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“All votes are equal”

Submitted by editor on Sun, 03/04/2011 – 20:42

Opponents continually and falsely claim that AV gives more votes to some people than others.

Andrew Rawnsley answered this very well in today’s Observer:

“AV is a method of holding an exhaustive ballot without having to ask voters to make repeat visits to the polling station to come up with a winner. Consider a straightforward example. Mr Grey, Mrs Purple and Miss White stand for election. In the first round, if one of them attracts the support of more than half of the voters, that person is elected. Each voter has voted once. If none of the contenders can command majority backing first time around, the candidate with the least support drops out and there is a second round. Let us say that Mr Grey – not a popular chap – is the candidate eliminated. The second preferences of his supporters are now redistributed between Mrs Purple and Miss White.

So, yes, you can say that Mr Grey’s supporters have voted again. But, crucially, so too have the original supporters of Mrs Purple and Miss White. Their first round vote counts again in the second round to contribute to the voting totals which decide the winner. And this is true however many rounds take place until someone has a majority of the votes. Under AV, all votes are equal.”

Votes do not count twice

Submitted by lawrie oconnor on Thu, 28/04/2011 – 23:24.

Mr Grey’s supporters do not vote twice. A vote is always worth one vote. Never half a vote or two votes. Mr Grey’s supporters only vote once. In the first round when votes are ‘counted’ Mr Grey’s supporters votes are put into his First Preference pile (which he shares with others of like mind) When his first preference is eliminated the votes are not re-counted. The number ‘2’ against the second preference is an instruction to the Returning Officer to move each (single) vote to the existing pile of Ballot Papers representing Mr Grey’s supporters wishes. It isn’t a re-count, it’s an instruction to the returning officer.

AV is even easier than 1, 2, 3!

Submitted by editor on Sun, 03/04/2011 – 20:20


Here’s an even easier explanation of an easy system.

It really is even easier than 1, 2, 3!


AV voting is like a series of elections in which the candidate with the fewest votes each time drops out until one candidate wins with more than half the votes. But, to save time and expense, there is only one election, which may have more than one round of counting. In that election, voters can express their choices for each round of counting.


• You put a figure “1” against the name of your first choice (the candidate you would most like to win). That’s all you have to do.
• If you want to, you can also put a figure “2” against your second choice and you can stop there if you want to.
• If you want to, you can then put a figure “3” against your third choice and you can stop there if you want to.
• If you want to, you can put more figures against more names, but you don’t have to.

People in Northern Ireland already vote this way for all their elections except when they elect Westminster MPs. The Scots also vote this way in their local elections. They have no problems. Do “No” campaigners think that English and Welsh voters are less intelligent?


This simple process can be done by hand:

• All the first choices are counted. Any candidate, who has more than half the votes, is elected.
• If not, the candidate with the least votes is excluded. The votes for that candidate are transferred to the next choices of his or her voters. Any candidate, who has more than half the votes then, is elected.
• If not, the process is repeated until one candidate has more than half the votes in that round of counting.

So the winner needs more support in the last round of counting than all the other candidates combined.

Prominent Atheist and Christian leader agree

Submitted by editor on Thu, 31/03/2011 – 22:58

Scientist and prominent atheist Richard Dawkins commented to the Independent newspaper yesterday that “I am at a loss to understand how any reasonable person can defend first past the post. AV should be supported by every democrat.”

This prompted the Bishop of Buckingham Alan Wilson to say “It doesn’t often happen, but I strongly agree with Richard on this one — we may differ on why the cosmos came into being, but it’s good we can agree on how our little corner of it should work democratically.”

The winner should be the winner

Submitted by editor on Tue, 29/03/2011 – 20:16

The “No” campaign declares “The winner should be the winner”! Quite right too, but that’s not what FPTP gives!

How can anyone justify the “winner” being a candidate against whom 71% of the voters voted, as in Norwich South (Lib Dem) last year? Or, in local government, in Stoke on Trent’s Abbey Green Ward where 73% voted against the BNP “winner” in 2007?

By contrast, AV ensures that the winner gets more than half the votes. It could be our slogan.

The winner really should be the winner!

Why vote “No”, 4 – “Only 3 countries use AV.”

Submitted by editor on Mon, 14/03/2011 – 23:26


Newly emerging democracies barely even consider FPTP but introduce PR.

Democracies (i.e. excluding dictatorships, military juntas and theocracies etc) tend to prefer proportional representation (PR) of one kind or another to AV, which is the only alternative to FPTP in the referendum.

Many of the countries that still use FPTP do so because they are former UK dependencies and that’s what we introduced to them. It seemed the best at the time, but times move on and now it’s time for us who pioneered democracy to improve it so it will be more fit for the 21st century.

