Let me tell you a little story.

Last Christmas we were trying to choose a restaurant for our team Christmas do at work. We had a few ideas going around: Japanese, French, Italian, Mexican. After talking about them we decide it to put it to a vote in order to choose which one, but postponed the vote until a couple of team members were back from vacation.

Now, when the Christmas do is approaching, that’s mostly all you can talk about and people were expressing their preferences. Some people had a first and second favourite, some people had a particular favourite that they really wanted and didn’t care about the rest, some people passionately disliked one of the choices (not everyone fancies sushi for their Christmas meal!). The poor guy organising the vote started to get bombarded with all sorts of requests to change the voting system to accommodate all these preferences. Someone wanted to have a preference order on all options, someone didn’t want to have to do that but was happy with a first and second option and someone else wanted to be able to put a negative vote on the option he really hated as well as the positive one for the one he really wanted.

So we settled in the end to put a preference order on the 4 options. We would count the votes, take out the least preferred option, recount with the second preferences for those votes, and so on until there was a majority for a restaurant.

Now a couple of people realised that this would make it harder for them to get their choice. The Japanese fans were probably more likely to get their way if all the ones really wanting to avoid Japanese were split amongst other restaurants. A couple of them muttered something about it not being worth the effort and time to do a complicated vote like that. But for the most part it was obvious to everyone that this way we would choose what made most people most happy, and everyone was fine with that state of things. And the Christmas do was loads of fun.

Just something to think about ahead of the AV referendum.