plurality voting

@ The Billboard Music Awards

Them: Why the fuck these fools bring flashlights?

Me, an intellectual: To show y’alls blind asses the light that is K-POP

Originally posted by syubmochi-kidymnie

(real talk, I used to not like the BTS fandom, but I’m really considering becoming an Army…)

Watching house of cards as a Canadian is so weird bc it’s all like “so you see, according to the 3.14th amendment, a plurality vote in the House, one congressman in some other house casting a single vote or something, blackmailing a single Rhode Island senator, standing in front of a darkened mirror and saying "Washington” five times, I somehow became president even tho I was majority whip like two episodes ago" like okay…..work i guess

ART CONTEST: Mega Enchantrick

The leading contender for a Mega Evolution was Enchantrick! Witha  plurality of the votes, it has secured itself a spot among our region’s Megas. Submissions may begin whenever you see fit, and will be open until July 4th!

Remember, though, the usual guidelines apply.

  • The evolution must be at least primarily Psychic type, as Enchantrick is
  • It must be recognizable as Enchantrick in some way
  • Original work of any sort as is accepted, as are preexisting works used with the original artist’s permission, or fair-use modifications of existing work

Beyond that, go nuts!

Submissions go here

Government (Part 1: Heads of State and Succession)

In stories, and especially in non-modern fantasy, there is a tendency to have a one-man government. There is a king (or, every once in a while, a queen) who seems to singlehandedly decide all foreign and domestic policy while also seeing petitioners and dealing with Court. This is the most impractical form of governance I have ever seen in my life. This is not how any government works. Ever. Here’s some stuff to think about when you’re making a government.

There are a lot of different forms of government. You can do a lot of reading about all of the many variations of the various types of governmental systems, but there are some basic things to think about. In this post, I’m going to cover types of heads of state/government, as well as means to gaining that title.

Who is the executive? (I am using primarily the modern European names as a simplification tool, as that is what most people know.)

Emperor/Empress?

An emperor/empress is the head of state of an empire. An empire is a group of states/peoples spread over an extensive geographical area who all fall under the same central authority (in this case an emperor/empress). Basically, that means that one person controls a whole bunch of groups of people (think: British Empire, which at one point had control over a fifth of the population of the world (1922)). While each individual state and/or colony and/or administrative territory, etc. might have its own leader, the central leader (if it is a single person) is the emperor/empress.

The one weird exception to this is the current Emperor of Japan [Akihito (明仁)], who is an emperor despite only being head of state (technically, sort of, because of Japan being a constitutional monarchy) of one state.

King/Queen?

A king/queen is the head of state of a monarchy. It’s a little less clear-cut to define a king/queen than to define an emperor/empress just because of the looser definition of a kingdom and broader usage of the terms, but before modern times a king/queen was usually lower in rank than an emperor/empress. It’s harder to deal with because the Queen of England could technically could be said to be an Empress because of the weirdness of the Commonwealth Realms, but before fairly recently, the basic difference was that a king/queen ruled a singular state while an emperor/empress ruled a unified set of states.

Archduke/grand duke?

This is not usually a useful distinction to make in modern times (in English), because it usually either referred to a subset of leader within the Holy Roman Empire (which no longer exists) or was used when translating from a language that didn’t differentiate between a prince-who-was-the-son-of-the-king and a ruling prince.

President?

This is usually used to describe the head of state of a republic (for most republics), though it can generally be used to describe a leader of a republic, a democracy, or a dictatorship. In most cases, the president is the executive office.

Prime Minister?

This is the title given to the most senior minister of cabinet in the executive branch (in a parliamentary system of government). Depending on the system of parliamentary government, they may also be the head of the government and head of the executive branch.

Religious leader?

This is where the head of state is also the head of the religion. Though this can go in the direction where the head of state therefore becomes the head of the religion (see: Church of England), this usually refers to a system where a religious leader (or the religious leader) is automatically the head of state. The Pope is an obvious example of this, as he is the sovereign (though not the President) of Vatican City.

Council?

In this case there would be no one head of state, but instead a council that decided (through majority, supermajority, or unanimity voting, or some other kind of decision-making process) matters of the state.

Magistrate?

