Letter: Votes that count

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The Independent Culture
Sir: The idea of making elections with a turnout of below 50 per cent invalid (letter, 29 November) is deeply flawed. In Italian referendums, which need a 50 per cent turnout for a majority in favour to be valid, the opposition simply encourages its supporters not to vote and so defeat a proposition that has far more supporters than opponents.

A far better solution for the problem of low turnouts would be to use the single transferable vote (STV) electoral system, in which very few votes are wasted.

Under the first-past-the-post system, elections in marginal seats normally have higher turnouts than in safe seats, as fewer people feel that voting is a waste of time.

STV allows voters to place candidates in order of preference and means that a majority on an elected body really is a majority. Surely coalition governments are better than the Poll Tax, rail privatisation and control- freakery.

DAVID NOWELL

St John's College,

Cambridge

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