The Alternative Vote

A clearly better choice.
A portrait photograph of Gareth Latty.

I will be voting in favour of the Alternative Vote system in the upcoming referendum. I wish to use this to explain why I’ll be doing so.

AV means that you rank the candidates in order of preference. This means that when you vote, you will be voting in a way that represents your views better. We have a representative democracy. We vote for people to make decisions in our interests. The voting is not important - it’s the representation. AV means that you are more likely to get a representative that represents your interests. That is fairer. That is more democratic.

The people against AV give these reasons (taken from the NotoAV website, as of Wed 27 Apr 2011 01:55:57 BST, a complete list):

  • AV is costly.
  • AV is complex and unfair.
  • AV is a politicians fix.
  • Let me refute these in order.

AV is costly: The figure of £250 million has been shown to be inflated, it includes the cost of the referendum (which is spent either way) and the cost of electronic voting machines, which are unrelated. Even if the figure were true, it’s no contest. Democracy is worth more than any amount of money anyone could list. Full stop. It’d be cheaper just to roll a die, but it wouldn’t be better.

AV is complex and unfair: Complex? I don’t think this is true, yes, it is slightly more complicated, but is ‘ranking the candidates’ so much worse than ‘choosing the best’? Again, it’d be easier to roll a die, but it wouldn’t be better. As to unfair? They don’t even explain why. They say that coming first should mean you win, but that implies voting is a race, it’s not. It’s an attempt to represent the views of the people. AV means your vote represents you better. It means the person getting in represents the views of the voters better. That is the point of representative democracy, not a race. They list off the few nations using AV, saying that’s proof it’s a bad system. That’s just not a good argument ‘no one does it so I shouldn’t’ is as childish as it sounds. Not to mention that it doesn’t take into account that many countries use other systems, France with a two-ballot, many countries with proportional representation.

AV is a politicians fix: They say that AV leads to more hung parliaments and coalitions - they don’t explain why this is bad. If the people vote for a mixture of parties, why should one get into power? Yes. AV brings us closer towards proportional representation, but that is a good thing. It again means the government represents the people better, which is the most important thing.

This is why I think the NOtoAV campaign is misguided. AV is better than FPTP, it’s clear. If you disagree with me, please tell me why. I want to vote right here, and I want to be able to take any argument you give me and explain why it is wrong - that way I know I am voting the right way. As it stands, there has been no argument given that explains to me why AV is not better than FPTP, but many why AV is better.