This is referring to the Ancient Roman version of a magistrate, who was the King of Rome, holding the powers of being head priest, lawgiver, judge, and commander of the army. Essentially, he (or she, if you were so inclined) was the legislative, executive, and judicial branches of the government simultaneously.

Co-Princes/Princesses?

Princes/Princesses in this case refers not to the sons/daughters of Kings/Queens but ruling princes/princesses. With this, two would hold power simultaneously, which could go in a number of different directions. In some cases (i.e. Nubia) the co-ruling was between a King and a Queen. In other cases, no marital relations were needed. The two can have veto power over each other, or they could hold control over different areas (foreign policy vs. domestic policy, executive vs. judicial, political vs. religious, etc.).

Consuls?

Consuls (in the Roman Republic sense) were two elected officials who served concurrent one-year terms where they alternated holding power.

Dictator?

This is a head of state who holds a huge amount of person power who is (generally) oppressive and/or abusive.

How do they end up in that position?

Direct election?

A direct election is basically a popular-vote election. The results can be based off of a plurality (more votes than anybody else), a simple majority (more than 50% of the votes), an absolute majority (more than 50% of the people who could have voted), a supermajority (some cut-off higher than 50% i.e. two-thirds, three-fifths, etc.), or a double-majority (a majority of votes in a majority of states/provinces/etc.).

Representative election?

A representative election (or indirect election) is where a group of people are voted for who then choose the leader (by seniority, voting, or other qualifications). This is true in the US, for example, where each state gets a number of electors equal to the number of members of Congress they have, and the electors are chosen by popular vote in the state, and then go on to choose the President and Vice President. This can also be true where a legislature is elected and then goes on to choose the head of state.

Parliamentary selection?

In this case (which can be a representative election), the head of state is determined by vote by a parliament. In some cases (where a head of state i.e. a King/Queen/etc. exists) the parliament nominates a candidate, who is then appointed by the head of state (see: Japan). In other cases, the head of state chooses a candidate, who is approved by the parliament (see: Spain). In yet other cases, the head of state chooses a prime minister, who must then gain a vote of confidence from the parliament (see: Thailand). The new head of government may also be the leader of the largest (or second largest) political party in the parliament, or may be selected by direct election by the parliament (see: Greece and Pakistan, respectively).

Council/soviet system?

A local soviet/council is elected for a city, and it holds legislative and executive power for the city. These council delegates then elect their delegates for the district council, and so on for the provincial council, the regional council, all the way up to the national council, with each council holding legislative and executive power for the territory it governs.

Hereditary succession?

In this case, the new leader is determined based on heredity. There are a number of different ways for this to happen (virtually always codified in the law of the land):

Primogeniture:

In basic terms, the oldest child of the current head of state becomes the new head of state. There a lot of different types of this, which I will quickly summarize.

-Absolute primogeniture: firstborns inherit, regardless of gender

-Patrilineal primogeniture: eldest male child inherits, to exclusion of females, traced through the male line.

-Male-preference primogeniture: female descendants inherit only if there are no living brothers or legitimate heirs of deceased brothers

-Uterine primogeniture: firstborns inherit, traced through female ancestors. Sometimes only men can inherit, in which case the King’s sister’s son would inherit after the King

-Matrilineal primogeniture: eldest female child inherits, to exclusion of males, traced through female line

-Semi-Salic law (or agnatic-cognatic primogeniture): female succession only at extinction of all male descendants of male line

Agnatic seniority:

The succession is traced through the male line, but instead of the firstborn son of the King being the successor, the younger brother is.

Proximity of blood:

Succession is determined by closeness in degree of kinship, and as such usually plays a part in one of the other types of hereditary succession. For example, if a monarch has no children and no siblings, the “closest” cousin would inherit.

Rota system:

Similar to agnatic seniority, though after the last brother (whether the youngest or, sometimes, the fourth) dies or abdicates, the throne passes to the eldest son of the eldest brother who had held the throne.

Ultimogeniture:

The youngest child inherits rather than the eldest. This is really rare.

Appointed succession?

In this case, the new head of state/head of government is appointed by the previous head of state/head of government. The appointed new head of state/government could be a child, but wouldn’t have to be.

Criterial succession?

