This is our third blog post summarizing the arguments Prof. John Carey makes in his affidavit on how proportional voting systems contribute to enhancing democracy. In our previous two posts, we told you how he characterizes inclusive voting as “multi-winner”, as opposed to our current single-winner system, and how he argues that single-winner systems distort outcomes, undermine democracy, and result in idiosyncratic and perverse election outcomes.
Prof. Carey also makes some arguments about diversity, saying that “PR systems on average produce higher levels of women’s representation, and therefore greater gender equity in elected office. They also facilitate higher levels of representation than FPTP for racial, ethnic, religious, and linguistic minority groups. And PR permits representation of greater ideological diversity.” Dr. Karen Bird makes these arguments in her affidavit and we'll be sharing details soon.
Multi-Winner Systems Make Votes Count, Voters More Satisfied:
Carey’s next major section addresses voter participation, citizen engagement and satisfaction with democracy. He notes that “Political scientists have long posited that multi-winner systems promote greater citizen participation -- as voters, but also as volunteers, canvassers, and among civic groups -- than in single-winner systems like FPTP. The logic behind this theory is simple: participation is a time-consuming activity and citizens want to feel that their vote counts.” With proportional voting, they do feel this way because “both the motivation to cast a ballot, and to vote sincerely (rather than strategically) is stronger in multiple-winner systems than in single-winner systems.” And the mechanism is simple - in proportional systems, voters can help their preferred candidate or party win seats no matter what share of the vote they have; all seats are competitive, “which motivates voter engagement and participation”, and he further notes that “the empirical evidence overwhelmingly backs this theory,” resulting in both greater voter turnout and greater satisfaction.
As Carey summarizes, “Voter participation levels are higher in PR than in FPTP systems on average. Citizens in multiple-winner systems, including those who support candidates and parties who do not form government, also exhibit higher levels of aggregate satisfaction with democracy.”
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