The Hare quota (also known as the simple quota) is a formula used under some forms of the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system and the largest remainder method of party-list proportional representation. In these voting systems the quota is the minimum number of votes required for a party or candidate to capture a seat, and the Hare quota is the total number of votes divided by the number of seats.
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The Hare quota is the simplest quota that can be used in elections held under the STV system. In an STV election a candidate who reaches the quota is elected while any votes a candidate receives above the quota are transferred to another candidate.
The Hare quota was devised by Thomas Hare, one of the earliest supporters of STV. In 1868, Henry Richmond Droop (1831–1884) invented the Droop quota as an alternative to the Hare quota, and Droop is now widely used, the Hare quota today being rarely used with STV.
In Brazil's largest remainder system the Hare quota is used to set the minimum number of seats allocated to each party or coalition. Remaining seats are allocated according to the D'Hondt method. This procedure is used for the Federal Chamber of Deputies, State Assemblies, Municipal and Federal District Chambers.
Compared to some similar methods, the use of the Hare quota with the largest remainder method tends to favour the smaller parties at the expense of the larger ones. Thus in Hong Kong the use of the Hare quota has prompted political parties to nominate their candidates on separate tickets, as under this system this may increase the number of seats they obtain. The Democratic Party, for example, filled three separate tickets in the 8-seat New Territories West constituency in the 2008 Legislative Council elections. In the 2012 election, no candidate list won more than one seat in any of the six PR constituencies (a total of 40 seats). In Hong Kong the Hare quota system has effectively become a multi-member single-vote system in the territory. This formula also rewards political alliances and parties of small-to-moderate size and discourages broader unions which led to the fragmentation of the political parties and electoral alliances rather than expanding them.
The Hare quota may be given as:
- Total votes = the total valid poll; that is, the number of valid (unspoilt) votes cast in an election.
- Total seats = the total number of seats to be filled in the election.
An example of use in STV
To see how the Hare quota works in an STV election, imagine an election in which there are 2 seats to be filled and 3 candidates: Andrea, Carter and Brad. One hundred voters voted, each casting one vote but some with back-up preferences. There are 100 ballots showing preferences as follows:
Because there are 100 voters and 2 seats, the Hare quota is:
To begin the count the first preferences cast for each candidate are tallied and are as follows:
- Andrea: 60
- Carter: 14
- Brad: 26
Andrea has more than 50 votes. She therefore has reached the quota and is declared elected. She has 10 votes more than the quota so these votes are transferred to Carter, as specified on the ballots. The tallies therefore now become:
- Carter: 24
- Brad: 26
The next step is elimination of the lowest-ranking candidate, in this case Carter. Although Brad has not reached the quota, he is declared elected since only two candidates remain and he has more votes than Carter.
The winners are therefore Andrea and Brad.
Comparison with the Droop quota
The Droop quota is smaller than the Hare quota, and is considered more efficient when counting ballots—since a candidate needs only the smaller quota to be elected, the winners are often determined with fewer counting rounds. Overall the two quotas give mostly similar results. However the results often differ, particularly with regard to the allocation of the last seat, which is determined after vote transfers. In the above example, using the Droop quota (34), more of Andrea's votes would be transferred with some going to Carter and Carter would win the second seat by having about 34 votes, which would be more than Brad's 26.
- In a multi-winner election, the Hare quota is kinder to small parties than the Droop quota because they have a slightly better chance to win the final seat, the previous winner's votes being wasted in un-transferred surplus votes.
- In an open list multi-winner election under the Hare quota it is possible for a party supported by a clear majority of voters to receive only a minority of seats if the votes are not dispersed relatively evenly across all the party's candidates. Thus the principle of majority rule favors the Droop quota. Single Transferable Voting using either Hare or Droop, being district-level systems that do not guarantee overall proportionality of representation, can see a party that has majority of the votes not take a majority of the seats and see a party with a minority of the votes take a majority of the seats overall.
