I AM writing in response to your correspondent’s undue scare stories regarding the referendum on changing the voting system to the Alternative Vote (AV) system (letters, March 4).
So let’s dispel the myths and concentrate on the facts about AV:
AV is a very straightforward system, the voters take their ballot paper and rank the candidates in order of preference. They don’t have to rank all of the candidates and can, if they wish, just express one preference exactly as the current system.
The strength of AV is that it ensures that the successful candidate receives the support of more than 50 per cent of the constituency votes cast. This requirement addresses the current unfair situation where a candidate can be elected MP with as little as 29 per cent of the vote, or rather 71 per cent did not want them as their MP. The result of the recent Labour leadership contest owed more to the weighting given to the unions’ vote than it did to AV.
Australia has successfully used the AV system for many decades and let’s remember that it introduced votes for all men and women and the secret ballot a long time before Britain did, so maybe we can learn a thing or two from a country that we share such a strong heritage with.
Many other elections around the world use forms of AV, from mayoral elections (including London) to the Oscars where a British film has just swept the board.
The counting of votes will continue to be by hand, as it is currently, and there are no plans to introduce expensive machines. The count might go on a few hours longer if the result isn’t decided on first preferences, but isn’t it better to get the right result to elect the person that will represent us in Parliament for five years?
There is no evidence that AV will lead to more coalitions and let’s face it, at the moment we have a coalition Government in this country which was delivered by the current ‘first past the post’ system.
We have nothing to fear from AV and much to gain in ensuring that our MPs are fairly elected. If that takes a couple more hours on polling night to get the right result, then so be it. Remember we’ll be stuck with them for five years, so that’s why I’m voting ‘Yes’ to AV.