Daily Archives: December 13, 2010

New stadium frenzy (heaven)

In the wake of the decision to hand the 2018 and 2022 world cups to virtual footballing minnows (with all respect to Russia), the race is on to design and build a plethora of new stadia.

Thankfully The Telegraph from the UK has a nice feature on the stadiums either under development, redevelopment or still in the planning stage.

Firstly, FIFA Football World Cup 2018 Russia


are just two examples from the winning Russian bid.

While these are from the Qatari winning bid for the FIFA 2022 winning bid (basically the bid I was hoping that was going to Australia).

As soon as I get a chance to get more details of these stadium projects I’ll post more.

Post by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Architecture, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Inspiration, Site, Sport, Stadiums, Urban design

Dunedin going backwards – not.

In my all too polite and considered way, I’m writing a personal defence of STV in response to this mornings rant by Warwick Johnson.

Voting system must be reconsidered
ODT Mon 13 Dec 2010

First of all, let’s get the failures and inaccuracies out of the way. What is so difficult of ranking the candidates you like? Seriously, I do this every time I go to the supermarket, I like bananas very much, but on the off chance that I’m not having a banana day, I’ll get some apples too. But oh I do also like Central Otago Apricots, so I’ll have a little of them in my fruit bowl too.

STV couldn’t be more simple if you tried. You put 1 beside your most fav candidate, 2 beside the second fav, 3 beside the 3rd, 4 beside the 4th – see the pattern here? I bloody hope so or the education system in NZ is in deep trouble.

Seems Mr Johnson had trouble with this:

“Confronted with a list of 39 names, what did you have to do? Number 1 to 39? Number 1 to anything at all? Put a tick beside everyone you liked? Any or all of the above? There was even less knowledge of how to vote strategically to get the people you wanted and eliminate the people you didn’t want.”

Perhaps a pretty picture may help with this.

Which if you have succeeded through the education system to at least intermediate you could possibly have a voting paper that looked like this:

So when Johnson asks “what did you have to do? Number 1 to 39?” and the voting paper (example of which is in the ODT article ) clearly states;

Start by writing the number 1 in the box next to the candidate you most want to be elected. Write the number 2 next to your second most preferred candidate, and so on… You can write as many preferences as you like up to 39.”

I’m sorry if you are going to write such an impassioned whinge in the ODT and expect to get away with it, think again. The voting paper couldn’t be any clearer if it tried. And I’m not making this up, it’s true, it’s there in black and orange on the voting paper. If you go into the voting booth and follow those instructions then you will have completed a ballot in an STV election {you may now proceed onto Intermediate School}.

The rest of the attack on the actual ballot paper vote system is nothing more than a thinly veiled conspiracy theory.

“There was even less knowledge of how to vote strategically to get the people you wanted and eliminate the people you didn’t want.”

You know what, don’t like someone, don’t vote for them. Wow this STV stuff is getting simpler and simpler. Just as in FPP, where one person gets 11 votes, if you don’t want someone in the council – DON’T VOTE FOR THEM.

If you are politically motivated enough to want to vote strategically, then spend the time (as you would under FPP) talking to your friends and family about your options, read the candidates information in the newspapers or online – talk to the fella in the pub, but voting strategically isn’t any different or special under STV.

Here’s another fav of the disaffected FPP supporter:

“Many… demonstrated they had no idea how votes are actually calculated”

You know what, I have no idea whatsoever how the mechanics of a plane works, but I trust the professionals to get my terrestrially-based body from point A to point B. So far 100% of the time it works and I don’t complain about it – perhaps I should hark back to the days where I needed to see the flaps of the Sopwith Camel in action? That aside, if you are that worried about it, why not head over to the elections web site and watch the very very simple animation of how it works.

But to make things even simpler, I’ve included a small animation from the British Columbian STV campaign web site – yeah yeah, sorry it’s aimed at such a simple level (and instead of Riding, think Ward – the rest is the same), but it seems that simplicity isn’t something folk want when discussing STV.

OK, you are all now well on your way to secondary school. You’ve ranked your candidates, leaving out nasty Mrs Smith of #92 down the road (you know the one who insists on hanging her washing out in order of size), the computer calculates the votes, and results are posted.

Congratulations, you have just partaken in an STV election. It’s as simple as that, and yes Rod Donald was right – actually it’s easier than buying a lotto ticket, that involves some pretty complex thinking and mathematics to make sure you don’t miss out the birth date of your 3rd child in the numbers.

Now for the nub of the opinion piece,

“Before the election… there was a widespread demand for change in the governance of the city. Yet the election resulted in very little alteration in the makeup of the council”

Oh, OK so you’re not happy with the results. STV must be faulty, it must be rigged somehow, after all according to Johnson “it was because the system is too complicated for voters to use properly and because it incorporates biases”.

So I’ve clearly demonstrated above how EASY it is to vote under STV, and I trust the computers to get the simple calculations correct, then it must be because of biases in the system.

