On May 5th this year, the country will be voting on the biggest change in our electoral system since — well, you pick your own comparison, but I would guess something like the introduction of votes for women.
I am referring, of course, to the Alternative Vote system, which will replace the present X on the ballot paper with a numbered preference. The instructions you’ll see on your ballot paper, in the event of the system being introduced, will be as follows:
Remember — use 1, 2, 3 etc at this election — this is an election using the alternative vote system. Put the number 1 next to the name of the candidate who is your first choice (or your only choice, if you want to vote for only one candidate). You can also put the number 2 next to your second choice, 3 next to your third choice, and so on. You can mark as few or as many choices (up to the number of candidates) as you wish. Do not use the same number more than once. Put no other mark on the ballot paper, or your vote may not be counted.
Now to me that seems pretty straightforward. Also, as one who is used to the STV system used in General Synod elections, it also seems both familiar and reasonable. The maths are rather different for those counting the votes (STV seems to involve either a big brain or a small computer), but there is nothing too complicated for the voter to grasp, and that is surely all that matters in this regard.
Above all, the AV system seems to me to be more fair. I am frankly tired, after innumerable elections throughout my lifetime, of putting casting a vote that I know will count for nothing or next-to-nothing, either because my candidate is a dead-cert or because they have no chance on the first-past-the-post system.
The fact that the Church of England has already adopted something very similar for its own elections suggests to me that Anglicans ought to support AV.
But of course I may be missing something. When a couple of dozen leading historians describe AV as a threat to our whole democratic way of life, you have to allow that they may be right (though of course you’d then have to ask whether the elections to General Synod ought to be regarded as ‘proper’).
Personally, I’m going to support AV unless someone can talk me out of it. But I’m surprised at the overall silence on this whole topic.Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted.