I'd like to know your thoughts on cardinal voting systems and whether we could use them internally. There are several desirable mathematical criteria that a good voting system should have. Some criteria are not desirable and some subtly contradict other criteria due to things like Arrow's paradox. It is quite clear that plurality voting and other ordinal voting systems are generally a poor reflection of the choice that satisfies most overall, whereas cardinal voting more accurately reflects the best choice and is much less subject to the pitfalls of strategic voting.
Two such cardinal systems are range voting and approval voting. For single-winner positions and decisions such as internal elections for Pirate Party roles, range voting or approval voting are probably the most optimal. The latter effectively just being a simplified version of the former (which loses the later-no-harm criterion for being less accurate, effectively signal aliasing). Approval voting ballot papers would appear no more complex to the voter than a conventional plurality ballot paper, only you get to cross any number of boxes. The result of either of these 2 systems would be to achieve desirable criteria such as the independence of clones criterion and would elect a candidate that is more likely to be the optimal choice for overall satisfaction. They essentially significantly weaken the problem of strategic voting and voters that don't get their first choice are likely to be more satisfied than they would if the vote was ordinal. Cardinal systems are closer to a ‘perfect compromise’. Naturally, I'd like to see them get used more often.
I would like to see either of these 2 systems used internally. I hold this issue above all others because it is our ability to vote in a democracy that allows us to decide on other issues; a better voting system would help strengthen our democratic decision making giving fairer outcomes for issues in general.
If you've not heard of cardinal voting before, please check out these resources:
* ‘Score Versus Caveman Voting’ – a walkthrough introduction to range voting and explanation of the problems that it solves:
(part 1 of 3)
(part 2 of 3)
(part 3 of 3)
As for what would be the best voting system for a general election, I think that it requires some more research. I've been a proponent of proportional representation since before finding out about cardinal voting. Unfortunately, I'm not aware of any multiwinner cardinal voting system, and it is obvious that simply using approval or range voting as a multiwinner system would lose the independence of clones criterion and possibly others. It would seem that this criterion could be reinstated by weighting the vote by dividing each voter's selection by the total of the absolute value of each vote in the selection, but I'm not an expert on voting theory and don't know how to prove such a hypothesis. If this works as intended, then the resultant multiwinner proportions could then be used to balance local single-winner votes such that the proportions are met evenly, and this would form a proportional representation cardinal voting system.
In case someone reading this happens to be an expert in this, I'd like to share a couple more thoughts on this. The theoretically ideal extension of range/approval voting to be multiwinner I imagine to be a range/approval vote where there's an option for each combination of candidates. This of course would offer an infeasibly large number of possible options even for a fairly small number of candidates, so the question is whether a reasonable approximation to this esoteric adaption can be sought. Maybe the weighting that I described above is already the best approximation and satisfies all the same criteria as the normal single-winner range/approval voting.
So multiwinner cardinal voting for proportional representation requires some more thought and some mathematical research, but for internal matters, which are single-winner anyway, range/approval voting would be excellent. Also, if we use a better voting system internally then at least we are leading by example – this could well lead to further interest in better voting systems and sorting out the drastically suboptimal ordinal voting systems used for general elections and elsewhere.
P.s., I've just discovered that the weighted adaptation of range or approval voting is called cumulative voting (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cumulative_voting
) which is at least ‘semiproportional’, so indeed there already is a somewhat researched multiwinner cardinal voting system! Brilliant!