After the recent Canadian Federal General Election, I was surprised to find out that the Alternative Vote system of election has been tried and discarded in British Columbia, Canada. In the early 1950′s no less. Back in the UK, the Alternative Vote system is being touted as a ‘fairer’ system of apportioning the popular mandate, but is it really?
Taking the 1953 BC election as a yardstick, where AV was the voting system. This being a real world example of the practice in action, not theory or modelling, but real live, in your face numbers.
In 1953 the victorious Social Credit party started out at the first count with just under 38% of the total vote, which increased to just under 46% of the vote after ‘adjustment’. The smaller parties who were knocked out after the first count had their votes allocated to the winning party, not spread amongst the others. See Wikipedia entry here. Er, hold the phone. So how is that ‘fairer’ than the first past the post system? Explain it to me. By that I mean explain it without any flim-flam, in words an ordinary voter can understand. Especially when we’re voting for a specific person to represent us, not merely their party.
The words say ‘fairer’, but the numbers add up to something else. As far as AV is concerned, I’m not convinced. Needs more thought.