Some high-quality discussion of this from Tim Gowers (mathematician, Fields Medal winner, very smart chap): http://gowers.wordpress.com/2011/04/20/is-av-better-than-fpt... http://gowers.wordpress.com/2011/04/29/av-vs-fptp-a-suppleme... http://gowers.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/av-vs-fptp-the-shorte... (if you're only going to read one -- and I wouldn't blame you, because they're very long -- read the last one).
Some nice graphics illustrating some pathologies with AV: http://zesty.ca/voting/sim/ (note: http://zesty.ca/ is full of interesting things).
Anti-AV material by an advocate of range voting (note: he dislikes plurality voting, aka first-past-the-post, even more): http://rangevoting.org/IrvPathologySurvey.html
Instead, issues get polarised. Both parties and candidates have several different issues, so voters' actual preferences depend on which issues are important to them.
You also get tribal voters ("My family has always voted conservative") who are unlikely to care about the issues in any election, but these cancel each other out somewhat in a plurality or AV/IRV vote.
Nevertheless, I hope we can agree that accurately modelling voting habits is complicated, not simple.
If I didn't have any views on which system is better, I would have been pursuaded to vote Yes by the "Vote No" adverts, such as http://i.imgur.com/yCyLv.jpg
Admitedly, the campaign for "Vote Yes" has frankly been terrible as well, but in a way that makes you think they don't have a clue about marketing, rather than a way that makes you want to strangle whoever came up with the adverts.
That's such a vague idea to base a campaign around, especially in light of the attack tactics the No campaign were using.
As I walked away, he shouted that I must be "LibDem scum".
That actually comes as a bit of a suprise to me, in my head (and in my limited experiences), the kind of person who volunteers to promote a political campaign in the UK isn't normally the type of person who would get particularly aggressive. Admitedly my personal experiences are based in a fairly middle class area of Oxford, so perhaps not representative.
Having said I completely agree with you, I would have no problem insulting a BNP/UKIP supporter, and in some cases people who are right wing but less so (such as being a more-than-average right wing tory supporter), but I wouldn't use a straight-up insult such as "bloody tory supporter", would do my best to insult by making a point on some subject and winning (in my view) the argument.
Actually, to back peddle once more, frankly I'd have no problem just being rude to someone for the fact that they are a BNP supporter.
That's a pretty dumb ad. I was indeed wondering what the best argument of the "No" campaign would be, and if that's it then that's not much of a campaign.
Still, I gotta wonder -- have they really* budgeted two hundred and fifty million pounds for a new voting system, or is this a made-up number? Because where the hell does that money go?
"The No campaign has said the poll will cost about £90m to stage and that an extra £156m will be incurred in switching to AV. The Yes campaign has accused its rivals of "lies", saying the claims are largely based on the alleged cost of introducing electronic counting machines and that these are not required for AV elections. The government has said holding the referendum on the same day as other elections around the UK will save about £17m."
On the logic of the campaign, giving the options available one should vote Yes, weighing everything up. However it will make no difference to me as my constituency is a safe tory seat, even with all the simulations.
Bear in mind that Nick Clegg opposed AV in the run up to the elections and was pushing for PR and you begin to see what this is. This isn't genuine electoral reform, this is tinkering around the edges. Whatever you vote for this is all you get. You're not pushing further towards a fairer system, you're choosing between two options laid out for you by people who've run the numbers and decided for you. Regardless of the outcome, all the politicians will say, "Well it's settled, the people have spoken", pat each other on the back and go back to their day jobs.
We haven't had a referendum since 1975. We won't get another one on voting for a long time. I'll vote Yes, but only because I know I won't see another chance to change things in my lifetime.
For the same reason, I am not skeptical enough to accept that "this isn't genuine electoral reform, this is tinkering around the edges". AV would make a HUGE difference to me, for the simple reason that it would relieve me of the responsibility to lie when I vote (i.e. claiming that I want the winner to be someone who is actually my second or third choice).
And for those who actually want PR: we are MUCH more likely to get it in our lifetimes if AV wins this referendum than if it loses; in the latter case, the incumbents really will all say "so that's all right then -- everyone likes how we do it now". Which is so very not true that it makes my guts hurt just to type it.
