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The Buffet Dinner
A Tale of Two Electoral Systems (9X vs PR) Once upon a time there was a company that wanted to show appreciation for its 100 employees. The company owner, Mr. Cinti, decided to give a grand buffet dinner and invite all of them. He wanted a buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated. Mr. Cinti thought to himself: “How do I select the items that will be included in the buffet dinner?” Suddenly, he had a brilliant idea: “I’ll establish a Buffet Dinner Council made up of nine representatives selected by the employees! That way the employees through their representatives will select the buffet menu!” Mr. Cinti, thought to himself: “I’m good!” Mr. Cinti next thought to himself: “How will the Nine Buffet Dinner Council persons be selected?” As he thought on this matter, he remembered his objective of wanting a buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated. Suddenly, Mr. Cinti had another brilliant idea: “I’ll ask the employees to discuss among themselves their various food tastes and dietary needs, get together with other employees of similar tastes and dietary needs and nominate up to nine people to represent each group on the Buffet Dinner Council.” Then we’ll have an election, if needed, to select the Nine employee representatives!” Again, Mr. Cinti thought to himself: “I’m good!” To Mr. Cinti’s joy and sorrow, there was great response from the employees. He received 24 nominations for the 9 council seats! As he analyzed the responses, he noticed the following groups had submitted nominations:
Group Beef/Red Meat Chicken/Non Red meat Fish/Seafood Vegetarian Total Council Nominees # of council Nominees submitted 9 7 5 3 24

The Tale of the 9X Electoral System Mr. Cinti now had another question to address: “What voting system will be used for the employees to select the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council?” He pondered for a few minutes and suddenly, as usual, he had another brilliant idea: “I’ll have all the employees vote for up to nine of the nominees and the nine nominees that get the most votes will be on the Buffet Dinner Council! This will keep the election process “simple”, save the company a few dollars and make the employees feel good that they got not only one vote but nine votes! To emphasize this important point to the employees, I’ll give the voting process the catchy name “9X” system!” Again, Mr. Cinti thought to himself: “I’m not only good, I’m brilliant!” Mr. Cinti executed the 9X system of election for the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council with excellence! As he analyzed the election results he observed the following:
Group Beef/Red Meat Chicken/Non Red meat Fish/Seafood Vegetarian Total # of candidates by group 9 7 5 3 24 # of votes received by each nominee by group Each of the 9 candidates received 37 votes Each of the 7 candidates received 29 votes Each of the 5 candidates received 20 votes Each of the 3 candidates received 12 votes Total Ballots cast 98 # of council Nominees elected from a group 9 0 0 0 9

Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

2 Mr. Cinti noticed that all nine of the elected council members were from the Beef/Red Meat group but did not think much of it at the time. He was just very much relieved that the Buffet Dinner Council had been elected! Now he and the council could get on with the real purpose he started with: “Show appreciation for his over 100 employees giving a grand buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated”. Mr. Cinti, with great anticipation, expeditiously called a meeting of the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council. He shared with excitement his vision and purpose for the Company Buffet Dinner and gave the Council the responsibility to MAKE-IT-HAPPEN! The Nine Beef and Red Meat loving council persons embraced Mr. Cinti’s vision and purpose and wholeheartedly accepted the responsibility. Mr. Cinti left the meeting excited that the Buffet Dinner Menu was in good hands! The Buffet Dinner council was dedicated. They met regularly. Held input sessions with the various employee groups to better understand the various tastes and dietary needs. Finally, they came up with a list of seven entrees for the buffet that was to be narrowed to four by a vote of the council. The Nine Beef and Red Meat loving council’s list of seven Menu Entrée Options: 1)Roast Beef 2)Porterhouse Steak 3)Rib eye Steak 4)Beef Ribs 5)Vegetable plate with shredded beef on top 6)Beef and Chicken Stir fry w/ vegetables 7)Beef and shrimp stir fry w/ vegetables There was much discussion of the buffet entrée list options between the five diehard beef only purists and the four beef eaters who every now and then ate chicken or fish with their beef. The council discussed the input from the various non-beef/red meat groups and agreed that the input had been reflected in the variations of beef entrée combinations. The all beef council could not imagine a meal without some beef in it. Since the council could not come to a consensus on the final four entrees, a vote was taken using the 4X system. Each of the nine council persons could vote for up to four entrees and the four entrees that get the most votes would be selected for the Buffet Dinner. This was the vote outcome:
Menu Option 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 CM1 X X X X CM2 X X X X CM3 X X X X CM4 X X X X CM5 X X X X CM6 X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X X CM7 CM8 CM9 Total Votes for Menu Option 6 (Roast Beef) 6 (Porterhouse Steak) 6 (Rib eye Steak) 6 (Beef Ribs) 4 4 4

