June 18th, 2006


Some thoughts on voting

I've been thinking about voting, about first-past-the-post and the various different kinds of proportional representation, and the vast numbers of different systems that all get lumped in together under "Democracy", and how various examples take account of different aspects of what's important to us.

And this was then crystallised by an article I read last week about how the Muslim Council of Britain is basically a spokesbody for large numbers of smaller local Muslim associations, and my thought that this is how voting ought to be - people coming together in small groups and then pushing those concerns upwards. This encourages participation and means that individual voices are heard at each level. Except that I don't particularly like the idea of forcing people to be local - some of my concerns are local, but others are marginal enough that forming a reasonable group would require looking through a larger area. And hell, why should I _have_ to have local concerns anyway?

This was coupled with the idea that representational democracy is supposed to take advantage of the idea that some people have more time/knowledge/aptitude to deal with these decisions than others. You either find people who are already know a vast amount about (for instance) the welfare system, or you find people with ideas you like and once in power they immerse themselves in the information.

Which brought up what I've been thinking of as "Single Extremely Transferrable Vote". Each person would place their vote with a person, either because that person was a representative of a group (i.e. put forward by a political party) or because I trusted that person's political opinions. If that person had sufficient votes to cross the election threshhold (1/646 of the total if we keep the current number of MPs) then they'd be elected. If not, they would pass any votes they'd been given on to _their_ nominated representative. People would pass their votes forward until all votes were with someone who had actually been elected. One major difference would be that when voting occurred in parliament the representatives would vote all the votes they represented, so someone elected with a massive number of votes would have more say than someone with a more marginal election victory.

I can see definite problems with this system, but I also suspect it would cause people to be happier with where their vote had ended up, and with a groups of MPs that are more representative of the country. At the moment each MP has to represent a very diverse group of people, the ability to have more specific policies and then pull in votes from all over the country would mean people felt there was someone representing _their_ views.

Of course, this in itself could be a problem, if you end up with a large number of MPs who never agree on anything, but I'm hopeful that people will learn to compromise, and that the majority of representatives will be fairly centrist.

A modification to this would be Multiple Extremely Transferrable Vote, whereby each person had a number of votes and could allocate them as they saw fit, so that I could allocate one to a Green representative, one to the EFF and three to the Committee for Bringing Back Hanging, which would indicate what my actual priorities were.

Thoughts, anyone?
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