What Is AV?

18 April 2011, 13:26 | Updated: 3 May 2011, 15:37

Voting cards have been sent out for the referendum on 5th May to decide which voting system the UK uses - the current First Past The Post system, or the proposed Alternative Vote system.

But many people don't understand what they are voting for.

Read the article below for an easy-to-understand guide to the AV Vote.

Why are we having a vote?

As part of the coalition agreement, it was agreed to have a referendum over making changes to the voting system in the UK.

Currently, we use the First Past The Post (FPTP) system and it was proposed to change to the Alternative Vote (AV) system.

What's the difference?

Using the current FPTP system, you put an X next to your first choice on the ballot.

These votes are counted up and the person with the most is the winner.

Under AV, you will rate the candidates in order of preference, putting 1 next to your favourite, then 2 next to your second favourite and so on.

If a candidate gets more than 50% of they vote, they are elected.

If not, then the candidate with the fewest votes is eliminated and that person's second choice votes are allocated to the other candidates.

After this, if no candidate has 50% of the vote, the process repeats. This continues until one candidate has over 50%.

Why You Should Vote Yes

Voting yes will upgrade a 19th century system for the 21st century.

The Yes To Fairer Votes campaign says AV will force MPs to work harder to earn and keep your support, as they would need at least 50% of votes to be elected.

It would mean you would have a bigger say in who your local MP is, as if your favourite doesn't win, you can still have your say.

Why You Should Vote No

The Vote No to AV Campaign say that AV is costly, adding £250m to elections.

They also state it is a complex and unfair system, where the person elected could be the person that comes second or third.

It will also lead to more hung parliaments, meaning a increase in backroom deals and broken promises - and allowing politicians to decide who runs our country.