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Clear Description of UK Alternative Vote (AV) system 2

On 23 Apr 2011 at 8:10am MC wrote:
Politics haters please look away now.

This is a continuation of full thread below.

I've summarised a few things uneathed in the last thread and followed that by the clearest description I could find of the Alternative Vote (AV) system as it is proposed for the UK.

Almost all the reasons that people put forward for not wanting AV are based upon the fallacies and untruths spread by the extremely well-funded 'No to AV' campaign.

It will be tragic if we do not take the only chance we are likely to get to revamp and revitalise our damaging and polarising voting system just because people simply to not understand the very neat and simple AV system being proposed as the alternative.

A few real facts to clear up common misconceptions:

1) In the majority of cases the AV system will return the same candidate as the FPTP system. It is only when the winners majority is slim *and a large number of people really do not want this candidate* (i.e. by not including them in any of their choices) that the results will differ. (This counts against parties like the BNP, which is why they are campaigning against the system so vigorously).

2) It will *not* lead to the creation of a government made up of people's second choices. In the great majority of cases it will return the same candidate as with FPTP (see above). In the few cases where it doesn't the elected candidate will be chosen on the likes *and dislikes* of the majority, and not as occurs presently, by the likes of a minority.

3) It will make it easier to remove representatives that are disliked by a majority of the voters (this is the reason that candidates will have to work harder for you)

4) The AV system is not complicated. It is very simple and inexpensive to administer. (The Australians don't have any problem understanding it!)

5) AV is not a very big shift from FPTP. It is a mild change and nowhere near as radical as full Proportional Representation (PR). The difference it will make to the complexion of our government will not be large or frightening in any way.

6) AV will ubdoubtably diminish the power of the two big parties, but they'll still be the two most powerful parties (and by a very long way).

7) There will be an increased chance of getting a coalition government. The uninformed assumption is that coalitions are a bad thing. This assumption is not correct. For instance, a more coalesced UK parliament would reduce the damage wreaked on our society and economy by the incessent cyclical swing between the Labour (spend) and Tory (cut) policies. (It can easily reasoned that the long-term dominance of two class-based parties is much worse for us than any coalition could ever be.)

8) The version of AV proposed for the UK is not exactly the same as the Australian system. With the UK version the voter can choose the number of candidates they want to rank (and many will choose only one, as they do under the current FPTP system.)
In Oz you must rank *all* candidates standing. Also in Oz it is compulsory to vote. In the UK it is not.

9) The majority of Australians do not want to revert to our FPTP system (this is another lie spread by Tory activists and the 'No to AV' campaign and based upon deliberately misleading reseach).

Here's a neat BBC article written on Oz voting day clearly describing their system and the effects it has on who is returned. (Beware: it does not make clear the distinction between the UK and Oz AV systems.)

A clear description of the AV system as proposed for the UK:

"The Alternative Vote (AV) is very much like First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). Like FPTP, it is used to elect representatives for single-member constituencies, except that rather than simply marking one solitary 'X' on the ballot paper, the voter has the additional choice to rank the candidates on offer.

The voter thus puts a '1' by their first-preference candidate, and can continue, if they wish, to put a '2' by their second-preference, and so on, until they don't care anymore or they run out of names. In some AV elections, such as most Australian elections, electors are required to rank all candidates.

If a candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes (more people put them as number one than all the rest combined), then they are elected.

If no candidate gains a majority on first preferences, then the second-preference votes of the candidate who finished last on the first count are redistributed. This process is repeated until someone gets over 50 per cent."

PS. I am *not* a liberal.
On 23 Apr 2011 at 9:18am sashimi wrote:
FPTP is fine in a two party system. But, whereas in the 1960s 90% of the electorate voted Tory or Labour, now only 60% do. In a multi-party election, AV gives the voter a chance to vote for one candidate/party and at the same time against anyone they really don't want to see elected. That's why it's a better system in our present circumstances.
On 23 Apr 2011 at 10:16am bastian wrote:
there is a word for the confusion that mr newman uses and it is sophistry..
On 23 Apr 2011 at 10:25am MC wrote:
Newman, The Tories and the (expensively funded) No to AV campaign too. All of them. Cynically and deliberately obfuscating the issue by spreading lies and half truths. The unprincipled tactics of scoundrels and knaves, desperate to cling on to their power.

It is so important that we vote Yes to AV, if only to reduce the power of these people and alleviate the damage the cyclical swings between Labour and Conservative policies wreak on our economy and society.

