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In smart democracy ties not needed

by 10 Nov 2007STV0 comments

Darwin Adelaide Race

Electoral, Not Electric Race: We don’t need to understand the intricacies of its innards to know that an electric car with lightning acceleration and a 200 km range is a better system than that which we currently use. photographer Travis de Fluiter

With the third excruciating reversal of fortunes, Wayne Walker is once again a Rodney District councillor.

On election night Walker was provisionally ahead of running mate, runner up Colin MacGillivray, by four votes. However, the position changed the following Wednesday when the official result put MacGillivray one vote ahead.

Only for the result to change again, on Thursday 8 November, 26 dreadful days, for the two candidates, after the election. While MacGillivray is magnanimous about Walker seeking and winning a judicial recount, at the swearing in held double-crossed fingers aloft. A particularly tough test of character. Going from highest-polling councillor in 2004, and having two of his Taking Action Team with him, to least successful is one thing, but this is the second time Wayne Walker, or his ticket, has been on an electoral knife edge. In 2004, Action with Results candidate June Turner, who was supported by Walker in both elections, tied with incumbent councillor John Ross. As required by the Local Electoral Act 2001, the tie was broken by lot. Turner sought and lost a judicial recount—Ross had gained a further three votes.

It could be that Rodney District Council now goes for many yearsin the event, Rodney District Council was subsumed by Auckland Council by the next election, in 2010 without the agony of another tie, or close call. But if nothing else, the Mahurangi Magazine is persistent, regarding preference voting:

In preferential voting, ties are all but impossible. This is because support for any one candidate comes as first, second, and third etc. preferences. If tied at the tally of first preferences, the chances are that subsequent preferences will put one or other candidate convincingly ahead.

Single transferable voting guru Stephen Todd has kindly written me a detailed explanation of why this is so and, in the highly unlikely event of one occurring, how ties are broken. But here the reader is spared the arcane intricacies. It would be about as reasonable as being inflicted with a detailed explanation of the fiendishly complex innards of the electric-vehicle-motor-controller, of the nice, green electric car hankered after. Just add…

  • Produces convincingly clear result

…to the list of reasons why we should consider adopting preferential voting.

Ahead of the 2010 elections, there is ample time for Rodney to carefully examine the option of changing to preferential voting—if nothing else, the increased attention could be leveraged to get more young people enrolled, and more than the current 45% of those enrolled, to vote.

And avoid a repeat of a mayor elected by a mere 11% of the eligible vote.

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