British readers: vote on AV tomorrow!

When I wrote about voting reform four days ago, I said “this is the first time I’ve ever written about politics on this blog, and I hope it will be the last.”  True to my word, I then wrote about politics again yesterday, and now I’m doing it again.  But this is the last time, honest.  You know, unless something comes up.

Tomorrow is the big day for how we do democracy in the UK.  Please vote.

Of course, when I say “please vote”, what I really mean is “please vote yes”.

I’m not going to pretend to be neutral on this.  Our current voting system is broken, it’s that simple.  In our current parliament, LESS THAN ONE THIRD of MPs were elected with actual majorities.  Some were elected with only a quarter of the votes cast in their constituencies.  The so-called First Past The Post system doesn’t actually require anyone to get to the post, nor half way to the post — nor even a third of the way.  It polarises votes between each constituency’s two most popular parties, and marginalises any other voice that tries to be heard.  It’s a simple system devised for a simpler time, and it just doesn’t work any more.  It’s the eight-characters-plus-three-for-the-extension-case-insensitive filesystem of voting systems, and it’s time we upgraded.  Maybe we can’t have ext4, but we can at least have FAT32.

Last time around, Paul Benjamin commented that “The liberal democrats would like to have PR but they realized voting for PR was hopeless […] AV is a halfway measure”.  As it happens, I like the AV system more than True PR because it preserves the MP-constituency link, but that’s not the point.  The point, as Chris Purcell rightly responded, is that “What different politicians were or were not thinking when the AV referendum was agreed is irrelevant. What’s important is whether it is better or worse than FPTP.”  In another comment, Osvaldo Doederlein pointed out that Arrow’s Impossibility Theorem shows no election system can be perfect.  But I don’t care about that: I care about improving what we have now, by accepting the upgrade that’s on the table.  If I’ve been eating dogfood all my life and someone offers me steak, I am not going to reject it because it has a bit of gristle around the edges.

Mmm …  Steak …

Oh, sorry …  Drifted off for a moment there.  Where was I?

Oh yes.  Opposition to AV is primarily from the Conservative Party, who stand to lose the most seats if it’s accepted.  On the other hand, support for AV is primarily from the Liberal Democrat, who (get ready for a huge shock) stand to gain the most seats if it’s accepted.  So in a sense, we can ignore both of their arguments as based on self-interest.

Please, folks.  Ignore the campaigning, and just ask yourself this.  At the moment, you vote against the popular candidate who you most dislike.  Wouldn’t you rather vote for the candidate you do like?  In short, would you prefer not to have to lie on your ballot?

If so, vote Yes to AV tomorrow!

6 responses to “British readers: vote on AV tomorrow!

  1. I don’t really follow British politics (why should I, I’m american… Just kidding!) but it does sound like this new voting scheme is huge. There are few things I can think of that we could change over here that would be as monumental. One of them would be for the two ruling parties to truly allow a third party to have a shot, instead of constantly marginalizing them.

    In any case, good luck! And we’ll be watching to see how it goes.

  2. Chris Purcell

    “At the moment, you vote against the popular candidate who you most dislike.  Wouldn’t you rather vote for the candidate you do like?”

    I fear, almost by definition, at least 50% of people already do both, and couldn’t care less about those who don’t. After all, if it’s only the minority who see an advantage under the new system, it must be unfair, right? “More bites of the cherry” or something.

    But, I agree. Vote yes! End invisible tactical voting!

  3. StarTrekRedneck

    Having disagreed (understatement) with your last post, I wanted to say I hear you loud and clear here. “At the moment, you vote against the popular candidate who you most dislike. Wouldn’t you rather vote for the candidate you do like?” Too true. Likewise, I’m perpetually frustrated with the two-sidedness of our system.

    Actually, in the US, I’m surprised we don’t have a playoff system for candidates by now. I love college football, but it seems we’re more concerned about the BCS and entertainment in general than our system of government. Personally, I hope you get the upgrade. Good luck from me, too.

  4. If you’re voting yes to AV, be sure to put no as your second choice :-P

  5. Pingback: Voting reform in the UK | The Reinvigorated Programmer

  6. Under AV you will still be able to play by FPTP rules if you want. Simply vote tactically for your first-choice candidate and do not indicate a preference for any of the others. So even if you’re a dyed-in-wool FPTPer, there is simply no reason not to vote YES to AV :-)

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