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Just What Is the Alternative Vote System?

September 29, 2010 6:00 AM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems
Alternative Vote

AV can sound complicated, but it's simple when you know how it works

Next May there is a nationwide Referendum on changing the way we vote. Most people have little idea of how this voting system differs from the one we use at present which is called First-Past-The-Post.

So what is AV?

The Alternative Vote (AV) is very much like First-Past-the-Post (FPTP). Like FPTP, it is used to elect representatives for single-member constituencies, except that rather than simply marking one solitary 'X' on the ballot paper, the voter has the chance to rank the candidates on offer. The voter thus puts a '1' by their first-preference candidate and can continue, if they wish, to put a '2' by their second-preference and so on, until they don't care any more or they run out of names. In some AV elections, such as most Australian elections, electors are required to rank all candidates.

If a candidate receives a majority of first-preference votes (more people put them as number one than all the rest combined), then they are elected. If no candidate gains a majority on first preferences, then the second-preference votes of the candidate who finished last on the first count are redistributed. This process is repeated until someone gets over 50 per cent.

The case for AV :

The AV system is supported by the Liberal Democrats and the Electoral Reform Society. It sounds complicated but actually it's very easy.

AV in practice :