Open Election Thread (3)…

Another chance for you to bring up those issues not being blogged about on Slugger…

  • DK

    Can someone explain the voting system to me. Suppose the quota is 2,000 votes and a single candidate gets 3,000. What happens then? Do their votes get re-distributed before people not meeting quota start getting eliminated (as I assume) or is there some sort of order. Also, how much would their redistributed votes be worth (I am assuming half each as they were 1,000 over the quota of 2,000).

  • Crataegus

    Why do politicians get away with lying? I can’t think of any other profession where you could get away with it.

    Does no one vet the PEBs? Should there not be some standard of honesty. Should the normal advertising standards not apply?

    Why should people be allowed to go door to door to mislead and misinform? Should we ban canvassing as it is so often abused?

  • blab

    Many people believe that the figure of 108 MLAs was decided upon to facilitate the election of small parties (PUP, NIWC for example). If as most pundits reckon we lose most (or all) of the minor parties in the election can we reduce the number and/or use different constituency boundaries? 90 MLAs? 72 MLAs? We could have all of NI as a single constituency or use the new Council boundaries or have constituency MLAs and regional ones like in Scotland. Any thoughts?

  • Crataegus


    As far as I remember it goes like this.

    Candidate needs 2/3 of his votes to get elected therefore all his votes have if you like a 1/3 surplus. SO if in his total vote 75% had 2nd preferences to the UUP and 25% to Alliance the UUP would get 750 votes and Alliance 250. Where it gets tricky is what happens if the UUP then have a surplus and a portion of the votes are then redistributed again. Also as far as I remember there is a flaw in the maths related to people who plonked for only one candidate. It is one for the nerds but the transfers may be slightly over valued!

    If you vote for someone who is eliminated then the vote is transferred in FULL to your second preference and if he or she is eliminated it is again transferred in FULL to your third preference. So your vote is counted many times over!

    Moral of the tale is vote first for the person you really want even if they have virtually no chance and use your transfers. If enough of you do it you get what you want and there is NO risk of splitting votes etc unless of course the person you want gets in and he or she doesn’t belong to whatever block, but then so what?

    So any of you in North Belfast please for me consider giving Raymond McCord a 1st Preference and then transfer. I don’t have a vote there or I would myself. The guy deserves a bit of support.

  • BonarLaw


    108 was a Turtle cave in to the PUP late on Good Friday 1998 (remember sufficient conscensus?).

    the 1996 Forum had party lists in each constituency and top up seats to allow for minor party representation.

    The Scottish & Welsh MSPs/AMs are a mixture of constituency (first past the post) and regional (PR) members. It was always felt that in an STV election it would be unnecessary to have regional or top up members as the proportionality sought would be delivered at constituency level.

    Each Westminster constituency should elect five MLAs which would give 90. If devolution is successful and Westminster representation is reduced then the number of MLAs per constituency could be reviewed but I think an upper limit of 90 makes sense. Especially if the executive is trimmed to 6/7 departments.

  • Alan Law


    It has been a long time since I was at a STV count, but from memory. All ballot papers are counted and the spoilt papers are deducted to give you the valid number of votes cast.

    This figure is used to establish the quota.

    The papers are sorted according to first preference votes, these are then counted. Any candidates reaching the quota are then deemed elected.

    This is where it starts to get interesting so you might like to follow this link

    STV counts last forever, with number crunching with would make even Carol Vorderman wince.

  • Frustrated Democrat

    Have the DUP imposed a boycott on Slugger, they seem to be completely absent from the posts at the moment.

    Posters seem to be able to say anything about the DUP with no response.

    A party that doesn’t want to discuss its policies is not worth a vote.

    So for those who care……the DUP will go into Government with SF in March regardless of all their bluster and comments about the UUP, but keep it quiet we don’t want to upset many of the their voters who might abstain or even vote for the UKUP.

  • South Antrim voter

    Hardly a DUP poster in sight in South Antrim

    I also hear that the DUP have had to hire outside agencies to put posters and deliver leaflets in North Antrim and North Down respectively

  • Crataegus


    The problem with lists is it gives the Party too much control as they decide who should be at the top of the list. Also who is your local representative? It is also possible that all the top people on the various lists come from one area etc. etc.

