In June 2019, I published Goodbye, Medium, in which I said I would not participate in the two-tier promotion system Medium had then, in which free content was fundamentally less discoverable than paywalled content. But in October 2020, Medium changed this policy:

All posts are now eligible for further distribution across Medium, whether they are paywalled or not.

In light of this, I’m happy to resume publishing my thoughts here on Medium. I’ll still mostly focus on voting theory, but I may veer into other domains — such as Bayesian statistics, or the broader struggle to save and strengthen democracy…

Profit off my writing? Fine. Restrict it? Nope.

This article is just to say that I will not be writing further articles on Medium until there is a way to write something that is both:

  • Visible to anyone, including non-subscribers, at some publicly-searchable URL.
  • Eligible for recommendation and curation, like other premium Medium content, at some URL.

These don’t have to be the same URL. It’s OK with me if Medium doesn’t tell paying customers that they could have gotten my content for free. And this does not have to be default behavior. I’m fine with jumping through extra hoops to get both of the above. …

Your government is in crisis. This was predictable. And there’s hope.

(paywalled version here)

Since you’re reading this in English, you probably live in a country in deep political crisis. Your governing political party probably exercises disproportionate power despite being supported by a minority, and have dropped all pretense of governing in the interests of anyone but that minority. In fact, in many respects the governing party isn’t even looking out for its voters, only for itself.

That’s certainly the case in the US and UK right now; and arguably so in Canada. (As for other English-speaking countries, that would be another article, but some of the below applies even there.)

An illustration of “crisis of democracy”: Boris Johnson, Theresa May, and Donald Trump. Sorry, I couldn’t find a photo that also included Justin Trudeau… :)

This is an open letter to Ayanna Pressley, who represents me in Congress. Overall, I am proud to have such an outstanding representative as you. As you know, with a hostile Senate, the House of Representatives mostly can’t do your main job, passing laws. So for now, your important work is maintaining oversight and investigations, and laying the groundwork for 2021. I think you are doing a good job at both, and this request is in that spirit.

The most important question in 2021 will be who controls the Senate. I trust that you will do all that’s in your…

How better voting methods could lead to a better nominee

In early 2016, many thought Trump couldn’t possibly win the Republican primary. Even as he came a close second in Iowa and then won in New Hampshire and South Carolina, polls showed that a majority of Republican voters disapproved of him and had several other candidates they preferred. How could he possibly win if most voters opposed him; surely, the race would soon narrow to two frontrunners, and Trump would fall behind.

Of course, as we now know, having numerous opponents turned out to be not a weakness, but a strength. He kept his opposition divided, and as he continued…

There’s two huge problems with American democracy, and there’s one idea that would fix both of them.

(Part 1 of this 3-part series, on the Senate, is here. Part 3 will cover the presidency and other executive elections.)

Problem #1: Unrepresented voters.

The United States constitution is based on the republican ideal of representative democracy. That is, ideally, you help choose a representative, and then that representative helps make laws. In order to work well, this system should represent essentially all American voters equally.

But in practice, over 40% of American voters don’t have a meaningful representative in the House of Representatives. Either they…

British Columbia is voting on whether to switch from choose-one voting to proportional representation (pro-rep). Along with this simple two-sided question, the referendum also includes a second question on which method to use if pro-rep wins. Two of the three options on that second question include some or all seats assigned via mixed member proportional voting (MMP), in which some seats are assigned by party to ensure proportionality. …

This is an example of how PLACE voting could work in US House elections in North Carolina, 2018. PLACE voting is a proportional representation (pro-rep) vote-counting method which solves gerrymandering by ensuring that almost all voters are represented equally no matter where district boundaries are, without needing to change those boundaries or the voting machines.

Note: this article covers the technicalities of the PLACE process. I’ll write another article in a few days to make less-technical points about why this is a good idea.

If you were voting in NC’s second district, a PLACE ballot would look something like this:

Sample PLACE ballot. Choose a local candidate, or write in one from another district.

In just over 2 weeks, Lane County, Oregon will vote on whether to use a new voting method for local elections: STAR voting.

It’s so simple, I can explain it with one picture:

A sample STAR voting ballot. The voter can rate 6 candidates (Allen, Bianca, Chris, Desi, Edith, and Frank) on a 0–5 scale. Instructions read: “The two highest scoring candidates are finalists. The finalist scored higher by more voters wins.”

STAR allows voters to approach voting by just honestly rating the candidates. The two most popular and least divisive candidates will naturally rise to the top and become finalists. Then, in deciding between those two finalists, everyone’s vote counts equally, whether you rated them [3 and 4] or [5 and 0]. …

You may have heard that the 51 senators who voted for Kavanaugh represent only 44% of the country. That’s wrong; it’s more like 31%. 39% of voters are represented only by senators who voted against Kavanaugh; and 30% of voters have no real representation in the Senate whatsoever. Here’s why.

In our system, each Senator supposedly represents their entire state. The unabashed partisanship of the Kavanaugh battle puts the lie to that pious fiction. Senators represent the people who voted for them.

Take North Carolina as an example.¹ They have two Republican senators: Richard Burr, last elected in 2016, and…

Jameson Quinn

Opinion, info, and research on improved voting systems and democracy. Building website to use these voting systems securely for private elections.

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