Voting experts reject first-past-the-post

By staff

First-past-the-post has been unanimously rejected by a group of respected academics.

Two weeks before the referendum on voting – where polls show the British public are likely to keep the first-past-the-post system – the alternative vote has come out on top among experts.

In a workshop organised by Voting Power & Procedures (VPP) at the London School of Economics, 22 voting specialists were asked to select “the best voting procedure” to elect one out of three or more candidates from a list of 18 options.

Each expert could back as many voting procedures as they approved of in the workshop.

The alternative vote came in second with ten votes, while first-past-the-post failed to secure any backers.

Approval voting, where voters can mark an ‘x’ by as many candidates as they want to, came out on top with 15 votes.

VPP deliberately chose the workshop topic to draw parallels with the single member district system used in House of Commons elections since 1950, ahead of the referendum on the alternative vote.

VPP co-directors Rudolf Fara, Dennis Leech and Moshe Machover, who voted in the poll, said that first-past-the-post – also known as plurality voting – was rejected unanimously most likely because it was the worst of any known system to elect fairly a single winner from three or more candidates.

“The most serious problem is that first-past-the-post often elects the candidate least preferred by an absolute majority of voters,” they said.