05 May 2011

AV 7: Seven Simple Reasons

Contrary to the claims of the NO2AV crowd, including David Cameron, we use AV in Ireland, so I know what I'm talking about on this one. I'm not dependent on a febrile imagination to conjure up spectres of what AV would mean. I know what AV means.

I've voted in the AV elections that made Mary McAleese President of Ireland and Brian Lenihan Jr TD for Dublin West. I've also voted in more than a few PR-STV elections. I'm well-used to preferential voting when it matters. I'm used to transferable votes. I've seen my first-choice candidates elected and my second-choice candidates elected, and I've at least twice seen my vote die without any of my candidates getting elected. I've voted in five different voting systems and I've never felt my vote as futile as in FPTP.

FPTP in Britain has become a system where more people vote for losing candidates than for winning ones, where most people are represented by people for whom they did not vote.

Simply put, then, in any given contest AV will produce a result more reflective of the popular will than FPTP. Voters don't need to worry about squandering their vote on a loser or compromising their principles by voting for people they don't like. Under AV, you can vote for your favorite candidate but if your first choice comes in third place or worse, you still have a say on who wins a contest between the major parties.
AV could empower British voters like never before.
AV is a simple, elegant system, and for all the hyperbolic claims made by misguided Yes campaigners, and despite the misleading claims by No campaigners who say they can't understand a system fully understood by even the simplest voter in Ireland, I think there are seven straightforward reasons why we should vote for AV today, two more certain than the rest.
  • AV would ensure elected representatives represent most of the people they represent.
  • AV would allow people to vote honestly and transparently, without wasting their votes.
  • AV might boost voting turnout, thereby giving new life to a moribund system.
  • AV might lead to fresh thinking in how people approach politics.
  • AV might perhaps lead MPs to work harder.
  • AV might perhaps go some way towards getting rid of safe seats.
  • AV might break the traditional duopoly of power.
This isn't about Cameron, or Clegg, or the BNP. This is much bigger than that. It's very simple, really. If you want your voice to mean something, and if you want your representative to represent you, then you should vote for AV.

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