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Old 20.02.2011, 14:08
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UK Politics - Voting Reform or AV if you want to sound like an Ar3e

First Past the Post (FPTP)
This is the current system in place.

What is it?
Voters put an X on their ballot paper against their chosen parties Candidate and the Candidate with the most votes wins.
The winner therefore does not always have an absolute majority.
e.g In the 2005 General Election Labour gained 55% of Parliamentary seats but they only achieved 35% of the votes.
Meanwhile in the same election the LibDems took 20% of the votes but only gained 10% of the seats.


Alternative Voting (AV)
There will be a Referendum held on the 5th May 2011 to decide whether to shift to this system.

What is it?
Instead of putting a single cross on the ballot paper voters will rank their candidates in order from 1 (their favourite) to the 5 (their least favourite)
There can of course be more or fewer than 5 candidates.

In the first round votes are counted by tallying up all the number 1's (Exactly the same as FPTP)
If the winner does not have a majority vote (more than 50%) the lowest ranked candidate is eliminated and his votes are redistributed based on the voters 2nd choice.
This continues until one candidate has the required majority.


Which one is better?
Basically neither.
The problems with FPTP are pretty obvious, smaller parties have very little chance of having any real say in politics and the party that ends up running the country is probably hated by 75% of the country.

Alternative Voting on the surface looks like a better choice. In reality it is just a way of covering up the problems with UK politics by having a magic number of 50% become the acceptable post which candidates have to get past.
Effectively they will still be hated by 75% of the country (perhaps even more under this system) they will just be able to say they got a 50% majority.

The votes from the least popular candidate will get distributed amongst the other candidates in the second round.
This means that basically people have their favourite who gets a 1 and then they probably bung down a load of other numbers on their ballot paper without really thinking much about it. Which means the candidate with a number 2 next to his name got lucky.
This could also lead to the candidate who came 3rd in round 1 winning. The candidate most people put 2nd/3rd will win....is that good? Even though he has now magically achieved a 50% majority - is that a real majority or just political spin?
The smaller parties who will get their votes redistributed will tend to be crazies or the monster raving looney party. People vote for these parties in protest, this will no longer be the case. Their real vote will be whichever candidate they gave a 2 too. -1 democracy.

What happens in the Referendum in May if less than 50% of the population turn out to vote? should it still be passed....lets be honest no one is going to vote no one ever does.


Why does no one vote? This for me is the real problem. Looking at changing the voting system is pretty irrelevant. It is like trying to cure the symptom of an illness without curing the disease. If you have a cold you can stop the sneezing by putting 2 corks up your nose. It is a rubbish solution and doesn't tackle the actual virus.
This is what is happening here.
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Old 20.02.2011, 15:06
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Re: UK Politics - Voting Reform or AV if you want to sound like an Ar3e

I think AV is a step in the right direction for the UK. I find the notion of a 'safe seat' to be absurd and leads to complaisant politicians. It also effectively disenfrachies the voters of those constituencies. AV make seats a little less safe.

AV is flawed, but so is every other method of voting. The question for the UK is to choose between first past the post and AV. Nothing else is on the table at the moment. I think is AV is 'less worse' than FPTP.

That said, my gut feeling is that this will be rejected. All over the world there is a phenomenon of people in referendums not necessarily answering the question that has been put to them. I suspect that may happen in the UK too.
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Old 20.02.2011, 15:11
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Re: UK Politics - Voting Reform or AV if you want to sound like an Ar3e

I would favour compulsory voting, like they have in Australia I believe.

There should be a "none of the above" or "abstain" option, or simply writing "bollocks to the lot of them" diagonally across the ballot paper, but people should at least turn out* to vote.

* Or by post, online, whatever
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Old 21.02.2011, 09:46
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Re: UK Politics - Voting Reform or AV if you want to sound like an Ar3e

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I think AV is a step in the right direction for the UK. I find the notion of a 'safe seat' to be absurd and leads to complaisant politicians. It also effectively disenfrachies the voters of those constituencies. AV make seats a little less safe.

AV is flawed, but so is every other method of voting. The question for the UK is to choose between first past the post and AV. Nothing else is on the table at the moment. I think is AV is 'less worse' than FPTP.

That said, my gut feeling is that this will be rejected. All over the world there is a phenomenon of people in referendums not necessarily answering the question that has been put to them. I suspect that may happen in the UK too.
This seems to be the sentiment.
AV is rubbish but it is all that is on the table so take it.
I think that is a poor premise on which to make a decision and I can't understand why people aren't yelling more about it. Replace one broken system with another is a complete irrelevancy.

You are right though, I suspect FPTP will be supported by the 10 people that will bother to vote in the referendum.


Quote:
There should be a "none of the above" or "abstain" option, or simply writing "bollocks to the lot of them" diagonally across the ballot paper, but people should at least turn out* to vote.
This will never happen because every politician knows what the outcome would be.

Last edited by PlantHead; 21.02.2011 at 10:00.
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Old 21.02.2011, 10:45
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Re: UK Politics - Voting Reform or AV

Rather provocative thread title don't you think?

The current system is known to favour the big two parties, and gives the lesser parties less influence than they deserve, as you point out. So obviously the Lib Dems want to change things so they get more power in future elections. They've always wanted proportional representation, and this coalition government is their historic opportunity to get something changed. AV is the best compromise they could get and see it as a stepping-stone towards PR.

What the outcome of the referendum will be I've no idea but it's clear there is huge pressure on the Lib Dems to deliver the reform they've promised (it would be rather embarrassing for them to not achieve any change at all on this front), but it's equally clear that the Conservatives for example are dead set against it. Whether the public care enough, we'll see.

As for abstentions, I don't know the technicals of AV but I guess it's possible to vote Monster Raving Loony as first choice and not give a second choice, maybe?
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Old 21.02.2011, 11:05
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No perfect voting system exists

Quote:
Unrestricted domain(or universality) For any set of individual voter preferences, the social welfare function should yield a unique and complete ranking of societal choices. Thus:
  • It must do so in a manner that results in a complete ranking of preferences for society.
  • It must deterministically provide the same ranking each time voters' preferences are presented the same way.
Independence of irrelevant alternatives (IIA)The social preference between x and y should depend only on the individual preferences between x and y (Pairwise Independence). More generally, changes in individuals' rankings of irrelevant alternatives (ones outside a certain subset) should have no impact on the societal ranking of the subset. (See Remarks below.)
Pareto efficiency(or unanimity) If every individual prefers a certain option to another, then so must the resulting societal preference order. This, again, is a demand that the social welfare function will be minimally sensitive to the preference profile.
If there are at least two voters and at least three options to decide among, then it is impossible to design a voting system that satisfies all these conditions at once.


OK, there actually is one: a dictatorship where one persons choice out-ranks all others.



For those interested, Debian uses the Condorcet method, which is what you might expect from a bunch of geeks.
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