So even if you think AV is only a small step (and for the record I think it's a big one), please vote for it. It is (among other things) a stepping stone to a more comprehensive referendum on voting systems, similar to the one they had in New Zealand -- see http://www.fastchicken.co.nz/2011/05/05/the-uk-gets-to-decid...
30% a; b; c; d
35% c; b; d; a
20% d; b; a; c
15% b; d; c; a
Given the voting breakdown, most people would agree that candidate b should win, because no candidate got a majority of first preference votes and b got a sweeping majority of second preference votes. However, under IRV, b is eliminated immediately, because b received the fewest first preference votes.
tr;dr: IRV is terrible, and has a history of being adopted in states and cities in the US only to be abolished not long after, because of the bad electoral outcomes it produces. If you're going to pick a preferential voting system, it ought to be one that at the very least preserves the Condorcet winner; IRV is not that system.
1. The system that doesn't take alternative preferences into account (FPTP);
2. The system that does (AV),
which would you pick? AV isn't the perfect preferential voting system, but it's our only hope of a transition to any form of preferential voting right now, which opens the door for refinement later instead of closing the debate for another 20 years.
The choice today is a FPTP choice: the alternatives are A and B, not some mythical third choice that you just invented. Voters in the UK should vote for the best choice of those available, which is clearly IRV.
Even your statement is simply silly. You're assuming that a voting system ought not eliminate a candidate when he was the least favorite of the voters, and you proceed from there to bash IRV. Big assumption much?
"Please rank the following voting systems in order of preference."
Very reasonable. So we'll never see it here. ;)
Why not switch to proportional representation instead, using D'Hondt or Saint-Laguë? Or is there such strong support for the current single-winner system in the UK that noone wants to change the base idea?
As it stands, the "No" campaign merely for AV has, for a number of reasons, managed to convince more than enough people that this is a hatefully undemocratic change to our electoral system - regardless of how tiny an effect it will have on anything - that I can't see STV having a chance for many decades yet.
Basically, the entire thing is, sadly, driven by self-interest. The Tories don't want AV because they will probably lose some seats under it; but they DEFINITELY don't want PR, because they (and Labour) definitely would lose seats to the Lib Dems.
We need AV not because it's the best forever but because it's our only chance of reform for a generation. I'm voting yes.
To quote Dara O Briain from twitter, "Listen, vote NO, if you're happy to trade lack of representation for a clear result. That's a perfectly fine choice to make. I respect that. But if you vote NO, because it's sounds complicated or you don't like Clegg, or the Irish are in debt, you're an idiot.
I suspect most Australians probably just follow their preferred candidates preferences.
Allocation of preferences is the mechanism that gives the smaller parties a say in the political process. The Greens (say) might know they have no chance of getting more than a couple of percent of the votes in a giving electorate, but they can do deals with the major parties based on that. e.g. "If renewable energy becomes a campaign promise, we'll direct our supporters to put you as their second preference."
Do they really? I never have, and I've never understood the mindset that would. Maybe I will vote for you, Mr Candidate, but I'm not gonna take your advice on the numbers I stick in everybody else's boxes... especially since those numbers probably indicate whatever deals you've made rather than some actual order of preferability based on competence or ideology. For this reason I've always thought that the whole preference-deal thing was a complete waste of time, but hey, maybe there's a lot of people out there genuinely following the how-to-vote card.
It hardly matters anyway. There's very few electorates with more than two viable candidates, so all that really matters is whether you put "Liberal" before "Labor" or vice versa.
Even though in many electorates your vote will end up going to Liberal or Labor, the path it takes to get there is super important. That's kinda the point. If you think the environment is a really important issue, go vote Green because typically they'll have worked out a deal with one of majors to get some of their issues addressed.
You like smoking pot and there's a nutty local candidate who'll never be voted in in a million years and who none of the major parties will have bothered to do deals with? He's still worth a vote so that once the election is over the other candidates can see there's some people who consider it an important issue.
The entire beauty of preferential voting is it gives some voice to the other candidates in shaping policies, regardless of who gets in.
Personally my strategy is to always vote number 1 for someone I'm pretty sure is going to get less than 4% of the vote. Why? Electoral funding rules. The government gives the parties money for their election campaigns based on how many votes they get. Except for folks who get less than 4% of the vote -- they get nothing. So if you vote 1 for a major party you're voting for taxpayer money to be given to political parties (yeech) but if you vote for some minor <4% nutjob then no money gets given on your behalf (hooray!)