The final menu was now set for the Company employee appreciation Buffet Dinner with four beef entrees and the order placed with the caterers. The night of the grand Buffet Dinner finally arrives and Mr. Cinti and all the employees are gathered with anticipation of great fellowship and a delicious buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated. Unfortunately, the event did not turn out that way. 40% of the employees (the beef lovers) were having a great time and enjoying
Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

3 the feast of a lifetime! However, almost 60% of the employees were unhappy, complaining and feeling unappreciated because almost 60% of them had nothing on the buffet that they could eat! The next day, Mr. Cinti was trying to figure out what had gone wrong with the buffet dinner. Rather than an expected outcome of all his employees feeling appreciated, he had 60% feeling that he cared only about the beef eating employees. Mr. Cinti thought to himself: “How could this have happened? I seemed to have followed all the right steps: -I set a clear and noble objective -I let the employees select their own representatives to serve on the Buffet Dinner Council -The Buffet Dinner Council selected the menu items!” Then Mr. Cinti remembered something that had previously crossed his mind but he had ignored. He recalled that all the representatives elected to the Buffet Dinner Council had come from the beef lovers group. As he thought about it, he better understood how an all beef lovers group might come up with an all beef menu. Mr. Cinti interviewed members of the Buffet Council and further discovered that some of the council members were in favor of having some entrees that included non-beef items. However, there were five diehard beef purist that block voted for the beef only items. Finally, while sitting in his office, Mr. Cinti had an “ah ha” moment. The problem was not with the process but with the electoral system. His goal was to select a menu that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs of most, if not all his employees. A menu that had something for the tastes and dietary needs for BOTH the majority and minority groups. However, as he thought about it, the 9X winner-take-all electoral system used to elect the representatives to council, was not compatible with that objective. The 9X system by design would typically lead to representation only from the majority group because they would always have the most votes of any group when they voted as a block. He now understood how the Buffet Council ended up being all beef lovers! As Mr. Cinti continued to analyze what went wrong, he looked at the electoral system used by the council to come up with the final menu items. They had also used a winner take all voting system that led to the five diehard beef only purists being able to block vote as a majority group and eliminate even the beef combo items from the final menu selections! In effect, the 9X system had led to the viewpoints of about 20% of the employees blocking out the tastes and dietary needs of the other 80%! Mr. Cinti, had learned a valuable lesson that he would always remember. The type electoral system used needs to be compatible with the desired endpoint objective. If you want representation on a council reflective of the diversity of the employee needs, the 9X type winner-take-all electoral system is the WRONG system to use! It is NOT designed to provide proportional representation. It is designed to provide representation for the largest single group only! Mr. Cinti was still determined to have a buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated. He decided to have another employee buffet dinner six months later after his disgruntled employees had a chance to calm down from the last unfortunate experience. He was going to learn from his previous experience and try a different type of electoral system to elect the Buffet Dinner Council this time.
Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

