Voting dissatisfaction

There is probably more dissatisfaction with UK democracy than at any time since women first got the vote for parliamentary elections in 1918.

Unfortunately, it is spread across such a wide range of issues that it tends to be dissipated.

For example:

House of Lords reform seems long overdue, but is reforming the revising chamber really more urgent than electing the main legislative body democratically so it actually represents the voters?

There are arguments for and against votes at 16, but is there really much point giving votes to 16 and 17 year olds in the 70% of constituencies which are so safe that their votes will be wasted, just like the votes of their parents and grandparents are?

There is understandable concern about people not registering to vote, but many of them may have decided not to register because they know their votes will not be effective. There is some debate about this on http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=10914 where another contributor and I have asked why people should register when the chances are their votes will have absolutely no effect. The same applies to making voting easier with online voting, voting at any polling station, weekend voting etc.

Some think the solution is to have “None Of The Above” (NOTA) on the ballot paper and there is even a NOTA organization now, but its supporters totally miss two vital points.

The first is that one or more of the candidates may be perfectly acceptable or even ideal as potential MPs (so you could not vote NOTA) but they have no chance of election in a safe constituency. The second is that NOTA would not have given Liberal Democrat voters the representation they earned in 2010 and would not give UKIP voters the representation they are forecast to earn this May. If you visit http://www.democraticaudit.com/?p=10733#comment-59132 you can see some debate about this and join in if you wish.

The fundamental problem is that the present voting system is unrepresentative of voters’ wishes, restricts voter choice and makes most votes ineffective. Only the Single Transferable Vote (STV) can solve all these problems. Reformers should concentrate on that first.

After STV has been established, it may be worth considering some of the other changes that have been suggested.

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