The Alternative Vote Explained

Tomorrow, voters in the UK are being asked whether they want to trade in their current single member district, first-past-the-post electoral system (otherwise known as the same one we use to elect Congress and any number of other offices) for the alternative vote (also known as the instant run-off).

For a very basic explanation, watch this short vid:

See!  Electoral rules are fun!

More from the BBC on the AV referendum here.

h/t: Fruits and Votes

FILED UNDER: Europe, Politics 101, Quick Takes, World Politics
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter

Comments

  1. Just 'nuthuh ig'rant cracker says:

    I have always understood Instant Run Off. In the US, it means that when you go to the polls, you ultimately have to pull the lever for the Dems or the GOP. On the other hand, since a lot of the comments on this site show that Americans have lost their capability to make reasoned decisions in their electoral choices, it doesn’t really matter as much here, does it?

  2. tom p says:

    Just ‘nuthuh ig’rant cracker says:

    I love yer name.

  3. Neil Hudelson says:

    Polls show that IRV is going to go down in flames, which is sad. I think if England had successfully changed, proponents here in the US would be able to use it as a boost.

  4. Yet another disillusioned pawn says:

    Excuse my doltishness, Neil, but what is the advantage to, essentially, telling third party voters that their votes won’t count until they vote for either of the two major parties? Is there no message to telling the major parties “we don’t support what you stand for?” Is there no message in telling the guy who won that winning with 46% of the electorate is NOT a mandate? If the answer to those questions is “no,” then the solution is easier than IRV–simply pass laws that prohibit third parties and independent candidates (except where non-partisanship [nod, nod, wink, wink] is required by state constitutions). We are a democracy–we can create whatever types of laws the majority wants, just stop being dishonest about intentions and simply say that votes for third party candidates shouldn’t be counted. Easy! Problem solved!

  5. Instant Runoff Voting (aka RCV) has been used in several cities in the US, and also repealed.

    Instead of having to get >50% support, they get elected with as low as 24% support.

    This video about a recent race shows the details:

  6. Neil Hudelson says:

    , telling third party voters that their votes won’t count until they vote for either of the two major parties?

    That would be tragic indeed, if IRV did that at all.

    Instead, IRV encourages more third party votes. If, say, a voter wanted to vote for Ron Paul running on the Libertarian ticket, but damn sure didn’t want Obama to have a second term, that voter could vote Libertarian, with Republican (or any other party for that matter) as the voter’s second choice. It would actually remove the fear that inhibits 3rd party vote–the fear that their vote is essentially thrown away.

    just stop being dishonest about intentions and simply say that votes for third party candidates shouldn’t be counted.

    Yeah, you’re right, that’s exactly what I was saying. Actually you didn’t go far enough, what I really was implying by my 2 sentence comment was that all third party supporters should be castrated and then shipped to concentration camps. Too bad you saw through my vile plot.