4 The Tale of the Proportional Representation Electoral System Mr. Cinti happened to be talking with one of the long term company employees named Ted. Ted had been with the company prior to Mr. Cinti becoming the owner. Mr. Cinti mentioned his plans to do another employee buffet dinner. Having been one of the non-beef persons who experienced the last employee buffet dinner, Ted spontaneously responded: “No offense, Mr. Cinti, but I and many others won’t be attending if you have another all-beef menu!” Mr. Cinti perfectly understood Ted’s perspective and apologized. He shared the background that led to the last buffet dinner’s all-beef menu. Sensing Mr. Cinti’s sincerity, Ted shared with Mr. Cinti the concept of a proportional representation (PR) voting system that had been used by the previous owner several years ago to select a Buffet Dinner Council for an employee appreciation dinner that was done every other year. Ted shared that the system worked extremely well for over 30 years. The employee dinners were well attended and everyone’s taste and dietary needs were met. Ted further shared that the amazing thing about the PR system was that the buffet menu adjusted over time as the tastes and dietary needs of the employees changed. Mr. Cinti was excited about this PR voting system and asked Ted to work with him to implement PR for the next election of the Buffet Dinner Council. Ted agreed to help and provided Mr. Cinti the following additional basics on how the PR system works:   The PR electoral system provides a fair way to link share of council seats with share of votes. Any group of like-minded voters that number more than one-tenth of the total voting population can be sure of electing at least one member of a nine-member Council, but a majority group of like-minded voters can be sure of electing a majority of the Council. This is achieved by establishing a quota number of votes needed to be elected using the formula: Quota Total 1st choice votes cast by all voters = # of council seats + 1

This formula is key to the PR system’s ability to link share of council seats with share of votes. It is also the core difference between how PR and the 9X winner-take-all systems translate # of votes to # of council seats.       Voters rank in numerical order up to nine Council candidates according to their “preference” of whom they would most like to see elected. Your vote will be counted for your first-choice candidate if it can be used to help elect that candidate. Typically, 90% of the time the voter’s 1st choice is elected. If your vote cannot be used to help elect your first-choice candidate, it will be transferred to the highest of your other candidate choices that your vote can help. The more rank order choices you make, up to nine, the more likely you are to make your vote count for one of your council candidate choices You CANNOT hurt any of those candidates you prefer by marking lower rank order choices for other candidates. You are NOT required to make rank order choices for candidates you do not want to help elect.

Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

5 With Ted’s help, Mr. Cinti began the process to identify and elect the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council. All the employees were asked to discuss among themselves their various food tastes and dietary needs, get together with other employees of similar tastes and dietary needs and nominate up to nine people to represent each group on the Buffet Dinner Council. There was great response from the employees---24 nominations for the 9 council seats! An analysis of the responses was as follows:
Group (A)Beef/Red Meat (B)Chicken/Non Red meat (C)Fish/Seafood (D)Vegetarian Total Council Nominees # of council Nominees submitted 9 7 5 3 24

With Ted’s help, Mr. Cinti executed the PR system of election for the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council! A total of 98 valid ballots were cast. Using the PR quota formula it was determined that a council candidate needs 10 votes to get elected: Quota = 98 voters 9 council seats +1 = 98 10 = 9.8 = 10

An analysis of the first choice voting results was as follows:
Group (A)Beef/Red Meat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 (B)Chicken/Non Red meat 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 (C)Fish/Seafood 1 2 3 4 5 (D)Vegetarian 1 2 3 Total # of candidates by group 9 # of 1st choice votes received by each nominee 9 candidates received 37 1st choice votes 10 10 10 2 2 1 1 1 7 candidates received 29 1st choice votes 10 10 9* 0 0 0 0 5 candidates received 20 1st choice votes 10 10 0 0 0 3 candidates received 12 1st choice votes 10 1 1 Total Ballots cast 98 # of council Nominees elected from a group

