For my British Readers: Before you vote on AV, ask someone who has used it.

Reading the arguments against the Alternative Vote being put forward by its opponents in the UK, it seems to me that many of them are only familiar with it on a theoretical basis, having never actually used it in real elections. Or in the case of the Tories electing their leader, pretending that they have never used it.

As I’ve posted previously, we use preferential voting in Ireland. Whilst we vote in multi-seat constituencies, and the votes are counted differently, the voting principle is the same. We allocate preferences to candidates based on our first favourite, second favourite, etc.

In the last election,  I went into my polling both knowing who I wanted my first preference to go to, and which candidates I really wanted to keep out, and voted accordingly, as did hundreds of thousands of Irish voters. The surreal “Yes, but what if…” arguments the No side keep throwing out about the psychological meaning of a third preference, etc, never occurred to me, nor, I suspect, to hundreds of thousands of Irish voters. Why not? Because those bizarre arguments tend to be made by professional politicians who really don’t like the increased choice that AV gives to voters. Every argument they make against AV seems to have at its heart the point that “You the voter should not be allowed think or do that”.

Voters, on the other hand, voting under an AV system, think “I really like her, he’s okay, and I can’t stand that other guy with the beard”.  The professional politicians on the No side just hate that voters should be given permission by AV to even think like that. 

But never mind what I say. If you haven’t made your mind up, just do one thing: Ask some one to show you, with a few scraps of paper, how an AV election works. I believe its inherent common sense and simplicity will convince you. But if it doesn’t, fair enough. Vote the way your conscience dictates. But just make sure that you have seen a simple AV election in action before you vote against it.

7 thoughts on “For my British Readers: Before you vote on AV, ask someone who has used it.

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  3. But David, surely AV will help elect UKIP MPs, who want to wihdraw from the EU. Yet you are voting to keep FPTP which will keep Cameron in?
    Reading your post, I can’t help feeling it holds an inherent thread of sadness and disappointment. I’m a pretty cynical guy, but in my life I’ve seen my country, despite its current travails, progress. I’ve seen the things that matter to me, European integration, divorce, gay rights, a single currency, reduction in poverty, lower taxes, competition, peace in Northern Ireland progress. Reading your post, it would seem that all your life you have been on the political losing side, and that’s really got to take it out of you, so I can understand your gut instinct to just lash out at everything. It’s like a political comfort blanket, I suppose.

  4. Vote the way your conscience dictates…….

    Mmnn, well,

    As the finishing line becomes visible we (in the UK) note that the yes/no camp hasn’t split on party lines, but instead we are see members of different parties sharing he same platform, & the plain fact that AV would bring in no choice when the parties themselves are microns away from each other in terms of policy and ability. The major parties now occupy a small space of ground somewhere near what is colloquially called “the centre” of politics. However, that “centre” drifts about daily, chasing populist policies based on the latest opinion polls and focus groups, making it almost impossible for voters to distinguish a clear mandate to vote for.

    All politics in the UK is small tinkering, in order to keep up the illusion of being a sovereign state. Behind the Westminster punch and judy show, most of the major political decisions are made wholly outside of the UK and mandated for the UK government to follow (ECHR rulings), or in partnership with external political organisations (The EU, NATO, the UN, etc). There is very little real politiking for guvmint to do, hence the encroachment into areas of pipples lives, all in an effort to be seen to be “doing important stuff” and look busy.

    Now, along comes AV and supposedly brings about “choice”. What its really all about is locking small parties out of the electoral process and reducing democracy. You can bet your last euro that amended (simplified) AV rules will try and push out or make it extremely difficult for the small parties and single independent candidates to run for election to seats in Westminster.

    The AV vote is also about distraction: its distracting you away from the sameness of UK politiks, its a distraction away from where the real power lies (the EU), and a distraction way from the real debate, which is whether the UK should be in the EU at all. Its a poor substitute for the referendum on the EU that iDave promised before the Lisbon treaty.

    The only sensible action is to vote no to AV. I want real change, real options, real democracy; not the sham replacement on the rooling elite want to dazzle us with and hijack for their own ends.

    Kind regards

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  7. British people *have* used AV. Student Union elections have used either AV or STV for years.

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