One person, one vote

Kerry Prendergast is crying foul over a potential upset win for her main opponent, Celia Wade-Brown. What’s her problem with the election? Let’s put it in her own words:

“For me, [STV]’s not democratic,” Ms Prendergast said. “As they drop off, if you support one of the losing candidates, you get a second vote, whereas my supporters only got one vote.”

Ms Prendergast has failed basic reading comprehension. STV stands for Single Transferable Vote. Nobody gets a “second vote”. What they do get, however, is the chance to switch their vote to a new candidate every time their current favourite is eliminated during the instant runoff, and none of these votes count twice. They only transfer if your most preferred candidate is eliminated from the race. If people voted for other candidates but put Kerry further up their list than Celia, Kerry also benefited from STV. She’s trying to spin it that she should win because she has more first-preference votes than Celia, ignoring the entire point of the voting system that Wellingtonians chose to elect their mayor and councilors.

She seems to think that she was somehow cheated by the fact that she was the only strongly right-wing candidate. There’s no inherent booster effect for candidates in STV- it’s possible for candidates to either hurt or help other similar candidates, depending on whether they’re expanding a shared voting bloc, or merely cannibalising the first preference vote. Being able to pass your vote on to a lower preference is in no way making your vote any more effective than a vote that stays locked on its first preference. It just gives you a chance to express your true preferences while still supporting a candidate that you’d settle for over one you really dislike.

This is far more democratic in principle than FPP is, and Wellingtonians were wise to choose to retain STV when the voting system was put up to referendum earlier, but because Kerry is showing herself to be a sore loser, we’re likely to see another voting system review in the coming years, despite voting to retain our improved system. Don’t get me wrong, STV is far from perfect, and it’s not how I’d choose to do a vote if I got to pick a system myself, but it’s a very big improvement over FPP.

update: Since I’ve posted this news has surfaced that Celia won on the specials. Congratulations Wellington! 🙂

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3 thoughts on “One person, one vote

  1. Rather remarkable that the mayor doesn’t get the fact that you don’t want your vote to count for more than one person at a time!

  2. STV votes only count for one candidate at a time and only get transferred to a different pile of ballots if the candidate at the top is excluded.

    If the other candidates were eliminated from the election and the ballots were cast exactly the same, Prendergast would have lost to Wade-Brown.

  3. Peter: Outgoing Mayor! YAY!

    Sam Clifford is correct in this case, but it IS possible to get a different result when third-party candidates are eliminated if the elimination order prevents a candidate from being transferred a large number of votes.

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