A topic a day about BC-STV, #1: Too complicated?

It’s true that there is more math required to calculate the winners under BC-STV. But any system that goes beyond a simple “most X’s wins” will by necessity require somewhat more complex math. The formula may be challenging for the math-phobic but, speaking as someone who is a bit of a plodder at equations, the system still seems to me to achieve just what it’s supposed to – a fair distribution of voters’ first, second and third choices to the appropriate candidates.

The NoSTV.com site says:’Voting with BC-STV is like ordering a steak and a beer but your neighbour determines the size of the steak and whether you get a pint or a glass.” All I can say is, if you think voting is like ordering at a restaurant, your understanding of democracy is pretty shaky. At least with BC-STV, you always get a meal. The current system leaves lots of voters with something entirely different than what they “ordered”.

One big point the anti-STV site seems to make is that your vote doesn’t have a predictable, one-to-one value, but can have different weight based on factors outside your control.

Well, that’s how it’s supposed to work: your preferences are relevant to the total support your candidate received. The votes for a candidate with an overwhelming majority of votes get more value when the “excess” ones are redistributed, more so than if that candidate got only a marginal majority of votes. The redistribution reflects the overall support for that candidate – and that strikes me as pretty fair. Your vote under BC-STV still has a lot more potential value than under the current system.

NoSTV.com says, “The more questions are asked about the details of the count, the more people are likely to want to stay with the current system, which is easy to understand.” This statement makes two assumptions: that “easy to understand” is the deciding factor for most people, and that BC-STV is so arcane that nobody can understand it. I would say these assumptions are erroneous, but at the very least it must be acknowledged that they can by no means be assumed to be true. And this being a major portion of the anti-STV argument, that’s a big flaw.

One thought on “A topic a day about BC-STV, #1: Too complicated?

  1. The argument that BC-STV is “too complicated” amounts to an argument that BC voters are too stupid to deal with a fair voting system, so they must put up with an unfair one.

    That argument is way too complicated for me!

    The suggestion that BC voters are more dense than those of Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Australia and Malta just won’t stand up to scrutiny.

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