Monday, March 23, 2009

Voting revisited

In keeping with the theme of my last post I will examine elections in more detail.

There are two issues that I want to raise;
1. strategic voting, and
2. the need for electoral districts

Strategic voting is where a person chooses not to vote according to their preferences because the probability of achieving them is very low. They may instead choose to vote for a second choice candidate in the hope of getting a higher probability second choice outcome.

For example, in the recent Queensland election I may have wanted to ditch the current Labor government for the Greens. Knowing that the Greens were unlikely to win a seat, I may vote instead for the LNP who were my second preference, but would have a much higher chance of winning.

The question remains, how many people vote for the major two parties but would really prefer a minor party or independent?

This brings me to my second point. Why do we need electoral districts? Given that each level of government should be concerned about issues covered by its laws irrespective of their location, why do we a need a local person to represent people at a State level? Shouldn’t the concerns of people anywhere in the State be equally as important? Why then the need to differentiate communities by their elected representative?

My solution is simple. Remove electoral districts. Have a parliament made up of representatives from each party in proportion to their vote. If 30% of votes go to a party, they get 30% of the seats to allocate to their best people. People would then have a clear incentive to vote for their preferred party/candidate. In this scenario independents could be elected by anyone in the State – it might be a large ballot paper.

The only problem that remains is getting anything done. If the parliament is made up of ten minority parties with 10% of the seats each, there is a strong incentive to do nothing and blame everyone else for delaying your proposals.

Of course, there is no perfect system. You get better incentives for people to vote for their preferences, you get less done and even more political finger-pointing.

1 comment:

  1. Arguably you would also have less representation i.e. Anna Bligh is supposed to be my local member - I should have easier access to her.

    (Obviously this is arguable because that is not always true in large electorates).

    I like the idea of more voting. Although currently technically difficult, being able to vote on dams would be nice. i.e. not voting for "no dams & nuclear" OR "no nuclear and dams".

    Politics, a wonderful thing ;)