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Public needs voting system explained


THE general election is now just over a fortnight away and there will be wall-to-wall coverage.

What won't be discussed, however, is the electoral system itself because, apparently, the body politic assumes voters know how to vote -- despite nobody telling them.

Ireland is almost unique in having PR-STV (proportional representation, single transferable vote), which is only used in Malta and parts of Australia.

Yet, despite that, when was the last time you saw an information advert or received a booklet in the letterbox explaining the voting system?

We have had adverts and booklets on road safety, cancer, mental health, national emergencies and swine flu. But despite all the money wasted by ministers and public agencies on their own public relations, no public money is spent on PR about PR.

How many readers know the answers to the following questions?

1. What does 1, 2, 3 mean?

2. Is there tactical voting, and how can it be done?

3. Why are candidates disappointed when voters say they will "give them a vote"?

4. Why do candidates hate journalists saying their seats are safe?

5. Is it okay to give a protest candidate your number one and your preferred candidate number two?

6. What is a quota, and how do you calculate it?

7. Why are preferences from eliminated candidates better than from elected candidates?

8. Why are there multiple counts?

9. Why are transfers important?

10. Why are some candidates elected without exceeding the quota?

After the last general election, many people were confused as to how Cyprian Brady could get elected with just 939 first preferences when five other people got more than he did.

Since we don't have an electoral commission to educate the public, perhaps the media could explain how PR-STV works.

Swords, Co Dublin

Irish Independent