AV voting system

With a friend, I have been trying to clarify how AV would work as the booklets that have been circulated have insufficient detail to make a proper judgement. I made up a spreadsheet model which my friend sent to the electoral reform society:
Voting questions amended

The society has answered some of the questions as you can see (though I made a numerical mistake at the last step – I wanted the final two candidates to have the same number of first choices – hence my last question – oops). The most interesting thing is the drawing of lots when candidates have the same number of first choices. No matter what allocation of second, third, fourth, … choices the candidate has, these are ignored. Further reflection below:

  • From what has been said one must assume that if the last two candidates have the same number of first choice votes, lots would be drawn despite any allocation of second, third, fourth votes.
  • In general it seems that the number of second third fourth votes a particular candidate gets is irrelevant – they only matter as part of a voter’s profile as it is the voter that is reallocated and whose latter choices are used to determine the next steps. You only ever look at a candidate’s first choice (or first choice by transfer) votes. In other words including anything other than first choice votes in my spreadsheet was a waste of time.

At the moment, I am not sure why anyone would think this is better than first past the post. Some politician and supporter of AV on the radio the other day used the spurious argument that at present someone who does not get 50% of the vote can be elected, that this happens frequently, that this is very bad. He said that the AV system does away with this problem. No explanation for this belief/fact was offered. Well, as far as I can see this is rubbish. In fact it can make it worse with a candidate who does not get the most first choice votes being elected and there is still no guarantee that the winner will have 50%. Theoretically some one could have 49% of first choice votes and not be elected but someone with only 10% first choices (or even 0%) being elected because of the vote transfer. Apparently this system is used for some elections (might be local) in Scotland. So it would have been really easy for someone to produce some models. I suspect that this has been done but not shared because neither side likes the results.

I am totally unhappy that people are expected to vote without having a full picture and based on arguments from politicians who are not prepared to justify their claims. Sorry if you think to the contrary.

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