How can it be better not to vote?

We were recently asked to comment on a YouTube video which promotes a logical fallacy:

To summarise then: in the video there is an election which three hundred people miss, but it turns out that their second choice won anyway.  If they had voted, the party which none of those three hundred chose at all would have won.

So my neutrally-asked, politely-debate-opening question is this: How is AV a fairer system if it can lead to situations where you are better off if you don’t vote at all?

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In this extremely contrived example, the greens feel they would be better served by the Democrat candidate if their first preference doesn’t get in, probably because they feel closer to the Democrats in policy.

However, the Democrats (as you can see from the numbers) seem to think they are closer to the Republicans in policy, so they prefer Republican as a second choice, not the Green. Not everyone sees party differences the same, or votes on the same issues.

In the first example, the lack of Green votes means that their candiate is eliminated first, and their second preferences decide the election – the Democrats win. In the second example, when those extra voters can be counted for the Greens, the Democrats are the first eliminated.

They don’t want the Greens to win, so their votes mostly go to the Republican, who prevents the Greens from winning.

Essentially, this video says that the Greens didn’t get their preference in the second example, because the majority of voters were happier to see a Democrat or Republican elected than a Green candidate.

That’s how democracy works – if more people don’t want your candidate, they don’t get elected. Sorry if that’s not your personal preference, but if we bowed to the preference of the fewest, we could call that a “tyranny of the minority” – FPTP is much better at delivering such results because splits in voting can deliver the election to a minority-supported candidate.

AV is a fairer system because it better represents the views of the whole electorate. The logical fallacy in this video is that your view (the 300 Greens in this case) is somehow more important the view of the entire electorate. Better off for a small group certainly does not equal fairer.

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