- Broadly-based movement
- What are elections for?
- STV in USA
- What Russell Brand could have said about voting
- STV to stay in Ireland
- Two practical steps to advance STV
- Australian and German elections
- First past the post helped cause USA shut-down
- Do Lib Dems have the nerve to win STV for local government?
- Triumph for democracy
SV = Silly Voting; 15 November as Annual Wasted Votes Day?
A million wasted votes! More than half the winners may not have been the voters’ real choice.
The main complaint of the news media and some reform organizations about the Police and Crime Commissioners’ (PCCs’) elections last Thursday is the abysmally low turn-out; in effect that so many citizens did not use their votes, but what about the votes wasted - more than a million- by those who did vote? They deserve better.
Research by Dr David Hill, a former member of the Electoral Reform Society’s Council, has revealed that 1,078,987 were wasted in those of the PCC elections in
which there were more than three candidates and a further 20,540 were wasted in Bristol’s mayoral election on the same day, making a total of 1,099,527 wasted votes in one day.
Dr Hill treated as "wasted" the difference between the total number voting and those used at the final stage for the candidates who came first and second in the first round of counting and were therefore in the runoff count. Although some of the votes may have been wasted by voters themselves by not expressing a second preference, it seems likely that most were waste because of the way SV (Supplementary Voting) works. With SV, second preference votes for candidates who do not reach the runoff are wasted – not by the voters but by the system.
In 22 voting areas including Bristol for the mayoral election, the number of wasted votes was higher than the winning majority. In other words, if votes had not been wasted, the result might have been different; 22 of the 42 winners may not have been the real choices of the voters.
Among the worst examples were:
- Cambridgeshire where there were 31,849 wasted votes but the winner’s majority was only 6,526;
- Devon and Cornwall where there were 84,003 wasted votes but the winner’s majority was only 32,176;
- Essex where there were 47,220 wasted votes but the winner’s majority was only 3,686;
- Humberside where there were 51,665 wasted votes but the winner’s majority was only 2,231;
- Bristol’s mayoral election where there were 20,540 wasted votes but the winner’s majority was only 6,094.
AV (Alternative Vote) would solve the problem. Second preference – and, indeed later preferences – could all count. None need be wasted and the winner would really represent the majority.
It is curious, to put it mildly, that Mr Cameron and others, who championed First Past The Post (FPTP) against AV last year, have conceded so soon that FPTP is unsatisfactory but, rather than admit the merits of AV, they have forced the really miserable compromise of SV upon us. It acknowledges the faults of FPTP but fails to solve them.
If electoral reformers want an annual event to celebrate the reform movement – to give them a cause to march, hold rallies, write to the media and MPs etc - what about 15 November (the date of this year’s PCC elections) each year as Annual Wasted Votes Day?