    Back at the time of the Forum someone, (DL or Greens I think) produced a brilliant voting system based on the current one. It was STV with additional topping up using the 1st preference votes cast across the country. Unfortunately I didn’t keep a copy, but as far as I remember you had an election as now and say 6 MLAs per constituency. If you look at it across NI a quota per constituency is roughly 1% of the total vote over all NI. So they then asked what happens if a party say got say 5% across NI? It is very possible that it may have no representatives, yet one with one fifth of that vote in one constituency would have a representative. So all votes are not equal.

    The solution was to add the 1st preferences for each party across NI and set a threshold of say 2% per representative. So if you had 12% of the vote and (highly unlikely) no representatives you had a top up of 6 from your list, but if you had 6 or 7 already you didn’t get topped up and if you were already over represented you kept that advantage. Such a system would work well if the representation was reduced to 4 or 5 per constituency. It would ensure a local factor and that small groups would have the possibility of being represented. It would benefit the Alliance Party, Conservatives, PUP, Greens, Labour, Socialists etc. and would give a more democratic result.

    Do any of you know who it was that produced this voting system and where I can get a copy to re-read?

    With the daft super councils, in my opinion if you are going to change anything why not scrap all the councils and increase the number of MLAs. The Assembly is nothing but a glorified council anyway and NI isn’t a very large place.

  • Do their votes get re-distributed before people not meeting quota start getting eliminated (as I assume) or is there some sort of order.

    It depends how big the surplus is. If it is so small that it wouldn’t make any difference to who gets eliminated next, they just keep eliminating candidates until two are so close together that the surplus could make a difference.

    E.g. Candidate A has 3100 votes, the Quota is 3000. The two weakest candidates are Candidate F on 400 votes and Candidate G on 600 votes. As Candidate F couldn’t catch up even if he got all of the surplus, they just eliminate him and save themselves the bother.

    even though it would have made things very close at the end. At no point were two eliminated candidates within 578 votes of one another.

    Secondly, if two candidates are so far adrift that the votes of the bottom one couldn’t even theoretically save the next one up, they both go together. Again, look at those Newry and Armagh figures last time. On Stage 4, Whitcroft, Frazer and Donnelly are all eliminated together. Why? Because, even if Freda Donnelly got all of Frazer and Whitcroft’s transfers, and all of Danny Kennedy’s surplus, she’d still be behind John Fee.

    Save yourself the bother, get all three of them out of there!

    Also, how much would their redistributed votes be worth (I am assuming half each as they were 1,000 over the quota of 2,000).

    The formula is Value of each Paper=Surplus/Total value of transferrable papers

    So, in your example each paper is worth (1000/3000)=0.33 each, if all papers were transferrable. But let’s say it was a UUP surplus with only SDLP and SF left, and only 1500 went as far as the SDLP. Then they would be worth 1000/1500=0.67 each. That’s why you should always use your vote to the full.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    BonarLaw, I’d say 5 seats per constituency would suit nationalists far more than Unionists (Unionists would lose about twice as many if it was the changed for this election imo). I seem to remember the DUP suggesting a change to 4 seats per constituency which would more or less keep the status quo in terms of numbers.

  • German-American

    Since on this thread we’re discussing the ins and outs of STV, I’ll repeat my previous question on a prior open thread: how exactly do parties do vote management in STV? Does anyone want to spill any professional secrets on how to pull off an effective vote management scheme?

  • Inspetor Clouseau

    South Antrim Voter,

    I am hearing that here has been absolutely no problem with getting people to canvass and work for the party in any constituency.

  • fair_deal


    Beyond getting past politician’s egos and people to realise it is who wins the 5th and 6th seat not the !st seat

    The basic approach
    1. You look at the results in the previous Westminster and Local Government elections.
    2. Based on the percentage vote you estimate the likely distribution of seats. This should determine the number of candidates you run. When you are close to a quota it is an easy decision when you are somewhere in between it is a judgement call.
    3. Local Government results and box returns from Westminster give a good breakdown of the geograpical distribution of the vote. You then divide the constituency based on the number of candidates into parts trying to ensure an even distribution of party voters between the candidates. In each part the voters are asked to vote in different orders of preference.
    4. When running a number of candidates it is better if the natural geographical bases of those selected are spread across the constituency and can fit nicely with how the consituency is divided up.