In this case, a set of children sharing the same characteristics could be found and trained, and then one is chosen when the time comes. Alternatively, one child could be found, as in the case of the Dalai Lama, and trained as the new leader.

It is important to remember that these are just options that exist now/have existed in the past. You can come up with literally anything as long as it fits these two criteria: it makes sense in the society that the government is for (or how it used to be, if it’s a relic of the past), and that you can give some logical explanation for it (in the logical of the society).

In the next post I will cover other parts of governments.

The body politic

I’ve seen a few people on my dash asking why Obama, Clinton and Sanders are suddenly saying they want Trump to succeed, when he’s obviously still unfit for the presidency. And I actually have an explanation for this, so thought I’d share.

You know how all of them have been saying that the peaceful transition of power is essential to a democracy? That is at the heart of what’s happening here.

You see, once you’re an elected representative, you have certain duties than come with the role which are not about your personal preferences or your party. They are about maintaining the democracy. For quite a while now, a significant number of the Republicans have not been doing these essential duties – that’s why the government had to shut down for a while in 2013. The Republicans refused to do the job they were elected to do.

When you have elected officials refusing to do their jobs, and/or ignoring the rule of law, it undermines democracy. It makes it dysfunctional and fragile, and for people to want to get rid of the things that aren’t working. That’s very dangerous, because if done in haste, it’s is likely to destabilise the whole system and its checks and balances. It can open the way for dictatorships and monopolies and other threats to the state.

Now Trump is elected, and he’s elected without a majority or even a plurality vote. He’s elected via the Electoral College only, which many people have seen as problematic since Gore’s loss to Bush. With this new outcome – which many see as undemocratic (quite rightly, but that is another post, and more complex that it seems on the surface) – people are calling for the Electoral College to be dismantled. Further, Trump was elected on a platform which promised to sweep out a lot of the old political ways of doing things, which is worrying in this kind of climate.

What this means is that America is facing a very real threat to its democracy right now. And it puts Obama in a very difficult position. While he’s still President, he has a lot of power, and he has a voice, and he could easily foment unrest or revolution. It wouldn’t be hard given the current situation. But to deny the peaceful transition of power right now would very likely break the union, break the democracy, and create an even bigger disaster than Trump could. Once you stop the elected representative from taking power, and/or cast official doubt on the outcome, the democracy is irrevocably damaged.

That is not to say Trump’s Presidency isn’t a real danger – it is. But there are still checks and balanced in place right now. Even the Electoral College is one of those checks and balances, for all that it’s not working very well – but that has a lot to do with it now being a party-focused institution instead of an independent one. It’s not actually working as it was designed to, because if it was, they would not endorse Trump. Stopping demagogues was part of its purpose.

Anyway, the point is, Obama is being very conscientious, in order to make sure there are no further cracks in the democratic process that Trump, or more realistically, Pence, can use to destroy or destabilise America’s democracy. No-one wants Dictator Trump or Pence, except perhaps Pence.

Once Obama is out of office, I think you’ll see a significant shift in what he says. He will be more free to speak as a private citizen than he is now, while wearing the responsibilities of President. And once the Electoral College have done their thing and the inauguration has taken pace, I think you will see a shift in Sanders and Clinton as well. This fragile moment will have passed, and there will be other battles to fight to keep Trump and Pence in check.

When we live in long-established democracies, it’s easy to forget that they are just a system we built. They can be broken, and very quickly if we do not take care of them. The outcome of such breakdowns has always been disastrous. Obama is taking care. Clinton and Sanders are taking care. Their hands are tied on this, if they want to maintain America’s democracy, but they will be untied soon enough.

That said, all three of them are speaking in code if you listen carefully. They say “if” a lot, and speak in the general about potential problems without naming names. This is the language of aware politicians who understand that there are fragile faultlines even in a robust democracy.

It’s actually quite terrifying that they are all being so very, very careful.

If I see one more post talk about popular vote pluralities I am going to scream.

National Popular Vote literally does not matter. At all. You can lose the popular vote, even in a plurality/strong 3rd party presence, and still win.

You have to win states. States are literally all that matter, and Clinton is at a huge advantage with California and New York basically in the bank.

Clinton is leading in most swing states, and a lot of traditionally Republican states are actually competitive BECAUSE of 3rd party candidates.

