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Cats Explain Voting System Reform

Many states have already had votes to reform our “winner take all” voting system for elections (also called “first past the post“) into “instant runoff” (also called “alternative vote” or “preferential voting”). Some countries and even some local governments in the US already use instant runoff voting.

Afraid to vote for third party candidates? Feel like your country is going to the dogs? Confused about the differences between the two voting systems? This video is from England, but does a good job of explaining how the two systems work. It also makes a very subtle dig at the royal family.



  1. Dan wrote:

    Love it, and lets throw in open ballots too.

    Sunday, May 1, 2011 at 2:43 pm | Permalink
  2. Jason Ray wrote:

    Awesome!! And a good explanation about how democracy can work in more than one way. I think if the US fully adopted the alternative voting approach it would drastically change our political climate, not to mention put a stake in the heart of pure partisanship since binary partisanship would be far less useful.

    Monday, May 2, 2011 at 9:37 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Agreed! Much harder to stoke an “us v. them” attitude when there are a dozen parties trying to represent us!

    Monday, May 2, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Permalink
  4. starluna wrote:

    I am in favor of anything that might bring a reform cat into governance.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 10:49 am | Permalink
  5. Fuerza de Bacon wrote:

    And yet, AV could end up with a situation where the winner is someone that no-one REALLY wants. The person who would have been in second or third in FPTP would be able to win based on the fact that he is not the ‘least favourite’ candidate of others.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  6. TomTom wrote:

    And what’s wrong with that, Fuerza De Bacon? Is that not better than a candidate that nearly 50% of the population abhors?

    Also, I like the ability to vote for Mickey Mouse or a grilled cheese sandwich as your vote, and still be able to have a ‘real’ candidate with your second choice. That seems much more democratic, and more like real life decisions, to me

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 4:21 pm | Permalink
  7. starluna wrote:

    If I understand you correctly, Fuerza de Bacon, AV’s shortcoming is that there is not enough passion behind a particular candidate.

    If that is the case, then what you are arguing for is a system in which a single candidate with a passionate or loyal following gets elected into office even though the majority of voters did not actually approve of the policies of that particular candidate.

    I do believe that is the criticism of the current system.

    Tuesday, May 3, 2011 at 6:53 pm | Permalink
  8. amy wrote:

    There have been “instant runoff elections” and other kinds of alternative voting systems on the waiting line for consideration by Democratic and Republican legislatures. Don’t hold your breath. Despite the fact that if each really believed their own hype about how those who don’t vote would really be their voters, neither priveledged party wants to allow third parties to compete. We must recognize that they will never allow any changes that will challenge them and their hard-won corporate supporters.

    Wednesday, May 4, 2011 at 4:05 pm | Permalink
  9. Rosemary wrote:

    Those of us familiar with AV systems also know that we can caste a “protest” vote with our first or first few votes. This says “we don’t like your policies on X issue, but we prefer to have you rather than your main opponent in the final analysis”.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 10:00 am | Permalink
  10. starluna wrote:

    San Francisco, Oakland, St. Paul, and Portland, ME all use instant runoff voting. The Oscars movie awards also use it.

    Thursday, May 5, 2011 at 7:13 pm | Permalink
  11. PaulQ wrote:

    A good piece of misleading propaganda.
    1. It works only when all the parties have about the same policies – not good, there’s no real choice.
    2. It works against small and/or new parties who may as well not appear as they will never establish a voter base.
    3. It is quite possible for everyone to end up with their second choice. Imagine, you go to a bar, order beer and are given a cabbage because that was the popular 2nd choice.
    4. The UK rejected this stupid idea 30% to 70% – I suggest you do the same.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 4:07 pm | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    Obviously there are different opinions about Alternative Voting. As they say, you are entitled to your own opinion, but not your own facts. Alternative voting is actually very good for small or alternative parties, which is why the main parties in power fight so strongly against it.

    As for the current system, the analogy might be you go into a bar and order a beer, and instead are given a bag of shit.

    Wednesday, May 11, 2011 at 7:01 pm | Permalink
  13. D'n wrote:

    I wish they would put this in place in America. I’m tired of having to vote strategically because I don’t want the bloody anti-christ to win.

    Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Permalink
  14. FreeFall wrote:

    @ Paul Q, that is a gross misrepresentation. The second option only comes into consideration if the first option is eliminated. In your analogy, more people would have had to have chosen cabbage than beer, or cabbage would be out of the running first. This means that cabbage was not only a popular second choice, but also a respectfully popular first choice.

    Also, ordering a beer for yourself from a bar is much different than an election. When you have made a purchase for yourself (and only yourself) you are entitled to get that which you order. When voting on something for a group, you have no such entitlement.

    1) You are assuming this, without any supporting evidence. Bluff called.
    2) The problem is actually the perception of a lack of support. Those perceived as having the bulk of support are the only ones that appear to be viable options under the current system. The new system would not require people to pay heed to such perceptions, and could would give actual feedback on them. Conclusion: you lied.
    3) I already discussed the fallacies of your analogy.
    4) Non-argument.

    In effect, you are iteratively voting people off by making them your last choice, then your second to last choice, etc. Each iteration has one less candidate in the race.

    Monday, August 22, 2011 at 8:45 am | Permalink