Faqs / So this is what I really want to know… how would it work? (Single Transferable Vote (STV) edition)

In the Single Transferable Vote (STV) system used in Ireland, India (upper house), and two state houses and the national senate in Australia, voters in combined local districts get to elect five, six, or seven representatives instead of just one, ranking individual local politicians from all parties by order of preference.

STV does everything it can to make sure your vote isn’t wasted. If your favourite candidate doesn’t have enough votes to get elected, your vote is transferred to your next-favourite candidate, and so on. In that case, voting for a shoo-in candidate might seem like a waste if it meant your other choices didn’t get in (remember, you’ve got only one vote to use to elect five or six people). But the truly great thing about STV (and one thing that sets it apart from the Alternative Vote, which is not proportional) is that if your favourite candidate has more votes than he or she needs, your vote is similarly transferred to your next-favourite candidate, and so on, until it ends up where it’s most needed to get you the group of representatives you want. Every voter gets an equal impact on the outcome, and can vote their conscience without wasting their vote. Every politician is elected with equally broad support, and none can benefit from vote-splitting. Importantly, results are proportional. STV was recommended by the BC Citizens’ Assembly on Electoral Reform. In a 2005 referendum, 58% of British Columbia voters voted “Yes” to STV for provincial elections. Unfortunately, the BC government decided that 60% was required for legitimacy. Ironically, that same government had won 97% of the seats and 100% of the power with just 57% of the vote.

Here’s a great video explaining how STV works.

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