January 09, 2012

Horse 1266 - AV Revisited Again Again

Both Horse 1172 and Horse 1182 were written last year as the UK was preparing to go to a referendum over the issue of the Alternative Vote.
Basically the Alternative Vote or Instant-runoff Vote or Preferential Vote, gives voters a chance to rank their preferences on who they'd like to see win the election. After a process of elimination and redistribution, the eventual winner of the election will win having gained more than 50% of the vote.

Many jurisdictions and organisations choose to use the First-Past-The Post-System. This is a simpler system in which the candidate with the most votes wins. I suppose that it's fine if you have only two choices but if you more than about four choices, the system starts to look inadequate.

Consider the results of the Iowa Republican caucuses held last week:

24.5% - Mitt Romney (won by just 8 votes)
24.5% - Rick Santorum
21.5% - Ron Paul
13.3% - Newt Gingrich
10.3% - Rick Perry
00.6% - Jon Huntsman

If Romney won only 24.5% of the vote, then that means to say that 75.5% of voters chose someone else. To put that another way, more than three-quarters of the vote did not vote for him.
If the suggestion that Romney gets 13 of the allotted delegate votes and Santorum gets gets 12 of the allotted delegate votes, then that also means to say that 51% of voters or more than half of them, did not vote for them.

Under an AV system, voters would have had choices if their first candidate didn't succeed. Even under a Proportional Voting system, the allotted delegate votes would have more accurately reflected the will of the voting public.

The thing is that writing in a series of preferences is very simple for a voter to do. With six declared candidates, they'd only have to write 1-6 in the boxes. Also, preferential voting has been in use since 1918 and all votes are counted by hand, so it's not like the system requires the use of complicated voting machines.

I just think that it's crazy that the process for deciding who will be the president of arguably the most powerful nation on earth, is so undemocratic. How you can have a potential candidate go through without the majority of votes and in conditions where not everyone even bothers to show up and vote in the first place is beyond me.

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