Tuesday, 18 January 2011

Voting Flowchart

I came across this flow chart floating (haha) around on twitter today.

published by Anthony Smith

Ok, those of you that have spoken to me about similar subjects will probably know where I am going with this.

The argument comes down to one thing.

What is an election for and why do you vote in one?

Is it A) An election is to evaluate the support of each candidate standing for election and we vote to let them know OUR view.


Is it B) An election is a process to try and second guess and/or manipulate in an effort to ensure the rightful winner is only elected if you support them yourself (and trying to ensure they don't win by any means necessary if YOU don't want them to).

I am an "A" person. The author, seems to me, to be a "B" person.

FPTP to any "A" or honest, people (who accept that democracy means the most supported should win) FPTP is simply relieve the list, vote for who you want most.

This is commonly accepted to be a minimum of 91% of people from the research into tactical voting I have read  [I am always open to learning so let me know what you find out].

While a falacy so I will not claim it as an argument on its own, the fact that "B"s advocate AV, does very little for the case for "Fairness".

In the same way that Nick Griffin's support doesn't help FPTP at all, but only idiots would use THAT argument right?


  1. Hi DBirkin,

    It's been fun to see my flowchart floating around, and thanks for the response.

    I'm not sure I would take your negative view about tactical voting, which seems a perfectly rational thing to do.

    If an election is a means of selecting an MP, and my vote is a means of influencing the outcome of the election, such that (ideally) the outcome given my vote is better (IMHO) than the outcome would have been had I voted differently or not voted at all, then it seems sensible to cast my vote so that it has the greatest positive effect, given the information available to me.

    There's nothing dishonest about such ("tactical") voting.

    An election is about selecting an MP. If I want to tell the candidates how highly I think of them ("A" in your post), I can write them letters telling them. I could even put it on my blog. But I don't need to vote for my favourite candidate if I think my vote would be better used in support of a different candidate.

  2. You're a master at strawmen sir, limiting us to two options, one of which is impossible (B, of course), an omitting option C... recognising that while you support a candidate, that your prefered candidate has no chance, and that you'd prefer to give your vote to a second preference (as it were) to make your view known that you don't want the other popular candidate.

    You paint this as manipulation, dishonesty... it's just another aspect of democratic feeling, of feeling strongly about not wanting a particular candidate as much as wanting one. It's clear you can't get your head around this concept. It's a shame your view of democracy is so one dimensional you try to rob people of doing it in their own perfectly legitimate way because you don't think it's "right".

  3. Voting is about getting the best possible MP.

    Tactical voting can be entirely rational (another no2av document puts tactical voting at an average of 20% of votes).

    When you talk of the 'most supported' how do you answer the following scenario (from http://free-english-people.blogspot.com/2010/12/yet-another-simple-example-of-av.html ):

    1) Two candidates: A gets 60%, B gets 40%
    A wins.

    Add new candidate C
    2) A gets 35%, B gets 40%, C gets 25%
    B wins.

    How can it make sense that adding candidate C (who doesn't win) causes B to win instead of A?

  4. Anthony,I fully accept everyone's right to select who they want. But I would argue the second people select who they DON'T want in order to try and stop an MP that SOMEONE ELSE wants, then that is being dishonest.

    Thanks for replying though, I understand you trying to make things better for you, but people making things better for themselves is not always 'fairer' for everyone.

  5. Your example is interesting POP, would suggest to me that neither A or C offer ANYTHING for B as not one person jumped ship.

    To answer your question, it would seem that the 25% that jumped from A didnt really support them that much if they jumped to C. However it seems like the 35% that stayed do.

    So we have 40% of support
    We have 35% of support
    and finally 25% of support.

    My argument from before applies here.

    If I had two choices, being slapped or being shot, i would pick slapped, if another option of being hugged appeared and I started supporting that, it is my way of showing i didnt want to be slapped.
    The more options, the more accurate the portrayal of wishes

  6. Mr Griffin...you obviously would recognise a straw man if he was skipping along a yellow brick road with a lion and a tin man.

    A straw man (this will be the last time so please read) is when you present a FALSE argument in leu of a real one to argue against.

    Just because you don't agree doesnt mean it is false

  7. I'm going to offer you an alternative explanation for Paul's scenario, one I'm sure he has already thought of.

    When C comes along and takes a good chunk of the vote away from A allowing B to win, it's not because the voters weren't as keen on A as they should have been, but because A and C were very similar, equally good candidates. B on the other hand was occupying his own niche.

    With First Past the Post the number of votes you get depends less on how good a candidate you are (i.e. how worthy of support you are) than it does on how unique you are. When you've got two similar candidates between whom it is difficult to choose, they could be both very good, or both very bad, but if they're competing for the same niche on the political spectrum they will split the vote and both will lose out with the winner being someone who has a niche to himself, who could quite conceivably lose a head-to-head against either of his opponents.

    AV removes this problem. You don't have to pick one of the two hoping that everyone else picks the same as you. You don't have to tell one of the candidates to pull out so as not to ruin it for the other. You just let the voters rank the candidates in order of preference and let democracy do the rest. Simple and fair.

  8. DBirkin - I think you are being a bit uncharitable to our tactical voter. Of course she is concerned about everyone's wellbeing and wants an MP who will defend the poor and vulnerable and promote fairness and justice for everyone. But she is concerned that if she votes for the candidate she thinks would be best, then another candidate might win, one who is evil, corrupt and unjust. She wants what is best for everyone, so she instead votes for her second preference candidate, who she also greatly admires, being only very slightly less excellent than her first-choice candidate, and who she believes has a much better chance of winning than her ideal first choice.

    Are you really going to condemn her for her "dishonesty"?

  9. It is undemocratic to think that you know better than others.. I.e. you can't trust the people to do the right thing so you better vote for someone else to counteract all the 'wrong' people.

    Yes, I will condemn that.

  10. Ben, a valid point , but the frequency of two candidates standing on the same platform apart from one issue is low.

    This is why both David Cameron and Gordon Brown 'agree with Nick' on different issues and if they had the guts to admit, both agree with eachother on others.

  11. "It is undemocratic to think that you know better than others"


  12. Thinking in itself, maybe not, but voting to counteract 'wrong' people so 'wrong' candidates don't win , even when if people voted for who they wanted that 'wrong' candidate would win...that is undemocratic...and that is tactical voting

  13. "but voting to counteract 'wrong' people so 'wrong' candidates don't win , even when if people voted for who they wanted that 'wrong' candidate would win...that is undemocratic."

    Then you have a problem, because the system you promote - First Past the Post - is a system where the "undemocratic" voters can override the wishes of the "democratic" voters. You sound like Jean-Charles de Borda who said "My scheme is intended for only honest men". In any other activity, we recognise that there are dishonest people, and we identify and punish them, rather than letting them take over.


  14. Yes, I am a Borda man. However AV does not punish 'dishonest' FPTP voting..it is infact dishonest FPTP voting put into a system.

    Your vote counting for a party that you do not wish to win.

    It is just like 'punishing' theft by saying that everyone can start stealing.