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Poll proof binary voting inaccurate

Last Thursday's EU poll has shown that binary voting can be inadequate and inaccurate.

The methodology is also divisive, so, all but inevitably, campaigning was adversarial; secondly, in the vote itself, while many people voted positively, lots only said what they were against. So, maybe a multi-option ballot would have been required. Such "positive thinking" could well have been the catalyst for a more constructive debate.

And now accuracy. Well, the average "age of a people" cannot be determined by a majority vote. Indeed, with a binary question like "Are you young or old?", the answer is bound to be wrong.

With a 10-option choice, however - "Are you in your twenties, thirties, or whatever?" - with everyone voting positively, an accurate answer could indeed be ascertained "democratically".

A similar principle should apply when trying to determine the "will of the people". The ballot paper should have had a set of options.

When New Zealand debated its electoral system in 1992 an independent commission drew up a short list - FPTP, PR-STV and three in the middle - and the resulting referendum contained five options.

So, (almost) everyone was able to vote positively and the outcome was, indeed, a much more accurate reflection of the collective will.


Director, the de Borda Institute

Belfast Telegraph Digital


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