Sure, Clinton will only pull at most 40% in states like that, but in a lot of them, Trump is losing a huge amount of voters to Gary Johnson. A 3-5% lead is easier to overcome than what would usually be 10-15%. Parts of the South are actually competitive now.

All I’m saying, is leave 3rd party voters alone. Let us vote for who we’re going to vote for and move on, a lot of us weren’t voting for you in the past anyway. Also sometimes you want us to split the vote for you.

Weird presidential elections

It ain’t just 2000, folks. We can make LOTS of elections go bad if we try:

–1800: Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr tied in the Electoral College at 73 votes each. Jefferson was elected President on the 36th ballot in the House of Representatives.

–1824: Andrew Jackson got 99 Electoral College votes, while John Quincy Adams got 84. However, neither won an Electoral College majority in a four-way race. Adams got elected by the House of Representatives. Jackson would go on to win in 1828, creating the modern Democratic Party (with Martin Van Buren) in the process.

–1876: Samuel Tilden got 184 Electoral College votes; Rutherford B. Hayes received 165. 20 votes from Southern states were disputed. Eventually, all 20 votes were cast for Hayes, who despite having been a General in the Civil War, promptly ended Reconstruction, setting in motion the era of Jim Crow segregation for at least the next 100 years.

–1888: Grover Cleveland, the Democrat was seeking reelection; he won a plurality of the popular vote (48.6%) but lost the Electoral College vote to Benjamin Harrison, who had won 47.8% of the popular vote. Cleveland would then win in 1892, making him the only non-consecutive two-term president in US history.

–2000: Al Gore won the popular vote by a little more than 500,000 votes, but was behind in Florida by 537 votes when the Supreme Court canceled all additional recounts in Bush v Gore. Bush won the Electoral College 271-266, with one vote not counted. 

2016? We shall see … 

Thanks Jimmy Madison! Thanks!

Let’s have some numbers.

So I got curious about post-convention bump for HRC, although it’s really too early for numbers there - give it a week. I popped over to 270towin.org to have a look.

Note for non-US folks: 270towin refers to 270 electoral college votes, the number that the candidate needs to clinch the win. Y’all probably know this, but US elections are not decided based on overall popular vote, but by the vote plurality per state - the candidate with the plurality of votes in each state gets ALL of that state’s electoral votes. Many states are just not in play - they very solidly go blue or red. California, for example, will never go Republican, and they have the most electoral votes of any state at 55. New York is also solidly blue with 31 electoral votes. Electoral votes are assigned by population - there are a LOT more states that typically go red (most of the South and the plains) but they don’t have as many people or as many electoral votes. 

So often campaigns concentrate on the 11 swing states, states that can go either way. It’s sort of an informal list, but right now those states are Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Michigan, Nevada, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin. Of those, Ohio is perhaps the swingiest of all. Living in a swing state (and I have lived in a swing state for my entire life, first WI then PA and now OH) means a constant barrage of targeted campaigning such that you don’t get if you live in, say, true-blue Massachusetts or super-red West Virginia.

ANYWAY.

270TW has polling data of varying freshness. Right now, their average of 7 national polls as of 7/28 as Hillary ahead by 2%. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but that’s not the real story.

The real story is in the swing states.

Hillary is ahead in 10 of the 11 swing states. Most of them by a fairly comfortable margin. And here’s the kicker - almost all of that data is pre-convention. It’s hard to imagine the convention NOT causing a pretty good increase in her lead.

  • Colorado: ahead by 8 points (7/13)
  • Florida: ahead by 3 points (7/15)
  • Iowa: ahead by 3 points (7/17)
  • Michigan: ahead by 7 points (7/22)
  • Nevada: behind by 1 point (7/25)
  • New Hampshire: ahead by 2 points (7/21)
  • North Carolina: ahead by 8 points (7/15)
  • Ohio: ahead by 1 point (7/25) [reminder: the RNC was in Ohio]
  • Pennsylvania: ahead by 6 points (7/28)
  • Virginia: ahead by 5 points (7/15)
  • Wisconsin: ahead by 7 points (7/13)

I’d call a lead greater than 5% a pretty comfortable one. These leads are likely only to increase. And now is when polling starts to mean something - further out than 100 days before the election and it’s kinda nebulous, but three months out - which is about where we are - numbers start to solidify.

