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30 April, 2005

Make my vote count

I don't read the Guardian for the columnists; I rarely agree with the opinions and politics of people like George Monbiot and Polly Toynbee, so usually just stick to the news reports (whilst allowing for potential bias in them too, of course).  However, yesterday's piece by Ms. Toynbee does make some good points about a subject in which I'm becoming increasingly interested, perhaps even concerned: electoral reform.

I've been eligible to vote for 15 years, so the imminent general election will be the fourth in which I've participated, and the first in which my choice has been uncertain, and I'm far from alone.
Here in Lancaster, as in many constituencies, there's a negligible chance that a party I'd vaguely consider supporting could actually win the seat, whilst if I don't vote for a party I wouldn't ordinarily support, a party I couldn't conceive of supporting is more likely to win.
I'm trapped by the 'first past the post' system, whereas proportional representation (preferably the STV system; I'm less sure about AV+) would eliminate this negative voting trap, provide greater diversity of candidates, and lead to the election of candidates achieving genuine majorities. In the 2001 election, 57% of Lancastrian voters didn't vote for the winning party.

Hence, I've added a new link on the main page of the blog, to 'Make My Vote Count', the coalition campaigning for a more representative voting system.
In the mean time, there's always, which has been described as "do-it-yourself proportional representation".
Note that though the first is a cross-party group, the latter is unashamedly partisan. Irrespective of whether you support their specific objective (i.e. coordination of the anti-Tory vote), I'd urge all voters, especially but not only those in the UK, to familiarise themselves with the alternative electoral systems.


You may be interested to watch the upcoming election here in British Columbia, on May 17. We're having a referendum on whether to adopt STV.

The referendum follows on a Citizen's Assembly on Electoral Reform, which recommended a switch to STV about a year ago. Unfortunately, the threshold of success is quite high: 60% of the votes cast, and at least a majority in at least 60% of the constituencies. If the STV option succeeds, it will be in place for the 2009 election.

The politicians are keeping remarkably quiet about the referendum so far, although several of the pundits who are former backroom politicos have (predictably) come out against STV. The next couple of weeks should be interesting.

Posted by Jon. at May 2, 2005 05:10 PM
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