Senate of Pakistan electoral system - Single Transferable Vote System

Electoral system of senate/Upper house-Single Transferable Vote System

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Before taking insight of senate electoral system, short introduction of national assembly member’s electoral system in details as follows:

Electoral System of National Assembly:

To understand the electoral system of national and provincial assembly members, let’s take an example. A constituency having total votes of 500,000 and there are 5 members contesting elections.

Candidate 1 gained highest votes 120,000, his other opponent’s secured 280,000 votes and rest of the 100,000 votes are not cast. Let’s do some maths to find out the major flaw under which we are laying on: Out of 4lac casted votes, the winner member only obtained 1.2lac, which is 24% of the voted public. Rest of the 86% was sitting against him. But the system allows him to go into national or provincial assembly and represents the constituency of 5lac peoples. If we slightly zoom in the real consequences of such an un-nurtured electoral system and head on to make the system better. This system is also a nexus of criticism most of the time but no body sitting in the upper and lower houses want to demolish it, which is directly damaging their political interest.

Electoral System of Senate (Single transferable vote system)

Members of national assembly elects the senators for upper house. The shades of electoral system picture in public is very different than the real methodology of Single Transferable Vote System (STV).

The doctrine of STV was firstly introduced by Thomas Wright Hill in 1819. The system remained unused in public elections until 1855, when Carl Andræ proposed a transferable vote system for elections in Denmark, and his system was used in 1856 to elect the Rigsraad and from 1866 it was also adapted for indirect elections to the second chamber, the Landsting, until 1915.

In Pakistan, Senate was introduced in 1973 constitutions to overcome the unequal power distribution among the province. Before formation of the upper house, national assembly seats were distributed among the provinces according to their populations; Panjab having 183 seats the dense populated region and Balochistan having only 17 seats. This allocation of seats are depicting that, Panjab having full ruling authority over the country. To overcome wrong power distribution, senate was introduced in 1973 constitutions.

Let’s have some insight in the voting system of STV: Under STV, each elector (voter) casts a single vote in a district election that elects multiple winners. Each elector marks their ballot for the most preferred candidate and also marks back-up preferences. A vote goes to the voter’s first preference if possible, but if the first preference is eliminated, instead of being thrown away, the vote is transferred to a back-up preference, with the vote being assigned to the voter’s second, third, or lower choice if possible.

Use of quota to fill seats Once quota is derived, candidates’ vote tallies are consulted. If a candidate achieves the quota, he or she is declared elected. Then in some STV systems, any surplus vote is transferred to other candidates in proportion to the next back-up preference marked on the ballots received by that candidate. If more candidates than seats remain, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated, with their votes being transferred to other candidates as determined by the voters’ next back-up preference.

The Droop quota is an extension of requiring a 50% + 1 majority in single-winner elections. For example, at most 3 people can have 25% + 1 in 3-winner elections, 9 can have 10% + 1 in 9-winner elections, and so on.

If fractional votes can be submitted, then the Droop quota may be modified so that the fraction is not rounded down. Major Frank Britton, of the Election Ballot Services at the Electoral Reform Society, observed that the final plus one of the Droop quota is not needed; the exact quota is then simply without fractional votes, the equivalent integer quota may be written:

Votes needed to win=((Valid votes cast)/(Seats to fill+1))

So, the quota for one seat is fifty out of a hundred votes, not fifty-one.

Finding winners using quota

An STV election count starts with a count of each voters’ first choice, recording how many for each candidate, calculation of the total number of votes and the quota and then taking the following steps:

  1. A candidate who has reached or exceeded the quota is declared elected.
  2. If any such elected candidate has more votes than the quota, surplus votes are then transferred to other candidates proportionally based on their next indicated choice on all the ballots that had been received by that candidate. This can be done in several ways.
  3. If no-one has exceeded the quota or after all surplus votes have been transferred, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes are transferred to the next preferred candidate marked on each ballot.

This process repeats until either every seat has been filled by candidates surpassing quota or until there are as many remaining seats as there are remaining candidates, at which point the remaining candidates are declared elected.

  1. Transferred votes given to next preference
  2. Votes for next candidate belonging to original candidate
  3. Total votes for original candidate

Senate of Pakistan having total 104 seats. Distribution of seals are as follows

Federal Capital4

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