The Electoral Reform Society (ERS) has produced a report on the general election. It’s subtitled, “Volatile Voting, random results.” First Past the Post (FPTP) claims to be designed to deliver Governmental stability, but in the last three elections, it has failed to do this twice. Furthermore it exaggerates local & regional differences, e.g. Scotland, Wales and the SE, where the leading parties margin of victory in terms of seats is higher than it’s vote warrants and the losers are under-represented. In this article, I have summarised what I see as the main themes and illustrated what ERS believe to be the impact of implementing a fairer voting system. I also make the point that different systems will cause different behaviour and I finish with a look at Germany’s PR system and a call for smaller constituencies in the belief that it will lead to a better relationship between MPs and their electors.
Tag Archives: voting
Polly Toynbee in the Guardian today bemoans the low turn out and the perceived ‘rotten borough’ nature of Britain’s parliamentary democracy. Among her arguments she suggests voting should be made easier by allowing people to use their mobile phones.
I have commented; because identifying oneself to government, counting elections and guaranteeing the secrecy of the ballot are the last things we should hand over to proprietary, closed software. Digital activists have come to the conclusion that even counting election results by scanned paper ballots is undesirable and where it is done in this country, a sample based manual verification is undertaken. I presented the argument that the regulator’s code must be open to the @labourdigital Top of the Manifestos event.
The Guardian reports that the electoral commission have announced that they propose to extending proof of identity checks at the polling station from Northern Ireland to the rest of the UK. This has been a while coming. I reviewed Mike Buckley’s Banana Republic UK, in which he argued that, proof of Identity should be presented when voting and/or applying for a postal vote,
identity checks should be undertaken when applying for inclusion on the electoral roll & postal votes should be restricted to those who have a need. His arguments also strongly suggest that judicial scrutiny of contested or suspicious results should be easier to start.
Late last year, I read Banana Republic UK, which I reviewed here…. We should all be familiar with the dire turnout in the Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) elections, and a comment by Joanna Baxter made me consider what proportion of the PCC elections were cast by postal ballot. Since the postal vote is the most vulnerable part of our voting system, as it becomes more pervasive, the vulnerabilities become more important; the election becomes less safe.
How easy would it be to steal an election in the UK? Over the break, I read “Banana Republic UK?” by Sam Buckley. In it, he argues that that it’s too easy to rig and steal elections in the UK, and that this has been compounded by the then Labour Government’s decision in 2000 to allow postal votes on demand as an attempt to increase voter participation. He reviews process of legal review of elections, illustrates the difficulty and cost of starting and winning such a review. He then looks firstly at the specific review of two wards in Birmingham in 2004, which led to the elections being voided and a number of individuals being disqualified from standing for public office because they had corrupted the postal votes. Those disqualified were members of the Labour Party; Buckley balances this by exploring a review of elections in Slough where supporters of the Conservative candidate were convicted of rigging the election by placing non eligible voters on the electoral roll. The constraints on who can request an election court, the burden of proof and the time limits make it hard for the Police to participate in ensuring that vote rigging doesn’t occur. They can prosecute wrong doers, but cannot void the election.
So it seems that the next big Parliamentary drama is going to be House of Lords reform.
I was pounding the streets in Deptford with @VickyFoxcroft and @Joe_Dromey on Thursday, campaigning for Ken in his campaign to replace the Tory Johnson as Mayor for London.
Thanks to all the people I met, those who voted for Ken and the Labour Party, those who campaigned with me, and those who didn’t but remained polite.
It was a close run thing in the end, and I even had my hopes raised between 16:30 and 21:00 when what became three Labour “constituencies” had yet to declare but it wasn’t to be.
I met several people, who just cheered us on in Brockley, but also one in New Cross, who while saying he had voted for Ken, thought he needed,
to remember where he came from
and those who are still there. I did challenge him, as I personally recognise this criticism of many of Labour’s leaders, I didn’t think it included Ken Livingstone. I promised to repeat it, and I shall remember this advice when choosing our next candidate.
Tomorrow/Today we elect a Mayor and Council in London.
Labour’s candidate is Ken Livingstone, he is fighting to replace the right-wing tory, Boris Johnson.
I was planning to summarise my feelings but if you check out my internet spore, I think you know how I feel. Nicky Gavron, a GLA Assembly Member summarizes brilliantly, why Ken is right for London, and Johnson is wrong in her blog article, Ken v Boris.
The key powers of the Mayor are Transport, Police and Planning. Ken’ll reduce the fares, bring stability to the Police and use the planning powers in the interests of Londoners to build affordable housing.
Johnson will increase fares at above inflation, sack policemen and Comissioners and built 56 houses in the last six months.
There’s only one sensible choice. Vote Labour for London.
Should have been out on the #labourdoorstep tonight with people, but had family things to do. So I watched last night’s London Mayor debate on bbc iplayer.
I can’t believe that Boris stated the Thatcher Government had to abolish the GLC and that Ken’s original Fares Fair was in some period of pre-history. If he want the pensioner vote he’d better get his London history right, but then he’s not a Londoner. The comment/fact that Boris isn’t a man for detail shone through on the transport/police debates. He hasn’t a clue. He’s increased fares and cut the police. He claims that the money isn’t there to meet Ken’s Fare deal; only TfL who work for him say this, every independent expert says that its do-able. I hope so, every time I pass an oyster card reader, I am reminded of what Johnson’s making me pay.
This is a new blog post to check on the voting widgets.
It seems that #yes2av is #downthetoilet, but I was watching Twitter tonight and two tweets passed me by the first says,
“congratulations cameron, congratulations murdoch, your lies have denied the country a democracy. #yes2av #vote2011 #libdems #tories #labour”
and the second, which I can no longer find says something like
“Nick Clegg , you #fail HAHAHA etc….”
You get the idea. There is a very short term view here. I hope some of my Labour friends understand what they’ve done. It’s a huge mistake. First past the post is not democratic, it’s also not helpful to our cause.