Wednesday, 4 May 2011

Voting Reform 10: How complicated is AV? #referendum

The Alternative Vote is accused of being overcomplicated.

There are three ways a voting system can be complicated:

1. In the booth
On the day, the only difference is marking one candidate with an X, or numbering the candidates in order of preference. AV is really not that complicated - the Yes campaign's slogan 'AV is as easy as 1, 2, 3' is correct.

2. On election night
True, some results under AV would take longer to count - which some argue will take the drama out of our traditional election night. Candidates can still win on the first round, which will take exactly the same amount of time to count. Those which take longer are taking the time necessary to work out who is the most popular candidate, which is a worthwhile task.

3. Before you vote
Stepping back a bit, what FPTP supporters fail to mention when explaining the counting systems of AV, is how complicated it can be working out who to vote for under FPTP.

Experienced voters in this country are used to looking at last election's figures to work out whether they can afford to vote for their preferred candidate or not. Often voters want to stop a particular party from winning, so end up voting for the next most popular, regardless of whether that's the candidate they want.

This is tactical voting, and is basically eliminated under AV. AV will allow us to go and vote first for the candidate we want to win, simply and honestly.

AV would remain a simple, paper-based system. It would take a bit longer to count some seats, but that is a worthwhile investment to find the right candidate.

The main complexity is in deciding now whether the system is preferable to FPTP. Once you've decided whether it's a better system, you don't have to think much about the tactical element of voting - just vote 1, 2, 3, and leave it up to the counters to figure out who the people have chosen.


Blogger Ros Francis said...

AV doesn't eliminate tactical voting - people can still vote tactically if they feel they need to.

I've seen and heard this assertion that "everyone" votes tactically with FPTP. I've seen no evidence that this is right. I'm sure some people do vote tactically, but everyone? There are many reasons why people vote the way they do but I've haven't seen the evidence that AV will eliminate tactical voting.

12:44 pm  

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