You have many questions...
Heart and Head is a new voting system so it is understandable that you have many questions about how it works. Here is our best effort at explaining some of the details. If your question isn't here, send us an email and we'll try to answer it.
Answers for Citizens
Does this change the way I cast my vote?
You can still vote with an Ⓧ like before. To vote using preferences you write a ① for your first preference (your heart vote) and a ② for your second preference (your head vote). This is much simpler than most proportional representation systems.
Can we give more than two preferences when voting?
Voting three preferences, or even filling in all ballot circles with numbers is a valid vote, but only the ① and ② will be used in the counting process. That is, it doesn't spoil your ballot but it doesn't affect the counting either.
If it isn't broken, why are you trying to fix it?
Our current voting system (called FPTP) was not designed for and is not well suited to a multi-party country. See the section on FPTP Problems.
Why is it called "Heart and Head"?
"Heart" and "head" are metaphors for emotion and reason.
Your heart vote (voted as a ①) is the candidate that you really want to win in your electoral district. Your head vote (voted as a ②) is your second choice — in case your first choice is eliminated during the counting process.
How much is this going to cost?
A preliminary estimate is that this changeover can be accomplished for less than $50 million dollars, or about $3 per voter.
Will there be a referendum on this?
Yes. The intention is that Heart and Head voting will be tried once without a referendum. The government will operate for one parliament using the weighted voting. Then, at the next election, a referendum will be held to confirm or repeal the use of Heart and Head voting.
Is this a partisan website and idea?
We are trying to be non-partisan. We review all material with an eye towards being as unbiased as possible.
Answers for Members of Parliament
Will the number of Members of Parliament change?
The number of MPs is unaffected by Heart and Head.
Do the electoral districts (ridings) change?
Neither the size, quantity, or boundaries of the electoral districts is changed by Heart and Head.
Are all MP votes done using the weightings?
All votes in the Commons that are for bills that affect citizens will use weighted voting. In those parliamentary committees where MPs are representing their parties (rather than their constituents), MPs will still have one vote per person.
What if an MP resigns from parliament?
The voting weights for all MPs from that party are recalculated.
What if an MP switches political parties (i.e. "crosses the floor")?
The voting weights would be recalculated with the same popular vote but with a change in the number of party MPs. (A gain of one MP for one party and a loss of one for the other.)
Answers for Political Scientists
How does it affect the frequency of majority governments?
Majority governments will be less common. FPTP tended to exaggerate the strength of the winning party relative to the party's true popular vote.
Is mandatory voting a part of this?
No. Voting is a privilege and a choice. By eliminating strategic voting it is hoped that more voters will participate in elections.
What if an Independent candidate wins a seat?
Independent MPs are treated exactly like a political party with one MP. Because their nationwide popular vote will be small, most of their voting power will come from being an elected MP.
What happens after a by-election?
The voting weights for all MPs are recalculated. For the by-election electoral district, the new popular vote replaces the popular vote from the previous election.
Will there be separate regional and proportional MPs?
No, all MPs are directly elected by citizens and are "regional" MPs as in our current voting system.
Do the parties get to choose MPs from a list that they provide?
No, all MPs are directly elected by citizens.
Does it give power to fringe groups?
An emphatic no. A party has to win an election in an electoral district to get any votes in the Commons.
Will it guarantee women and minority MPs?
No, it does not. Studies¹ show that the major driver for the over-representation of Caucasian male MPs is the party selection of candidates, not voter preferences. This problem should be solved by the parties' candidate nomination processes, not by the national voting system.
Will it help MPs to be more cooperative?
Possibly. Once it becomes apparent to the MPs that majority governments are unlikely they may begin to cooperate with other parties as they will need their support, even after the next election. This has happened in other countries that introduced proportional representation.
How much proportionality does it provide?
We are currently recommending 60% as this produces a Gallagher's Index of less than 5 (as recommended by the Special Committee on Electoral Reform²) for the 2015 election. The actual proportionality is up for discussion.
The amount of proportionality in Heart and Head is a number (a proportionality constant) in the calculation of the weighted party votes. Most countries use between 33% and 75%. Smaller numbers have the issues of FPTP. Very high numbers mean citizens are only voting for the party and not for the person who will become their MP.
In theory, by adjusting the proportionality constant after an election Heart and Head could even support a Gallagher's Index of exactly 5 for every election (although this is not our recommendation).
Will computers be needed to count the vote?
Computers are not needed for the general election. Heart and Head has been carefully designed so that polling clerks and returning officers can count the vote using only paper forms.
In Parliament, a computer system for counting MP votes during free votes would be desirable. These are not secret ballots so there is no danger of undetected hacking.
Why are there 1000 votes in the Commons?
The number of votes in the Commons is an arbitrary number chosen for convenience. It could be 100, 338, 1000, or a much larger number.
Using a small number such as 100 would give an MP an average of 0.296 votes. This is less than the one vote they had before which might create a perception issue for the MPs.
Choosing 338 gives MPs an average of one vote but perhaps as few as 0.8, which might also seem like a step down for some MPs.
Using a large number such as 100,000 (296 votes per MP) eliminates the need for fractions of votes but creates very large vote counts that are difficult to personally relate to.
Using 1000 strikes a balance, although 338 (i.e. equal to the number of MPs), may also be suitable.