VOTING REFORM AGAIN ON THE CARDS
MISUNDERSTOOD, mathematically complicated but undoubtedly fairer
Published February 8th 2005 in Isle of Man Today
That was how some experts in electoral reform described the Island's decade-long dalliance with proportional representation.

Now Local Government and the Environment Minister John Rimington is calling for a return to the single transferable vote, 10 years after it was scrapped.

STV allows people to vote for candidates in order of preference, so when a voter's first choice is eliminated from a contest, the vote can be transferred to the second choice.

Supporters say it means those elected can claim to have a greater share of the vote than those under the existing first past the post system.

It also guards against candidates winning through on the narrowest of margins, but it is notoriously difficult to administer, with election counts sometimes lasting through into the early hours.

It was first introduced as an amendment to the Representation of the People Act in 1982 and was used for the House of Keys general elections of 1986 and 1991.

Its demise was assured in 1994, however, when a motion proposed by David Corlett MHK calling for a return to the first past the post system was carried in Tynwald.

Rushen MHK Mr Rimington believes there may now be the political will for its reintroduction but said he recognises STV is not without its failings.

He said: 'No system is perfect but I believe STV is a fairer system.

'There has been a lot of discussion over constitutional matters in recent months and years and a lot of members have said they support a return to STV.

'I think it is a fairer way of electing people, especially in an Island where we have constituencies of different sizes.

'In areas where there are many candidates, it protects somebody coming through on a split vote.'

But he added: 'I can understand people's reticence. It is complicated and there are issues of practicality.

'I'm bringing it forward so that members can decide whether we should go down this route or not.'

Mr Rimington said that with Tynwald backing, the system could be introduced in time for the next election in November 2006.

In the House of Keys today (Tuesday), he will move that leave be given to introduce a bill to amend voting law.