Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TTG's Alternative View on electoral reform

AV you had enough of all this?

It's a struggle just to get people motivated to even bother to turn out to their polling station. Now a full-blown fight of the polar wings is taking place over AV. In the red corner, we have the yes men. A growing group, counting Ed Milibland as a new recruit to the cause.

Their argument is that 'it's fairer, easier, ... and just one step away from PR, yippee!'

In the blue corner we have the Nos. The Nos reveal how obscure little countries like, Fuji and er, Australia only use the system. And bemoan a reported eye-watering £250mil cost ... (Pro-AVOs may claim the cost has been exaggerated but let's be honest, when do you ever see a project stay within budget? If the MoD can spend £22 on a lightbulb, then £250m can be spent telling people to count to five.)

At a time when voters cry out for a different referendum entirely, voters are being asked to get inspired and excited by trendy AV - the Alternative Vote.

The Electoral Reform Society has explained it pretty well on their website:

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.

However having seen how the electorate vote in their ballot papers as a candidate, TTG regrettably isn't sure the electorate are quite ready for this rank and file process. More voters than you'd think ticked, scribbled and numbered their ballot boxes despite a clear X appearing on pamphlets. Considering that number crunching is oh so important in an AV world, how is this helping to reform our system for the better? What, by increasing spoilt ballot papers so nasty parties like the BNP can't get in because their voters can't seem to vote properly?

What happens if a voter just ticks her five boxes, will that mean the ticks are measured in size with the biggest meaning her main preference and the smaller in order, her next choices? TTG jests obviously. But are there any provisions to allow people to make their preferences clear other than writing 1, 2, 3 ...? Can voters scrawl 'I really want Labour, but I wouldn't mind Lib Dems. UKIP are a last resort?' Is that clear voter intention?

If normal people already struggle to cross a box, what hope is there for citizens writing their 1-5 clearly and non-nonsensically? There is plenty of voter education out there for this system and yet even now people get it wrong. TTG knows of two people who looked for 'Tory' on their ballot papers and when not finding 'David Cameron' accidentally gave their vote to the BNP. These may be isolated cases, yes, but the point is if a simple cross is one voters struggle to bear what hope is their for first, second, third and whatever choices.

And what on earth is the ranking for? The least bearable? The candidate we would most like to see with his trousers down? When TTG goes shopping, she normally has a set pair of heels in her mind. She doesn't have a back-up dress in Topshop that she will get if she can't find those shoes. She is adamant that the shoes will be hers. It's all or nothing. AV forgets that people usually have just the one person or party in mind. Will we be penalised for only listing our absolute faves or must we really put those clogs on the list too? Will a UK AV allow choice to choose to rank as many as we wish or will we not get a choice to not choose more than one candidate?

Whatever talk there may be of tactical voting disappearing off the political landscape, there is an uneasy feeling in TTG's stomach giving her second preference to say a Lib Dem in a marginal. What if other Tories did the same and after a close encounter in the second round, head-to-head the Lib Dem picked up more 1st and 2nd choices overall - would TTG want this on her conscience? :-P

Maybe it's because TTG is so terribly Tory and hellbent on tradition but there is something quite right about the fastest sprinter winning the race. Clarity and simplicity are small pleasures in life. TTG wouldn't want the race to be replayed and the mean speed of each sprinter taken to see who ran the fastest on average in the track. Call TTG dumb, stubborn, whatever but she's a stickler for FPTP.

In TTG's perhaps warped way of looking at things, the person who gets the most votes should therefore be the winner. There's a reason they got their votes. They didn't just appear from thin air, well most of them didn't anyway. That candidate obviously was wanted by more people. Just because the smaller part of the community can't quite decide who they want, it doesn't mean that the winner's votes should be discounted.

If you want to make politics fairer, why not change the constituency boundaries, reduce the number of MPs, vote with your heart, make postal voting a last resort, have security checks at the polling station ... there's plenty that can be done to make the system better than changing our Xs.

Last time we had an AV, Boris got in. Are you sure, Labour fans, that this is what you want? :-D

Maybe it's just you and your supporters are so up-to-speed on AV, using it to pick your leaders.(well that worked well didn't it, erm Labour and Liberals?)

Can't teach an old dog new tricks, eh?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do I have to come explain the race analogy to you again? I'll bring diagrams and everything, this time.

It's the most ludicrous thing DC's ever said, and I have a list.

The truth is, some people will always be stupid no matter what system you use.

And besides, AV also gave you Cameron, but I don't hold that against you. Much.