Don’t vote for peole you don’t want


Stephen Franks has good advice for people confused by STV:

. . . Vote only for people you would be happy to see winning. Stop there. Do not rank candidates just to show who you least prefer. Do not rank candidates to help make sure that at least a dog beats the genuine idiot.

Remember – all vote rankings are positive. It is a no brainer. Your vote will be transferred if your favoured candidate does not win. Only vote as far down the sequence as you actually prefer. Stop so that you do not give any votes to candidates who should not be elected at all, even if they’re better than the worst. . .

The number of councils using STV is declining:

STV was used by 10 councils for the 2004 local authority elections. Eight councils used STV in the 2007 elections, six councils used STV in the October 2010 elections. Seven councils will be using the STV in the October 2013 elections.

But all District Health Boards are required to use the system.

In spite of this being the fourth election in which the system is used a lot of people still don’t understand it. Many don’t realise they don’t have to rank all the candidates nor that if they do that preference could elect someone you don’t want on a council or health board.

Franks’ advice i sound – vote only for people you want and stop ranking once you’ve done that.




MMP campaigner Philip Temple has found 20 writers who support that electoral system:

As support continues to grow for keeping MMP in the referendum on November 26, a group of top New Zealand writers have added their voice to the campaign.

Author Philip Temple, a spokesperson for the Keep MMP Campaign, says “It is brilliant that so many of our best known and loved authors have been willing to support the campaign to keep MMP. . .”

Twenty writers, 21 if you count Temple too, support MMP – so?

They are entitled to their view and to campaign in support of it but 21 writers supporting MMP is no more than a media opportunity, whether or not they’re best known and loved.

It probably wouldn’t be hard to find 21 people in any other occupation group across the country who support that electoral system nor to find a group of 21 who don’t.

They might not be so well known as the writers but being well known doesn’t make their opinions on the electoral system any more valid than those of people who aren’t public names or faces.

MMP, like all the alternative systems from which we’ll be able to choose in the referendum, is not perfect. There are valid arguments for and against it and the other four – First Past the Post, Preferential Vote,  Single Transferable Vote and Supplementary Member.

Finding 21 people who happen to do the same thing in support of or against one of them doesn’t make it any better or worse and is neither an argument for or against supporting a particular option.

Voters should be considering how each system works and which is more likely to give them the sort of government they want, not whether or not a system has a fan club of people from this occupation group or that.

I will be voting for change because MMP’s shortcomings outweigh its advantages for me and “celebrity” endorsement of that system isn’t going to make it any better.



25/25 in the Electoral Commission’s quiz on the different electoral options we’ll be choosing form in the November referendum.

The tool kit also asks questions on how important you consider accountability, effective government, effective parliament, proportionality and representation. Your answers indicate which system best suits your preference.

My answers left me to choose between First Past the Post, Preferential Voting and Supplementary Member, all of which give more and therefore small electorates than Mixed Member Proportional or Single Transferable Vote.

How best to vote on voting


I hope discussions on the referendum on MMP take very careful note of not just what choices voters will be presented with but how we will be able to choose.

In 1992 the options were the then status quo of First Past the Post (FPP), or a change to a more proportional system with four options: Mixed member Proportional (MMP), Preferential Voting (PV) Single Transferable Vote or Supplementary Member (SM).

The result was decisive:

First stage



Second stage



Change the voting system



Retain FPTP



Retain FPTP



Supplementary Member (SM)






Single Transferable Vote (STV)












Preferential Vote (PV)



The number of people who voted for MMP was greater than the total of those who voted for all other options so even if a preferential system of voting had been used it’s possible MMP would still have won.

But whether that was because people really understood and wanted that system or just wanted to send MPs a message is a moot point.

Anecdotal evidence points to a lot of people voting against MPs rather than for MMP oblivious to the fact that the change to that system resulted in more MPs.

Dissatisfaction at the tail wagging antics of minor parties led to dissatisfaction with the system and had a referendum been held earlier it would almost certainly have gone against MMP.

Now the system has matured dissatisfaction has decreased, helped somewhat by the way National embraced the Maori Party when it didn’t need to and the popularity of John Key.

However, I still don’t like MMP.

It gives too much power to parties when membership is low. The last public figures I saw put National membership at more than 40,000. Chris Trotter reckons Labour has only 5,000 members. The Maori Party claims 10,000 members, two of the parties in parliament are really just one-man vanity vehicles and they like the other wee parties probably have few if any more than the 500 minimum required for registration.

It allows small parties to wield power far out of proportion to their membership and voter support.

It allows unprincipled MPs to take and cling to the baubles of office.

 It enables MPs to stay in parliament when they’ve been rejected by voters.

It has created electorates which are far too big – and this problem will increase unless the population growth imbalance between Auckland and the South Island changes.

A change in the voting system is an important constitutional matter and  I’d have preferred a Royal Commission to look at the options before we have a referendum.

That isn’t going to happen so there will need to be a lot of education if we’re going to be able to vote intelligently. 

I’d also like a discussion on how we vote on how we vote. 

Last time it turned in to a two horse race between FPP and MMP, mostly because those were the systems which got the most publicity.

These are still the systems most people know most about, although  younger voters will have only known MMP for central government elections.

If we’re given as many choices this time as we were in 1992, and it’s not going to be another two-horse race, a system which enables us to rank our preferences might be a better way to vote than one which lets us tick just one.

Update: Adolf discusses the issue at No Minister.

Not PC asks To MMP or not to?

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