Simultaneous Tactical Voting

I want preference voting not so much because of its theoretical virtues so much as a way to avoid the stress of tactical voting. Bad enough trying to decide which candidate you prefer, without having to second-guess how everyone else will vote in order to transfer your single vote to the candidate with the best chance of actually winning.

To ease the transition to prefernce voting in British elections I would propose making it optional. Something like the following:

Mark your preferred candidate with a cross X or the figure 1 in the box next to their name.

You may in addition mark with the figures 2, 3, 4, etc., a candidate or candiates to transfer your vote to if your preferred candidate cannot win

In other words deviating from strict ranking as follows:

  1. Preferred candidate can be marked with X insetad of a 1
  2. Do not require all candidates to be ranked (your vote is wasted if no ranked candiates remain)

The idea beaing to allow someone who has not received the memo to vote as if for first-pasth-the-post and for it to have the same meaning as before.

In the spirit of Postel’s Law we can allow further unadvertised slackness:

  1. Repeat rankings
  2. Skip a rank
  3. Use figure 1 as well as X (for different candidates on the same ballot), taken as X being preferred over 1
  4. Cross out a name (drawing a penis over them counts)

This is tricker because it means the ballot now presents a sequence of sets of equivalently-preferred candidates. Here is how I think an instant-runoff count would work with paper ballots.

There is a list, initially empty, of eliminated candidates. This is shared by all counters.

  1. For each ballot:
  2. After all ballots are processed (and there is not a majority winner yet), distribute the set-aside ballots each to the pile for the candidate with the most votes so far.
  3. If there is not a candidate with a majority, the candidate with fewest votes is eliminated and repeat from step 1,