Over a million Welsh votes wasted in the General Election, finds ERS report

Posted on the 21st August 2017

Over a million votes had no impact on the General Election result in Wales, according to the Electoral Reform Society’s definitive report on June’s vote.

The 2017 General Election: Volatile Voting, Random Results’ report finds that in Wales 1,063,610 votes were ‘wasted’ – 67.52% of total votes cast [for top ten seats by wasted votes, see note 1].

Aberavon tops the list, followed by Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney, Cynon Valley and Cardiff Central – each with over 80% of votes having no impact on the result.

On top of this nearly one in four Welsh voters were forced to vote tactically on June 8th, a figure higher than the UK average of one in five [2].

The report also highlights the disproportionate results of the General Election, with Labour winning 70% of the seats from 48.9% of the vote. The Conservatives actually increased their vote share in Wales by 6.3% despite losing three seats [3].

Under different circumstances the results would look very different for Wales, with YouGov modeling the outcome of the election using three alternative voting systems [4].

ERS Cymru Director, Jess Blair, said:

“This report reveals a picture of a voting system which is fundamentally broken. The election demonstrated that First Past the Post is not fit for purpose for a third time in a row, with over a million wasted votes in Wales, while 24% of people here felt forced to vote tactically. On top of this we’ve seen disproportionate results that do not represent the voices of many people in Wales.”

“There are a wide range of systems where votes are not thrown on the electoral scrapheap. We need to move towards a means of electing our MPs where people’s voices are properly heard and where people don’t feel forced to hold their nose at the ballot box.”

“We need to ensure that June’s election is the last done under Westminster’s broken voting system. This is the end of the line for First Past the Post.”


[1] These are the number of votes that were discounted having gone to losing candidates in addition to those over the number needed to elect the winning candidate.

Totals As a % of votes cast
Total number of wasted votes in Wales 1,063,610 67.52
Total number of votes for non-winning candidates in Wales 746,269 47.37


Top ten seats for wasted votes %
Constituency Wasted votes %
Aberavon 82.26%
Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney 81.90%
Cynon Valley 80.61%
Cardiff Central 80.19%
Blaenau Gwent 78.75%
Rhondda 77.68%
Llanelli 76.34%
Neath 76.28%
Ogmore 74.86%
Montgomeryshire 74.81%


Top ten seats by number of wasted votes
Constituency Wasted votes
Cardiff South & Penarth 35418
Cardiff West 32755
Cardiff Central 32370
Monmouth 31529
Caerphilly 30884
Llanelli 30798
Vale of Glamorgan 30407
Cardiff North 30115
Brecon & Radnorshire 29291
Pontypridd 29239

[2] Information about our tactical voting polling can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1hlJLAUzBa6Bpmixe4tZcOGHqE_OVV2wOztCBocJAdF8/edit?usp=sharing

[3] Vote shares compared to seat shares in Wales, 2015 and 2017

Number of seats 2015 Number of seats 2017 Difference Vote share 2015 Seat share 2015 % Vote share 2017 Seat share 2017 % Difference
Labour 25 28 3 36.9 62.5 48.9 70 12
Conservatives 11 8 -3 27.2 27.5 33.6 20 6.4
Plaid Cymru 3 4 1 12.1 7.5 10.4 10 -1.7
Liberal Democrats 1 0 -1 6.5 2.5 4.5 0 -2
UKIP 0 0 13.6 0 2 0 -11.6
Greens 0 0 2.6 0 0.3 0 -2.3
Total 40 40

[4] Election result in Wales projected under different voting systems:

Party FPTP Seats AV Seats AMS Seats STV Seats
Labour 28 35 20 22
Conservatives 8 3 15 14
Plaid Cymru 4 2 4 3
Liberal Democrats 0 0 0 1
Greens 0 0 1 0


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