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What is Alternative Vote?

• Alternative Vote (AV) is a voting system where voters choose one winner by ranking candidates in order of preference. It is also know as instant runoff voting (IRV), ranked choice voting, or preferential voting. 1

• AV is fine for electing a mayor, party leader, or president with broad support. But if it's used to elect candidates to any legislative body from single-seat ridings, it will often produce a legislature that is even less proportional and less representative than what we have in Canada now. 2

• Changing from our present system to AV is like changing the curtains on a crumbling house. Supporters of this cosmetic change are diverting attention away from the fundamental problems with all winner-take-all voting systems, including AV: wasted votes, distorted results, unrepresentative legislatures, and adversarial politics. 3

• AV is formalized strategic voting. It will make it easy for voters to give their second choice or third choice to a larger party with a better chance of winning a seat. But being represented by your second or third choice is the problem, not the solution.

• Small parties will be unlikely to win any more seats. The tendency will be towards a two-party state, limiting voices, real choices and incentives for parties to cooperate on our country's biggest problems. 4

1. "Elected officials should refrain from passing instant runoff voting legislation. Despite its theoretical promise to improve elections, instant runoff voting is a potentially illegal reform with unclear benefits, probable negative side effects, and possible unintended consequences."

-- Instant Runoff Voting: A Cure that is Likely Worse than the Disease; William & Mary Law Review. James P. Langan, William & Mary University. 2005 TOP

2. "Far from doing much to relieve disproportionality, [AV] is capable of substantially adding to it."

-- Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting System, HRM UK Government. Lord Jenkins. 1998. TOP

3. "AV on its own suffers from a stark objection. It offers little prospect of a move towards greater proportionality, and in some circumstances [...] it is even less proportional that FPTP."

-- Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting System, HRM UK Government. Lord Jenkins. 1998. TOP

4. "If AV leads to bipolar multipartism, it could strengthen two-bloc politics and thereby reduce pressure for greater proportionality."

--The Alternative Vote. Dr. Alan Renwick, University of Reading. 2011 TOP