Or so I've heard. I've never actually verified that this is true.
I'm also one of the few people who actually fills out every box below the line on the upper-house ballot sheets. A few years ago I think there were two hundred and something candidates, so I just wound up numbering consecutively in pretty spirals and so forth. Then I folded my ballot paper into a hat and wore it across the room to the box. They glared at me.
Assuming that everyone's an intellectual and will research and consider the options and then make an informed choice is both idealistic and unrealistic. Many people have better things to do with their lives than thinking about politics and they're out there doing them. Making the voting process even more complicated is hardly going to compel them to get involved.
Also, you seem to be talking about the decision making process of assessing whether to vote for AV or FPTP, not the not the complexity of voting using an AV system.
I'm not convinced that the AV voting method is too difficult to understand, though. Ranking things in order of preference is not hard for anyone to do. The finer points of the difference in electoral outcomes given different voting statistics might be more sophisticated, but that could be applied to any of the voting systems.
Voting itself though is no more complicated saying "I'll have a pint of Stella. If they don't have Stella, I'll have Fosters."
The No campaign has made the AV system out to be more complicated than it is as a scare tactic to put people off voting for it. That seems to have worked, which is deeply unfortunate, but indicative of political campaigns across the world. Fear and doubt are excellent motivators, and seem to be far more effective than a clear, reasoned and 'intellectual' argument.
Call me an unrealistic idealist, but I would much rather people research and consider the options before making an informed choice. Making a case for FPTP because it encourages more people who are uninformed and unconsidered to vote isn't going to win me over, though :)
However, as I say, the AV voting mechanism really isn't complicated at all - my wife is an early years teacher. Voting under an AV system is so easy that - literally - a five-year-old can understand it. I don't see anyone being put off by it.
Moreover, I think more people will be enthused by i) their ability to vote for the candidate that they believe in, ii) the greater accountability of their elected MPs to engage with their constituents and more accurately reflect their views and iii) their ability to express their opinions in a more meaningful way through the ballot box, that turnouts would be greater, not smaller.
Low turnout and voter apathy has a multitude of causes, but the ones that I hear most often are "lack of accountability" and "my vote doesn't count anyway."
Surely people who are so stupid/ignorant that this system would stop them voting, are too stupid/ignorant to be able to vote effectively in any election.
You may argue that it sounds a bit elitist, but personally, I want an electorate capable of making informed choices in the voting booth.
If it's acceptable to de-juris disenfranchise the under-18s on the spurious grounds that they are incapable of voting effectively, surely we can de-facto disenfranchise any adults incapable of operating an AV ballot paper. (which only requires the ability to count up to 1)
Since everyone voted for everyone in your sample election, everyone would be reasonably happy with the result, regardless of who wins.
That seems simple enough and easy to explain. Not sure if it would work.
I voted NO because FPTP seems good enough. I don't miss Australia's monster ballot papers. Most of the theoretical advantages of AV , PR dont happen in practice.
I was in Wentworth an unshakeably Liberal seat, whatever your preference. down the road was Maroubra, unshakeable for Labor.
Who can forget the nightmare concessions all the time that Brian Harradine from TAS used to get because he had Balance of Power in the Senate under PR??
Your vote is still important in the Senate (as Harradine showed). I'm from South Australia, and we have a independent senator and it's worked out much better than just having senators from the major parties. It means they end up representing the state instead of just voting on party lines.
Yeah, some of the concessions are annoying (especially with Harradine), but in a way that is more democratic than the normal vote-down-party-lines system.
As the press would say "it's a dirty coalition compromise" which you can read as "it's a pragmatic decision based on the political landscape of the day taking in to account the moral perspective of all involved acting as elected officials"
Minority governments do not last very long and with Labour on the wane there was a significant possibility of a subsequent election giving the Conservatives a majority; at best, there would be an opportunity for a Lib-Lab majority. The Liberals' power is often overstated by principled idealists, but for pragmatists it was a good choice: 75% of their manifesto is becoming Government policy, compared to 60% of the Conservative manifesto (http://guildfordlibdems.org.uk/en/article/2011/486213/75-of-...). Of course, the remaining 25% matters a lot more to many people than the 75% they implemented...