We will only get one chance.
On 23 Apr 2011 at 12:04pm Twinky wrote:
@MC : Exactly right
On 23 Apr 2011 at 2:08pm supporter wrote:
What a load of garbage MC the only fair change to the voting system is PR this gives everyone a chance,it works well for the EU elections and would work well with Parlimentary elections.
AV is a very poor comprise given by that Tory twat Cameron to get into power.
On 23 Apr 2011 at 2:37pm MC wrote:
I prefer PR too but there is no chance of getting a change so radical past the conservative British public. Just because AV is not PR is no reason to condem it and vote it down out of hand. It is not far from FPTP but is is still more representative than FPTP. We also stand much more chance of gaining real PR through a system practicing AV than via the existing FPTP system. Once voters have been prized away from FPTP and experienced another system that works they might be more inclined to accept PR.

Which of the points above do you consider compete twaddle by the way? I though most of them were pretty sound. I am happy to back any of them up if you take the time to make some constructive criticism.
On 23 Apr 2011 at 5:13pm 'ere be monsters wrote:
You had me going there for a minute, then you descended into the name calling that so undermines a reasonable argument. Shame.
On 24 Apr 2011 at 8:15am The Super k wrote:
Question.. If AV is so great why do only 3 countries worldwide use it and why is one of them currently scrapping it?
Why after its introduction ded voter turnout in Australia fall so low that they made it illegal NOT to vote?
In England it is proposed that you can still just vote for one party under AV. How can the Pro AV party claim that it will bring back a 50% majority for the winning party.
Why should someones 5th choice vote count the same as my first choice vote in a 'fair voting system'?
On 24 Apr 2011 at 10:27am MC wrote:
1) Because holding onto the FPTP system is in the interest of the the main parties and the private media. They will do all they can to stop change (witness the desperate lies and obfusification that the Tories and No to AV people are very spreading very effectively via the commercial media at this moment). It is very hard to get a change voting systems that have passed their sell-by date, in fact almost impossible. This is why this one chance we have is so important.

2) Turn out in Oz was already very low.

3) See my reply to the thread you started above in the name of Thruth teller

4) It doesn't. In the great majority of case your first choice will be the only one that counts. It is only when there is not a sufficient deciding majority that other votes are counted. This allows the growing numbers of people who prefer not to vote for the two main parties and who gamefully still turn up to vote under the FPTP system even though THEIR VOTES COUNT FOR NOTHING AT ALL to have a say if the outcome from the first vote is not decisive.
This seems like a very good thing to me.
On 25 Apr 2011 at 7:45am Clifford wrote:
MC wrote: 'I prefer PR too but there is no chance of getting a change so radical past the conservative British public.'

Ah yes, that terrible 'conservative British public'. It certainly wouldn't be fair to allow them to have the voting system they want, would it? So we have to try to get something else 'past' them.
On 25 Apr 2011 at 9:07am sashimi wrote:
@ Super k. There may be only three countries with AV in the form that is the subject of our referendum. But many European countries have a variant of it where one Sunday you vote on a ballot with a large number of candidates and if no one gets 50% of the vote, the next Sunday you have a run off between the top two. The advantage of AV is you only have to turn out to vote once.
On 25 Apr 2011 at 9:30am Lopster wrote:
contender for post of the week there MC
very well put - I cannot imagine that anyone want's to stay with the system that we have suffered for so long
On 25 Apr 2011 at 1:48pm Ranger wrote:
What happens under AV in this situation? Say I vote 1. UKIP, 2. BNP, 3. Tory. The BNP candidate comes last and is eliminated. My second preference vote is redistributed. But hang on, my second preference vote was BNP. What will they do, treat my third preference vote as my second preference, or maybe treat my first preference vote as my second preference?
On 25 Apr 2011 at 1:52pm Ranger wrote:
Carrying on. On the second round the UKIP candidate is eliminated as getting the least votes. What happens to my second preference then. Remember it was BNP and the BNP candidate has already been eliminated. Does my second preference vote become Tory, even though I made it my third preference?
On 26 Apr 2011 at 12:23am CommonSense wrote:
Under AV, once all the smaller parties have been eliminated, each constituency will end up with a Conservative, a Labour and a Liberal candidate holding the top three places.
It is unlikely that a Tory will have a preference vote for either of the other two and likewise for the others.
At this point it reverts back to First Past The Post.
Most voters will only place a 1 next to one of the three main parties and the protest voters:
1 UKIP, 2 Tory
1 Socialist Party, 2 Labour
1 Green, 2 Liberal
It doesn't even help getting rid of an unwanted MP any more than the current system. You still have to vote for one of the main parities that you wouldn't normally support - maybe putting it as your second preference may ease your conscience.
Finally, there is no reason why you can't place a '1' on your current ballot paper as it states that you are to indicate your preference. You may just as well put a tick as a cross. That is a much better way of showing approval to a candidate.
On 26 Apr 2011 at 9:05am williamdyer wrote:
I'm voting 'yes' in the referendum on the alternative vote.
And my second preference is 'no'
*boom tish*
I will, of course, be voting YES, as I feel that it will allow a more nuanced representation of my political preferences.
On 26 Apr 2011 at 9:58am Taff wrote:
As voting in Australia is a legal reqirement I doubt very much that the turnouts are low? I have no proof though.
The risk of second choices you say are minimal, however that risk is still greater than at present. Winners and losers is what competition is about. If my vote loses then so be it. Get on with it. If on the first count there is an outright majority I have effectively voted for 3 - 4 other losers!
On 26 Apr 2011 at 10:10am williamdyer wrote:
Voter turnout in Australia highest in world (95% - ref: wikipedia). There is some variation in legal enforcement between states, with predictable changes in turnout as a result. Nice ref below. I'll see if we can turn up any data on whether voting in AV states is compulsory or not.

