The Alternative Vote Debate in Edinburgh – Helen Writes

Helen, Co-convenor of the Yes to Fairer Votes Edinburgh, writes to the Edinburgh Evening News on the debate in Edinburgh on adopting the Alternative Vote Voting System.

Helen writes…

The fact that just 12 people turned up at a meeting to debate the change to the voting system for UK that was organised by the NO2AV campaign (and somewhat unsurprisingly declared themselves opposed to change) hardly justifies the headline that “the city’s answer is ‘no.’”  Rather, it is indicative of a complete lack of support for the NO2AV campaign in Edinburgh. 
 
Edinburgh citizens have been showing a strong interest in reforming the voting system for UK general elections since this became a real prospect last May. This was first seen in the well-supported demonstration on May 15 2010, calling for an end to the broken system for electing MPs so that our Westminster government can be more relevant to the voters it exists to represent.
    
Over the last few months YES! to Fairer Votes campaigners have been very busy with activities such as street stalls around the city, handing out leaflets to shoppers in Princes St or rugby fans on their way to Murrayfield  and speaking to thousands of voters over the phone. The people we are in touch with are often keen to learn more about the proposed alternative vote, to hear what we are asking them to say yes to, and why. Many are receptive to the reasons we give – we are supporting a YES vote to give all voters more of a say, to end safe seats and the jobs for life they bring for some MPs and to make MPs more accountable to their constituents because they will need to aim to get 50% of the vote to be sure of getting elected – which makes us all the more aware of the need to continue providing information and underlining the importance of voting in the referendum. 
 
May 5 is the date for the people in Edinburgh and throughout the UK to give their answer to a question that deserves their fullest attention. I sincerely hope that on the day that really matters, the people will say yes.

You can see what other members of the Edinburgh Yes to Fairer Votes group had to say about the debate they were at here.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Any Answers to the Alternative Vote Referendum – John Symons Says Yes – Guest Post

One of our colleagues from Aberdeen writes to the BBC Any Answers team as part of their coverage of the Alternative Vote Referendum putting the case for the Alternative Vote succinctly.

Dear Any Answers Team,
 
Last night Margaret Beckett trotted out the irrelevant truism that some votes count more than others under AV. Of course they do: the only system under which all votes count the same is PR.
 
The important point is that more votes count under AV than under First Past The Post. Under First Past The Post, the only votes that count are those that bring the winner 1 vote past the runner up, typically around one third of the votes cast. AV ensures that at least 50% of votes are reflected in the selection of the MP.
 
No To AV supporters are terrified that the additional approximately one sixth of votes that will count under AV will remove the unfair advantage currently held by their party. This motivates all their arguments, most of which are spurious.
 
Having mentioned PR, I have no patience with those who will vote No because AV is not PR. They are cutting off their nose to spite their face. Having chosen AV and its advantages being more widely appreciated, the electorate is likely to ask “Why don’t we reflect the FIRST preference of EVERY voter in the composition of the parliament?”.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
John Symons
 
Aberdeen
 
(phone numbers supplied but deleted on forwarding to Edinburgh YTFV)

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Some Time in Leith – Proclaiming the Alternative Vote in Leith

In Edinburgh we’ve been running street stalls for months now but last Sunday we had our first non-rugby adventure away from Princes Street. We set off to Leith to spread the good word about adopting the alternative vote voting system in the referendum on 5th May outside Leith Waterworld. Under the auspices of the Proclaimers we enjoyed the Sunshine on Leith.

It was a gentle day of campaigning. The sun shone, gently, the rain fell, gently, the wind blew, gently.

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Posted in Edinburgh, Local Activism, Me and My Banner, Voting for Change, Yes to AV | 3 Comments

What? No Apple Pie? The Alternative Vote Referendum Ballot in Full

Whilst manning our street stall in Leith we were approached for the first time by someone who thought that if they voted Yes to the Alternative Vote voting system in the referendum on the 5th May they would never get full proportional representation.

I’ve also had people mention Scottish Independence and a referendum on the EU. All worthy things to have a national debate about. All important constitutional questions that require an answer.

So, it’s worth having a look a the Referendum Ballot Paper in Full.

THE REFERENDUM BALLOT IN FULL

THE REFERENDUM BALLOT IN FULL

Um, where’s my option for voting for Scottish Independence or for remaining in the EU? Where’s the box I tick if I’d like a million dollars and a monkey?

This is the ballot paper I’d like to see.

THE REFERENDUM BALLOT IN FULL- The version you don’t get

THE REFERENDUM BALLOT IN FULL- Not the version you are getting

What do you mean I don’t get it? You’re telling me it’s a straight Yes or No choice between the Alternative vote with all its advantages and First Past the Post and it’s many flaws and reasons for not retaining it.

Just a Yes or a No on one simple question.

Hang on though, what happens if I write on the ballot paper what I actually want most of all? I’ll have a pen and I’ll be there anywhere. What happens then?

My ballot is considered spoilt and isn’t counted.

What? What? Not even counted. Surely someone looks at all the spoilt ballot papers to see what we really wanted. They don’t? They just shred the spoilt ballot paper?

It turns out that if I write in what I’d really, really want my ballot is wasted and I might as well have stayed at home. Downer.

Ah well, I’d better work out if I think the Alternative Vote is better than First Past the Post.

Posted in Advantages of the Alternative Vote, Preferential Voting, proportional voting, Referendum Bill, SNP, Uncategorized, Yes to AV | 4 Comments

What did the Jenkins Committee have to say about the Alternative Vote

Far from being a miserable little compromise the Alternative Vote System has some real advantages. Here is the key passage from the Jenkins Commission, where it lays out some of the best features of the voting system we have a once in a life time opportuntity to chose.

126.   Under our system, AV would have a number of positive features which persuade a majority of us that it would be superior to FPTP as a method of choosing constituency representatives. First, there will be many fewer ‘wasted votes’ in the constituency side of the election, and far more voters will potentially influence the result. This, we hope, will encourage turn-out and participation. Second, it would encourage serious candidates to pitch their appeal to a majority of their constituents, rather than just seeking to target a hard-core minority of the party faithful. This should lead to more inclusive politics than FPTP. Third, because second and subsequent preferences may count, it will discourage individual candidates from intemperate attacks on their rivals, since they will be hoping to gain their second votes and will not wish to alienate their supporters. This should contribute to the more consensual and less confrontational politics to which the majority of the public appear to aspire.

 

I’d say that was pretty postive.

Posted in Advantages of the Alternative Vote, Disenfranchisment, For and Against, Jenkins Commission, Preferential Voting, Referendum Bill, Wasted Votes | 3 Comments

The Alternative Vote System – A Brief Guide for New Users

On 5th May 2011 the UK will be holding a referendum on whether to adopt the Alternative Vote voting system for electing Members of Parliament to the House of Commons.

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Posted in Advantages of the Alternative Vote, Alternative Voting System, For and Against, Preferential Voting, proportional voting, Referendum Bill, Uncategorized, Voting for Change, Voting more than once, Wasted Votes, X Voting, Yes to AV | 4 Comments

The Advantages of the Alternative Vote – No More Wasted Votes, Fewer Disenfranchised Voters

To my mind, the greatest advantages of the Alternative Vote is that it does away with wasted votes. There are others. Wasted votes, where you might as well have not bothered going to the polling station lead to apathy and practical disenfranchisement. This is not good for the UK, it’s not good for politicians and it’s certainly not good voters. Continue reading

Posted in Advantages of the Alternative Vote, Arguments for and Against, Disenfranchisment, Preferential Voting, Voting for Change, Wasted Votes, X Voting, Yes to AV | 1 Comment