If you add up only the swing states in which she’s currently leading, and the states that will definitely go blue, she’s already got 270 electoral votes.

And here’s what shocked me at 270TW - how many of the Southern states are actually in play. She’s only down by 1% in GEORGIA. Down by 3% in Mississippi. I also just saw one poll that has HRC ahead in MISSOURI. Right now, Kentucky is going blue - 3% up for Hillary.

But there are two states that have me really excited - Utah and Texas.

She is well down in both states. BUT. Utah is polling at a whopping 37% “other candidate,” and that may very well change.

And in Texas? She is only trailing Trump by 8%. That sounds like a lot. But Obama lost Texas by 16% in 2012 and by 12% in 2008.

If the Republicans were to lose Texas - that’s it. The party is done.

There is a HUGE caveat to all these numbers. Every single state has a pretty big chunk of “other” voters - in other words voters who plan to vote for neither candidate or (I presume) not vote at all. But since electoral votes are determined by plurality, not majority, the leading candidate is worth looking at.

So. Anyway. There’s that. These numbers will be way more interesting in a week.

vox.com
GERRYMANDERING THE ELECTION: Republicans won 53% of House votes, and 77% of House seats, in North Carolina

A full list of states where votes cast and House outcomes most differed.

In 2012, the Democrats infamously won a plurality of votes cast in House of Representatives races nationwide, but didn’t end up winning back the majority of seats. This year, that’s not the case — the votes are still being tallied, but right now the national House vote is 52 percent for Republicans and 45 percent for Democrats, according to a count kept by Dave Wasserman, Loren Fulton, and Ashton Barry of the Cook Political Report.

However, the GOP is certain to end up with more than 52 percent of the seats in the new House. Depending on the outcome of a few uncalled races, it looks like they’ll win around 250 seats overall, which would mean they’ve won 57 percent of seats in the chamber. To help explain the discrepancy, here’s a list of the states where the percentage of seats won by a party most differs from the party’s actual total vote share in House races:

External image

Overall, 86 of these seats went for Republicans, and 48 for Democrats. Now, this isn’t a simple metric of gerrymandering, for several reasons.

  • First, many of these are small states — because in states with only a few House seats to go around, it’s intrinsically more difficult to allot those seats proportionately to the vote. For instance, Idaho only has two seats to allot, so one party will have to end up with either 100 percent of 50 percent of them, even though the actual votes were split 64/36.
  • Second, even in larger states there’s a natural “winner’s bonus” inherent to our majoritarian, single-member-district system. This is because the losing voters in each district don’t affect the House delegation at all. When one simulates various districts and election outcomes under such a system, the party that wins more votes naturally ends up with some advantage in the overall seat share.
  • Third, there were some House races where one party or the other didn’t put up a candidate. A whopping 6 out of 9 races in Massachusetts were uncontested, and there was no actual voting in those races. So our party vote share totals for Massachusetts just uses the three races that were contested, which isn’t ideal.
  • And fourth, people choose where to live. Many Democrats live close to each other in urban areas. Because they’re naturally “packed” in, it’s unnatural to draw a map dispersing those voters across many districts. Maps that favor Republicans are just easier to draw — geography has a built-in pro-GOP bias. Jowei Chen and Jonathan Rodden wrote that a map accurately reflecting the partisan split in most states is “unlikely to emerge by chance from a nonpartisan process.”

If one looks at the bigger states, however, we can see what look to be substantial effects of gerrymandering. In North Carolina, the GOP won 53 percent of the votes and 77 percent of the seats (10 out of 13). In Pennsylvania, they won 53 percent of the votes and 72 percent of the seats (13 out of 18). In Ohio, they won 56 percent of the vote and 75 percent of seats.

However, some of those GOP advantages were countered in states like Maryland, where Democrats won about 57 percent of the vote but carried 88 percent of the seats (7 out of 8), and the aforementioned Massachusetts where just 3 of 9 races were contested, and all were won by Democrats. So overall, it looks like the net effect of gerrymandering this year might have padded the GOP’s margin a bit — but not a ton.

Source: Andrew ProkopJoss Fong, and Anand Katakam for Vox