Why does AV let someone’s 1st Preference have the Same Value as Another Person’s 2nd Preference

One of aspect of the Alternative Vote that gives rise to a lot of adverse is that when candidates are excluded and their voters’ are transferred to their next preference AT FULL value, with no reduction in value because it’s the voters second preference rather than their first.
Why on earth should someone’s 2nd preference equal the same as someone else’s first?
I can appreciate why that sounds not only odd but extremely unfair. That was my 1st thought when I heard of AV was that was stupid/unfair.
Why does AV do that?
Because to AV the voter is King/Queen!
AV says voters are very, very important & you shouldn’t elect MPs w/o backing of 50% of them.
Every time AV tries to get for each voter their most preferred option. AV treats each voter like they matter.
Suppose you’re a voter who votes for candidates x for your 1st preference, y for 2nd and z for 3rd preference.
And your 1st preference gets eliminated…
If, say, AV then halved the value of the 2nd preference then not only would you have not got your 1st preference you haven’t got much hope of 2nd preference getting elected either, while other voters still have chance to get their first.
Instead we should be giving every elector the best chance of getting a person they prefer elected.
Voters are always people and (generally) tax payers. The Government is going to set taxes we’ll expect them to pay them so we might as well have some effort into getting their votes to count.
With the current electoral system, first-past-the-post, if you don’t back the winner then you shouldn’t have another chance to affect the result.
There’s a tendency in No-to-AV campaign to dismiss anyone who hasn’t backed the FPTP winner as a “loser” & Yes to AV somehow looking after “losers”.
This totally forgets that voters are people, usually taxpayers and therefore valuable.
Hidden advantages

One advantage of this is that it encourages more candidates to stand. Why? Because voters can move who they really want without fearing it will lead to their vote being wasted.
And, importantly, a candidate doesn’t need to fear that because he/she will take votes from a similar candidate and inadvertently letting in a totally unacceptable candidate.
This means bad MPs can be challenged by rivals in a similar part of the political spectrum if they do not look after their constituents well enough.
This all adds up to greater voter choice. Raising the possibility with AV that voters will be able to give their 1st preference to candidates that wouldn’t even stand under FPTP.
Summary:
Giving later preferences equal value (when they are used) is vital for ensuring everyone has equal chance of getting someone they like as the MP.
The key to understand how AV behaves is that people are really, really valuable.

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About 123voting

Imogen Caterer campaigns for the alternative vote (AV) in the UK referendum on May 5th, 2011. The alternative vote is sometimes called IRV (Instant Run-off Voting) and is becoming increasingly popular in the USA. It is also used in a number of internal party elections in the UK But some believe it isn't good enough for the voters! For a dramatically different topic she also blogs on go to: http:www.inspirationcatalyst.com
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2 Responses to Why does AV let someone’s 1st Preference have the Same Value as Another Person’s 2nd Preference

  1. Neil Harding says:

    I have a simpler way of putting it. If you order a chicken curry at a restaurant, but are told that has sold out, so decide to have a lasagne instead, you have still only had one meal. The same is true for AV, only ONE of your preferences will count towards the end result.

  2. Neil Lovatt says:

    it’s actually much simpler than that. Under AV a 1st preference voter actually has the upper hand. If you consider each elimination and reallocation as a new round every time (which mathematically it is) then those who hold on to their first preferences are still getting their votes counted but they have the luxury of maintaining their first choice.

    Those votes reallocated from eliminated candidates are also counted again but nit reflecting their first preference, by definition then this has less value than the first preference votes.

    So this rubbish put about by the no campaign that AV allows some votes to be counted more than once is a total misunderstanding of the math of the system. In each round and each distribution all votes are counted again’ so their is no preference for 2nd and third choice voters, in fact the value of their vote is worth slightly less every time.

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