Sunday, October 18, 2015

Strategic Voting

There's something freeing about knowing for sure that your vote won't make a difference. You can vote your conscience and ignore strategic voting.  (This only applies to 'done deal' ridings, where you know you can't matter.)
The Conservative candidate for Battle River—Crowfoot is showing on as 100% likely to win the riding. Vote your conscience, you're off the hook.
So if your vote won't impact the outcome, what can you do?
If you support Harper, encourage Liberal and NDP supporters to vote their conscience, split their vote and leave the election to the Conservatives.
If you'd rather not have another Harper government, encourage the Liberals and NDP to cooperate.
Vote Liberal in: Brampton Centre(ON), Northumberland—Peterborough South(ON), Vaughan–Woodbridge(ON) Saint John—Rothesay(NB), Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill(ON), Bay of Quinte(ON), Haldimand—Norfolk(ON), King—Vaughan(ON).
Vote NDP in: Cariboo—Prince George(BC), Coquitlam—Port Coquitlam(BC), Edmonton Griesbach(AB), Regina—Qu'Appelle(SK), Jonquiere(QC), Essex(ON), Mission—Matsqui—Fraser Canyon(BC), North Okanagan—Shuswap(BC).

On election night, watch these swing ridings to see how things are going. No matter who wins, demand voter reform so that your vote will matter more next election, and help make strategic voting a thing of the past.
Originally published 2015-10-16. is one option. There are lots of systems. They're almost all better than what we have now.

Your vote doesn't matter.

There's an election coming. In lots of ways, it's already over. Unless Kevin Sorenson moves to Syria or forgets to file his nomination papers he's going back to Ottawa.
In fact, 120 of the 338 ridings in this election already (as of 2015-08-12) have a frontrunner with a projected 90% or better chance of winning. For voters in those ridings, this election was over before it started.
You will be encouraged to vote. You might even be told your vote matters. For over a third of Canadian voters, including Battle River—Crowfoot, that won't be true, at least in terms of influencing the composition of the House of Commons.
For people in these 'done deal' ridings, whether you pick the winner or not, you will not influence the outcome of the election.
A 'win-more' vote for the Conservatives matters exactly as much as a write-in vote for Santa Claus.
And that's disappointing, because the system can't tell the difference between winning a riding with 95% of the vote and winning a close three-way race with 35% support.
If we want the dēmos (people) to kratia (rule), which is the point of democracy, we should use a system that represents the wishes of Canadians as closely as possible.
This is not that system.
So unless you read this from a riding that's actually competitive, you can snuggle into a warm blanket of ignorance and bliss because your vote doesn't matter.

For the sake of democracy, responsible governance and the future of our country, it really should.

Originally published 2015-08-12, and targeted at Battle River—Crowfoot. If you're in one of the swing ridings, your vote matters a lot.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Vote anyway

The chances your vote will decide the election are pretty small. Multiply that by the difference between electing an MLA you prefer and someone else. The marginal benefit for casting a ballot is vanishingly small.

If that's the extent of your calculations, you'll pretty quickly recognize that voting is a waste of energy. A twenty minute nap would probably do more for your long term well being.

The voting system we have is mostly a legacy system we have whose chief benefit is that it's easy to count. Its downsides are many, including that it 'wastes' most of the votes.
What's worse, the system itself encourages you to lie. People talk about "Strategic Voting" but it's really just lying on the election, and that only helps because an inefficient system makes that the best approach to a bad situation.

Any rational elector whose favourite candidate is unlikely to win will instead cast their ballot for a candidate they can tolerate 'with a chance'. But that's a guessing game.
There are lots of better systems that can take into account a nuanced, educated electorate. They can get more information out of the ballots and create a Legislative Assembly more closely aligned with the objectives of the people they represent.

Alberta is a complex province and deserves a legislature which adequately reflects that complexity. The electoral system is lousy, but it's the one we have. Electoral reform would be nice, but that won't happen before Tuesday.

Vote anyway.