claims in the United Kingdom that Australia uses electronic voting or complex counting equipment to conduct AV elections are wrong. Australian AV elections are counted by hand, with some use of bank note counting machines in the check count.
Remember, all representative democratic systems distort the results of the popular vote. If your candidate doesn't win - your vote is effectively lost (or wasted, depending on your point of view).
First-Past-The-Post is deliberately designed to distort the results so that the party that gets the most MPs gets a boost (through the distortion of being the party in a 3 party system that gets more than 33.4% result getting 100% of the MP).
Practically that means you have:
* A limited number of large parties - clustered around the centreground to attract as many votes as possible. (remember: the gerrymandered US system is increasingly creating two extreme parties and is not representative or normal)
* Governments that typically have a majority in the Parliament
With First-Past-The-Post you end up voting with a view to the national result and you end up with an MP that either is in the government or in the opposition. You are not voting for a power-broker, you are voting for the party.
AV or the other methods of creating a winner do some slightly different things. You get:
* Typically the winner is the third choice of the majority of voters (i.e. the results of the first round to get more than 50% of the vote)
* Drastically increased number of parties (because they actually have a chance of getting some MPs - because of the above).
* Much wider range of views (i.e. communists and fascists are openly campaigning and do get some representatives - see Sinn Fein (Marxists) in Ireland or a variety of parties in Italy)
* With a much larger number of parties, no single party *ever* gets a majority - see the recent result in Ireland - even in an landslide the winner still must form a coalition.
This again promotes the formation of tiny, single-issue parties (glorified pressure groups) as they have disproportionate power.
For example see the influence of the Greens in the German Federal Parliament - hence the huge number of green rules and excessive spending on green initiatives over the last thirty or so years (e.g. €100BN wasted on subsidies for solar power that could have been generated by €5BN-worth of clean generation).
So what does that mean for you:
If you want to have a limited number of centerist parties - you want First-Past-The-Post (without gerrymandering).
If you want to vote for the government you want - you want First-Past-The-Post
If you want to vote for a broad swathe of policies (e.g. conservative, liberal or suchlike) - you want to vote for First-Past-The-Post
If you want to vote for the local power-broker (and don't care what backroom-deal coalition will be formed to make the government) - you want AV or similar
If you want to vote for a very specific policy - you want AV or similar (i.e. if you don't care about anything but abortion, or the six counties of the north or suchlike)
If you want to vote for a government that has power to respond rapidly - vote for First-Past-The-Post
If you want to vote for governments that cannot change the status-quo much - vote for AV or similar (see Belgium).
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