  • German-American:

    posters and leaflets in a given area will request that people vote for the party’s candidates in a particular order.

    If you’re good, or doing something complicated (like the Shinners in West Belfast) you can reinforce that with mock ballots at the polling station.

  • BonarLaw

    Tochais Siorai

    sliming down our bloated legislature is the object, not crude sectarian advantage.

    Remember though, in determining who would loose out on a five seat solution just don’t knock out the sixth elected MLA in each constituency as the quota for a five member seat would, necessarily, be different.

  • Crataegus


    Just to add to what Fair Deal stated.

    there are 6 seats therefore the quota is 1/7th plus 1 vote. A quota is about 14.3%

    If you have just over two quotas you may be tempted to run three candidates. If you can control the vote and ask various areas to give different candidates their first preference then what you hope is that you have 3 candidates sitting with 10-11% each and all in play to pick up transfers. The hope is you can get all 3 in below Quota. If one is eliminated then their transfers propel the other 2 in. How you advise people to vote on their second preferences has to be that half of each area vote for one of the other candidates as their 2nd preference and so on.

  • South Antrim voter

    Inspetor Clouseau

    There is not a single DUP poster up around Sandyknowes roundabout. In the part of Antrim town where I was yesterday there was not a single DUP poster.

    In past elections the place was coming down with posters. They even had to take them down at some roundabouts as they were deemed to be a hindrance to the traffic viewing the signs.

    The only candidates who have been around the area were the UUPs

  • fair_deal

    In my part of south there are DUP and Alliance posters up, no UUP/PUP/UKUP yet. The SDLP seem the keenest posterers in other parts of south and some SF too. No canvassers (ie talking to people) so far although the UUP did a leaflet drop. However the UUP don’t seem to be advocating vote management, the three candidates are on it but no suggested voter preference.

  • joeCanuck

    Who decides how many candidates run?
    The constituency association or head office?

  • DK

    Hmmm – just done the maths on Excel and essentially if you have more than one candidate you need to get the vote as balanced between them as possible, otherwise you have a MUCH higher chance of losing your poorest poller.

    Why the feck aren’t the UUP vote managing then? Especially when they are stretching 3 candidates into 1 quota in a couple of places. It’s certain to lose them a possible 2nd seat rather than get them a chance at a third. Lunacy.

  • German-American

    Fair Deal, Sammy, and Crataegus: Thanks much for the explanations!

  • fair_deal


    “Who decides how many candidates run?
    The constituency association or head office?”

    Either or both, different parties do it different ways.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    BonarLaw, fair point re the crude sectarian advantage but 5 per constituency still won’t be advocated by any Unionist party. At a glance at present strengths, I’d say north bel, south bel, north ant, foyle & lagan vall would knock out a nationalist, the rest would prob lose a Unionist? But I could be wrong, I’m not Sammy Morse.

    Anyway, I’d cut it to 4, slim down the councils (even the new ones which will still have 2/3 as many councillors) and if there is a local legislature surely no need for 18 MPs.

  • The Electoral Office statement on Bob Multi-Candidacies: If he wins more than one, he causes a by-election.

  • fair_deal


    On reducing the number of representatives there is the idea floating among some Tories that MP’s only sit in the devolved and Westminster parliaments (with a proper and equal division of powers between Westminster and the devolved bodies.) One set of elections takes care of both bodies and the West Lothian question answer is answered too.

  • Tochais Síoraí

    That would be just 18 MLAs / MPs? Interesting idea fd, but I just can’t see the NI political classes signing up to that one!

  • Ulster Onionist

    Sammy Morse: Re Bob. If he does win more than one, is he allowed to keep them all himself? The way I read the Electoral Office statement, it is only a by-election if he resigns one/some.

    Out of interest, do we know who his substitutes were?

