openDemocracyUK

AV means you can stick to First Past the Post if you really want to!

An epicycle in the arguments for the Alternative Vote in the coming UK referendum, it permits you to only vote once just like now!
Rupert Read
14 February 2011

With the Royal Assent scheduled for this Wednesday the referendum will go ahead and we return to our debate on it and the larger issues it raises.

I’ve made the case for AV in detail here and here. I thought I had worked out all the pro-AV arguments. But sometimes a question comes along that makes one realise that there is still more to learn.

 Example… I was recently asked this question: "Will there be an option, in AV, to just vote for one party when not wanting any of the others in at all?"

The answer is YES.

Under AV, if you simply place a '1' next to your favoured candidate (rather than a cross), then you are voting as if it is FPTP (the current system), and that is completely allowed.

To be clear and technical, the legislation allows a single X on the ballot paper to count as a 1 next to that candidate. And existing case law already implies the same, in any case: If, like me, you have been to too many election counts, then you will know that if someone writes a ‘1’ beside a candidate, under FPTP, then that already counts as a vote for that candidate. The same will apply in reverse, if we get AV.

And in fact, there is a very; important point here which I certainly hadn't seen before: It really is unnecessary for FPTP-lovers to oppose AV at all.

Because FPTP is 'contained within' AV.

FPTP is simply a subset of AV. FPTP-supporters can simply vote using a '1' instead of a cross, and could lobby for everyone else to do so too. There really is no need and no reason for them to oppose the new system therefore. They can stick to FPTP if they want to.

It would just be nice if they were to let those of us who would like to rank candidates by preference to be allowed to do so... It is really rather illiberal of them to stop us from doing this, when we are perfectly happy for them NOT to list candidates in preference order and just vote once.

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