The AV ‘multiple votes’ myth debunked by Fairer Votes Edinburgh

An argument that has often been wrongly levelled at AV by both the official No campaign & various Conservative & some Labour politicians is that it allows some voters to vote multiple times. The most recent MP to voice it is David Blunkett, one of the Labour figures who have joined the frontline of the No2AV campaign. If taken at face value it appears to be a strong point & something that anyone who believes in “one man, one vote” would find appalling. The truth is those that spread this myth are either misreading what AV (or Instant Run-Off Voting as it’s also called) is all about or are deliberately misrepresenting it in a bid to see of what would be a great improvement on the current flawed system.

The blog for Fairer Votes Edinburgh features a great explanation of how AV works, with the focus on showing that voters don’t get to have more than one vote at all. It also shows what a sensible approach AV is for electing our MPs in single-seat constituencies, making sure the winner receives at least half of the total votes without the need for voters to have to keep returning to polling stations to vote again as lowest ranked candidates are eliminated-

The Alternative Vote … attempts to mimic a series of elections or run offs. In each run off the candidate with the lowest support is eliminated.  You could do this by having a number of actual elections and each time a candidate is eliminated everyone votes again. This would be time consuming and cumbersome and expensive, particularly in seats like Edinburgh North and Leith, with up to a dozen candidates.  Alternative Vote or Instant Run-Off Voting gets round this by asking voters to rank their choices. Their vote is a contingent vote. It depends on who stays in the race and who gets knocked out.

When you vote using the Alternative Vote method the preference system is a way of asking you a question.  The question is “If your favorite candidate is eliminated and we had the election again, who would you vote for?” For most people the answer will be “My candidate wasn’t eliminated so I would continue to vote for them.” Voters, whose first choice candidate is knocked out, don’t get a second vote. They get to pick who they transfer their vote to as if we had re-run the election but without their 1st preference candidate.

The bottom line is this- if the candidate you gave your 1st preference to is eliminated, you don’t vote again, your vote is simply transferred to whoever you gave your 2nd preference to, & so on. It’s as if that candidate & his/her votes are removed & the count is instantly run again with those votes redistributed to their 2nd choices. If the candidate you give your 1st preference to stays in the count through to the last round, it means you have effectively voted for them in each round of the count because they’ve been available for you to still vote for at each stage of the run-off. You can read the full piece that explains it all very well here- “Vote Early, Vote Often”

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2 Responses to The AV ‘multiple votes’ myth debunked by Fairer Votes Edinburgh

  1. jan says:

    Can you help me out with this then?

    • Chris B says:

      Which bit of the video Jan? There are a few claims made in the video – AV will lead to backroom deals (completely untrue – Australia has had one hung parliament since the second world war, and Britain has had three. AV leads to strong Government because as well as swing voters deciding an election, people’s second and third preferences will indicate the need for change too); AV is complicated (though for voters it is surely easier to represent your views honestly, than try and work out who might be able to win before voting); AV involves some having more votes (though the reality is everyone gets one vote – everyone’s vote is counted in every round and someone’s first preference is more important as it determines who goes through to subsequent rounds). Please do let us know if there is one area you’d like us to focus on. Thanks Chris

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