Sunday, June 25, 2023

Toronto Mayoral Election

I saw via the BBC that there are over 100 candidates, including a dog, running for Toronto mayor. Despite looking at a couple of sites that claimed to cover everything one might need to know, I struggled to find the voting system involved. The site just linked mentions that a candidate could win with just 20% of the vote. In fact, it seems that the election uses first past the post - at least, according to Wikipedia, though no citation is given. This means that, in theory, one candidate could win with just 1% of the vote.

FPTP seems pretty undesirable when there are this many candidates. However, while some form of instant run-off could overcome some problems, it would also be burdensome on voters to rank all of the candidates.

Monday, June 12, 2023

Abortion is illegal in the UK

Much of the news coverage around abortion concerns the battle over Roe v Wade in the US. It is relatively low profile in the UK. However, a woman has just been sentenced to 28 months in jail for taking pills, when between 32 and 34 weeks pregnant.

I don't know anything about this case, other than the news report linked above, but Labour MP Stella Creasy is quoted as saying "contrary to what some claim, abortion is not legal in England - and you can be prosecuted for having one".

It concludes with another quotation, from Mandu Reid (leader of the Women's Equality Party), saying "The laws that convicted her [the 1861 Offences Against the Person Act] are archaic and date back to the Victorian era, before women had the vote". 

This seems a slightly odd statement. It's true that the law pre-dates women's suffrage, but of course no one currently alive had the vote back then. Further, women have now had the vote for the last hundred years, so it's not as if there hasn't been opportunity for change.

Generally speaking though, older laws command more respect than newer ones, because they've stood the test of time. Later generations could repeal them if they wanted to, but haven't seen the need to do so. This suggests that they're happy with the laws as they are. (I think Hobbes says something along these lines, but can't be bothered to look it up right now.)