Voting system slammed before May election

THE ‘VICTORIAN’ system used to decide elections means councils are being controlled by groups who do not get the number of votes equivalent to their standing.

One example being Tameside, where last year Labour took 79 per cent of the seats with 55 per cent of the poll.

David Green, who is campaigning for a change from the first past the post (FPTP) system to single transferable vote (STV), believes how we currently do things is wrong.

He highlighted results all over the country where one group’s influence is far greater than how people voted.

And he believes switching systems, also boosting the number of seats in each ward from three to five, would bring new life to election day.

He said: “STV will invigorate our democracy at the grass roots by ensuring that there will be everything for everyone everywhere to play for.

“The way the votes are cast and counted is entirely different in the quest to achieve fair shares for all.

“Each voter has a single vote which can be transferred from one candidate to another according to the expressed instructions of the voter who numbers the candidates in order of preference.

“Should the voter’s first preference have so much support that further votes are not required to achieve election, or so few that further votes will not help, then the vote is transferred to the voter’s next preference, and this process is repeated until the vote is spent or the election concluded

“The recycling of votes in this way reduces the number of ineffective votes and gives most ward voters a councillor of their choice.

“It might come as a surprise to British voters that the first past the post voting system in use for UK general elections and for most council elections is an inefficient and outdated Victorian device.

“More importantly, this old-fashioned voting system habitually yields results that do not reflect the wishes of the voters.

“The undemocratic results occasioned by continued use of FPTP for local government elections threaten to have dire consequences for the very fabric of our democracy.

“We are witnessing a worrying decline of political activity in local communities, arguably the coalface of our democracy.”

This year sees voters in Tameside return three councillors for every ward in what is known as an ‘all out’ election.

But Mr Green, part of the Supervote group, feels people should be given the chance to have a vote that really counts.

He added: “STV delivers local proportionality of voters’ views, whether party political or not.

“This makes it ideal for use in council elections where independents and small parties play an important part in community politics.

“In a five-member ward, a candidate will need 17 per cent of the vote to be elected and the transferability of votes ensures that 83 per cent of the voters can identify with a councillor they helped to elect, enabling diversity of representation.

“STV would rejuvenate our local politics because seats won would match votes cast and there would be greater freedom of expression, encouraging greater voter participation.”


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