Saturday, 4 June 2011

Referism- Multiple or Weighted Votes

I've posted before about Referism, Richard North's excellent idea to return power to the individual from the politicians. I'm in favour of it but .... today's post proposes a system of weighted votes intended to balance out the wishes of those who benefit from government expenditure in favour of those who pay most in.

Dr North proposes that voters would have up to ten votes, depending on their marital status, children, payment of income tax, business ownership, education, voluntary work, age etc. Presumably, this would ensure that proponents of big government, tax and spend, progressive taxation as a tool for economic redistribution would be dwarfed by small businessmen and women eager to pare away every last penny of public expenditure to the minimum. Unfortunately, I can think of at least a dozen people off the top of my head who would qualify for ten votes who depend solely on contract work from the Civil Service for their livelihoods. I, on the other hand, in my present circumstances, would be stuck with one vote. And I consider that government spending ought to be reduced and spent more wisely.

Better than giving extra votes is a requirement that prospective voters are able to demonstrate a basic understanding of public finances and the concept of difficult choices. A quick, thirty question multiple choice paper marked by computer would soon separate fiscal realists from Cameroon "I'm borrowing money for foreign aid 'cos of Sir Bob" on the one hand and "free market" capitalist skinflints who object to paying for streetlights they don't actually use on the other. The questions would be set at a commonsense level that anyone who kept abreast of current affairs could pass without preparation, but training courses in English, Welsh and BSL only plus internet pages would be available for those uncertain to brush up their civics. Better decisions are made when better information is available.

We would therefore retain the one-person-one-vote system demanded by the Chartists that works simply enough.  Adopting a multiple or weighted vote system would be too difficult for local authorities to administer (my annual registration form for the electoral roll was received but not inputted onto the system a few years ago, causing me to lose my right to vote in the Council election that year despite my circumstances being the same as the previous year when I was on the roll) and to open to gerrymandering, fraud and fixing. As Josef Stalin said "It's not how many votes that counts, it's who counts the votes."

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