Make Votes Matter
Britain is heading to the polls for the third time in four years. Millions will cast their votes, but not all votes are equal! Why votes don’t count for more than half of all electors?
All voters are equal, but some are more equal than others! The politicians’ dirty little secret is - for most of us, our votes don’t count!
In a democracy, we the people decide who’s in power, so for Britain’s upcoming General Election, everyone is encouraged to vote. But the truth is three quarters of the 650 parliamentary seats will not change hands. They never change hands. They are safe seats with huge majorities, held virtually in perpetuity, by Labour or the Conservatives.
If you live in one of those constituencies and don’t like the local ruling party… too bad. You might as well put your ballot in the bin.
In the last election, in 2017, only 70 parliamentary seats - that’s 11% - got a new MP from a different party.
This time, the battleground is in 169 marginal constituencies, where the present MP has a majority of less than 10% of the votes cast.
Here, there’s a viable chance of the seat changing hands, but only if people vote tactically for the party most likely to beat the candidate they don’t want to win.
This cynical and negative approach to voting is the inevitable consequence of the first-past-the-post system.
In my view, there is only one good thing about the current system… generally it delivers a clear winner… a party with an overall majority in parliament, able to form a stable government… which is absolutely necessary.
However, there are better ways to secure stable government, such as directly electing a Prime Minister, with a clear separation of powers between the executive and legislature.
We need to do this because our voting system is in disrepute and contributing to declining trust in democratic institutions.
Here’s what I suggest… a ranked choice system of voting for MPs. Instead of putting an X next to one candidate, we mark our first choice and second choice candidate.
All the first choice votes are counted and if anyone has more than 50%, he or she is elected.
If no one has reached this milestone, the least popular candidate is eliminated and his second choice votes are allocated.
This process is repeated until a winner is found.
The ranked choice system allows us to vote with our heart on the first choice, choosing the candidate we really believe in; and then we can vote with our head, tactically on the second choice, choosing the least worst option among the other parties.
The outcome likely will be a House of Commons, where no party has a majority, and smaller parties are better represented.
We can also count all the first preference votes cast and use this to create a perfectly pro rata, National Assembly to replace the unelected House of Lords.
This would do something to restore faith in democracy, ensuring every vote really does count.