For the purposes of this question, I'll focus on the STV alternative voting system.

America uses a First Past the Post system along with its Electoral College to decide the President. However, in some cases, this results in some problems, most notably including the spoiler effect as well as requiring voters to strategize too much about how others are going to vote instead of just voting for their favourite candidate. In spite of this, it's not switched to some of the better voting systems such as the Alternative Vote and Single Transferable Vote.

Why? Are there any practical difficulties with introducing them?

  • 3
    The most practical difficulty is that the people who have the power to change the system have been elected through the current system, which means that they probably have benefitted from it and are in no hurry to change it for a system that maybe is not so favorable to them.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 10, 2016 at 8:45
  • @SJuan76 But many other countries somehow managed to introduce electoral reforms...
    – michau
    Nov 10, 2016 at 8:48
  • 1
    @michau It is a difficulty, not an impossibility. Have enough people support a change of the electoral system and the parties will begin considering supporting the changes.
    – SJuan76
    Nov 10, 2016 at 8:55
  • @SJuan76 So is the answer simply lack of awareness/support?
    – naiveai
    Nov 10, 2016 at 8:59
  • 1
    For those ignorant folks like me, would you mind defining "FPTP" and "STV"
    – Michael J.
    Nov 10, 2016 at 12:51

1 Answer 1


For simplicity's sake I'm only talking about the US Presidential election, but you can apply the same logic to anything else

I think the biggest challenge to changing the US voting system (or any other nation-wide decision) is not some legal or logistical issue. I think its convincing the broader population that your solution is the better solution. Its not enough to just say 'I think this sucks, my solution is better and here is some math to prove it.' You need convince the majority of the people that this is both better and worth the transition cost.

That's not as simple as it sounds. There are downsides to Alternative Vote (some of which are described here, here and here) and Single Transferable Vote (look here, here and here) are not purely better than first past the post. Not to mention that the more rules and complications you add to your voting procedure the further way you get from a 'pure' democracy.

Plus there is a transition cost. I think its not unreasonable to say that the dollar cost for changing our voting infrastructure, professional training, machinenery and software, voter information and training, laws and regulations, etc is going to cost in the billions. Thats a lot of money, and its all going to be coming out of your taxes. You have to convince your fellow constituents that this is a worthy investment.

  • 'worth the transition cost' - maybe i don't understand logistics, but how is this not logistical please? i think i would understand if you instead said 'not some legal issue but a logistical issue'. idk.
    – BCLC
    Dec 16, 2021 at 9:27

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