Regrettably, things have changed in our country. Voting fraud is now no longer a rarity. Crooks have realised how vulnerable FPTP is to Gerrymandering and vote stuffing.
In council elections both main parties have indulged in despicable practices to boost their candidates. There is strong evidence that even during the last General Election major corruption was evident.
The May 5th FPTP/AV referendum only relates to parliamentary elections, but the scams and criminality of some council elections serve as a useful window into the dark world of subverting democracy - and how fragile FPTP is to such scams.
Of course, whatever the voting system, such activities are totally reprehensible.
But the facts of life are just this: It is easy to "game" FPTP.
Vote rigging in our country is easy, almost undetectable and already seriously undermining the confidence of the electorate.
In my last post (HERE) I detailed four such scams. Unfortunately this is only the tip of the iceberg.
Here I will detail a couple more that have resulted in prosecution or at least controversy. I would put money on that for every scam found out, ten go undiscovered.
So why is AV more resilient than FPTP? I went through the main mechanisms used by fraudsters in my last post (HERE). But here is a brief resume about the most common fraud - Vote stuffing
Vote stuffing involves falsly registering phantom electors Then the fraudster usually uses the bogus postal vote. The type of seat/ward that is particularly vulnerable to this is where there is a sizeable third/fourth vote and the two leading parties are closely matched.
Because, in FPTP, all the votes for the third/fourth parties are essentially wasted, stuffing the ballot by a handful of false votes may well be enough to tip the balance. With AV the need to reach 50% from either direct votes or transfers renders most vote stuffing scams totally ineffective. Stuffing the ballot by (say) 100 votes will be totally swamped by the thousands of reallocated votes from the second preference votes.
With FPTP, a General Election can be decided by a few swing seats. Due to the nature of FPTP this means that in a close election the result is determined by a few thousand geographically critical votes. The trouble is now that the infection of disonesty is so ingrained into some communities within this country that those few thousand voters may only be imaginary. Mere figments of a criminal plan.
Two More Scam Examples:
One of the scams below resulted in jail sentences for the fraudsters. At least the second must have given the crooks a few sleepless nights.
1. Birmingham City Council 2005 (Labour)
This was a major fraud mainly involving vote stuffing (via postal ballot) and Personation (where known non-voters have their unused vote stolen). Six Labour councillors were found guilty of fraud. The judge famously described the fraud as: "that would disgrace a banana republic". This fraud was only viable because of the fragility of FPTP to vote stuffing. With AV the second choice votes would have overwhelmed anything but a massive (and one would hope) easily discoverable fraud.
The Times article on this fraud can be found HERE. The Times described this as the most corrupt election since the Victorian era. The BBC article on this fraud is HERE.
2. Tower Hamlets General Election 2010 (Labour)
A criminal investigation into vote stuffing before the 2010 general election found that there were over 5000 new applications for a postal vote at the very last minute. In the news reports (below) are reports of 18 freshly registered "voters" living in a single flat. Several Labour councillors appeared to have numerous new voters registered at their address.
This though was only one of 28 criminal investigations across the Capital. Anti-sleaze campaigner Martin Bell said: ‘There is actually a possibility that the result of the election could be decided by electoral fraud.'
The Daily Mail article on this can be found HERE
Many will rail against changing our voting system simpy because it is open to abuse. But really, democracy MUST be defended. The crooks MUST be defeated.
AV would make life much harder for the crooks to get their way.
I personally think AV is a better system for many reasons. But top of the list is its resilience against vote rigging.