The Cambridge Companion To Voting Reform

With only hours until the referendum you’ve all been waiting for, The Tab is here to navigate you across the tempestuous seas of voting reform.

av Colin Firth eddie izzard Joanna Lumley killy bragg referendum Stephen Fry voting

READ Charlie Cadywould’s take on the referendum HERE and make sure to vote in our poll at the bottom.

Confused by all this voting reform? Can’t tell your AV from your PR? Want something to distract you from the endless hours of highlighting and note taking? Well if the answer to at least 1/3 of those questions is yes, then you’ve come to the right place.

Thankfully, The Tab is here to navigate you across the tempestuous seas of voting reform. Phew.

First Past The Post: Or FPTP if you’re a hipster.

This is the system currently used for Parliamentary elections. Everybody votes for one person and whoever gets the most is elected MP for that constituency. Simples.

First Past The Post is often compared to a horse race where the first horse to cross the line wins, but FPTP has no set vote threshold, so in reality it’s more like a bunch of horses running until all but one collapse. Then that one gets to run the country while the losing horses call him a wanker over a big box for the next 4 years.

Alternative Vote (AV): With AV voters rank the candidates in order of preference. They can rank as many or as little as they like.

If one candidate gets over 50% of first preferences, then they get in no questions asked. However, if no one reaches this threshold, then the candidate with the least votes is eliminated, and their 2nd, 3rd etc preference votes are reallocated until someone reaches the threshold. In theory this means the candidate who gets elected is the one who most people will be happy with. AV isn’t compared to a sport because no sport exists that is this fair or this complicated, and if it did exist everyone would hate it.

Proportional Representation (PR): PR is the unpopular kid lurking in the background hoping he’ll get invited to the (political) party if his slightly cooler mate AV gets an invite. If AV fails then we’ll probably have no chance of getting PR, which for some people is their voting system of choice (yes, some people have a voting system of choice). PR is where the seats in Parliament are awarded depending on the overall proportion of votes they win. If “The Rent Is Too Damn High” Party  get 23% of the vote, they’ll get 23% of the seats in Parliament.

The ‘Yes’ Camp: The ‘Yes to AV’ campaign say FPTP works fine in a two horse race (yes, back to the horse analogy), but if there are any more than that, which there normally are, then the vote gets split. Alfred could get 40% of the vote, while Derek and Rodriguez could each get 30%, but Alfred would still win even though 60% were theoretically against him (he’s got some questionable views on currency reform). Therefore it’s fairer to get people to rank their choices, so we always end up with the person who everyone thinks is alright but not great (Derek).

If you’re a thesp or a funny man you’re statistically more likely to be in the ‘Yes’ Camp. Celebrity endorsement comes from Joanna Lumley, Stephen Fry, Colin Firth, Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Izzard.

The ‘No’ Camp: But if you’re a sports fan, ‘No’ is probably more your thing. Celebs in the ‘No’ camp include ex-England Cricketers Darren Gough and David Gower, Olympic rower James Cracknell and F1 boss Frank Williams.

The nay sayers argue AV will cost up to £250 million more to administer and will lead to more hung parliaments, as close seats could more often go to the Lib Dems, who are the political equivalent of that flavour of crisp you’re not mad on but will eat if it’s the only one left in the 6 pack. The ‘No’ party also argue that AV is in fact unfair, because when the bottom party is eliminated, everyone who voted for them will have their vote recast, meaning they get two goes.

Vote in our poll below: