Alternative Voting

The embattled Labour government of Gordon Brown in the U.K. is proposing a new “alterative voting” scheme whereby, rather than simply marking an “X” on the ballot, citizens would indicate their preference for in ranking order for the various candidates on offer.

Apparently, the British Tories are quite outraged about this proposal as analysis of recent past election results indicate they would generally be somewhat disadvantaged by such a complex redistribution of votes. Go figure.

I wonder if the idea might catch on here as an initial step towards electoral reform and a more proportional form of representation. As well, it could be forcefully argued that it might not be an altogether bad thing to encourage people to invest a little more thought into marking their ballots. And yes, this does relate somewhat to a previous discussion about “literacy tests” but in an entirely more positive way…

13 Replies to “Alternative Voting”

  1. preference voting. i’ve actually voted that way. can’t exactly remember the event, but i think it was for the union local’s elections. don’t quote me on that.


  2. I kind of like the idea. Different PR schemes have narrowly failed to pass here in B.C., but I think this approach might be a good way forward to a more representative form of democracy.

    I liked the suggestion made at the end of that clip of intentionally voting against your incumbent MP just to vex them and create havoc… typically British.

  3. A lot of the impetus here in the States for it was that it would help to foster 3rd party candidates. That way a voter could vote from whom they really wanted and not have to be worried about “throwing their vote away”.

    My understanding of what happened here in Minnesota was that a lot of people still voted single choice, which is allowed for, but it was only a munincipal election. I’d be really curious how a national would turn out.

  4. “voting against your incumbent MP just to vex them”

    heh. cheeky brits.

    stateside, i think we’d tend to take a two-party approach to casting our prefs, until we got the hang of it. a “third” party would likely benifit from the partisan-skewed counts. possible that both your candidate and his primary competition lose together, and, given druthers, you might have prefered the competition to the actual winner.

    so, no matter how we slice, we’re still gonna end up with the govt we deserve….


  5. KEv — It’s somewhat different here in Canada, but the system still heavily favours the status quo and it’s incredibly hard to get established as an alternative party, let alone achieve victory in an election. We have a Green Party that regularly clocks in about 7% of the vote and has yet to legitimately gain a seat!

  6. I have been advocating this system of voting for years as well as manditory voting. If it were to work here Canadians would have to demand it.

  7. I think it is a great idea and it would probably work very well for the UK where consistent studies have shown that the Liberal-Democrat party is the closest one to most people’s opinions but which can’t win an election because of the perversity of FPP voting. It would be a very good way of introducing reform in a mild way that would help people begin to understand the benefits of real electoral reform.

  8. “It’s somewhat different here in Canada”

    that’s what i’m saying; you haven’t been entrenched in a two-party system for as long as any living american can remember. i’m not discrediting the system, i’m just saying it has the potential for surprising results here. that, alone, sways my support of it!


  9. Personally I think this is the best form of voting and I have been avocating for it for a long time. Being able to vote agaist your incumbant is exactly what we need. Canada needs their MPs to be more accountable to their riding than to their leader and this is the only reasonable way to do it. Anything that gives independents a better chance to win is ok in my books as well.

  10. It would provide a reason not to really piss people off.

    Right now, it doesn’t make any difference how pissed off he makes someone, they can only vote “against” him once. This way, they could vote against him a second time.

    It might stop him from actively trying to piss off the left wing and perhaps it might even stop the Liberals from writing off chunks of the country.

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