As an Australian I can say I'm constantly baffled over the shoddy systems used in other countries. People seem to throw around Arrow's impossibility theorem to justify hanging on to whatever terrible system they have, but there's a big difference between obvious strategic voting problems that affect everyone, and a system where problems occur in only fairly extreme circumstances. The only real reason I can see why the USA system persists is that both major parties benefit from it and the system is so good at preventing third parties from having a say that even as a whole they can't generate the will to fix it.

In more direct answer to your question, personally I vote for the parties in exactly the order I prefer them. My vote is usually partitioned as: [Parties I actually like | Major party I prefer | Parties I'm neutral about | Parties I've literally never heard of | Major party I don't prefer | Parties I actively dislike]

A lot of people vote for their preferred party, as evidenced by more primary votes for minor parties. Just doing a quick comparison, in the last (2012) US presidential election only 1.74% of the vote went to minor candidates, while in the last Australian federal election (2013) an entire 21% of the votes went to minor parties.

Overall it works very well in the lower house.

In the upper house, the whole system is so complicated no-one understands it, and the ballot papers are so big that the effort required to vote in detail prevents most people from bothering. In the upper house I usually just vote for a single party and let their preference distribution be automatically applied for me. Of course I generally check what that is first, though you have to remember to do it beforehand since it's not available while you're voting. Despite all that though, it's a good system I wouldn't want it replaced with anything different.

Open thread, Oct. 19 - Oct. 25, 2015

by MrMind 1 min read19th Oct 2015198 comments


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