Different countries, organizations, and groups use different voting systems to manage elections and referendums. These voting systems determine how polls are conducted and results counted. One of the most popular voting systems in the world is the single transferable vote (STV). It’s a voting system that allows voters to choose their most preferred candidates for various vacancies.
Unlike other voting systems, the STV voting system allows every voter to rank all candidates based on their preference and votes to be transferred when necessary instead of wasting them. By transferring votes, the system helps to refine elections, creating a sense of proportionality. In this voting system, each voter chooses their most preferred candidate and other secondary preferences. Electionbuddy offers customers the option to cast their votes via an online, digital, or paper ballot when using STV or any other voting system.
The vote goes to the first preference on the ballot and if the first preference has been eliminated, the vote is transferred to the second most preferred candidate. In some instances, the transferable votes are allocated fractionally to different contenders. The winner must attain the required quota. So, what are the advantages of a single transferable vote?
Under this voting system, very few votes are wasted because once a candidate is eliminated, their votes are transferred to a different candidate based on their ranking on the ballot. In short, very few votes are cast for a losing candidate or a run-away winner. Therefore, most voters will feel represented by the winning candidate because they voted for them. This increases the winner’s accountability in their service because they know they are accountable to a lot of people.
With the STV system, the competing parties are encouraged to present candidates that are likely to appeal to the largest number of voters. Therefore, it’s very easy to have polls with balanced teams of candidates. With this kind of formation, minority groups such as women, youth, and people with disabilities, get a chance to be represented at the polls. In other voting systems, parties tend to overlook the minority groups.
The STV system allows voters to select multiple candidates for various positions, which assures them that their issues will be fully represented. Even if your most preferred candidate doesn’t win, your secondary preference stands a chance of winning. In other words, the electorate enjoys proportional representation through single transferable voting. This also means that voters will have various representatives to choose from whenever they want certain issues addressed. Moreover, competition among the representatives will result in good service delivery as they try to outshine each other.
Under the single transferable system, there are no secure vacancies. Therefore, candidates cannot afford to be complacent. They have to rally their party members to campaign everywhere and talk to all voters. This means that the views of every voter will be heard and represented. On the other hand, voters get to meet and interact with every candidate so that they can make a well-informed decision when voting.
Under the STV system, unfavorable candidates have zero chances of winning because they are likely to be eliminated in the first round of voting. For instance, if most voters dislike a certain candidate, they will choose them as their last option, which is likely going to result in their elimination. This also reduces the chances of certain unpopular candidates attempting to cheat their way into important positions of leadership.
Since all candidates have to seek the top preference voting spot, each of them knows that their reputation is on the line. So, every candidate will campaign diligently to avoid negative publicity. This promotes clean politics and campaigns. The STV system also does away with the need for tactical balloting, which at times brings chaos and confusion.
With the STV system, the connection between the electorate and the candidates is stronger and more refined because the candidates have to campaign and work on a personal level. The electorate’s response reflects how the community feels and who they support.
The STV system encourages the formation of strong parties and more inclusive coalitions because parties want to make every voter feel represented. The system also plays an important role in the formation of post-election coalitions. It also offers incentives for inter-party mechanisms through the mutual exchange of preferences.
The single transferable vote system gives independent candidates a better chance because the electorate chooses between candidates, not parties. Therefore, an independent candidate can easily win an election as long as they reach the quota.
In summary, the STV system prevents wastage of votes by transferring them to alternative candidates based on their ranking on the ballot. It also offers proportional representation, giving substantial minority groups an opportunity to be represented. This means that no single party or constituency can occupy all the positions in a district.