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AV: An Opportunity Lost

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TEHRAN, May 10 (ICANA) – British reformists lamented the loss of a historic opportunity after the nation voted down a shift to the Alternative Vote on Thursday.
Tuesday, May 10, 2011 7:45:03 PM
AV: An Opportunity Lost

Now the question is what was on offer that was lost.

The first major difference between AV and the traditional First Past the Post (FPTP) system is that the former offers more options to voters as for who they are willing to represent them in the constituencies.

That seems very similar to FPTP but AV allows two or more candidates to be chosen in the voters' order of priority that is voters write 1, 2, … next to the candidate names based on their preferences.

In an alternative vote system, a candidate with the most first preference votes - that is the candidate whom most people have placed a “1” next to her/his name -- is elected and the result will be final if the candidate gets the majority that is more than 50 percent of the first preference votes.

If first preference votes do not determine the winner, the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and the votes for that candidate are redistributed among others according to the voters' second preferences.

If one of the candidates gains more than 50 percent of the votes in this round, that would be enough for his/her election and if not the process continues with other preferences until someone gains 50 percent or more of the votes or there are no more votes to distribute.

To sum up, AV means all candidates who are elected have the support of the majority of the voters in their constituency while in FPTP that is not the case.

In 2010, for example, two out of the three people who entered the Commons did not have a majority support as some MPs had the backing of less than half of their constituents though more votes than other candidates calculated individually.

AV also allows officials to take into consideration the preferences of the public, reflecting the real support for a single candidate more accurately minimizing, for example, the chances of an extremist party's chances of election from a constituency based on second preference votes as such candidates are not very likely to get votes of their opponents' supporters.

The system slightly adds to the chances of hung parliaments and coalitions as marginal parties' votes come to be counted in the second, third, or more preferences while also allows voters more freedom and less fear of wasting their votes with preferences made available.

AV also leads to fairer results as candidates cannot launch tarring campaigns against their rivals because they may need the votes of their supporters when it comes to second and third preferences.

AV is already being used as the standard voting system in the UK for parliamentary officials' elections, Labour leadership elections and most student union ballots. (Press TV)

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