Sunday, 24 April 2011

The Alternative Vote

On both sides of the controversy claims are exaggerated. The proposed change in our voting system is likely to have only modest effects.

AV will not make it impossible for a single party to have a majority, though it will make it a little less likely for a parliamentary majority to be obtained by a party that does not have either a majority of the total vote, or a commanding lead over its nearest rival.

In individual constituencies, AV would not entirely prevent the election of a candidate the majority of the electorate finds objectionable but it would make it less likely.

I support AV for three reasons.

(1) It would allow me to give more information about my preferences. If there are n candidates the present system allows only n ways of validly filling in a ballot paper. AV would permit n! ways. For instance if there were 6 candidates, there would be 720 ways of filling in an AV ballot paper, compared with only 6 under the present system.

(2) It would require the authorities to pay more attention to my preferences, because many ballot papers would have to be inspected several times, instead of just once.

(3) By getting the electorate accustomed to numbering the candidates in order of preference, it would prepare the way for the Single Transferable Vote in Multi-member constituencies, the electoral system that seems to me the best that has so far been devised.

I plan to follow this posting with several others examining various misconceptions.

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