Pair Voting – Brilliant or Stupid?

I had not really looked into Pair Voting, or Vote Swapping too much until I heard some people on Twitter talking about it. There are websites dedicated to this cause, and it is a decidedly anti-Conservative movement. I was going to try and explain it for you, but they have a great video on their website that explains how it works better than I would.

So after watching the video, and hearing how Pair Voting works, I would like to know your thoughts? Now obviously, if you’re a Conservative voter, you’re not going to like the strategy at all, and if you’re a left voter, you’ll likely be more open to it. The mechanics of the system look good on paper, however I seriously question how it would work in reality. What guarantee do you have that the individual you are matched with, will follow through and vote for the party you would like them to. It seems to me, that you could promise to vote for one party, but check another once in the voting booth. That’s the beauty of the secret ballot.

I fully agree that our voting system is flawed… VERY flawed. We have seen polls showing the recent NDP surge, but come election day, there is little chance that they will finish ahead of the Liberals. The Conservatives could also win a majority government on a very small percentage of the popular vote. Those two things are not good. Seats should in some way be related to vote share. That would shoot the Bloc in the foot majorly.

But electoral reform in this country is far off. In fact, I would be optimistic in saying I would see a change in the next 25 years. I think we are stuck with it. So it makes sense that disgruntled voters will continue to come up with methods to circumvent a messed up electoral system. I doubt it will have an impact, but I give the founders props for trying. I live in Calgary, and as we know, Calgary is Conservative country. I think it is highly unlikely that you’ll see anything but Conservatives elected again. And unless I plan to vote for the Conservatives (maybe I will, maybe I won’t) my vote is a waste.

But isn’t that how democracy works? Some people vote for the winner and some vote for the loser. It’s not a difficult concept. And at the end of the day, the party with the most votes will likely form the government, so we shouldn’t complain too heavily about that.


About Chris James

A student of political science at a Canadian University sharing stories of interest on Canadian and American political and social issues.

Posted on April 27, 2011, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. interesting concept, but i agree though… what is to say the person will actually follow through on the vote-swap? and besides, this theory requires soooooo many people to all follow through, it will very likely end up in a gong show. also, for someone to arrange a vote-swap, who agrees which party gets to try and win in each riding? not a bad idea, but again, most things look pretty awesome in theory…

  2. Sorry to be blunt but the question as phrased forces it: vote swapping is stupid. The amount of effort involved, the capitulation to agree to participate in a broken and unfair electoral system, and the uncertainty that a stranger will keep their word in a secret ballot to affect the outcome in a riding in which one doesn’t live… in a word – wow.

    Vote swappers presumably all prefer a fair electoral system over the current one. Thus, they should be prepared to describe the differences between MMP and STV (without having to ask what those acronyms mean) and give some examples of other countries that employ electoral systems they consider fair. Vote swappers should be prepared to engage their friends and the public on the topic of electoral systems and convince them on the need for a fair system.

    A fair voting system is worth investing this sort of time and energy. Instead of affecting just 1584 votes in 40 ridings (info from as of 26 April 2011) a fair voting system would affect every vote. Finally, campaigning for a fair voting system is based on the hope of a better future, not on the fear of a distasteful outcome.

    • Yes, and I don’t think many supports even know what MMP and STV stand for. It appears to be (but is not) a simple fix to a complicated problem, which could have many possible solutions. Sometimes laziness breeds the oddest ideas.

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