Argument #1 used against STV: It’s “too complicated”
Some sources using this argument:
Why the argument fails:
British Columbians should actually be offended at this argument and should be e-mailing the head of the “No STV” campaign to voice their offence.
This argument has as its major premise that STV is too complicated for the public to understand and, by extension, function properly. This argument suggests that British Columbians are dumber than the Irish, the Maltese, Australians and British voters in European Union elections since all of these countries have proven smart enough to use STV successfully and effectively in their elections. The only thing more boggling than the complete untenability of this argument is that somebody in the “NO STV” campaign actually thought it would be a good idea to insult the intelligence of British Columbians in such an obvious fashion.
Moreover, if we accept the argument that an electoral system has to be simple for it to work, then the electoral system in the United States would never have lasted as long as it has.
A brief backgrounder:
Americans vote in primary elections for a nominee for each party’s candidate for all major offices. In some states, open primaries are used and in other states, closed primaries are used. Also, in some other states a caucus is used instead of a primary and in Texas both caucuses and a primary are used. Also, two other exceptions to this rule are that the state of Nebraska has no formal political parties in the state legislature and the state of Louisiana has no separate primary elections, but instead has multiple members of each party run simultaneously during the general election and then uses run-off elections to determine the ultimate winner. Also, some states use run-off elections on an individual basis if the candidate does not secure at least 50% of the vote, while other states (such as Minnesota) do not.
For presidential elections, Americans don’t directly vote for their president. Instead the president is chosen by an “electoral college” of voters who are technically free to vote as they see fit, but in practise more or less vote along party lines. U.S. states are awarded electoral college seats based on the number of representatives plus number of Senators each state is awarded in the Congress (except for DC which has no senators and no full congressmen but is still awarded 3 electoral college seats). The exception afforded to DC for the electoral college, however, does not apply to other non-state U.S. territories such as the U.S. Virgin Islands or Guam (although they do vote in primary elections). However, some U.S. states award their electoral college seats in lump-sum to the winner of the State and others award U.S. electoral college seats based on the district-by-district performance of each candidate.
Using the logic of the “No STV” crowd, the American electoral system should have collapsed by 1798 under the weight of its own complexity. But instead, the U.S. system has proven remarkably stable with only relatively minor adjustments made over the years (such as the election of senators and changing the fashion with which the Vice-President was elected).
The last reason why the “too complicated” argument of the “No STV” side fails is that STV actually isn’t complicated at all. On the contrary, it’s actually relatively simple. As this video demonstrates, it can be explained in layman’s terms in about 90 seconds.