Tuesday 12 December 2017

Let's make sure we know how to vote, not just for whom

Voters must be informed about not only the many candidates, but the voting system itself
Voters must be informed about not only the many candidates, but the voting system itself

* The local and European elections are now just a fortnight away and there will be wall-to-wall coverage on the candidates and likely winners and losers. What won't be covered is the electoral system itself, because apparently the body politic assumes that voters know how to vote despite nobody telling them.

Ireland is almost unique in having PR-STV (proportional representation, single transferable vote), but when was the last time you saw an information advert or received a booklet in the letterbox explaining it? We have public relations campaigns on road safety, smoking, mental health, and so on, but no PR about PR (excuse the pun).

How many readers know the answers to the following questions? What does 1, 2, 3 mean? Is there tactical voting and how can it be done? Why are candidates disappointed when voters say they will "give them a vote"? Why are candidates terrified of journalists saying that their seat is safe? Is it alright to give a protest candidate your number one, and your preferred candidate a number two? Why are there multiple counts? Are transfers important, and are transfers from eliminated candidates better than from elected candidates? Do foreign voters know that, unlike in their home country, you don't place an X beside the party or candidate of your choice, but write 1, 2, 3 and so on in order of your choice?

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