I wrote a fortnight ago about how Single Transferable Vote works. I was asked then why I don’t like it. To be clear, I can see its merits, particularly at Council level (where actually it is my preferred system), but my problem with it is its complexity, and therefore the potential for parties to mislead voters when it comes to “tactical voting”.
In fact, with Single Transferable Vote, there is no “tactical voting”! The voter simply places the candidates in order of preference, until they have no more preference.
To be clear:
- there is no tactical voting – if your first preference candidate does not get elected, your vote transfers fully to your next preference, and if that candidate doesn’t get in, to your next preference and so on;
- just to repeat that another way around, if you vote for someone who is not elected, your vote transfers fully – at the last European election in Northern Ireland in 2009, a vote 1-Nicholson, or 1-Parsley 2-Nicholson, or 1-Agnew 2-Parsley 3-Nicholson all ended up counting entirely for Nicholson because neither Parsley nor Agnew were elected and the vote thus transferred fully (it does not lose value!); and
- there is no reason whatsoever to “plump” – some voters seem to believe they should vote only for their party’s candidates and on one else so their vote goes 100% to their party, but it is a preferential system (i.e. your vote will go 100% to your first preference candidate unless that candidate is unsuccessful or is elected easily, in which case your vote can then influence who next gets elected).
So it is important to forget about so-called “tactical” considerations, which only apply (in Northern Ireland) at Westminster Parliamentary elections (and not at all in the Republic of Ireland).
By the way, in Northern Ireland the requirements for holding deposit are now particularly stringent – a candidate must exceed 6.25% of the vote at time of elimination (which almost certainly means first preference, as candidates are eliminated as soon as they can no longer be elected, but may conceivably include later preferences this year due to the number of candidates likely congregating below that figure). This is another reason for forgetting “tactics” and simply voting for your preferred candidates in order of preference.