Archive for April 20th, 2011

Is AV better than FPTP?

April 20, 2011

On May 5th the UK will vote in a referendum for only the second time ever. (The first time was in 1975, when we voted on whether to remain in the EU, or the Common Market as it was then called.) Now we have a chance to decide whether to retain our current voting system, misleadingly known as First Past The Post, or whether to switch to the Alternative Vote. Let me come clean straight away. Although in this post I shall try to write dispassionately about these two voting systems, my actual attitude is anything but dispassionate: I have yearned for a better voting system ever since I have had any political awareness at all, and am steeling myself for what is probably going to be a huge disappointment when the country votes for the status quo. And I am writing this post in the genuine hope of making a difference. Since it is extremely hard to change anybody’s mind in politics, I think the best I can hope for is to persuade somebody to vote yes (the question will be phrased in such a way that “yes” means you want AV and “no” means you want FPTP) who might otherwise not have bothered to vote at all. This is a mathematics blog, so I will give this post a mildly mathematical slant, but all I really mean by this is that I know when I write that a typical reader of this post will be mathematically literate, which may make the post different in tone from how it would be if I were writing for a more general readership.
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