Helping you to understand the AV referendum.
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The issue at stake is the voting system for national Parliamentary elections and the choice is seemingly simple: should we retain the First Past the Post system, or change to the Alternative Vote?
Counting on Reform does not tell people how to vote. Nor is it a theoretical study of electoral systems. Rather, it aims to help readers better understand the options on offer, placing them in the broader context of why we value what we value about democracy.
Proponents and opponents of electoral change often give the impression that voters should make their decision on the basis of the (often carefully selected) “facts” of the matter – an objective weighing of comparative examples, statistics and electoral predictions.
By contrast, Counting on Reform argues that while such analysis is critical, we will not be able to resolve the debate simply by dispassionately adjudicating between the alleged advantages or disadvantages of the two systems.
Instead, the report contends that any decision we make will invariably draw on deeply held personal commitments and beliefs around key questions of principle. What do we understand to be the basis of political representation? How should we weigh the relative value of political strength vs. political compromise? How important do we believe is the merit of electoral simplicity?
It is only by thinking through such issues will we grasp what is – and isn’t – at stake on 5 May and feel confident about which box we choose to tick.