An interesting Herald letter with a proposal for reform of Australia's preferential voting system
In today's edition of The Sydney Morning Herald:
Preferential system is not half what it could be
The primary vote of minor parties has increased in recent elections, but the preferential system distorts the result.
A candidate who is an elector's third choice receives the same ''vote value'' as if he or she was the first choice - hardly what the voter intended. Not only does it not reflect the wishes of the voter, it distorts the level of support candidates have garnered.
A more equitable structure would be to discount the value of preferences by 50 per cent each time they are distributed, to more accurately reflect the voter's choice. Thus 100 votes cast as a first preference would become 50 votes when passed to the next preferred candidate and 25 votes when passed to the third choice. This concept takes on increased relevance with the recent arrangement of the Greens and Labor to exchange preferences in the lower house.
There is much to commend the concept of preferential voting, but in its current format it fails the test of being truly representative of the electorate's wishes. By amending the system to incorporate a 50 per cent reduction as each preference is passed down, it makes the system truly representative.
Alan Plumb Milsons Point
At Mr. Schütz's blog:
July 22, 2010 at 4:40 am
There was a good discussion on that communique at the Angelqueen forum:
Cardinal Pole said...
Terra's comment of July 22, 2010 1:23 AM answers the previous comments quite well, but I'll still offer, if I may, the following thoughts:
(Response to Salvatore)
"[You] suppose ultimately it depends on whether one regards voting as a duty or a right."
No, it depends ultimately on whether the natural law commands, forbids, or permits compulsory voting, not on whether a private citizen 'regards' voting as this or that (sorry if that sounds curt; I don't mean it to be).
"If it’s a duty then there’s no problem with the State coercing its subjects to vote."
It isn't necessarily a duty, but it will be in polities in which the competent authority commands its subjects to vote (though even where voting is voluntary the natural law can sometimes command, on pain of sin, voters to exercise that right--see Fr. Jone in Moral Theology).
"A right, on the other hand, represents a freedom to act (or not) and, as such, cannot of its nature be the subject of compulsion."
Nevertheless, the natural law can, whether remotely (that is, through a lawful superior) or proximately, command one to exercise a right in certain instances.
"As [you]’ve never been convinced by the ‘duty’ arguments for voting, [you] maintain that the compulsion to vote vitiates [your] democratic rights."
There are a number of schools of thought on how to know whether an obligation does or does not exist. Of the schools of thought which the Church tolerates, the least strict is probabilism (sp?), according to which there is no obligation if there exists a solid probability of non-obligation. Your reasoning here wouldn't be valid even for a probabilist; you have demonstrated neither an intrinsic probability--all you can say is that you aren't convinced by arguments for compulsory voting, therefore you aren't bound to do so, which would be like someone saying that he isn't convinced by the arguments for compulsory Mass attendance on Sunday, therefore he isn't bound to do so--nor an extrinsic probability--you haven't referred us to any respected authors who hold your opinion.
(Response to Anne Nonny Mouse)
"Huh? Cardinal Pole asserts without any justification "The onus is on whoever says that it is unjust to prove the alleged injustice.""
In my first, longer draft of that comment I gave the two reasons why, but I ended up deciding to submit as short a comment as possible. Anyway, here are the two reasons:
1. The general truth that 'he who affirms must prove'.
2. Lawful superiors enjoy the benefit of the doubt about their commands.
"Since the claim is for the state to compel people to act surely it is for the state to demonstrate that it has the authority to do so and that what it compels is just."
No it isn't; the State, like any lawful superior, enjoys the benefit of the doubt. What you're advocating here is a sort of 'presumption of guilt' when in fact lawful superiors enjoy a 'presumption of innocence', a presumption that their commandsare valid until demonstrated not to be.
Someone has to demonstrate that the natural law forbids compulsory voting if we are to reject the relevant sections of the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 as invalid commands. (I say that to both Salvatore and Anne Nonny Mouse, as well as to anyone who disputes the validity of all or parts of the Act.)
July 22, 2010 3:20 AM
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Feast of St. Mary Magdalen, Penitent, A.D. 2010