Three important electoral reform anniversaries are coming up for us to celebrate and the first and third of them are specifically relevant to STV:

1. STV is the most party proportional system (10th anniversary)

One criticism of STV is that it is less proportional than some other PR systems. Of course, the critics mean “less party proportional” and we all know that, among STV’s other advantages,

is that it can provide proportionality, not only between parties, but also between any other groupings of importance to voters; i.e. personal representation. We also know that the degree of party proportionality depends less on which PR system (e.g. STV or AMS) is used than on how many representatives are elected together.

However, the UK’s Ministry of Justice (by no means biased towards STV or any other kind of PR) published a report on 24 January 2008. It stated that STV was more [party] proportional than any other voting system used in the UK. Please see for more details.

2. Votes for women (100th anniversary)

You probably already know that the Representation of the People Act 1918 gave votes to women. The suffragettes succeeded. So can we. Indeed, we can do better; we can get them (and men) votes that are of value outside marginal constituencies.

3. 1st STV election (200th anniversary)

The first STV election was held on 18 December 1819 [edited 4.9.2018 to record the correct date was 17 December 1819 (see Comments)] to elect the Committee of the Birmingham “Society of Literary and Scientific Improvement” using the rules devised by David Hill’s great-great-great-grandfather, Thomas Wright Hill. I promised David before his death to do my best to see that this anniversary was celebrated but, as my 80th birthday is in a few days’ time, I’m publicizing this significant date in the hope that others will be able to mark the occasion even if I can’t.

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3 Responses to Anniversaries

  1. Steve Todd says:

    Hello, Anthony. It is indeed to be hoped that the 200th anniversary of the first STV election can be celebrated in December 2019. However, it should be noted that the correct date of that first STV election is 17 December 1819, not the 18th.

    David Hill and I corresponded for 20 years, up until his death in September 2015. In November 1996, he wrote to me, including a copy of the Laws of the Society for Literary and Scientific Improvement, and saying–

    >>> The Laws of the Society for Literary and Scientific Improvement [; Established in Birmingham, October the 19th, 1819.] include the earliest STV rules of which we are aware, devised by my great-great-great grandfather Thomas Wright Hill and first used on 17 December 1819. The whole document is amusing, and astonishingly pretentious for a society of a few young men that never had more than about 15 or 20 members and lasted for only 4 years. <<<

    The date of 17 December, which was a Friday, would accord with the Laws of the Society, which stated, at Law II, that meetings "shall be holden every Friday evening", and, at Law X (in which the first STV rules are set out) that committee elections were to be held "[a]t the first meeting in April, and also [at the AGM] on the first Friday in October in each year [Law XXII]".

    Steve Todd
    Wellington, NZ

  2. I thought the anniversary was on 18 December, because David had written in an e-mail of 18 December 2014 that the first election was on 18 December 1819, so there’s a contradiction, but your evidence that the Society met on Fridays is very compelling and I see that 17 December 1819 was a Friday, so I think we should accept 17 December as the anniversary.

    However, the main thing is to celebrate the spirit of the anniversary, regardless of the correct date. I am sure David Hill and his 3xgreat-grandfather, Thomas Wright Hill would agree with that.

    • Steve Todd says:

      Thank you, Anthony.

      I sent you e-mails on the 14th and 24th of August, which I now think you may not have received. On the 24th, I included a copy of David’s letter to me, and a copy of the Society’s Laws (which I hoped you might be able to forward to other, interested, people).

      I, too, agree the main thing is to celebrate the spirit of the anniversay, but it would have been a shame if people did so with the wrong date in mind. Thank you for amending the item in question, above.

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