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Cameron’s “complicated AV” con

David Cameron, today, on the AV system:

Yes, there’s a superficial simplicity in getting people to rank candidates in an order of preference…

…and redistributing votes until someone gets fifty percent.

But it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Here’s a passage from a book detailing how the Alternative Vote system works:

“As the process continues the preferences allocated to the remaining candidates may not be the second choices of those electors whose first-choice candidates have been eliminated. It may be that after three candidates have been eliminated, say, when a fourth candidate is removed from the contest one of the electors who gave her first preference to him gave her second, third and fourth preferences to the three other candidates who have already been eliminated, so her fifth preference is then allocated to one of the remaining candidates.”

Do you understand that?

I didn’t. And I’ve read it many times.

This could mean one of two things. Either Cameron is a liar, and does in fact understand that paragraph perfectly well, or he’s not really very smart. I’d tend towards the former.

But more to the point: this whole argument is a straw man. What the paragraph he quotes really means is simply this:

If several rounds of counting fail to identify a candidate with a majority, then people who managed to vote for all the least popular candidates may find that their lower preferences are counted.

.. which is, of course, really quite simple and obvious in a system that takes account of second, third (and so on) preferences. Quoting a needlessly technical explanation in an effort to scare and confuse people is simply pathetic.

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