The Alternative Vote (or AV for short) is a type of electoral system that aims to reduce the amount of wasted votes. It is a majoritarian system which means that for a party to win the election it must get over 50% of the vote.

How it Works

The country is divided into single member constitiuencies and each party puts up a candidate for each of these constituencies (or seats as they are often known in Britain). When it comes to election time, the voters mark on their ballot papers a list of candidates in their order of preference. So the candidate they would most like to win they put on the top and the candidate they would like to get in the least they would place at the bottom (if they were revulsed by the idea of a certain candidate getting into the seat they could just leave him/her out of their list). The voter doesn't need to use all of the candidates in their list if he/she doesn't want to. They could vote for only two people or for only one. It is also still possible to abstain (or spoil the ballot paper).

All the first choices are then counted up. If there is no candidate who gains a clear majority at this point then the candidate scoring the lowest of the first choices is eliminated and this candidates other preferences (those preferences that appear after the candidate in the voter's list) are added to the previous first choices of the other candidates. This results in the first choices being different and hopefully somone now should have over 50% of the overall votes. If not then the lowest candidate is again eliminated and their alternate choices are added onto the other candidates first choices.