Thursday, 25 March 2010

I am somewhat puzzled

by the Professor's comments this morning. Dean Jaensch is Professor of Politics at Flinders University. He is a knowledgeable man and I have, over the years, managed to learn a good deal from his regular column in the 'Tiser - as our state newspaper is sometimes known.
This morning he has written about the conduct of the election. In it he mentions the "constitutional guarantee of one person, one vote, one value". I have to disagree.
It should be the case but, while we are entitled to vote and each person is given one vote, that vote does not have equal value. This is because, in order to have a valid vote, we are compelled to vote in order of preference. Put simply, some candidates get two bites at the cherry - and they steal the second bite, or even a third, fourth or fifth bite. It depends on how many candidates there are on the ballot paper.
Say there are three candidates on the ballot - A, B and C. The voter votes for A because s/he violently disagrees with B and C. But, A is a minor party candidate and gets 10% of the vote. In order for the vote to be valid however the voter has been forced to 'preference' B and C. The vote they have given A is given to B or C despite the voter not wishing to vote for either B or C.
I imagine that this was a dilemma for thinking voters from minor parties. Major party voters do not have this problem - and perhaps that is precisely what the system is designed to do.
The problem increases with the number of candidates and when there are 74 candidates as there were in the Upper House Elections there is the quite ridiculous situation of candidates who are diametrically opposed potentially benefitting from the votes of the other side as the preferences flow on up the line.
Whatever we may think of the system I do not believe the good Professor is right to say that one vote has one value...it clearly has many values indeed.

5 comments:

Rachel Fenton said...

Perhaps if everyone who went to vote drew a smiley face instead of voting then the powers that be would get the hint that it's a big joke?

catdownunder said...

Love it - wonderful idea!

Theresa said...

Just to give you a grin. The idea of ranked voting called IRV or Instant Run-off Voting pitched to local political party units here in Minneapolis as a way to get a larger voter turn out. One of the examples the people pitching the idea used was Australia. They were not pleased when I pointed out that voting in Oz is compulsory so there example sucked.
Anyway I think that one of the issues we have in the US is that we may believe in the principles of one candidate but since that candidate does not have a major party endorsement his or her chances of winning are very slim. With ranked voting we can vote our conscience as our first choice but vote for "electibility" as a second choice. This way our vote isn't thrown away by voting for an candidate that can't win and may actually put a more objectional candidate ( than our second choice) in office by splitting the vote.
So I don't agree with you that a candidate is getting two bites but rather the voter can vote their conscience. Also it avoids having a candidate that got less than a majority of the votes to win. That has happen in the governor of Minnesota election for the last three elections.

catdownunder said...

But Theresa we compel people to vote for a second choice...indeed as many choices as there are on the ballot paper. That can mean that people are obliged to vote for a candidate or party they find highly offensive - and that vote will even help to get those people into office. At very least people should be able to choose whether they vote beyond their first choice.

Theresa said...

Yes I would agree with that. Also I'm against compulsory voting because to me not voting is a choice at times. I normally vote but in the last city election I did not because I thought all of the candidates stunk.