I feel you cannot state that Labour in any way desires electoral reform.
It doesn't exactly get you proportional representation, but it gets closer than AV or FPTP while still allowing you to vote for individual people rather than party lists and it allows you to legitimately have representatives for your region while maintaining decent proportionality. I really think it's a nice system. I like the idea of having regional representation - so that you have your (Congresspeople|TDs|MPs). I like the idea of being able to vote for minority parties. I like the idea of those minority parties being able to get close to proportional representation. STV seems like a nice compromise there. You get to have your representatives for your area bringing local views, you get to vote for people, and you get closer to proportional representation than AV and FPTP.
AV will help somewhat in the long term, as people are more free to vote for the smaller parties without quite the same risk of losing seats for the lesser evil of the large parties, but it will still leave a substantial number of people without any meaningful representation.
I'm originally from Norway, and I much prefer the Norwegian system: PR with multi-seat constituencies where each constituency is a reasonably small geographical region, combined with a small number of seats that are allocated in order to more closely approximate the countrywide vote totals amongst the parties that got more than 4% of the vote (personally I think the 4% limit ought to go too).
It maintains a regional link, while at the same time getting a far more accurate representation of how people vote.
I support AV over FPTP because it will force the larger parties to be somewhat more mindful of other voters and because it may allow some opposition parties to grow faster because of less tactical voting, but whatever the result, I will still be without anyone representing my interests.
Germany, for example, has a (pretty complicated) voting system that insures that every constituency has one representative (that's half of the parliament, the other half has, technically speaking, no constituency but they are obviously still from somewhere).
Everyone gets two votes, one for a representative from the constituency (whoever gets the most votes wins and will definitely be in parliament), and, more importantly, a second vote which determines the proportions of the parties in parliament. (Seats that parties cannot fill with directly elected representatives are filled from the party list.)
That second vote decides about the government (proportionally!), the first makes sure that every constituency has someone in parliament they can write letters.
This voting system is called mixed member proportional representation and here is the link to its Wikipedia article: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mixed_member_proportional_repre...
Anyway, right now it's AV or Continue As You Were. That's the choice we Brits have to make TODAY, and I do hope that any of you reading this will make sure that you do vote.
The trick is to get people to care about it so they become curious and reject the assertions of "it's too hard". The Yes campaign attempted this initially but did a poor job, in this case it turns out much easier to explain the thing than to pose half-truth arguments why people should care!
And ultimately, the population follows the parties -- unless you are a LibDem supporter you probably don't especially want to see the LibDems holding the balance of power in every parliament for the next fifty years.
Voters have two votes: one on the left and one on the right. "Hier 1 Stimme" means "Here 1 vote". It is still just an X in a circle but twice instead of once. Most people when shown this grasp it immediately.
A similar Scottish ballot is on the left here: http://image.guardian.co.uk/sys-images/Guardian/Pix/pictures...
If that epic ballot paper isn't confusing then I don't know what is!
If that ballot paper is confusing then you shouldn't be allowed to vote.
What I would say is that the mechanics of AV are more (pseudo?)non-deterministic than the Scottish Parliament system of PR. With PR - seats mirror votes more or less. With AV, nobody really seems to know how things will turn out, and even less representative massive majorities can occur. So in a way AV is more complicated in that sense.
I'm still wondering why I voted for it to be honest.
Vote, people. Doesn't matter who/what it's for. Spoil your ballot if you have to. Just make your voice heard.
It DOES matter who/what you vote for. And if you don't believe that, why would you believe that doing anything at all with your ballot counts as making your voice heard?
Democracy is about participation. Not campaigning, participation. You need to make your voice heard at all times, not just at elections (frankly, elections are probably the least effective time to make your voice heard). Be informed about the issues, challenge your assumptions and debate your opinions (preferably with people you disagree with). If you can't or won't do those things, you don't live in a democracy, you live in an oligarchy that happens to mutate roughly every decade.
It matters who you vote for, but it doesn't matter to me.
I'm trying to make it clear that I'm not advocating voting in an attempt to advance my own agenda, but rather out of a simple desire for people to make use of their rights as citizens of a democracy.