[FYI if you do need to know how to work out take-off in your next flight, follow this simple equation – and this is only part of the calculation]

I think that Johnson has a difficulty with the alphabetical listing of the candidates – and this is apparently a bias? All voting papers are alphabetical – FPP, MMP & STV. Otherwise what is the alternative, put at the top of the page the people that Johnson thinks should be there, or the ones that I think should be there, or like Mrs Smith from #92 down the road and rank candidates according to height? This is bloody madness, alphabetical listing of candidates is the most unbiased method available. If Wilson, Lloyd suffered because of his name (rather than my deep knowledge of the South Island Chairman of the Motor Vehicle Importers Industry Association), perhaps a cunning candidate would change their name to Aaaaardvark, Aaaron and guarantee themselves a top place and according to Johnson a certain place on council.

Council would be very funny wouldn’t it.

“The Motion presented by Cr Aaaaardvark, was seconded by Cr Aaaaaaaallan & Cr Aaaaaden”.

Alternatively a very expensive printing bill could be used if every ballot paper had random order of candidates. However all of this silliness aside, what Johnson is suggesting is the fundamental inability of the voter to exercise free will. Personally, the voting behaviour of individuals is complex and at times very funny. But to assume that the voter is that incapable of running their eyes over the ballot paper and put numbers beside their preferred candidates, and to NOT vote for their least desirable candidate, is in my view is doing the voter a disservice.

“I see no point in rank ordering the 11 I want elected, let alone going down the list perhaps as far as number 39.”

More fallacy. To see no point in rank ordering the 11 Mr Johnson’s wants in council is a little disingenuous, because under FPP there would have still have to have been 11 decisions made. If Mr Johnson only wanted 11 councillors under FPP, just as in STV, he would’ve had to have made an informed choice for these candidates. But to say “How on earth they differentiated between the virtual unknowns in the bottom quarter of the list is a mystery”, is bewildering. Crs Stevenson, Walls, Weatherall along with Tozer, Thompson & Vandervis are hardly ‘unknowns’ in the community – a couple of these names are on the Greater Dunedin ticket Mr Johnson is part of?

So after the fallacies, Mr Johnson gets to the issue of spoilt votes. The funny thing about STV ballot papers, you can actually scrub out the number you put beside a candidate and put another. The returning officer for Dunedin has confirmed that even if the computer can’t read the scribbled rankings of the Ballot, an actual person looks at the paper, and if the intention of the voter is easily understandable (and there were many of these ballots) then the vote is registered so.

But after all that, Mr Johnson gets to the heart of his disenchantment with the STV system – the intention of the voters. Apparently STV doesn’t deliver the council what the people want.

It is completely irrelevant if “Ms Tozer, for example, was more than 700 votes ahead of Mr Acklin in a first past the post count.”, because the system is STV and voters were allowed to exercise their right to cast lower votes for candidates x,y & z. Which is exactly what they did do in handing Cr Acklin and Cr Hudson eventual places back on the council. They carried more ranking votes in the over all vote. That is the system.

But Mr Johnson’s disgruntled ramblings continue, and apparently Democracy should be alarmed at the lack of transparency. Transparency is that funny thing which people think equates to equality or fairness. Transparency in FPP is no greater that under STV.

“Only with great difficulty and some reasonable computing skills can the public get any picture at all of why the voting ended up the way it did.”

It’s a computerised system yes, it’s complex yes, but is it flawed, does it have biases? I don’t think so. When Mr Johnson asks how do we know if the system isn’t flawed, I guess we have to leave that to the panel of experts, nerds and geeks which produced it, the parliamentary committee that approved it, and the professionals charged with operating it. Just as I have to trust the engineers, geeks and professionals who combined to create an aeroplane that gets me from Point A to Point B from time to time. Could Mr Johnson please explain how Sir Robert Muldoon’s National party which got FEWER votes in BOTH the 1981 and 1978 elections than the opposition, yet is returned to power, is fair and just because it’s transparent. In 1978 National got 11,000 fewer votes than Labour, but 11 more seats. That sort of transparency for the sake of democracy is just wrong.

Further “And in the event of a recount, if the second set of figures differed from the first, which version would be more likely to be right?” Well that goes for FPP, MMP or any other system that allows for recounts. These are just silly arguments.

In the end, when the numbers were crunched Dunedin got the council it voted for. If Mr Johnson wants randomly ordered ballot papers (again assuming the inability of the voter to exercise free will) for FPP, then surely the same can be applied to STV.

Personally, I have no time for this line of argument posed by Mr Johnson, it’s the tired grumblings of the FPP disenchanted, adding nothing to the debate. The irony is that early on Mr Johnson claims that so called experts were confused, the problem with this type of opinion piece is that it only adds to the confusion by throwing up false arguments and fallacies which I just couldn’t let lie.

Harking back to a system that is so fundamentally biased and has been proven not to reflect the will of the people isn’t the way forward for Dunedin. The way forward is for fallacies and misconceptions to be dispelled and discussed.

Posted by Paul Le Comte


Filed under Economics, Hot air, Politics