“Local PR”

I recently learned of an electoral system design proposed by some activists in Canada. They call it “local PR“; I am not fond of the name, given that it plays into the argument that proportional representation threatens local representation, which I do not believe is a claim supported by the evidence–if it is MMP or, with pure PR, if district magnitude is not too large and/or there are preference votes. However, it may be very good branding, given that misconception of PR is so widely held.

I wonder what readers think of this idea. Basically, it is a form of PR with nominating districts, a model that has been discussed on the pages (leaves?) of this virtual orchard before–including by JD on Éric Grenier’s previous proposal for Canada, and in discussions of Romania, Slovenia and Denmark. However, in an important twist from those models–as I understand them–this proposal ensures every nominating districts has one of its local candidates elected, while still being proportional over the wider allocation districts (which combine existing single-seat districts). In this sense, the “nominating districts” are not just subdistricts in which candidates run–although they are definitely that–but also are single-seat electoral districts in the sense that each one has one and only one of its candidates elected within it. (Typical nominating-district PR can have either more than one candidate from a sub-district elected or can have some sub-districts with no local candidate elected (or both).) JD calls these systems “districted-ordered lists” which is also a fine moniker.

The specific proposal is to use ranked ballots, so it is a variant on STV. I am inclined to like the general goal behind the model, as it is highly compatible with my Emergency Electoral Reform for the US House. (In that, I push open-list PR, but I also point out my proposal could be done with STV.)

Probably the most important page for understanding what is being proposed is the one on “counting votes” (which is actually just as much about allocating seats). Two key paragraphs are:

The counting process under Local PR is done in rounds where each round elects one candidate. It maximizes the value of every ballot while keeping every candidate in the running as long as possible.

In each round, a riding is won by the first candidate to acquire the number of votes needed to win a seat [a Droop quota–ed.]. This is called reaching quota. If no candidate in the region reaches quota based on first ranked preferences (the “1”s), the ballots of the candidate with the fewest votes are redistributed to candidates who are next-ranked on these ballots. This is repeated until one of the remaining candidates reaches quota. Once a candidate reaches quota, he or she is elected and other candidates from the same riding are eliminated, concluding the round.

Subsequent rounds are started with all of the original candidates except those who have been eliminated from ridings with an elected candidate. Ballots for the eliminated candidates are redistributed to next-ranked candidates. The round continues until another candidate reaches quota. Rounds continue until one locally-nominated candidate has been elected in each riding.

There are important further details on that page that are worth your time if you are interested in exploring the idea.

I can see plenty of advantages, and also disadvantages (see JD’s post on the Grenier proposal for general criticisms of the wider family). Such is the nature of electoral system designs. It is always about tradeoffs. I am curious what regulars around here (as well as any always-welcome newcomers) think of it.