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“The other clue as to the interests of the No campaign lies in the feebleness of the arguments against the alternative vote. It is “too complicated”, they say, as if counting to six or seven, or even ordering six preferences, were beyond the capacity of the average voter. It is an alien system, they say, as if Australia were on Planet Gallifrey. It would give more than one vote to the supporters of minority parties, they say, as if people were unfamiliar with the idea of an eliminating ballot in which each voter is equal in each round.
We, the people, should not stand for these insults to our intelligence. Vote Yes for a modest improvement to our democracy on Thursday, that will give us more control, more choice, more of a say. And make it the last time that you vote with an X.”
“The cost of AV
AV would not require the use of expensive voting machines
There is no truth in the claim that AV would require the introduction of electronic voting machines. Elections held under AV (and, indeed, under the more demanding STV system) in Australia, Ireland, and Scotland are all in general conducted using traditional paper ballots.
Electronic counting of votes was introduced in Scotland in 2007 for local elections, which use the more complex STV electoral system. There is no reason to think electronic counting would be necessary for elections held under AV.
The cost of AV
The No2AV campaign estimates the cost of AV as “up to £247 million”. This includes the cost of the referendum itself, which, of course, is incurred whether there is a “yes” vote or not. Removing this reduces the claimed figure to £156 million. The remainder comprises up to £130 million for the purchase of electronic voting machines (which would not be necessary) and £26 million for voter education.
It is reasonable to expect two principal costs from the introduction of AV. First, at least for a transitional period, a campaign to educate voters in how to vote under AV would be highly desirable. Second, counting votes under AV would take longer than under FPTP. We are not aware of any independent estimates of what these costs would be.
However, even if we suppose (unrealistically) that the current cost of running an election (up to £90 million) would be doubled by the introduction of AV, that implies an annual cost across a five-year electoral cycle of only around 30 pence per person. Clearly, this is a very small sum. “