Tactical Voting, AV and First Past the Post

Supporters of FPTP often promote tactical voting as a way minority party supporters can make their vote count.

While tactical voting under FPTP can obviously give a minority party supporter a greater influence over the outcome of a FPTP election, it is at a huge cost to the voters real desire.

With tactical voting under FPTP, the voter must personally transfer their vote without it first being counted for the minority party the voter would prefer. The result of this is that the actual true support for the minority candidate is not reflected in the election result. The positive policy preferences of the tactical voter are left hidden. The major parties, which are inevitably the beneficiaries of tactical voting, carry on their chosen paths without reference to the real but hidden wishes of significant sections of the electorate.

Smaller but important parties are ignored, simply because they appear to have no support. As far as their true wishes are concerned, the  tactical votes of the minority party supporters have gone down the drain.

The tactical voter has to guess where the most effective place for his vote is going to be. Remember while this is essentially their second preference vote it may up being cast for their third or fourth choice. The tactical vote is rarely a vote of support or preference. It will be a vote against the candidate the voter perceives as the less desirable potential winner.

While any form of voting is better than abstention, it is far better for people to vote for who they prefer rather than vote against those they dislike. That is why the 1,2,3 etc of AV is so important.

Finally and arguably the most important advance given by AV is that it is inclusive. It gives everyone a chance to see their vote count. People who would not bother voting because they dislike the concept of tactical voting, because of its usual negativity, will be enfranchised and more likely to vote.

The country is currently on a slippery downward slope. Less and less people vote in general elections and even fewer in council elections. Something must be done to defeat the apathy and re-enfranchise the disillusioned.

Tactical voting has some very large negatives associated with it. It is in no way a substitute for a proper transferable voting system like AV. AV is not perfect but it is far better than FPTP. AV is a way for the political establishment to re-engage with the electorate.

Vote for AV on May 5th.


Dioclese said...

I just got a leaflet fron the No team through the door. There is not one single positive statement about FPTP - it's all slagging off AV. And 90% of it is untrue to boot.

I support AV because I live in a safe seat and would actually like to feel that I have a vote!

See http://dioclese.blogspot.com/2010/04/help-im-in-danger-of-voting-liberal.html

JAA said...

I agree with AV in principle, but find the simple vote for AV/Not AV without a 100% firm commitment to how it will implemented, worrying. Given the last 2 governments won't give us the promised vote on the EU, I have no confidence that the goal-posts won't be moved, after I vote yes, to something hideous but AV-like. So I'll vote no, sorry to say.

I'd like to see voting in elections made mandatory. Census filling is a legal requirement but voting isn't? A democracy is a privilege, you live in one, you have a responsibility to vote, let's make it legally so.

BilloTheWisp said...

Dioclese, I know the feeling. The trouble with tactical voting is that you deny the party you really support the recognition of your support in order to try and displace the party you do not want to win. But with FPTP what else can you do?

BilloTheWisp said...

JAA, Sad to hear you are not going to vote yes. But I understand your worries. The political classes are without doubt a bunch of shysters. But as the methodology of AV has been described part of the referendum, I don't think they would dare mess with it.

Give it some more thought.

Continuing with FPTP would make those same shysters much happier than having to address AV, especially with a watchful and cynical electorate.(including you, me and Dioclese)