Monday, 6 December 2010

More bogus claims against AV... (debunked)

1. AV IS OBSCURE: Only three countries in the world use AV for their national elections: Fiji, Australia, and Papua New Guinea.

AV is well known and understood... so what definition of obscure is being use here?  Is the Eiffel tower 'obscure' because there is only one of it? Is Big Ben 'obscure' because there is only one of it? Are the Egyptian pyramids obscure because they only exist in Egypt and are relatively few in number?

2. AV IS UNFAIR: Supporters of fringe parties can end up having their vote counted five or six times – and potentially decide the outcome of the election – while people who backed the mainstream candidates only get one vote.

Just plain untrue - in each round of voting every valid vote is counted - if there are five rounds, then every vote will have been counted 5 times. Everyones' vote is counted the same number of times, counting towards the highest marked preference that is still in the race.

3. AV IS UNEQUAL: AV treats someone’s fifth or sixth choice as having the same importance as someone’s else’s first preference – but there is a big difference between positively wanting one candidate to win and being able to ‘put up with’ another.

In every round of counting everyones first/top preference from the remaining candidates is counted - and all count the same. In each round of counting its one voter, one vote.

4. AV IS ‘EVEN LESS PROPORTIONAL’ THAN THE CURRENT SYSTEM: So concluded the independent Royal Commission chaired by the senior Liberal Democrat Roy Jenkins in 1998

Carefully and misleadingly edited quote there missing out the qualification "and in some circumstances ... it is even less proportional". Meaning, of course in other circumstances it can be even more proportional! But as neither FPTP nor AV claim to create proportional governments the whole line of argument is rather moot.

5. AV IS ‘DISTURBINGLY UNPREDICTABLE’ – another warning from Roy Jenkins. Elections fought under AV would either wildly increase the majority of the winning party (e.g. Labour in 1997, the Tories in the 1980s) or create hung parliaments by giving the balance of power to the third party.

This interpretation of Jenkins comment is entirely the authors own. In the report the statement is unsupported. But, as already covered 'proportionality' of any government produced by of any non-proportional system (FPTP or AV) is moot. And the fact that AV in Australia has produced fewer hung parliaments than FPTP has in the UK maybe renders 'predicatability' irrelevant as we can actually rely on experience.

6. AV IS NOT WANTED – EVEN BY THE YES CAMPAIGN: Before the general election, Nick Clegg described AV as "a miserable little compromise" and the Electoral Reform Society said they did "not regard it as suitable for the election of a representative body, e.g. a parliament".

Not wanted? I want it, and so do many people I have spoken to. But, in any case, this is what the referendum is to decide! The referendum is happening the only reason to attempt to pre-judge it in this way petty politicking.

7. AV IS NO-ONE’S FIRST CHOICE: AV was not in the manifestos of either the Conservative Party or the Liberal Democrats. Many people who want voting reform have spent years campaigning for proportional representation – which AV is not.

It is my first choice for electing MPs... I can't speak for people I haven't spoken to, but 'first choice' is irrelevant, the choice we are being offered is FPTP vs AV. The referendum is on which is better not whether one or the other is perfect.

8. AV IS COMPLEX: The Government will have to spend millions of pounds explaining to voters how AV
works to prevent a fall in turnout at elections. In Australia, the only reason they have high turnout is because they made voting compulsory.

Complex? What is this claim based on? In Australia turnouts were falling before AV was introduced and actually increased slightly following the introduction of AV - voting was made mandatory *after* this. A good proportion of the people I have met who are in favour of AV don't vote under FPTP because they consider it ineffective and a waste of time - if this is typical then we can expect turnout to increase significantly if AV is introduced, as people feel their vote is no longer 'wasted'.

9. AV IS EXPENSIVE: Under AV we won’t be able to count ballot papers by hand on election night if we want a quick, decisive election result. Local councils will have to purchase electronic counting machines that are very expensive and prone to malfunction.

Again - what is this claim based on? Many results will require only one count as at present, and if there are later rounds there is no reason that they should take long as only the votes for the *least popular* candidate need to be re-allocated.

10. AV IS NOT THE REFORM WE NEED: There are lots of genuine reforms which would go some way to restoring people’s trust in politics – but changing our voting system to AV is not one of them. That’s why it’s a shame that we’re about to spend £90 million and five months debating a system that nobody really wants.

Well the answer to this is just 'tough' - its what we are being offered. FPTP vs AV. If our MPs as elected under FPTP were good at representing the public will then maybe there would be other reforms on offer -- but FPTP is self-evidently a huge break on reform, another good reason to drop it.

(Original article/blog at didn't allow comments - hence me posting here)


  1. Totally agree, politicians have always tried to think of new ways to screw the electorate this is one of them. What i don't think you mentioned was that in Australia it is compulsory to vote. This puts a slightly different slant on things. After the overt political treachery we have had in recent years I personally don't think myself or any of my family will ever vote in the UK again, even if made compulsory, i would rather be dragged off to jail.

  2. I'm pleased to see some sanity. There's way too much money being spent on outrageous 'no' propaganda! Yes to AV - why not? It can't be any more disenfranchising than what we've got now!