Although only three countries use AV (STV in single-member constituencies), many use STV (with exactly the same system of voting by numbers) in multi-member constituencies for at least some of their elections. They include the UK (for most elections in Northern Ireland and local elections in Scotland), Ireland, Malta, India, Australia, New Zealand, Iceland and USA.

People of these nations are intelligent enough to vote by numbers, so English and Welsh voters should have no difficulty. Scottish and Northern Irish voters already vote that way.

If anyone doubts that voting by AV is easy, proves it.

Daily Mail’s deliberate mistakes

Submitted by editor on Sun, 13/03/2011 – 19:26


Harry Phibbs, The Daily Mail, 9 March 2011:

“The baffling nature of the Alternative Vote system, where candidates are ranked by voters and a loser can be declared the winner, is good reason for voting not to adopt it.”

Excuse me, but isn’t that exactly what happens with First Past The Post? In Norwich South last year 70.68% voted against Simon Wright (Lib Dem) and 29.32% voted for him and yet he won! That wouldn’t happen with AV; the winner would need over half the votes.


“Then on that Thursday [5 May] comes the referendum on scrapping our voting system that has been the envy of the world”

“Envy of the world”? So why don’t newly emerging democracies use it?

Nation before party

Submitted by editor on Sun, 13/03/2011 – 18:39


It is rather sad that some people seem to be deciding how to vote in the referendum according to which system they think might be better for their own party. No-one knows the answer to that; it depends how people vote. In the political situation or 2015, they may vote differently from 2010 and AV may make more people feel free to vote in the first place for minor parties; their second choices may or may not be the major parties they supported in 2010.

Labour supporters who think First Past The Post would be better for their party should ask themselves why the Conservative Party opposes AV and where the “No” campaign’s money come from. Even so, it will still depend on how people vote. Conservatives may be pleasantly surprised by AV. The point is that trying to assess whether a particular party would gain or lose by AV is a hazardous business and not the best basis for making a decision.

Dare I suggest people vote for the system that would be better and more democratic for the nation and voters?

The bottom line is that:
3. In the vast majority of constituencies, every voter could vote by AV for his or her own party safe in the knowledge that, if that party was eliminated in an early round, his or her subsequent preference could still influence the result.
4. No candidate could be elected by as few as one-third of the votes as some are now and every candidate would have to work to attract more than half the votes.

The referendum is not to choose the best possible system but to choose between AV and First Past The Post. AV is undoubtedly the better of these two. Even the “No” campaigners know that; they criticize AV but never defend First Past The Post.

Sheila says “Yes”

Submitted by editor on Wed, 09/03/2011 – 16:50


At a wedding reception at the weekend, I found myself next to a young Australian woman so we started talking about sport and politics as one does.

After she had to admit that England was the superior nation at Test Cricket, I was forced to agree that Australia (which already uses AV) had a better voting system, although I explained that we expect to put that right in a referendum on 5 May.

She told me she had been surprised to see the system we used here and she had never had any trouble voting 1, 2, 3 etc. She couldn’t understand the No campaign’s claim that AV was complicated. She has a vote in the referendum and will definitely vote “Yes”.

Incidentally, on the easiness of AV, I attended “Democracy Day” today at Portsmouth University where Yes campaigners from Portsmouth, Dorset and West Sussex invited people to vote by FPTP and AV for their favourite football team. The responses varied from “Yes, certainly” to “Sorry I don’t have time”, but not one person complained that voting by numbers was too complicated.

Any readers who would like to see for themselves how easy it is to vote by AV should visit and experience AV voting; it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

Yes in Wales to STV?

Submitted by editor on Fri, 04/03/2011 – 22:36


Wales has voted yes by 63.5% to 36.5% in a referendum for its National Assembly to have more powers. Let’s hope that’s a good augury for the UK referendum on 5 May on how we elect MPs.

STV Action was neutral in the Welsh referendum, but we understand that one of the Assembly’s new powers will be to decide on the voting system for local elections. We also understand that the leaders of three of the four main parties in the principality – Labour, Plaid Cymru and Liberal Democrats – all support electing Councillors by STV.

No case for “No”

Submitted by editor on Fri, 04/03/2011 – 17:27


As most “Yes” campaigners will know, the “No” campaign hasn’t given one positive reason to support the 19th century First Past The Post. All its arguments have been negative anti-AV ones and most of them range from misleading through half-truths to outright lies. Quite frankly, most of their arguments would be laughable if there wasn’t a danger that some people would believe them and vote against a modest, but significant, improvement in the way we elect MPs.

I recommend an A – Z of rubbish arguments for a debunking of the “No” propaganda.



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