First-past-the-post vote still wins.

For all the arguments that people put up, you would suspect that first-past-the-post (FPTP) voting was on its last legs. It is not. It survives not because so many of us love it. It survives because there is no adequate alternative.

What seems most annoying about the effort put into our switching to some form of proportional voting is the assumption that people want to vote just for a party instead of a candidate. They might like the party’s leader, they might like the party’s philosophy and they might just be lazy and do not bother to check out the individual candidates.

Those involved in politics always assume that as many as half the voters in an electoral district will vote for their party of preference. Of the other half, most are not likely to vote. It means that the most effort of a candidate is to reach the 10 to 15 per cent of the voters open to being convinced to support a worthwhile candidate.

This effort benefits all voters. These non-government candidates who can win give us a strong and effective opposition in our parliament and legislatures. They might be the leaders of tomorrow. They need the experience of being our representative. We are gaining while they are learning.

The smart voter also checks on what the person elected in his or her electoral district is doing while elected. Is the person contributing? Is the person serving his or her constituents? Or is the person just doing what the party leader says to do and to vote? And does this person reflect your values?

It pays to pay attention. You can hardly wait for the next election to read some self-serving literature and make a decision. This elected person is involved in the creation of the laws under which we live. This is a live person you know. You have the right to ask questions. It is your taxes that pay for that office in the electoral district. It is there for your benefit. It is to facilitate communication with your MP or MLA.

Why anyone would want to exchange the current system for one where we just vote for a party and a faceless name on a list makes little sense. If you feel that we need to save the cost of printing ballots for each electoral district, we would be a poor nation indeed.


Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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