AV - Will apathy win?

The UK is having a referendum TODAY to decide whether the current voting system of First Past the Post (FPTP) should be changed to the Alternative Vote (AV).

I fear apathy will win today as it appears that the people of Kent are either unaware of what AV is, or are uninterested in electoral reform. 

AV could be voted through and implemented on a small voter turnout - So get down there and vote NO!!! 

This video is a voxpop done in Maidstone whilst on work experience for the KM, with the help of Jay Akbar.




You make AV sound like a bad thing!
I concede it's not a true proportional system, but neither is the current First Past the Post (FPTP) system.

It is however a better system and a step in the right direction - under AV the government can't be elected with only 1/3 of the votes in their favour, as it can now. It's a step in the right direction.

Everyone should watch this video (which I discovered today courtesy of Jaak Pärdi ) : http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HiHuiDD_oTk

By Paul Andrew Jam...

That's because I think AV is a bad thing...

A step in the right direction would be a proportional system, there is no point in replacing a flawed system for another flawed system. Yes FPTP isn't perfect, but it is simple and people understand it. It is as simple as whoever gets the most votes wins. 

This voxpop showed how little people actually understood AV and what they were voting for.

Considering that FPTP is used in over 50 countries and AV is only used in 3 countries (Austrailia, Fiji and Papua New Guinea), it definitely isn’t that popular - maybe if we rack up it’s second choice preferences it might boost its popularity?


By Tania Steere

Fair enough if you think it's a bad thing, but you should have at least presented your arguments in your original post to let readers make up their own minds before voting. As it stand you seemed to be saying that because people who don't care or who don't understand AV aren't voting, then AV could happen. But you could just as easily argue that because the people who do understand and do care are voting, that AV won't happen...what? If anything someone going into a polling booth and not knowing how AV works is more likely to reject it than vote for it. If AV wins I hardly think you can blame voter apathy.

And why does the fact that FPTP is used in over 50 countries make a difference? A large proportion of the world is starving, yet we don't assume this means the rest of the world should be! "Well everyone else does it..." is hardly an argument.

If you argue that we need such a popular system, why not have a government elected through popularity? Like on X-factor perhaps where they seek to please as many viewers as possible..? ..oh wait, they use an extended version of AV. 

Don't get me wrong, a proportional system would make far more sense. But if you think AV is complex to understand (although if someone has 40 seconds to listen and can count I don't believe it is) how do you expect the poor bewildered voters to understand a proportional system such as single transferable voting? If the electorate can't understand AV they won't get a more complex system...

The UK has a long history of gradual reform over sudden change (just ask Tim). This is the second national referendum in UK history, when do you think we are likely to get the chance to change the voting system again? I'll admit I don't know, but it's far more likely to come sooner rather than later if we accept this gradual reform now and continue the discussion. A no vote could abruptly end this discussion, sending out a message that people don't want change.



By Paul Andrew Jam...

AV could be implemented due to apathetic voters as the people who do not know/care are unlikely to go out and vote full stop, therefore the people who are for it may well make up the majority of the voters.

My point of the voxpop was to show how misinformed/uneducated/apathetic the general public was about the referendum.  One lady made a very good point that it is a ridiculous time to have a referedum as we are in the midst of an economic deficit and have bigger things to worry about.

AV is not a step forward. I agree that change is good - if things need changing.  However AV can produce extremeley disproportionate results. For instance in the 2004 Australian General Election the Australian Greens gained 841,734 votes, with 7.19% of the first preference vote share, yet won 0 seats. Hmmmm fairer?

Maybe the fact that FPTP is used in over 50 countries and AV in only 3 speaks for itself.

I agree that people are unlikely to understand STV. So how about let's just stick with a system people understand and that is simple. FPTP is like winning a race, you can't get much fairer than that... but you always get a sore loser. 


By Tania Steere

I still don't see why you assume that just because people are 'apathetic' and 'don't understand something' that they will vote it in.

Neither do I think people are unlikely to understand STV, but I can see you would when you believe they can't even understand AV. The people in the vox pop aren't incapable of understanding AV, they simply don't care enough to even try to understand. Most didn't know it even existed - this doesn't make them too stupid to get it!

Why would you assume that people wouldn't understand their voting system if they cared enough to vote?

It's highly unlikely we had the majority of the population voting in this referendum so yes, whatever the result it will be the result of voter apathy. You can't just snap your fingers, tell people to vote and fix this though...I'd argue you need a more engaging political system where less votes are wasted before people feel that voting is worth it. AV is better in that sense - less wasted votes, more people feeling listened to.

Yes, on a national level it can still create disproportionate results, but not as badly as in FPTP!

How can you argue that using AV, in replacing a system that allows 1/3 of the voters to elect the government, is not a step forward?

AV is used already all over the country in trade union elections, party leadership elections, student union elections...and yet the poor confused voters seem to get it. Not to mention the voters in Australia. Let that fact speak for itself if you want.


By Paul Andrew Jam...

That is not what I said?

I'm arguing that because people don't understand and are apathetic they WON'T vote as ... they dont care/understand, therefore we lose a LOT of votes.  Therefore the people turning up to vote will most likely be the people who do care and understand and AV may be passed off the backs off a very small minority.

'They are not incapable of understanding it or stupid - they don't care enough to understand'...

To me that is apathy? Therefore they will not vote?

'Why would you assume that people wouldn't understand their voting system if they cared enough to vote?'

I'm not, I'm saying a lot of people won't vote because they don't understand. 

Therefore we are losing a lot of votes because people are misinformed/apathetic etc which is what my voxpop shows....People need educating.

"It's highly unlikely we had the majority of the population voting in this referendum so yes, whatever the result it will be the result of voter apathy."

It is relative and depends on the turnout. Yes, there will always be voter apathy, but it depends to what extent. Technically if only 5% turned out and 3% voted yes then it would be passed and implemented, despite not being at all representative (very unlikely but possible). There should be a minimum voter turnout threshold (the Lords advised a 40% turnout threshold).

So, summing up, my voxpop was never really intended to be for or against AV, it was more to show the disengagement the electorate have with the political process and highlight the need for more education in this area. There is many pros/cons of both FPTP and AV and we could be here debating it all day - when that was not the intended purpose of the video in the first place.

Thank you for watching though :)

By Tania Steere

Let's agree to disagree on AV then, though I do think it's a real shame it was voted against - everyone has come out and said that this shows the British people don't want electoral reform, despite the fact that I know many people who voted against AV did so because they wanted proportional representation instead. It's unlikely the electoral reform debate will return for some time now (next generation perhaps?), as any attempt to do so on the part of the Libdems will be seen as potential political suicide for "sneaking in electoral reform when the people have said no"  (according to one interview I saw yesterday).

Your voxpop does make the point that people don't care/understand well, but your post made it clear you wanted people to vote no and tried to blame apathy for any potential yes victory. Being for AV myself and feeling it just as easy to blame apathy for a no victory I had to argue ;) 

But we can definitely both agree apathy is bad for politics and on the educating the population point!


By Paul Andrew Jam...

 ...is the guy who thinks that AV allows the BNP to get into the "courts," nice one.

By KathrynCain

The guy who gives his political opinion while opening a can of beer at, I believe, 2pm, should probably be ignored but it does show local's complete ignorance as well as disengagement from conventional politics... And wonderful comedic value.

By Jehangir Akbar

I don’t think anyone is saying that the current system is ideal but AV is not a good enough replacement to warrant an entire system change. The yes to AV campaign insists on a ‘fairer voting system’ and AV MAY be a slightly more democratic system but FPTP is far more likely to provide what the country needs most, a strong unified government.

By Alex Maitland