Check it out here »
On 26 Apr 2011 at 5:28pm MC wrote:
"what competition is all about". So that's it? In your book voting, democracy and representation boils down to a simple competition, the only result being a single winner and loosers? That's a bit simple. Even X-Factor is more complex than that.
On 27 Apr 2011 at 8:54am Taff wrote:
MC, democracy is not about competition now is it. Democracy gives one the right to enter the competition, either as a competitor or in a supporting role as a voter as well as the freedom of ones own selection of party. Its the selecting part that is the competition and democracy promotes that.
When my children were at school, back in the 80s, the schools 'competition policy' changed to not having losers, as did all schools, especially in sporting activities. So in fact the winners were the only ones that lost because they didnt necessarily win! But the losers didnt lose either. AV promotes the same in my opinion.
Why shouldnt someone with excellent skills, of whatever nature, be recognised for that.
If you want the best then competition is the only way.
I cannot comment on X Factor, never seen it, but my grndaughter believes it to be a competition.
On 27 Apr 2011 at 9:27am MC wrote:
We are talking about the method for fair representation of the population in government. To take it down to "competition" seems to miss the mark.
On 27 Apr 2011 at 10:14am 'ere be monsters wrote:
Not sure there are too many MPs that know the meaning of "fair", unless they're talking about their expenses or pay rise!
On 27 Apr 2011 at 10:49am Taff wrote:
Since when has politics not been fair representation? Whoever won the election got in. Thats pretty fair in my book. If the political represenation of the middle of the roaders now promoting AV did not get in then there are only 2 reasons. 1 they didnt get enough votes and 2 their voters didnt vote enough.
By beating the opposition you finish first. If thats not competition then I dont know diddley squat! If you want to take the non competitive liberal middle of the road attitude then you remove the competitivness and no one has lost, conversely no one has won either because without one you do not achieve the other. Unless of course AV results in long term in not having to ever change the government because fair representation does not require it because its fair representation!
If you want fair representation as you call it I suggest all candidates up their game and mix it a bit more to get more recognition. Democracy permits that!
As it does for those voters who cannot be bothered to vote but still whinge at the outcome. Maybe then AV for some will then be 'Any votes' Please?
Overall surely fair representation is a government that does what the majority voters want. When did that last happen?
'miss the mark' isnt that exactly what AV could achieve!
On 27 Apr 2011 at 11:10am MC wrote:
But the government has not been voted in by the majority for a long time, and every election the percentage of people who vote it in is reduced as the population becomes increasingly disillusioned and less engaged with the political system. A major factor in this decline in interest in politics is the fact that the FPTP system is not representative and unless you vote for one of two parties your vote counts for nothing at all. That is not democracy. It might be competition but it's a crap way of managing political representation when the electoral system only allows you a chance of two tired parties.
On 27 Apr 2011 at 11:23am Taff wrote:
Empathy rules then does it?
On 27 Apr 2011 at 11:39am 'ere be monsters wrote:
What would happen if you did away with party politics. Vote each MP in on their attributes. Free for all voting in parliament and elected House of Lords as well.
On 27 Apr 2011 at 12:46pm Taff wrote:
We would have democracy in the house as well. Chaos to probably. I like chaos, as long as it is not managed. Brings out the competitive nature.
On 28 Apr 2011 at 5:25pm Mike wrote:
"why should my 1st preference vote count the same as someone's 5th preference..."

Because your 1st preference counts in the first count, the second count, the third count, the fourth count and the fifth count.

Ie if he has five different votes, you have five votes for the same person.

If your vote only counted once and the bottom candidate had one vote. Then that one voters 2nd preference would win with 100% if none of the other votes counted in the 2nd count.

To save time though, they don't bother recounting the remaining 1st preference votes as they already know the totals from the first count.

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