Thursday, March 10, 2011

AV and the Electorate

I know AV isn't an ideal voting system, but it does seem better than the one we have. I have previously blogged about it here.

I have always been open to persuasion against voting for AV in May but have seen little to persuade me against it. Most of the arguments, and mainly put forward by Tory opponents, seem to be that counting the votes would be expensive. But general elections cost money so do we scrap them? The other argument is that it is a squalid compromise between Cameron and Clegg. Sorry, but I thought the squalid compromise between those two was called the Coalition.

Then I saw the following comment left by Scott_East_Anglia on a Telegraph blog.

"The problem with AV is that it allows those whose first preference was for a losing party to have more than one votes, while those whose first preference was for either the winner or the runner-up only get to vote once.

Perhaps it would be more apparent if I put in another way. Suppose we had an election with candidates from three parties - Blue, Red and Green. Then suppose that when the first preferences were counted no-one had more than 50% of the votes, so AV kicks in.

Under the AV rules, the party with the least votes - let's say Green for the sake of argument - is eliminated and its supporters' second preferences are redistributed between Blue and Red. The second preferences of those who vote for Blue or Red are never examined.

However, suppose that if the Blue and Red second preferences were also examined, and they turned out to have a huge support for Green, actually putting Green ahead of, say, Red after the Green supporters' second votes had been distributed, would it be fair that Green had to drop out rather than Red?

Under the AV systems these second votes from Blue and Red never see the light of day. Only the second votes from the Green supporters are used, and Green disappears from contention. Either Blue or Red then wins, unless it is a tie".
Interestingly his reasoned comments were met by abuse from at least one individual who does sound particularly obnoxious. Why is that some people on the internet attack people who disagree with them by calling them 'trolls'?

The letter hasn't convinced me not to vote for AV, but it has given me food for serious thought. A shame our politicians can't come out with reasoned agument against rather than just appearing to defend their personal positions.

Yes I know, very naive, but it does no harm to hope.

I still think that whatever happens the introduction of a qualification before people can vote would a be a very good idea. A high proportion of the electorate does seem particulally stupid.

In recent years I've met more than a couple of voters who have argued with me that Britain is not in the European Union. I eventually realised that they thought being out of the Eurozone meant we were no longer in the EU.

In one election, I even had somebody offering to vote for me and the Liberal Democrat candidate. Somebody in their 50s should surely have realised by now that we do have one vote only. Although that may change in May. 


Anonymous said...

ho! Ho! HO!

I disagree with the comment from South East Anglia. There is no need to look at the second preference of voters who have their first preference still in contention. It is an alternative vote, so voters first preferences should have priority of expression over their second preferences. FPTP takes no account of second preferences.

I support AV over FPTP as I think that asking me to rank the candidates in order of preference takes more account of my viewpoint than simply asking me which candidate is my favourite.

I disagree with adding more qualifications onto getting the vote. I don't trust the government not to exclude people from groups they don't like & that worries me more than thick voters.

Gregg said...

I think that's the UKIP line, which makes me skeptykal. But as I said, food for thought.