3
1 1 1

7

3
1 1 1*

5

2
1 1

3

1
1

24

9

Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

6
*For simplicity, assume this candidate was elected on second choice count

Mr. Cinti noticed that all groups had at least one representative on the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council!. This was a significant outcome change from the 9X winner-take-all electoral system used for the last dinner where all representation was from only one group—the beef lovers. He was both excited and relieved that the Buffet Dinner Council had been elected! Now he and the council could get on with the real purpose he started with: “Show appreciation for his over 100 employees giving a grand buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated”. Mr. Cinti, with great anticipation, expeditiously called a meeting of the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council. He shared with excitement his vision and purpose for the Company Buffet Dinner and gave the Council the responsibility to MAKE-IT-HAPPEN! The Nine multi-group council persons embraced Mr. Cinti’s vision and purpose and wholeheartedly accepted the responsibility. Mr. Cinti left the meeting excited that the Buffet Dinner Menu was in good hands! The Buffet Dinner council was dedicated. They met regularly. Held input sessions with the various employee groups to better understand the various tastes and dietary needs. Finally, they came up with a list of seven entrees for the buffet that was to be narrowed to four by a vote of the council. The council’s list of seven Menu Entrée Options: 1)Roast Beef 2)Porterhouse Steak 3)Beef/chicken combo plate 4)Vegetable plate 5)Chicken Stir fry w/ vegetables 6)fish stir fry w/ vegetables 7)Chicken/Fish combo There was much discussion of the buffet entrée list options. The council discussed the input from the various groups and agreed that the input had been reflected in the various entrée options. They also remembered Mr. Cinti’s goal: “Show appreciation for his over 100 employees by giving a grand buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated”. Given their objective, Council decided to use a PR system to select the final four menu items. Each of the nine council persons could vote for up to four entrees rank ordering them from 1 to 4. The quota number of votes needed for an entrée to be selected is 2: 9 council ballots (4 entrees to be selected+1) This was the 1st choice vote outcome:
Menu Option 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

=

9 5
CM8

= 1.8 = 2

CM1 X

CM2 X

CM3 X

CM4

CM5

CM6

CM7

CM9

Total Votes for Menu Option 0 (Roast Beef) 3 (Porterhouse Steak) 0 (Beef/Chicken Combo) 1 (Vegetable Plate)* 3 (Chicken Stir fry w/ vegetable 2 (fish stir fry w/ vegetables 0 (Chicken/Fish combo)

X*

X

X

X
X X

7
*For simplicity, assume option 4 (Vegetable plate) was selected in second choice count

The final menu was now set for the Company employee appreciation Buffet Dinner with a menu selection that addressed each groups needs! The night of the grand Buffet Dinner finally arrives and Mr. Cinti and all the employees are gathered with anticipation of great fellowship and a delicious buffet dinner that would appeal to the various tastes and dietary needs so that every employee would feel appreciated. No one was disappointed. All of the employees were having a great time and enjoying the feast of a lifetime! They all had something they could eat from the grand buffet! Two days later, Mr. Cinti met with Ted and thanked him for introducing him to the PR electoral system! Mr. Cinti shared:  His employees really had a great time and really appreciated that he cared enough to consider the needs of all his employees and not just the majority beef eaters.  Mr. Cinti also shared the outcome of a debrief meeting with the Nine-member Buffet Dinner Council. They expressed that it was very beneficial to them to have a group reflective of all the employee groups. The Majority beef eating group that had previously dominated council, reluctantly admitted that It made it a lot easier to understand the needs of other groups and come up with a solution that was a win-win for all. As a matter of fact, the beef eating majority group representatives indicated that they had started to better understand how someone could have a meal without some beef without being un-American or un-democratic!

Mr. Cinti shared with Ted that he had learned a second valuable lesson that he would always remember from his experience with the Tale of Two Electoral Systems : “The only electoral system that is designed to deliver representation on a council reflective of the diversity of the employee needs is a Proportional Representation electoral system!” Ted smiled, shook hands with Mr. Cinti and said: “You’ll be receiving my consulting invoice tomorrow”.

Written by: Charles C. Harris Contact: listenb4uspeak@yahoo.com

Author: Charles Harris; 10/23/08; revised 10/28/08

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