  • brendan,belfast

    This close to the westminster election in 05 i had my door knocked by SF at least twice and the Stoops twice. So far this time round? nothing.

    It appears that in west Tyrone the SDLP doctor, Jo Deehan, has a bit of momentum behind her and could significantly eat into Deeney’s votes. Two sdlp seats in West Tyrone anyone?

  • John Farrell

    Arent they in the same practice in Omagh.

    The Hospital issue was I think resolved.

    Difficult to understand why a one issue candidate like Deeny is still standing unless of course he isnt a one issue candidate at all. Which means what are his other issues. Presumably he has a manifesto of sorts.

    Obviously he has as much right to stand as anyone else but hasnt he had an easy ride by the Media.

    Alliance Party candidates in all constituencies west of the Bann except……er West Tyrone since you asked. No doubt they fully intended to enter the contest but got lost on the way to the Electoral Office……reasonable enough.

    1 Deeny ……??? for those of us with long memories wasnt there an Alliance politician called Donall Deeny… a coincidence obviously.
    2 Back in the 1970s there was a doctor in Omagh called I think Aidan Lagan who reguarly stood as an alliance candidate.
    3 One of Deenys backers at a previous (and possibly this one) was a Miss Gormley (a member of the Gormley Alliance family.

    Impossible of course that a member of the medical profession could be atually Alliance by the back door.
    Well that would be an unworthy thought if I thought that.
    And of course nothing wrong with that anyway……but shouldnt he be held to same probing insights as DUP, UUP SF SDLP or even AP.

    But if AP is one person short of gaining an Executive seat…….you heard it here first.

  • John Farrell

    Sorry I forgot the original question.
    Two SDLP seats might be a long shot but Deehan might replace McMenamin who I am told is useless.

    The one good thing about SDLP chances in West Tyrone is that they dont have Joe Byrne on the ticket.
    If Byrne was given a seat in House of Lords he would manage to lose it.

    As my previous post indicated I believe Deeny is little more than an Alliance sock puppet. No problem with him getting elected if thats what the good folks of West Tyrone want……but nicer for them if he declared himself honestly.

  • brendan,belfast

    John, you asked, “Arent they in the same practice in Omagh.”

    no, they aren’t.

    and if you are saying that Deeney is actually a closet Alliance MLA, that would be someting the voters of West Tyrone might have an interest in. he should have the honesty to say that, to take his chances as an Alliance candidate and to take his beating like a man!

  • Can someone tell the DUP’s William Irwin that he was elected to Armagh Council two years ago. It’s the Assembly he’s running for this time.

    Tut tut tut tut!

  • SlugFest

    apologies, as it’s not really an ‘issue’ — just curious:

    What happened to Miss Fitz? I enjoyed her posts.

    One more question: is there any way to get a tour of Long Kesh/the Maze? I know they’ve given private tours (miss fitz posted photos of her tour), but who gives them and under what circumstances? anyone know?

    many thanks

  • SuperSoupy

    My moment of the election so far:

    The Green candidate in South Antrim during a candidate meeting in Crumlin answering a planning question/property developer question with “I must confess I’m a property developer…….”


    Almost as bad as the SDLP’s Tommy Burns criticising youth workers when addressing a questions from a youth worker and one of twenty young people who turned up.


  • Ziznivy

    I was absolutely disgusted to see yesterday’s Ballymena United vs. Linfield cup-tie hi-jacked by politicians who have never darkened the door of Irish football before. We had Paisley prancing around on the pitch (for which no-one at Ballymena United seems to be owning up to responsibility) and we had Coulter and Swann pratting about. Not one of them made it through even ten minutes of the match.

  • roger

    One has to ask why the IFA are allowing unionist politicians to use local football as a stage for their electioneering.

    Almost as sickening as Glentoran having a minutes silence for uvf leader David Ervine with unionjacks flying at half mast.

  • stephen

    Maybe its big Ian who stops the football on a Sunday !!

  • Ziznivy

    He certainly wasn’t invited unto the pitch by the IFA or by Ballymena United. I can only assume that it was the council’s staff who encouraged him to go on.