Wednesday, 16 February 2011

Candidate lists

At the last election there was a constituency (hypothetical) that had the following candidates running, with the following number of votes...

Jeff - 18,000 votes
Billy - 17,000 votes
Ashley -4,000 votes
Jane - 800 votes
Kerry - 200 votes
Tom - 100 votes

Under FPTP Jeff wins. Fair? It must be, if you support FPTP.

Next election the same candidates run again. Every voter votes the same way...except Ashley has pulled out. Instead Ashley's voters decide how they'll vote in Ashley's absence. 2000 decide they won't bother voting at all, 1,600 decide they'll vote for Billy, and 400 decide they'll vote for Jeff.

New vote shares for the next election are...

Jeff - 18,400 votes
Billy - 18,600 votes
Jane - 800 votes
Kerry - 200 votes
Tom - 100 votes

Another FPTP election, but this time Billy wins. Fair? It must be if you support FPTP.

Yet this situation is exactly what AV deals with, except it does it within the same election. Before claiming that it's "unfair" that someone's 2nd or further preference counts as much as your 1st, think about the above scenario. Would you complain about your election being won by someone because another candidate wasn't present? Would you think that Billy's votes aren't as worthy as Jeffs?

Of course not, you'd not bat an eyelid at the situation, and you'd congratulate the winner. Yet this is what AV does to ensure that the most popular of the most popular win each seat.

Edit: Someone on twitter tried to claim that the above results are like "earning £10" whilst the AV method is like stealing £10. It should be clear to those that don't need to abandon logic to parrot a party line...what I've demonstrated above is the exact process AV takes, though over a period of years not hours. If you believe the above FPTP result is fair you lose any right to claim that AV is unfair. It is, possibly unfortunately for you, unavoidable. :) /Edit

For more on why AV is a fairer choice than FPTP, read on.