Strategic Voting Never Works

David Weber (@DavidWeberGreen), Green Party candidate for Kitchener South — Hespeler tweets:

Strategic voting has never got anyone what they want in any past election. Neither has vote swapping, or coordinated voting, or asking parties to remove their candidates from swing ridings. If any of these things worked, they would be endorsed by the parties themselves.

Strategic voting, also known as tactical voting or insincere voting, means that you vote for the candidate most likely to defeat the candidate you like least, instead of voting for the candidate who will best represent you. Strategic voting has never been shown to work in any election that I know of. If there is an election upset in a riding it is never attributed to strategic voting, but always to a “protest vote”.

Vote swapping is making a promise with someone in another riding that if they vote for the candidate of the party you like, you will vote for the candidate of the party they like. In theory, this means the popular vote for the parties stays the same. But Canada does not have proportional representation, so this does not work. It only ensures that you don’t vote for the candidate who will best represent you. And Canada has a secret ballot, so there’s no assurance that the other person will vote as promised, anyway.

Coordinated voting is like vote swapping on steroids. A large group of people in a riding disclose their party affiliation, then they all pledge to vote for the candidate of the most popular party in order to defeat the candidate they like least. Again, this won’t elect the candidate who will best represent you. And there’s still a secret ballot, so you’ll never know if the others in the group kept their promise.

And when one party “cooperates” with another party by not running a candidate in order to avoid splitting the vote, it just deprives the electorate of the choice to vote for that party. You’ll never be able to vote for the candidate who will best represent you if that candidate is not allowed to run. I’m not sure how you can possibly cast an effective vote in this case — move to a different riding? That’s a high price for democracy.

Everyone should vote for the candidate who will best represent them. That’s the way to get the government you want. Strategic voting is not.


Bob Jonkman (he/him/his)

About Bob Jonkman (he/him/his)

Bob Jonkman is a former Green Party of Canada candidate. He ran in Brantford-Brant for the 2019 federal election, and in Kitchener-Conestoga for the 2018 provincial and 2015 federal elections. Follow in the #Fediverse (Mastodon, Pleroma, Friendica, PeerTube, &c).
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