Notice that I also advocated ballot spoiling as an alternative to casting a vote for any of the choices presented. If you really can't bring yourself to vote for any of the parties, and I certainly wouldn't blame you there, at least go down to the polling station and write "YOU ARE ALL BASTARDS" across the ballot in your own blood or something. That way, you still show up in the turnout figures, avoiding the false impression of voter apathy.
And yes, I definitely agree that voting is probably the least important part of democratic participation, although a lot of the other parts are becoming increasingly frustrated around here...
I've long felt that the popularity of this kind of encouragement to vote, as if it was a civic duty, regardless of how broken the system was, has held back reform of the system.
So vote Yes on AV, vote in scottish elections with partial-PR and feel free not to vote in any election where your vote is not going to count and explain why at great and boring length to anyone who tells you that you have to vote or you have no right to complain etc.
There is a huge difference between 50.1% A, 49.9% B and 85% A, 15% B. One election produces a politician constantly swinging to the center and watching his back for the next election, the other produces one that acts freely on his beliefs. There is a huge difference between 30% A, 40% B, 30% third-party and 10% A, 89% B, and 1% third-party. One clearly tells the dominant A and B parties that the third-party has tapped into something the voters care deeply about but they've failed to serve, and generally at least one, if not both, of the dominant parties will scramble to serve that demographic. The other says that the vast bulk of people are at least mostly satisfied with the choices (which is all you ever can have). It is this constant scrambling to serve dissatisfied third-party voters that creates the two dominant parties in the first place, not some sort of mega-conspiracy.
Even in FPTP, in an iterated voting situation (which is what we have), third party votes in an otherwise uncontested election aren't wasted, they're probably louder on a per-vote basis than the rest of the horde. If you find yourself nearly alone voting Green/Libertarian/Constitution/whatever, that's because most people are not so dissatisfied that they have to vote third party. You're a fringe vote. (So am I.) But it isn't "wasted".
Please note I am only defending my position that votes are not "wasted" in FPTP. I am not defending the proposition that FPTP is optimal. There may be better systems. Most, if not all, voting systems I know of exhibit the property where a vote is never truly "wasted" in an iterated voting situation, so this argument is neither an attack or defense of FPTP since this is not a unique characteristic of any system.
(It is however only one in a pile, by definition of vote. I do fear some people are ultimately complaining that their vote is wasted precisely because we are voting in the first place and not simply taking their opinion as dictatorial writ. There is a certain fundamental dilution-of-voice that you will experience in any voting scheme; arguably, the "big idea" of democracy is precisely that your voice is at least in theory no louder than any other.)
Everyone else is voting tactically for the lesser of two evils. So not only are votes "wasted" in the sense of being thrown away on parties that have no chance of winning, they're also actively miscounted as support for party A or B, when often they're registering revulsion at the opposite party.
AV isn't perfect but the one thing it does do better than FPTP is allow you to signal your true preference in exactly this manner without that preventing you from expressing which of the major candidates you prefer. It doesn't directly translates your single vote into 1/population worth of representation like PR, because there's only one winner from each region, but it's certainly a reduction in waste and a better reflection of voter desires.
Voting systems are interesting algorithms to discuss, but politics is not. Please keep political stuff off hn.
Naah, the "flag" button exists because offtopic stuff does get voted up despite being offtopic. In the case of political stories (some) people tend to vote things up because they agree with the sentiment rather than due to a dispassionate evaluation of the benefits of the article (see also reddit.com/r/politics).
Voting systems are on-topic, but this is obviously political campaigning.
Get a grip. If one cares about democracy "at all" then they need to go out and vote Yes to one extremely narrow option that's only, arguably, mildly better than the status quo? This is nothing more than an appeal to emotion.
"Please: if you’ve ever complained about how our politicians don’t represent us and the people who do represent us can’t get elected; if you’re sick of having to choose between two lizards; if you care about democracy at all — then get out and vote YES TO AV."
So I did make an actual case, rather than just appealing to emotion.
Sheepishly voting Yes because someone suggested they might not care about democracy otherwise is not very democratic. If someone cares about democracy, all they need to do is vote full-stop.
A clear "No to AV" may be interpreted that no voting reform is needed.
This site focuses on interesting and clever use of technology as well as on business, typically with respect to technology start-ups. I have no doubt that there are members of this community who are capable of "hacking" in the sense that you mean, but unlikely to help you. Furthermore, there is probably not a simple piece of software you can just point at what you want and have it "hacked".