Thursday, 5 May 2011

Got yours in?

Today's a voting day in the UK yet again.  However, unlike voting for who you want to stay in the Big Brother house, who to get to the next stage of Britain's Got Talent or who you want to watch on Eurovision (which is next week, for those who like their annual dosage of high octane cheesy pop like yours truly), voting on the AV Referendum isn't as rivetting or as popular. 

I have to admit, I was a little floundered myself by the whole thing when I first heard it.  New voting system?  What's wrong with the old one?  HOW does the new system actually work?  Research was a little touch and go for me because I have to admit, voting does bore me a little bit.  Okay, a lot.  But then my Dad's words popped into my head - If you had the chance to vote and didn't take it, you have no room to complain if you don't like the end result.  So I decided to take a little time out today to read up on the alternate voting system.  At the moment, the current voting system is First Past The Post, which is basically whoever gets the most votes in.  It's not entirely flawed - it's direct, it's simple, it ensures one clear winner.

Or does it?

After all, if you only get one vote, but you vote for an unpopular person, then you'll have to make do with the knowledge your voice wasn't heard and someone you probably really didn't want in power gets in.  There is a sense of "tough luck" about it and having to put up with someone else's decision trumping yours.  It's also flawed in that if there's no single clear victor, then the Government has to go into a coalition like is has at the moment with David Cameron of the Conservatives and Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats.  People thought this was a good thing initially - even though David Cameron is the Prime Minister, Nick Clegg could still speak up for the Lib Dem voters and get some of his policies through, right?  Not so - Clegg has unfortunately proven he hasn't a backbone when placed next to Cameron.  His policies have been watered down to near enough non-existance, his own supporters have lost faith in him and he's become a bit of a joke as a deputy PM.

On the other hand, the new vote system being proposed is a numbering system that sounds complicated at first, but only if you don't concentrate.  The MP you most want in power is labelled as "1", your second choice as "2" and so on.  And you needn't number all of them, just the ones you support the most in the order of your own preference.  Then those first choice votes get counted up.  If one person gets 50% or more of the first choice votes, they get in.  If there's no such clear winner, then the person who gets got the least is eliminated and using the wonderful tool known as maths, you distribute the remainder 2nd, 3rd etc votes to their respective MPs.  This process continues until one person clearly comes out on top.  In theory, it means the end of coalition governments and extremist groups like the BNP won't even have a look in.  It's also been said though that it was only an excuse for Nick Clegg to ensure a victory for his party next election.  But to the people who say this, I ask this - wouldn't his party only get a victory if he gets a lot more second choice votes as well?  And it's not entirely a bad thing.  If you don't want him to be in with a chance at all, just don't put him down as your second or third choice, or as a choice at all.  You still have a say in that, after all.

Some people have complained this system is unneccessarily complicated, but is it?  I admit I found it a little confusing at first but that was down to the poor explanations I came across.  I probably haven't explained it all that well either myself.  Though I did draw parallels to one system that's in popular use at least once a year in Europe.

(Side note: I have grown rather fond of Graham Norton's commentary - he's a good step from Terry Wogan.)

See, not honestly that hard at all when you think about it.  And if someone is obviously popular, then they will win anyway.  The least popular ones still won't get in.  And you can still sit well in the knowledge that even if your first choice didn't win, your second choice might.  And isn't it better than letting your last choice get in at all?

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