Thursday, 13 January 2011

Do all votes count under AV?

As always I can rely on @CharlotteV to bring up a deceitful and twisted argument to try and persuade people to vote No. Her latest today is that (supposedly) unlike FPTP, not everyone's vote counts under AV.

tl;dr

Don't be fooled in to thinking that because some people are taking the perfectly acceptable option of "spoiling" their ballot if they have no preferred candidate left in the rounds of counting, that their vote somehow hasn't counted or has been worthless.

Where votes count

We all know how FPTP works. One person, one vote, one candidate. Simple, done. It does mean that if you're not supporting a candidate that is the winner last time around, or is within 10% of the vote share of the winner last time, that your best bet is to either vote tactically or not turn up at all, but it's simple.

Charlotte Vere wishes to make us believe that AV, by comparison, ignores voters. This is the stock line of attack for the No to AV campaign, take a truth and then pretend the opposite is true.

@CharlotteV
@robertcp Under FPTP every vote is counted. Under AV, not every vote is counted - only those with sufficient no of prefs. #no2av


AV and choice

AV gives more voters a larger voice. It allows you to vote for your candidate, and then let the constituency know that if your preferred candidate is gone that you'd also be happy to be represented by other candidates in a specific order of preference. This could be all the other candidates, or perhaps not all of them. Maybe you hate Tories, or Labour, or Lib Dems, and you'd never put your vote to them.

Charlotte is claiming that because those people that choose not to put down full preferences can find themselves in a situation where their ballot is exhausted in the final round of counting, for example by leaving a preference for the Lib Dems and Labour blank and those being the final two parties standing, that their vote is not being counted.

This doesn't mean their vote hasn't been counted any more than their vote isn't counted under FPTP. Their first preference was counted, perhaps that kept their first preference from being eliminated early and thus has instantly effected the election outcome. When their first preference was knocked out their vote transfered and started to count towards a different candidate. Under FPTP this vote would have already run it's course, yet under AV it is instead given to someone else to reflect that voters preference over who represents them out of the remaining field.

All along, their vote has been counted, has been a part of the process that has decided who gets eliminated or not, who goes through to each round, but then Charlotte thinks because an unfortunate outcome (for that voter) in the final round of counting their vote no longer counts when their ballot of preferences is exhausted?

Conclusion

Think about it. Essentially what is happening here is that, when it boils down to it, the constituency as a whole has said that they want either candidates from Labour or Lib Dems (in the above example) to be their MP. If those two were the only choices under FPTP, and our example voter decided not to turn up, or to spoil their ballot, because they couldn't vote for either of them...would that be someone's vote "not being counted"? No. It's an active choice by that voter to not endorse the candidates on offer, to make an indirect statement that the election has not enabled or encouraged them to endorse one candidate or the other.

This is exactly what is happening under AV, the voter has, by not putting all preferences down, stated that if the result comes down to being between prospective MPs that they do not wish to put preferences down for, that they would rather not "turn up".

They have under AV, unlike under FPTP where your chosen candidate needs to be either the last winner or within 10% of the winner to have a realistic chance of winning, at least had the opportunity to try and influence the result, to give much greater information about their political opinion...but like FPTP aren't forced to vote for a candidate that they can't support.

This isn't votes not counting, it's voters having the choice to vote for exactly who they want, or not vote if their choices are too limited. Their votes in the first round have counted just as much as under FPTP, and then every vote counts MORE than under FPTP through the expression of deeper political preference in each further round.

So there we are. As I say, No 2 Av will take a truth and pretend the opposite is true. They have here decided that they don't like the fact that AV gives people more of a voice, to make their vote work harder for them, and are instead attempting to mislead people in to believing that AV ignores your votes instead. Disgusting.