- In an Alternative Voting election, an election using preferential voting but where there is only one seat to be filled (in other words an instant-runoff voting election) the Hare and Droop quotas are equivalent, as there is no transfer of surplus votes. Under both, when there are two remaining candidates, the candidate with more votes (a majority) is elected.
The Droop quota is today the most frequently used quota for STV elections.
The Hare quota is often criticised for favouring the smaller parties at the expense of the larger ones.
The Hare quota in Hong Kong's largest remainder system 2000-2012
In some cases, it leads to the fragmentation and infighting of the electoral alliances. In Hong Kong, the 2000 Legislative Council election, the second legislative election using the Hare quota largest remainder method, fragmentation and infighting within the parties and camps were shown because political parties began to split their lists in order to waste fewer votes as purchasing seats with remainder votes is always more efficient than purchasing them with full quotas under the Hare quota. For instance, the Democratic Party ran multiple lists by filling two lists in New Territories East and three lists in New Territories West, in which incumbent Lee Wing-tat's list was lost to his party colleague Albert Chan's list in the latter constituency. In 2004, the ADPL joined the Democrats by splitting lists in Kowloon West. In 2012, the pro-Beijing DAB deployed multiple lists for the first time. As a result, of the 34 seats captured by lists from the two major camps, only three were won by full quota. Due to its strong network with its affiliated grassroots and community organisations, the pro-Beijing camp was able to split the votes evenly to get more candidates to be elected with fewer votes.
The Hare quota used in Hong Kong's largest remainder system also encourages the multiplication of political parties and nonpartisan candidates. The vote share of the largest party Democratic Party dropped significantly, from 43 per cent in 1998 to 29 per cent in 2000, to 21 per cent in 2004, rising slightly to 20 per cent in 2008 and falling again to 14 per cent in 2012. As under the Hare quota largest remainder method the broad alliance wins little or no seat bonus, whereas much smaller lists win larger bonuses in the elections, politicians and potential allies are motivated to diverge rather than to coalesce.
The adoption of the Hare quota system by the Beijing government on the eve of the transfer of sovereignty of Hong Kong was seen as the measure to curb the dominance of the pro-democracy camp who dominated in the 1995 elections with single-member district (SMD) plurality system, winning 17 of the 20 directly elected seats. Lau Siu-kai, political scientist who served as the convenor of the Subgroup on Electoral Methods for the First Legislature (SEMFL) appointed by National People's Congress explained the reason behind the Beijing installation of the Hare quota largest remainder method:
The Communist regime...realized full well that the appearance of political parties was inevitable whenever there were elections, particularly popular elections. It nevertheless did not want to see the rise of anti-Communist political parties in Hong Kong. Nor could China tolerate the domination of the legislature by a powerful political party, which then could use the veto powers at the legislature's disposal to 'blackmail' the executive or to bring about stalemate between the executive and legislative branches...In devising the electoral arrangements for the first legislature of the HKSAR, therefore, China strove to impede the development of local political parties, particularly those with pro-democratic and anti-Communist inclinations.
By installing the single non-transferable vote (SNTV) system, Beijing ensured the pro-Beijing politicians who received only roughly 40 per cent of the support and were defeated by the pro-democratic candidates in 1995 could return a corresponding number of seats in the legislature.
- (in Portuguese) Brazilian Electoral Code, (Law 4737/1965), Articles 106 to 109.
- Tsang, Jasper Yok Sing (11 March 2008). "Divide then conquer". South China Morning Post. Hong Kong. p. A17.
- Ma Ngok (25 July 2008). 港式比例代表制 議會四分五裂 [Hong Kong-style proportional representation is divided]. Ming Pao (in Chinese). Hong Kong. p. A31.
- Choy, Ivan Chi Keung (31 July 2008). 港式選舉淪為變相多議席單票制 [Hong Kong-style elections become a multi-seat multi-seat single-vote system]. Ming Pao (in Chinese). Hong Kong. p. A29.
- Carey, John M. "Electoral Formula and Fragmentation in Hong Kong" (PDF). Cite journal requires