Thursday, 5 May 2011

Why I am voting YES

There is a referendum today in the UK on whether to change the voting system by which Members of Parliament are elected from the first-past-the-post system currently in use, to the Alternative Vote (AV) system.

My understanding of the situation is this:

With the current system, theoretically a candidate with even only 30% of the vote in a constituency would be declared winner if none of the other candidates have individually been able to amass up to 30% of the constituency's vote. What this in effect means is that although 70% of voters have voted against him, the candidate with 30% of the vote is declared the winner and the voices of 70% of his constituency, although spread out among the various other candidates, are unheard.

With the AV system however, voters are given the opportunity to vote for all of the candidates in the election by order of preference. At the first count the candidate with the most first preference votes, if he carried up to 50% of the vote is declared winner. If however he doesn't carry up to 50%, the candidate with the least number of first preference votes is eliminated and his votes distributed among the other candidates by order of preference. The elimination of the candidate with the least number of votes continues, until the object of achieving 50% of the vote by the leading candidate is arrived at, such that there is a guarantee that every Member of Parliament under AV would have the support and be the favoured candidate of at least 50% of the voters in his constituency.

This seems to me like a much fairer system than the current first-past-the-post system. Also, scare tactics aside, the arguments that have been advanced by the 'NO' campaign have been weak and unconvincing, especially since I know that in all of the elections at which I have voted under the current system, my vote has never counted.

Moreover, under AV, politicians will be made to work harder for votes, rather than relying mostly on their core supporters' votes as they currently do. They would need voters who would not ordinarily vote for them, to consider voting them as second preference etc. And it can only be a good thing if canvassers from all parties had to come knocking on my door one after the other to canvass for my vote and and try to persuade me by giving me the reasons why I should vote for their party's candidate. AV empowers the electorate in a way that first-past-the-post never could do.

So YES it is for me..


C'est moi said...

Yup!...Voted YES today too!

I think though that the NO people would carry the day...going into the home stretch before voting day, i think the momentum was really with the NO campaign

Anyway this time tomorrow we shall know...

Anengiyefa said...

Hi C'est moi,

Voting YES was the sensible thing to do in this referendum. Many, perhaps even most, of those who voted NO, rather than taking the time to carefully examine the arguments in favour of both sides, have decided to play it "safe".

There is also the Nick Clegg factor, where voting NO is seen as punishment for a Deputy Prime Minister who many of his former supporters feel betrayed by, as he is seen to have acquiesced to several oppressive Tory actions in government, university tuition fees being a case in point.

Then of course there are the insidious scare tactics of the NO campaign, to which a largely uninformed general public has been particularly vulnerable. I think this referendum was a valuable opportunity to achieve the amendment of a flawed voting system, but sadly a lot of people are intellectually lazy and rather than studying the situation carefully and making an informed choice, chose instead what they considered to be the safe option, preferring to leave things as they are..