Speaker: Arkadii Slinko, Geoffrey Pritchard and Mark Wilson
Affiliation: The University of Auckland
Title: CMSS seminar devoted to referendum on electoral system in NZ
Date: Tuesday, 23 Aug 2011
Time: 4:00 pm
Location: Room 6115, Owen Glenn Building

On 26 November 2011 New Zealanders will vote in a referendum asking whether they want to retain the MMP electoral system, and if that system were to be changed, which of four other systems they would prefer. In this seminar we will have two talks in relation to this and general discussion.

[Note: slides for Pritchard-Wilson talk are available.]

1) Choosing how to choose an electoral system – 20 min
Arkadii Slinko

In this short talk I will introduce the options, i.e., the rules we are to choose from, list their obvious drawbacks and outline general principles on the basis of which, I believe, the choice should be made.

2) Referendum options simulator project – 40 min
Geoffrey Pritchard and Mark Wilson

The Electoral Commission has provided qualitative information about each of the five systems. We have created an online simulator that aims to allow a more quantitative comparison by estimating the seat distribution in Parliament under each of the systems, for each user-specified polling scenario.

We use NZ-specific data rather than general results for artificial societies. This immediately raises important modelling questions and particular issues around lack of data and spatial distribution of party support. Other obstacles include the specification in the referendum legislation that 120 electorates be used for each system, requiring us to perform redistricting. In this talk we shall present the simulator and discuss its internal workings and some representative results. Audience questions and comments are strongly invited.

3) General discussion – 30 min

Everyone welcome!

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