Voting

26/11/19

Believe it or not voting is almost always flawed in some way. If the aim of a vote is to find out what the overall desire of the electorate is, then almost all voting systems will have an inherent flaw to them The only objectively fair way if were 100% of the electorate choose between 2 choices. Any vote between three or more candidates will always be imperfect as demonstrated by economist Kenneth Arrow; he proved it in 1951 with his thesis which became known as Arrow's Impossibility Theorem. Essentially the theorem boils down to the statement "no fair voting system exists when there are three or more candidates". Fair in this case meaning that it matches the true desire of the electorate.

The ideal result of any vote is to select a Condorcet Winner - the candidate who would win any vote in a 2-person race. But voters don't always vote for their ideal candidate, they vote for someone they think can win, or for their least disliked candidate, or for the party rather than the individual or for many reasons. Maths Prof. Don Saari conducted an experiment and asked voters to rank their preference in order of beer, wine and milk. Using the results he looked at various voting systems. In a plurality election (first past the post) it was M-B-W but if a ranking system is used (applying 3-2-1 points) then it would be W-B-M. Other systems would have selected B-M-W or W-M-B.

Lots of other voting systems could be used which would be fairer than the traditional UK first-past-the-post system. How about lottery voting? Draw a winner from the voting papers - someone with 50% of the vote would then have 50% chance of winning, or Approval Voting, where voters can award 0-10 for candidates. They can award 0 for all and 10 for their choice, or 10 for all candidates, it's up to them. Both these systems are more likely to result in the Condorcet winner. Remember, voting may be flawed but in a democracy it is your chance to have an influence, not matter how small. Please go register to vote today, you only have until noon. Do it now!

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