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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 79

The Remedy

The Remedy.

From time to time in England and in our own Dominion, efforts have been put forth for the adoption of what is known as the "Preferential" system of voting. In this country we have had proposals made in Parliament in this direction by men sitting on different sides of the House: Sir Frederick Whitaker, Majo Atkinson, Sir Robert Stout, Mr. Hislop and others have introduced bills on the subject, but without avail, so wedded were parties to any system which, for the time, appeared to give them the upper hand, and so indisposed were members generally to exercise the necessary industry for mastering the details of the proposed reform which always appeared to them, because of this indisposition, "complicated": No progress, except the education of the people was made. So far back as 1887, I myself sought to help the movement by publication of a pamphlet, entitled, "True Parliamentary Representation, How to Obtain It," in which, I think, I did some service, and, within the past few weeks we have had from the hand of our good friend, the Hon. G. Fowlds, a bill which he introduced for the same end. I am not without hope that our labours are nearing fruition, and that, pressed by friends from within, the Liberal party, will proceed to add one more to the benefits conferred upon this country by Liberal Administrations in the past by the introduction, as a Government measure, of a bill giving to the whole people due representation in Parliament. Unon a future occasion, if re- page 4 required, I may go into details regarding the operation of proportional representation; for the present, however, I will content myself by giving yon the following summary of its salient features:
(a)The electoral districts are made large carrying any number of members which may be found suited to the extent and configuration of the country mcluded, and the identity of interest of the inhabitants. The larger the district the more completely full representation is secured.
(b)Each voter has one vote, but he is allowed to indicate his preference for candidates by marking upon the ballot paper the numbers, 1, 2, 3., and so on against the names or as many candidates as be pleases, in the order which he prefers them. This is the whole work required of the voter.
(c)A candidate to be elected does not need to poll a majority of the votes cast, but only a certain proportion of them, This proportion is known by the term "Quota," which in ascertained by the returning officer dividing the whole number of votes cast by a figure equal to the number of seats to be filled, plus one, and adding one to the result.
The Returning Officer ascertains the result of the election as follows:
(1)He counts each ballot paper as one vote to the candidate marked I thereon; he also counts the total number of votes.
(2)He ascertains the quota in the way indicated already.
(3)He declares elected the candidates who have received the quota.
(4)He transfers in strict proportions the surplus votes of those candidates who have received more than the quota, and credits them to the unelected candidates indicated by the figures 2, 3, and so on as the nest preferences of the electors whose votes are transferred. This operation renders all votes effective votes are used and not wasted.
(5)He declares elected those candidates who, after the transfer of surplus votes, have obtained the quota.
(6)He eliminates the candidates lowest on the poll one after another by transferring their votes in accordance with the-wishes of their supporters to the candidates indicated as next preferences This is process is continued until the required number of [unclear: candidates], having each obtained their quota, have been declared elected, or the number of [unclear: ea] dates not eliminated is reduced to [unclear: the] number of seats still vacant, in [unclear: which] event the candidates not [unclear: eliminated] declared elected.

When this operation is [unclear: completed] will be found that each member has [unclear: be] elected by exactly the same number votes, and that the whole votes [unclear: was] i.e., fail to assist in the return [unclear: of] member, would be under the quota.

Let me illustrate; Assuming [unclear: that] our last General Election this [unclear: system] had been in force, and that the [unclear: we] colony had been one electorate, [unclear: wh] would have been the result? The [unclear: whe] number of votes east for the colony [unclear: be] 428,048 and the number of seats [unclear: to] filled being 76 the quota by the [unclear: rule] have given would have been 55158 [unclear: and] total waste of votes only 5480, [unclear: ea] member being returned by exactly [unclear: the] same number of votes. What [unclear: actually] occurred at the General Election [unclear: what] that the waste of votes amounted 177,178, and the number electing member varied from 2024 to 4785.

Under Present System.
Total Votes Cast. Seats to Fill. Elected Men Received. Non-Elected Received. Waste.
428,648 76 233,328 177,178 42% of Whole Cast.
Proposed System.
Total Votes Cast. Seats to Fill. Elected Men Received. Non-Elected Received. Waste.
428,648 76 423,320 5,328 A little [unclear: over 1%.]

If the contrast exhibited by these [unclear: fact] and figures does not prove the [unclear: necess] for a radical change in the [unclear: machine] provided for giving [unclear: representation] cording to numbers then no [unclear: argument] can.

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I have dealt with this subject first and at length because of the great importance I attach to its consideration by the country. I ask the Electors of Eden, as a people in a large measure free from parish politics," anxious to promote sound and honest government of the country through the proper and full representation of the whole people in Parliament, to send me there that I may, with a all the energy I possess, assist towards this reform, so vital to the purity of our public affairs.