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  Thu, Jan 29, 2009
El Salvador's quirky proportional representation system
Matthew Shugart's Fruits and Votes blog has an in-depth discussion on the unusual behavior of the proportional representation system used in El Salvador, which held a legislative election last January 18.

The 84 members of the Central American nation's unicameral Legislative Assembly are chosen by the largest remainder method of PR in fourteen multi-member constituencies - the departments of El Salvador. However, the system often works to the advantage of smaller parties, particularly the right-wing National Conciliation Party (PCN), which elected eleven deputies (13.1% of the total) with just 8.8% of the vote. Meanwhile, the country's two major parties - the ruling, conservative Nationalist Republican Alliance (ARENA) and the left-wing opposition Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN) - ended up slightly under-represented in the Assembly.

In response to Prof. Shugart's suggestion about distributing Assembly seats by the D'Hondt rule, I calculated the notional distribution of Legislative Assembly seats under that procedure as well as other PR methods, and the results are actually quite surprising.

Incidentally, El Salvador's recently held poll was a warm-up act for the upcoming presidential election, scheduled to be held next March 15.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 01/29/2009 20:20 | permanent link

  Wed, Jan 07, 2009
The sharp decline of Puerto Rico's voter turnout rate
(Esta entrada está disponible también en español.)

The decline of Puerto Rico's voter turnout rate has accelerated following the 2008 election, but official statistics do not show the full scope of the problem.

The Commonwealth Elections Commission (CEE) reports that 1,942,931 out of 2,458,036 registered voters took part in the general election held last November 4, for a 79% voter turnout rate - a figure that not only stands 2.7% below the 81.7% that turned out to vote in the 2004 election, but also constitutes the fourth consecutive decline in turnout since 1992.

However, the CEE statistics don't take into account voting-age individuals who aren't registered, which represent a growing share of the population of Puerto Rico aged 18 years or older. In 2000 the voter registration rate - the percentage of the voting-age population registered to take part in election processes - stood at 90.1%, but this figure dropped to 85.6% in 2004, and to 82.7% in 2008. According to the 2008 population estimates released last December by the U.S. Census Bureau, Puerto Rico had 2,971,764 individuals aged 18 years or older, and therefore the voting-age population turnout rate for the 2008 election was just 65.4%, or 4.6% lower than in the 2004 election, in which the electorate that voted according to the official rolls constituted 70% of Puerto Rico's voting-age population.

In fact, the voter turnout rate for the population aged 18 years or older is not just markedly lower than the turnout figure for registered voters, but the gap separating both figures is widening, due to the collapse of the voter registration rate. Although the CEE has acknowledged that voter turnout in 2008 finished below its expectations, the agency has so far ignored the far more serious problem regarding the growing number of voting-age individuals that aren't registered; on the contrary, last September the Commission sought to present the small increase in the total number of registered voters (relative to the 2004 election) as a huge success.

Finally, it must be noted that while the turnout rate of Puerto Rico's voting-age population remains higher than that for the U.S. proper, the difference has shrunk dramatically over the course of this decade. In 2000, 74.2% of Puerto Rico's population aged 18 years or older voted in the general election, while in the United States only 51.2% turned out to vote, for a difference of twenty-three percentage points. However, 56.8% of the voting-age population took part in the U.S. 2008 general election, which is just 8.6% lower than in Puerto Rico.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 01/07/2009 12:55 | permanent link

El pronunciado declive de la tasa de participación electoral en Puerto Rico
(This posting is also available in English.)

El declive de la tasa de participación electoral en Puerto Rico se ha acelerado tras las elecciones de 2008, pero las estadísticas oficiales no revelan el alcance del problema en su totalidad.

La Comisión Estatal de Elecciones (CEE) informa que 1,942,931 de 2,458,036 electores inscritos votaron en las elecciones generales celebradas el pasado 4 de noviembre, para una tasa de participación electoral de 79% - cifra que no solamente se sitúa 2.7% por debajo del 81.7% que acudió a votar en 2004, sino que también constituye el cuarto declive consecutivo de la tasa de participación desde 1992.

Sin embargo, las estadísticas de la CEE no toman en cuenta a las personas con edad para votar que no se inscriben, las cuales representan una porción creciente de la población de Puerto Rico de 18 años o más. En 2000 la tasa de inscripción electoral - el porciento de la población con edad para votar que está inscrito para participar en los procesos electorales - se situaba en 90.1%, pero esta cifra cayó a 85.6% en 2004 y a 82.7% en 2008. De acuerdo con los estimados de población para 2008 publicados el pasado mes de diciembre por el Negociado del Censo de los E.E.U.U., Puerto Rico contaba con 2,971,764 personas de 18 años de edad o más, y por lo tanto la tasa de participación electoral de personas con edad para votar en las elecciones de 2008 fue de solamente 65.4%, ó un 4.6% menos que en las elecciones de 2004, en las cuales el electorado que votó según lista constituyó el 70% de los habitantes de Puerto Rico con edad para votar.

De hecho, la tasa de participación electoral para la población de 18 años o más no solamente es marcadamente inferior a la cifra de participación para los electores inscritos, sino que la brecha que separa a ambas cifras se está ampliando, debido al colapso de la tasa de inscripción. Aunque la CEE ha reconocido que la participación electoral en 2008 quedó por debajo de sus expectativas, hasta la fecha la agencia ha ignorado el problema mucho más serio en torno al número creciente de personas con edad para votar que no están inscritos; por el contrario, en septiembre del año pasado la Comisión procuró presentar el reducido aumento del total de electores inscritos (con respecto a las elecciones de 2004) como un gran éxito.

Finalmente, debe señalarse que si bien la tasa de participación de la población de Puerto Rico con edad para votar sigue siendo mayor que la correspondiente a los E.E.U.U. propiamente dichos, la diferencia se ha reducido dramáticamente en el transcurso de esta década. En 2000, el 74.2% de la población de Puerto Rico de 18 años o más votó en las elecciones generales, mientras que en Estados Unidos solamente acudió a votar el 51.2%, para una diferencia de veintitrés puntos porcentuales. Sin embargo, el 56.8% de la población con edad para votar participó en las elecciones generales de 2008 en los E.U.U.U., lo cual es solamente un 8.6% menos que en Puerto Rico.

posted by Manuel Álvarez-Rivera : 01/07/2009 12:55 | permanent link