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Why I want AV - Ed's journal
Why I want AV
So, if you've been following the news, you will be aware that on May the 5th, there is due to be a referendum on changing our voting system.
Edit: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-12498624
The choices will be 'Yes' to switch to Alternative Vote, and 'No' to keep the current 'first past the post' system.

I intend to be voting in that referendum, because I'm hungry for electoral reform.

AV is described on Wikipedia - but basically, you don't vote for a single candidate, you rank them - put a '1' by your first choice, a 2 by your second, and so on.

When the votes are counted, if none of the 'first choices' got more than 50%, then the candidate who got least is removed from the running, and all the ballot papers with them as 'first' get redistributed.
This repeats until one candidate _does_ get 50%. (Which may mean eliminating all but two from the running, but probably will be quicker than that).

Why do I want it? Well, because right now, the vast majority of seats in the UK are a two horse race - mostly Conservative vs. Labour. This in turn means that in effect - a vote for ANYONE ELSE - is a wasted vote.
I think that's bad. I want to be able to vote for the person I actually want in power - even if they are an independent or minority - without 'giving away' a seat to someone I really don't want to win.

I think that you'll hear the big objection to AV is that it will lead to more hung parliaments and coalition governments. Personally, I don't think that's a bad thing - just look, if you will at what's happened in the last two governments - first the Tories, then Labour - they've both made a mess, and I honestly think that's because there was no one who could apply the brakes, because they had a parliamentary majority.

So yes. It means - if it passes - that you'll be able to express a preference for the person you want to win, AS WELL as being able to express a preference against someone you really don't want.
I think it will mean more support for minority parties, as people don't think it'll be a 'waste'. I also think that ranked voting will also work against the ... less desirable minorities - I can see many people effectively voting against the BNP for example, by ranking 'everyone else' above them.

It's not a perfect system - no system of voting ever is - but I think it's a massive step forward in our electoral system, and one that will lead to better, more democratic governments for the future.
15 comments or Leave a comment
mister_jack From: mister_jack Date: February 18th, 2011 09:59 am (UTC) (Link)
It's still a rubbish system, but at least it's a step forward and - more critically - if the referendum fails there's very, very little chance of us ever seeing electoral reform in the next thirty years.

Our current system is simply unfit for purpose, it must be replaced.
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 18th, 2011 11:55 am (UTC) (Link)
I agree. It's just a baby step really, on the road to a wider electoral reform.
I've got a wish list of things I'd like to see (amongst this, a system that means an independent candidate has a realistic chance of 'getting in' on anything other than a single issue vote).

I'd like to have half the MPs elected on constituency boundaries, and the other half elected on a proportional representation basis.
I'd like to see a more direct democracy system, where you can either vote directly on an issue, or hand off your voting power to a representative - as you essentially do now - but scaling it according to their level of support.

Things like that - I think we have some incredible possibilities with the coming of the information age - we no longer have long communications latencies that mean we _need_ to have a delegate to sit in the House and represent us.
Maybe I'm going a bit pie in the sky on thinking, but I think there's a lot more possibilies available now, than there was when FPTP was first set in place.

But as you say - if AV gets shot down, then we're going nowhere.
jorune From: jorune Date: February 18th, 2011 02:18 pm (UTC) (Link)
Agreed to both points.
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forest_rose From: forest_rose Date: February 18th, 2011 01:38 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for this, you've reminded me to register for a postal vote as I'll be out of the country on the 5th May. This is too important to miss. x
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 18th, 2011 01:41 pm (UTC) (Link)
Thank you. I think the worst possible outcome in this referendum is an apathy vote. This is possibly the most important vote we'll see in our lifetime, however it pans out. I'd hate to see the usual 'we don't care' from the electorate.
ehrine From: ehrine Date: February 18th, 2011 04:45 pm (UTC) (Link)
Sadly, I suspect there will be rather too many people who "don't care".

More accurately there are too many people who won't bother to find out what this vote actually _is_ or understand what the two choices mean. People who, if they bothered to do the first bit, would actually care, but miss their chance due to early apathy.
notdan From: notdan Date: February 18th, 2011 05:34 pm (UTC) (Link)
Can anyone explain to me how AV (Alternative Vote) differs from STV (Single Transferable Vote)? Last night's 10 O'Clock Live suggested that they're quite different, but the description of AV I saw on the BBC news today made them sound identical.
ehrine From: ehrine Date: February 18th, 2011 07:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
With STV you are actually electing more than one person. If someone has _more_ than is needed to be elected, "wasted" votes move to the 2nd choice. In addition, you eliminate those who can't win from the other end to converge on the two or more that are elected. With AV you only elect one candidate.
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paulw From: paulw Date: February 18th, 2011 07:40 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm afraid I'll be voting no.

As you've said this is a rubbish system and I don't believe we should settle for a system that is just as unfair. It should be one person one vote. Not one person many votes depending on who you voted for.

I do not believe this will be used as a step towards a more representative system because if this gets voted for the Lib Dems will constantly be the king makers depending on which way the political wind is blowing at the time. Unfortunatly they have already shown they are unable/unwilling to stomach difficult choices when in power and I don't want these lightweights anywhere near government.

Listening to the interview on the Today program this morning it is obvious that the BBC is pushing for the Yes vote. The BBC is getting more and more biased towards the left. Its almost like they recruit and get their leads from the Guardian.

I realise this may be a unpopular position on here but these are my thoughts.
jorune From: jorune Date: February 18th, 2011 08:25 pm (UTC) (Link)
unable/unwilling to stomach difficult choices when in power

Other than Student Fees, large cuts to all services, etc. Where there any difficult choices you had in mind?
sobrique From: sobrique Date: February 18th, 2011 08:27 pm (UTC) (Link)
I disagree with your position, but I'm glad you'll be casting a vote on it.
I think you make a valid point - we will see more of the Liberals if this goes through. But I think the flip side is that we _will_ be seeing 3 way (or more) splits in parliament, rather than one side or the other.
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