Why Alternative Voting Will Not Work…

With the Government next week is reported to offer a Commons vote on a referendum for an Alternative Vote System (ranking candidates in order instead of just a one cross on the ballot paper), here are a few reasons why I don’t think that it would work in Britain: –

It is far too complex- Ranking every candidate in order would mean that the voter needs to do a lot of unnecessary research on each of the candidates, be they from a major party or standing as an independent, to make the decision on how to rank them on the ballot paper. This empowers the voter at best, but at worst it means that voters may just fill in ballot papers randomly if they don’t know what each candidate stands for in their constituency. Another more important reason why the Alternative Vote System would not work is that a proportion of voters may not feel that their vote will be counted unless they rank every candidate on the ballot paper.

It takes far too long to count- Unless one candidate gets fifty percent of the votes plus one, a second round of counting commences, however close the leader is to their target. Since the candidate with the least votes is eliminated in each round it could take numerous rounds to find a winner, even if the leader after the first round has a massive lead. In tight seats the Alternative Vote System would take much longer than the First Past The Post System, and the winner may not even get fifty percent plus one due to spoiled ballot papers.

The leader in the first round nearly always wins- In my experience of the Alternative Vote System unless it’s incredibly close in the first round (where the leader’s advantage is less than one percent of total votes cast), the leader in the first round wins nigh on every time. This begs the question why bother spending masses of time and money in implementing a system when it returns the same outcome as the previous system in nearly all seats.

It’s my (perhaps cynical) opinion that the Government is only going to offer a referendum for an Alternative Vote System to appease the Liberal Democrats if there is a hung parliament. As I’ve stated before, if there is a hung parliament the Liberal Democrats will want a whole raft of concessions from Labour if they are to form a coalition. The Alternative Vote System is not what the Liberal Democrats, the Conservatives nor a proportion of the Labour party want so it’s puzzling to see why the Prime Minister is putting it to a vote this month.


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