Why should I vote?

This is Anthony Tuffin’s evidence of 20 June 2014 on Voter Engagement to the Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee:

“1. You ask us, the public, why many people do not vote. I would rather ask you, MPs, why many of us should vote with the present voting system.

2. I live in the very safe Conservative constituency of Chichester, so why should I vote?

3. Based on recent election results for the constituency:

3.1. If I vote Conservative, I shall very marginally increase the Conservative majority in the constituency, but I shall not help to elect the Conservative candidate who will be elected even if I stay at home. Nor will I help to elect a Conservative Government.

3.2. If I vote Liberal Democrat, I shall very marginally decrease the Conservative majority in the constituency, but I shall not help to elect the Liberal Democrat candidate who will not be elected even if I do vote that way. Nor will I help to elect a Liberal Democrat Government.

3.3. If I vote Labour, I shall not even marginally decrease the Conservative majority in the constituency because Labour is in third place; I shall not help to elect the Labour candidate who will not be elected even if I do vote Labour. Nor will I help to elect a Labour Government.

4. The situation becomes more complicated if I allow for the recent increase in UKIP support and decrease in Liberal Democrat support:

4.1. If Labour replaces the Liberal democrats as runner-up, voting Labour instead of Liberal Democrat would very marginally decrease the Conservative majority in the constituency, but it would still not help to elect the Labour candidate or to elect a Labour Government.

4.2. It seems unlikely that there will be enough UKIP votes to elect a UKIP candidate but, if enough Conservative voters defect to UKIP and the Liberal Democrat vote holds up or increases, the Liberal Democrats could win the seat. In other words, the voters would have moved to the right and more against EU membership, but the MP would be to the left of the present one and more in favour of the EU!

5. In a marginal seat, there is strong motivation to vote if one supports one of the realistic contenders, but there is little motivation if one supports any other candidate.

6. So there is motivation for Liberal Democrat and Conservative supporters to vote in Sutton and Cheam but not for supporters of the Labour Party or other parties there:

6.1. Curiously, indeed bizarrely, if enough Liberal Democrat supporters defect to Labour, the Conservatives may win the seat. In other words, the voters would have moved to the left, but the MP would be to the right of the present one. Do you think that is what those Labour voters would want?

6.2. On the other hand, if enough Conservatives defect to UKIP, the constituency may become safer for the Liberal Democrats. Do you think that is what those UKIP voters would want?

7. So why should I vote with this voting system, which can produce such bizarre results and not reflect my political views or those of most voters?

8. If elections were by Single Transferable Vote (STV), these anomalies would not happen and more votes would become effective. I and others would be more motivated to vote.”

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