Comment on UK Electoral Reform – Alternative Vote System by Todd Thompson.

I am pleased to see that the Australian-style Alternative Vote system is being discussed for reform in the UK. From my research, that is by far the “least worst” system. No need to look to Europe–look to Australia, which has used the system successfully for nearly a century.

The AV system preserves the single-member constituency to which you in Britain and we in America are accustomed, yet avoids the absurdity of electing a candidate with as little as 30% of the total vote.

The AV system is far from radical. If anything, empirical studies show it tends to produce moderate or compromise candidates and parties.

In fact, the system generally leads to the same result as in the FPTP system, because there is a tendency for the second and third preferences to mirror the proportion preferences counted in the first round–meaning that the candidate leading in the first round of counting generally tends to win at the end of the day even under the AV system. The exception is where two or more ideologically-similar candidates split the vote. That’s the beauty of the system. It really only comes into play when it is needed–the keep the minority for dominating the majority.