Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Why I’ve voted Yes

Shark Statue
Today I sent off my postal vote, with a ‘Yes’ vote for the referendum on the voting system which takes place on the 5th May. I’d like to take a little bit of your time to explain why I voted yes, and why I hope you will do too.
Before I go into my own personal reasons, have a look at the Why Vote Yes? pages on the Yes to Fairer Votes campaign, and in particular the AV myths page.
I’ve had personal experience with the AV system whilst studying as a student, as we have used the system effectively for the student union elections for some years now. In particular, I’ve been involved with the counting of votes, and it really isn’t a difficult system. If you’ve watched the ‘No’ campaign’s referendum broadcast, they would have you think that it’s really complicated – trust me, it isn’t. It’s the No campaign telling you that you’re not intelligent enough to do simple maths, which is rather insulting. Jessica Hynes, the actress who appeared in that advert, should be ashamed of herself.
I also feel that the AV system is better than the First Past The Post (FPTP) system we have right now. At present, a candidate can be elected with less than half of the votes cast; in other words, a majority of the electorate did not support them but they were still elected. AV will mean that candidates will have to gain wider support in order to be elected.
It’ll also mean the end of tactical voting. Under FPTP, if you support a party that is likely to come third, you may wish to vote for a different party that you don’t really agree with (but has more support), to prevent a third party from being elected that you don’t want. This is because FPTP does not allow you to select second or third preferences; AV does, so you could put your favoured candidate first and then another candidate second if you wish, in case your first choice is eliminated.
It will hopefully spell the end for extremist parties like the BNP. Despite the ‘No’ campaign saying that AV will help the BNP (without really explaining how…), the BNP are actively campaigning for a ‘no’ vote themselves. Under FPTP, a candidate can win if a significant minority support them (which is true of the BNP), but under AV, a candidate needs to be able to appeal to a majority of voters. Most people find the BNP abhorrent, so under AV, their chances of being elected are further diminished.
And my final reason is because of the negativity and outright lies of the No campaign. There is a very good takedown of their leaflet here, for example their claim that AV will cost £250 million – it won’t. Part of that is the cost of the referendum which is happening anyway and will be spent regardless of the result, some of it is for electronic voting machines, which aren’t planned to be used, and at least £3 million of that isn’t even substantiated. Pure scaremongering and lies.
I care about this country and want our political leaders to put this country and its people – all of them – first. First Past The Post is not allowing enough people sufficient say in who gets elected to run our country and our local authorities. It may have suited us fine when we only had 2 major political parties – we have 3 now and parties like the Green Party, with its first MP, and UKIP are also on the rise. Our voting system therefore needs to change, so that more people can get more say in how our country is run.
Please vote ‘Yes’ to AV on May 5th.

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