Thursday, 9 December 2010

Why should someone's 2nd or 3rd preference count the same as someone else's 1st?

This is a question that keeps coming up.

Under FPTP everyone makes a single mark on the ballot and every vote counts the same. So when people think about AV allowing a number of preferences, and the final result being based on some 1st preferences, some 2nd and maybe some 3rd or even 4th, they question why a persons later preference should count the same as someone elses 1st preference.

The answer  to this is quite simple - if a persons 2nd preference is being counted it is because their original 1st prefence has been knocked out. Their original 2nd preference is their 1st preference of the remaining candidates!

So when it comes to the count, you count the 1st preference among the remaining candidates.

To extend this, to make it clearer still, even under FPTP are your 'ideal' candidates even on the ballot? If no then the person you vote for is not your real first preference - just like AV you can only vote for the 'best of who is available'.


  1. But you acknowledge then that at the beginning of the election, third preferences have less support than 1st preferences?

    Which means that with each round a vote increasingly detaches from level of support.

    Meaning inaccurate results in the long run.

  2. Support is relative. All votes are for 'best of who is available'. Under FPTP some people *worship* their candidate, others may 'hate' their candidate (but less than they hate the others).

    Do you suggest that FPTP votes should be weighted?

  3. I wish there could be a way to do that, yes. However because you only get one vote under Fptp it is hard to do that. However when people tell you which order they would rank preferences it becomes harder.

    I am not saying it would be spot on, but we KNOW it will more accurate than saying someone likes their 3rd preference the same as their 1st. So any weighting improvement is a step forward

  4. @DBirkin as tweeted, you are choosing from who is *currently available*.

    If Jesus, Buddha, Ghandi, etc had been running in earlier rounds I may well voted for them. So by the time we are down to who is *currently available* my 1st pref is already at best my 4th real pref, and probably far lower...

    It is madness to suggest that people who aren't running, or who have been knocked out should make any difference to the round currently being counted...