Scoville Units Unite

19 Apr

Why I don’t care about AV

A while before the last election I signed some petition about supporting Fairer Votes. This has somehow transferred into me supporting AV, so I get emails from the Yes2AV campaign.

Most of these are really pathetic and concentrate on attacking the No2AV campaign. When they are not attacking the No2AV campaign they are talking about how AV can be used to clean up politics. It is all very bizarre.

Yes 2 AV

The Yes campaign are basing their campaign on 3 nonsensical claims

  • 1. MPs working harder to earn – and keep – our support
  • 2. A bigger say on who your local MP is
  • 3. Tackling the ‘jobs for life’ culture

So lets look at these shall we?

1. MPs working harder to earn – and keep – our support

How? This is a lie, perpetuated by the misunderstanding of what democracy is, or should be. Democracy isn’t just marking an X on a piece of paper every few years, it is also about transparency, accountability and recall-ability. The expenses fiasco showed that MPs are pretty reluctant to do anything about those three. Fiddling about with the voting system does nothing to improve these?

If you want to achieve this you introduce some form of right of recall by ballot or the like.

2. A bigger say on who your local MP is

So if I rank them all, my choice has been minimally met, maybe, depending on the result. But say you only support one or two of the candidates. If they don’t win there’s no difference for you than if it was First Past The Post.

If you want everyone to be covered then you have some form of proportional representation. Like the kind of thing I signed some petition to support that resulted in me being on the Yes2AV mailing list.

3. Tackling the ‘jobs for life’ culture

This will make no difference. Particularly when you have seats where Labour hacks get 70% of the vote. If you want to tackle this culture you institute term limits.

AV – the solution that doesn’t fix the problems it claims to fix.


The No2AV campaign have been pretty awful though too. Having just received their literature through the door I was appalled by it.

£130 million on electronic vote counting machines – you don’t need any electronic vote counting machines for AV. Even for STV you don’t need it, you can do it by hand, it just takes longer. To count you sort the votes into piles, and then shuffle them around using the elimination rules until a pile is 50%+1.

The second or third best can win under AV – best being defined as? The second person with the most loyal support maybe. But if that does happen it means they can attract wider support than the core of their own supporters. I don’t think that is a particularly bad thing.

[Under FPTP] the one who comes first is always the winner So what this is basically saying is that:

This a good result (FPTP potential)
Person 1 – 12% (wins)
Person 2 – 11%
Person 3 – 11%
Person 4 – 11%
Person 5 – 11%
Person 6 – 11%
Person 7 – 11%
Person 8 – 11%
Person 9 – 11%

This is a bad result (AV potential)
Person 1 who is well liked – 24% at first round (74% at last) – (WINS)
Person 2 who is not liked outside main support – 26% at first round (26% at last)
Person 3 – 25% – all prefer 1 over 2
Person 4 – 25% – all prefer 1 over 2

This is nonsense. Under these results, AV would give a result far more in touch with voters preference.

Here’s why you should vote no – table muddling up voting and counting. This flowchart adequately debunks this nonsense.

The worse part though is the page which insists that it is a principle that whoever gets the most votes wins. This is, frankly, bollocks. For Westminster for example, individual MPs who get the most votes win, but governments can be formed by parties who had less votes than a rival.

Most disgustingly, it insists that the lower choice of supporters of extreme parties such as the BNP are counted again and again. This is a total misrepresentation of how AV votes are transferred.

Round 1
Labour 35% vote
Lib Dem 30% vote
Tory 25% vote
BNP 10% vote

At round 2 the BNP are eliminated and their votes transfer to second preference
Labour 35% vote
Lib Dem 40% vote (30% LD, 10% BNP/LD)
Tory 25% vote

So the votes by the BNP supporters are counted a second time, but so are the votes of everyone else!


I really really dislike First Past the Post. Reform to the electoral system is needed, but that change is to STV with multi member wards. In the AV referendum I will be spoiling my ballot by adding STV with multi member wards to the ballot and ranking them 1,2,3 as you would in both AV and STV.

In STV, if 1000votes are needed and a candidate receives 2000. Then each vote is counted as 0.5 of a vote for the first candidate and then 0.5 of a vote to the second preference. This continues all down the line so you see transfers of 0.0012 of a vote at later stages etc. Maximising the number of votes used to elect the candidates. This means that right now, 100% of my vote is thrown away, it may instead have 95% used to help candidate A be elected and 5% to help candidate B be elected.

AV is a terrible system, FPTP is a terrible system. Switching from one to the other solves none of the problems that the Yes2AV campaign claim it does. If it did, then it would actually have had people campaigning for it at some point before the Lib Dems sold out electoral reform for coalition power.

2 Responses to “Why I don’t care about AV”

  1. 1
    Scoville Units Unite » Blog Archive » No Says:

    […] does have an added dimension though. For those who were turned off by the terrible pro and anti campaigns for the Voting Referendum in 2011 we now have the Independence Referendum campaign to look forward […]

  2. 2
    Scoville Units Unite » Blog Archive » The reasons to vote yes Says:

    […] strong Yes. I had said I had an open mind and could be convinced either way. After the appalling AV referendum I said I was likely to either vote Yes or spoil my ballot but realistically couldn’t see a […]

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