Thursday, 5 May 2011

How Shall I Vote?

The only issue in this local election is whether to change the voting system from one where someone can be elected to represent us even though they had less than 50% of the vote, to a system where our votes will still count even if our first choice candidate doesn't make it, so that the winner will have the approval of at least 50% of those who bothered to vote, even if he or she wasn't their first choice.

So, how should I vote?  I believe in fairness and I would like my vote to count even though I don't share the majority view.  Chances are that our incumbent attracts a good 50% of the vote, but there may be times when he doesn't and then my vote would really make a difference.

Besides there are plenty of people in less safe seats who would be able to know that their vote actually counts if AV is voted in.

There has been a lot of disinformation by those who are worried AV could scupper their chances of winning if they need 50% of the vote.

We won't need to keep going back to the polling station.  All we shall have to do is put a number next to each candidate to say who our first choice is, who our second choice is and so on.  What could be simpler? We shan't need to choose them all if we don't want to, but it would be sensible to choose more than one in case our first choice isn't popular with our neighbours.

Changing to an AV system won't incur any extra costs.  We can still use a pencil to list our preferences rather than just put a cross on our ballot paper.  I suppose the extra writing means a few more pencils will be used, but that shouldn't break the bank.   Counting the votes by hand will still be possible.

Extremist parties won't benefit unless 50% of the constituents share their views.  On the other hand with first the past the post system the BNP have managed to scrape wins in local elections with less than a third of the vote.

The AV system is used in Australia and Marian Van Eyk McCain was very pleased with it during the 35 years she lived there.

For more information correcting the scare stories put out by the anti-av suppoters go here.


  1. I have very mixed views on this referendum. I'm no fan of the first past the post system but I don't believe AV's the answer. I favour a proportional system, of which there are many variations. However none of these were on offer. I felt that I was being asked to chose the least worst option. As for the campaign, it soon degenerated into the childish mudslinging we have unfortunately come to expect of our politicians.

    In the end I voted Yes, not because I'm convinced of the merits of AV, but because it was the only way to register my aspiration for a fairer system.

  2. It seems to me that AV would have been fairer than our current system, but that is clearly a minority view.

    I'm not sure whether it is better than Proportional Representation, though. PR would result in each party picking a number of candidates to represent them according to how many votes they got. AV would mean candidates are voted for directly by the electorate, which could have its advantages, I think.


All relevant comments to this post are welcome, so feel free to have your say.