Principles of Electoral Reform

By Michael Dummett | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
How to do Better than STV

ADVOCATES of STV usually appeal to the useless concept of the wasted vote; all that is wasted by such appeals is time. The definition of a wasted vote that is tacitly invoked is that a vote is wasted unless it goes towards bringing about the election of one of the candidates; a vote that, under STV, is transferred to a candidate who eventually secures election is therefore not wasted, on this definition. When the definition is applied to votes under the plurality system, it will follow that everyone who failed to vote for the winning candidate wasted his vote, even if he had no chance, by voting otherwise under that system, of bringing about a result he would have liked better.

On this definition, however, there is no reason to say that a wasted vote is a bad thing. Of course, if a voter knew for certain what the outcome of the election would be, whether he voted or not, he would not trouble to go to the polling station; since he does not, he has good reason to do whatever he thinks most likely to have a chance of producing a result that will please him. Proponents of STV argue that, even if, under it, a voter does not contribute to bringing

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Principles of Electoral Reform
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • To Maurice Salles v
  • Preface vii
  • Abbreviations x
  • Contents xi
  • Chapter 1 - The Dual Purpose Of Elections 1
  • Chapter 2 - How to Think About Electoral Systems 6
  • Chapter 3 - Pr and The Alternative to It 18
  • Chapter 4 - The Dual-Vote Device 28
  • Chapter 5 - Who Will Win? Who Ought to Win? 36
  • Chapter 6 - Majority Preferences 47
  • Chapter 7 - Rival Criteria 58
  • Chapter 8 - Systems Based on Criteria 75
  • Chapter 9 - The Alternative Vote 89
  • Chapter 10 - The Wasted Vote 109
  • Chapter 11 - Multi-Member Constituencies 121
  • Chapter 12 - How to Do Better Than Stv 138
  • Chapter 13 - Proportional Representation 158
  • Chapter 14 - The Principles of Electoral Reform 174
  • Further Reading 187
  • Index 191
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