Expensive counting machines necessary: bunkum!

The Palace of Westminster where the House of Commons and the House of Lords both sit.

There are many reasons being given in many places across the internet and print media why the British voter should not be voting Yes in the Referendum on the Voting System for the members of the House of Commons. However, one of them today caught my eye. On the Telegraph website, Daniel Hannan, has stated that

Under AV we won’t be able to count ballot papers by hand on election night if we want a quick, decisive election result. Local councils will have to purchase electronic counting machines that are very expensive and prone to malfunction.

However, I should like to point out to Mr Hannan that the Northern Ireland Assembly elections and elections to Northern Irish District Councils are counted by hand using the Single Transferable Vote – a system not dissimilar to the proposed Alternative Vote – and we have had no problem here in doing so. The only thing is that the count may take a few hours longer than that of the current system.

I fail to see what would be wrong with not knowing who the Member of Parliament for a particular constituency is for a few hours more. It is not as if the United Kingdom is left without a government. Her Majesty’s ministers continue in office until removed. There appears to be a race every general election to see who can declare the result quickest: this year the counts in Northern Ireland were coming in amongst the first for the first time in quite some time as a result of us finally deciding to start the counts immediately after polling had closed.

I begin to wonder if it would not be more sensible for all the results to be kept secret until all have been counted, and then announce them all at once. That way, it would stop the so-called pundits on election night speculating wildly on who has ‘won’ the election.

2 thoughts on “Expensive counting machines necessary: bunkum!

  1. Absolutely. In fact, it’s far easier than STV because you don’t have to distribute surpluses. Just eliminate candidates and add the 2nd preferences (etc) to the piles. Easy.

  2. Daniel Hannan says AV is bad “if we want a quick, decisive election result”.

    But who wants a quick decisive election result? Surely it is better to have a slightly slower election result that better represents the will of the people who voted? You could have a really quick decisive election result by pulling one ballot out at random and electing whatever that paper says.

    AV will give us a slightly slower result, but it will be a more representative result.

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