15 October 2013

Local elections: Trifecta STV and modifying DHB representation

A couple of quick thoughts on how we might improve the voting experience for local government:

1. Mandate Trifecta STV as the universal form of voting.  That is, STV/PV applies - except instruct voters to only record, and only count, their top 3 preferences: 1, 2 and 3. This Trifecta STV system would retain much of the benefits of STV/PV tabulation but be much less intimidating for voters (even though, strictly speaking, voters currently do not need to rank the entire list).

2. Abolish elections for DHB positions and move the representation/community voice functions to local authorities. Sadly, the elected representation on DHBs is Clayton's representation, with government appointees and control of finance making it pretty ineffective. And the DHB candidates are unknown to the community. In order to retain a local community voice in DHB governance and priorities, why not instead mandate it through local authorities? A public health committee of the local authority could provide the interface with the local community and local views could be channeled through that into DHB decision-making. In addition, it would strengthen the environmental health-public health nexus - and perhaps may also open the door to different types of folk wishing to be involved in local government.

Just some raw thoughts. None of the voting mode suggestions floating around are going to be a panacea to voting turnout. But we can still try and make sure the system is fit-for-purpose.

Course Outline

Lord Justice Lawton in Maxwell v Department of Trade and Industry [1974] 2 All ER 122 said:

"From time to time ... lawyers and judges have tried to define what constitutes fairness. Like defining an elephant, it is not easy to do, although fairness in practice has the elephantine quality of being easy to recognise. As a result of these efforts a word in common usage has acquired the trappings of legalism: 'acting fairly' has become 'acting in accordance with the rules of natural justice', and on occasion has been dressed up with Latin tags. This phrase in my opinion serves no useful purpose and in recent years it has encouraged lawyers to try to put those who hold inquiries into legal straitjackets.... For the purposes of my judgment I intend to ask myself this simple question: did the [decision-maker] act fairly towards the plaintiff?"

This course examines the elephantine concept of fairness in the law, along with other contemporary legal issues.

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