2021 Elections: Millions of voters to get fair representation through PR

Josiah Mortimer, former Head of Communications

Posted on the 6th May 2021

Over 12 million voters have a powerful voice today, with proportional representation used in Wales, Scotland and on the London Assembly.

Elections to the Welsh Senedd, Scottish Parliament and London Assembly all use the Additional Member System, a proportional voting system that ensures seats elected more closely match how people vote.

The system is a glowing contrast to Westminster’s warped, outdated one-party-takes-all system of First Past the Post.

With AMS, voters have two ballot papers. On the first is a list of candidates who want to be their constituency representative, where the voter marks their preferred candidate with a cross.

The second ballot decides the strength of each party in the chamber. If a party has five MPs from the constituencies and its fair share (based on the second ballot) is eight MPs, then three candidates from its list are likely to become MPs. To ensure proportional results, the list seats typically cover larger areas, such as regions in Scotland and Wales.

The goal of AMS is to provide a proportional parliament but also keep a single local representative.

The ERS sees the Single Transferable Vote system as the ‘gold standard’, used for local elections in Scotland and Northern Ireland, but AMS is a marked improvement on Westminster’s First Past the Post system.

The Electoral Reform Society has used voter registration data to find that:

  • 4.2 million potential voters in Scotland have the chance to secure fair representation, alongside;
  • 2.3 million potential voters in Wales;
  • 6.1 million potential voters in London

More than 12m potential voters all have the chance to ‘genuinely be heard’ today through proportional representation.

The Supplementary Vote is also being used across England and Wales to elect mayors and Police and Crime Commissioners – meaning nearly all voters have the chance to use a fairer voting system this Thursday, rather than the zero-sum FPTP method.

After more than 20 years of use, proportional representation is now firmly established across the UK, stopping single parties unfairly sweeping the board, and giving voters real choice.

Voters being represented in proportion to their number is at the heart of what a modern democracy should look like, with a strong voice for the public, plus a stronger role for cooperation and working together. Proportional representation has been doing its job effectively in Scotland for decades now, and voters benefit hugely from it. The political diversity in the nations is testament to all voters being heard.

At its core, proportional representation is about a simple principle: in a democracy, seats should match how people actually vote. This simple principle is cast aside at Westminster, leading to chaotic ‘lottery’ elections where a small national swing can lead to wildly different outcomes.

Instead of trying to impose First Past the Post on mayoral and PCC elections that have never used them, ministers should be looking at how to boost our democracy through scrapping one-party-takes-all voting, and giving the public proportional representation at last.

Millions of voters are able to cast their ballots today in the clear knowledge their vote will make a real impact. It’s a testament to how a fairer voting system tackles some of the big problems with winner-takes-all voting.

Proportional representation is now the norm in most parts of the UK. Westminster and England’s councils, by contrast, are looking increasingly unjust and outdated. Voters deserve to be heard wherever they are.

Sign our petition for a fair voting system in the UK

Read more posts...