Electoral Systems

In class, we learned about elections, electoral systems and political parties. In chapter 10 in the textbook, we come across the idea that different electoral systems will be more or less effective in fulfilling different functions. It illustrates that the importance of electoral systems is that it “sets the rules for determining how individual votes are translated into legislative seats”. We also learn that they “shape electoral strategies, electoral outcomes and voter behaviour”.

I came across an interesting news article that portrays the idea of electoral systems:

“A simulated election that examined different voting methods during last week’s Ontario election shows that for at least some voters, how they cast their ballot depends on the voting system presented to them.

The intention of the project was to inform voters about the differences of the three systems studied: first-past-the-post (FPTP), alternative vote (AV) and proportional representation.

Most participants kept their choices consistent regardless of the voting system they were using. However, many switched their votes when using different systems. For example, 12 per cent of voters ranked a different party as their top choice in the AV system than the one they voted for in the FPTP election. A total of 18 per cent supported a different party under the PR system than they did when voting under an FPTP system.

This in turn shows that an influential aspect of voting exist in that people are aware of each voting system and respond to them differently. It seems to be an interesting outcome because different electoral systems will impact on the decision of some voters. This may be due to the reason that people assess “how well elections perform their purported functions” Different voting systems thus may give very different results, particularly in cases where there is no clear majority preference, for instance. Different electoral systems have different forms for allowing the individual to express his or her vote, which we learn from this article that it also affects the outcome.

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