Electoral Reform

Voting reform

From http://www.makemyvotecount.org.uk/opus6151.html

In 1997 Labour's manifesto stated:

We are committed to a referendum on the voting system for the House of Commons. An independent commission on voting systems will appointed early to recommend a proportional alternative to the first-past-the-post system.

The Labour government set up the promised commission, chaired by Lord Jenkins, this reported in 1998. The Jenkins report proposed a new Alternative Vote Plus system, that sort to balance the criteria of stable government, constituency link, voter choice and broad proportionality. The fact that this system required a wholesale boundary review was used was used as an excuse for the delay in holding the promised referendum. The real reason being Labour's massive majority, and the reluctance of most MPs to reform a system from which they benefited.

This is an interesting screenshot, it uses this calculator.

Postal Voting Fraud

With the recent postal voting debacle (why is this not front and centre as an election issue?) and the judge damning labour activists as falsifying postal votes, David Blunkett is now claiming with great brazenness that ID cards would be a solution to this. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't the whole point of postal voting that the person is not present?

This is a problem created by reforms this government introduced and a proposed solution which tries to find another reason to introduce ID cards in an attempt to address a problem which won't be solved by them.

There is a place for postal voting, and that place is where people can demonstrate an inability to get to the voting booth.

Vote Swap

An article has appeared in The Independent which refers to a not-for-profit company set up to encourage people to vote-swap in order to target the Tory leadership. Whilst demonstrating the fundamental instability of 'First Past the Post' (changing the vote from candidate C to Candidate B can mean that Candidate A is helped, or hindered), such a tactic is fundamentally flawed. The simple reason is that the ballot is secret. There is no way, other than trust, to enforce such an agreement.

What's to stop someone promising to vote $arbitrary in return for the other person voting for $chosen? Indeed, such a promise could be made many times over... Other than as publicity stunts, such schemes are fundamentally flawed. For example, in my area, if you don't want the Tory MP you need to vote Lib Dem.

Personally, I'm more concerned with Labour getting a huge majority than with throwing the Tories into disarray, for all their faults, they did not make fundamental attacks on civil liberties.

Update: 6th April

Problems with First Past the Post

This article is a nice summary some of the problems with 'First past the Post' - the electoral system for the UK parliament. The obvious solution? Reform the electoral system.

The problem? The people in a position to do this are the current government, who are the beneficiaries of this existing electoral system - and cannot imagine this position changing.

Single Transferable Vote, which is used in Ireland, (called instant runoff in the US) is better than First past the Post, however Condorcet is better still, though harder to explain.

Voting Irregularities

If even a fraction of the stuff linked to here turns out to be correct, it's quite serious.

I previously commented that:

...this is the result - and we have to live with it

Despite some irregularities which need to be stamped on, and hard (e.g. lack of paper record in some states, misregistration of voters etc) - the vote seems to have been better than in 2000.

I hope that this statement was not premature - I'd not like to imagine that there could be a two term president who was never elected properly.

Nevertheless I don't quite see this being contested at this stage, but if it had come out earlier things may have been different.

Even if the reports do have substance, given that one party has the Whitehouse, the Senate and Congress, the chances of a thorough and authoritative investigation are slim.

Why can the US not see that the system needs to be bulletproof if it is to have legitimacy? Both those who supported the president elect, and those who didn't, should be able to see that the system was conducted fairly and without serious error. This is, unfortunately not the case.

The fact that the elections have problems is not exactly a surprise, indeed, I am surprised that the result is final now! We were considering having a sweepstake about how long the courtcases would go on for.