I do think it's wrong-headed to look at this from a point of view of public education. What do people need to know about voting systems? I often tell people that selling a voting system is like selling a car. People need to know about the performance; they don't need to look under the hood. Very few people look under the hood when they buy a car.
We seem to have this idea that somehow voters need to be electoral officers who can explain the mechanics of a system. Certainly our media is obsessed about that, so I would say, yes, the evidence from previous referendums suggests that if you go the referendum route, you will basically be setting up a situation for it to fail because the evidence that we have from previous referendums is that voters will say, “I don't understand what you're asking me. I'm not an expert in this. I'm just going to say no because I haven't really a clue what's going on.” That's what the results are.
The research shows that people didn't reject the other voting system reforms because they didn't like the options: they rejected them because they said they didn't even know a referendum was going on and they didn't really understand what the issues were.
I do think there is a role for expertise. I think that the combination of partisanship.... I don't have a problem with partisanship, frankly, because I think that in a democracy people are allowed to disagree, and that's a good thing, and parties play a crucial role in mobilizing the public around different issues. However, as I say, the public uses parties as a proxy for their own intimate knowledge. We can't expect them to be expert in all these things. They're busy. They have lives. What they do is they say, “Yes, I trust that party. They seem to be upset about this, so maybe I want some more answers.” By contrast, if the parties are fine with the change, then the voters will be fine with the change too.