Single Transferable Vote (STV)

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The Single Transferable Vote (STV) is a system of voting that is a form of proportional representation. Unlike the First Past The Post method, STV aims to more accurately reflect the wishes of the electorate as a whole, hence the process of transferring votes from candidates who are popular to those candidates who are not so popular. The theory is that once a candidate has received enough votes to become elected, any further votes he or she may receive are "wasted" because they serve no further purpose in the electing of the candidate.

It is true to say the electorate will not be pleased at having to walk to a polling booth, possibly in the rain, to be told later that their vote was not needed at the end of the day as the candidate had loads of votes. The common sense approach would be to share these "wasted" votes amongst candidates who would appreciate them, probably because few people would be stupid enough to vote for them in the first place.

The system of STV also allows the votes received by candidates who are really unpopular to be distributed among less unpopular candidates. Thus candidates who are so bad they don't deserve any of their votes, they can be taken off them and given to less undeserving candidates.

The Electoral Reform Society state that the system of STV can be used to allow the electorate to vote for candidates for reasons other than the political ideals of the candidate, For Example looks or hair colour. This obviously helps if the reason for the candidates unpopularity is due to them being a political basket case.

Essentially STV is a system of sharing "wasted" votes fairly among the unpopular candidates. To begin with the unelected candidates are ranked by their unpopularity. The least unpopular candidates will be the beneficiaries of the system and will be allowed to share in the transferable votes. Once an unpopular candidate receives enough votes by default then even their wasted votes can be shared among the less popular candidates.

It is clear that the system of STV is a sensible method of electing candidates for important positions like people who will be governing us or handling and spending our taxes. That having been said the system can be manipulated by unscrupulous politicians as I will describe in the following paragraphs.

Firstly political parties have a certain amount of say in how constituency boundaries are decided. This has an effect on how the distribution of the vote will be spread, for example a constituancy with four sitting members of the one party is likely to suffer as it is unlikely that all their members will be elected through STV especially if a new prospective candidate from another party happens to be a bit of a looker.

Secondly political parties have the choice of how many candidates they put up for election. Put too many up and their share of the vote will be diluted and you run the risk of fewer members receiving enough votes to be elected. Put too few candidates up and you run the risk of wasted votes transferring to a rival party.

Lastly political parties can influence how the electorate votes and can advise the electorate on how to place their votes in order that each member receives enough 1st place and 2nd place votes between them so that they all get elected.

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