of issues. This would require participants in the GA and the people of Liberty Plaza to cast votes at their leisure in a series of mock ballots on a variety of issues, that our group will organize and set up in the square. We seek a consensus of the GA in support of our experiment to ensure that we there will be enough individuals who participate and enough data collected to be able to draw reasonably scientific conclusions from the results.
There has been long-standing consensus among experts that “first-past-the-post” voting used in US public elections mathematically favors a two-party system, and that other voting structures (ranked voting, instant runoff, and approval voting are just a couple of the examples) actually allow for minority voices to influence election results in a way that is far more democratic.
Each of the different voting models currently have their own supporters, however no one has ever done the types of large scale mock election experiments that would actually show these theoretical models in action. That’s the challenge – stop bickering about which model is better and SHOW which model is better!
Detailed Project Specifications
The PERWG has employed the expertise of a programmer, a database expert, and an expert in voting system design to develop this voting experiment. The programming was done in objective-c and using the cocoa touch framework to create the user interface. The data will initially be stored as binary code, concurrently the data will also be stored as pure text in Unicode. The data will eventually be stored in a SQL database to allow for easy data handling and analysis.
An iPad (retail value $499, total $538 with tax)
The iPad will be programmed specifically to function as a mobile “voting booth” which will run the voting experiment and collect votes. Vote collection will be done by PERWG volunteers on-site at Zucotti Park on a regular to daily basis, with detailed data and analysis published on our website. An administrative protocol will be devised by volunteers to ensure that members of the public do not vote more than once.
As the main programming and development for the project is well underway, the PERWG will be able to begin testing the Voting Experiment within 2-3 days of obtaining a suitable iPad.
All members of the GA will be invited to participate in and follow the results of the experiment. The PERWG would like to continue experimenting with voting methods on an ongoing basis and eventually become an in-house mobile polling center for #OWS.