Three issues that need tackling this General Election

Sabine McGinley
Author:
Sabine McGinley

Posted on the 5th November 2019

Let’s use this election as a chance to re-build democracy on stronger and fairer foundations

As the UK prepares for its next general election in December, it is important to revise what needs to be done in order to make sure our next election is as fair and representative as possible.

1.    Unfair Vote Splitting and Disproportionality

Most British voters end up being represented by an MP they didn’t actually vote for. Under Westminster’s First Past the Post system, a candidate the majority oppose can secure 100% of local representation, if the vote is split their votes across multiple candidates.

As seen in both 2015 and 2017 general elections, there is a huge inequality in the way that the public vote is split. Due to how votes are spread across the country, the Conservatives and DUP currently share a majority of seats with just 43% of votes. Yet more than 500,000 votes across the UK elected just one Green MP, and a similar number of votes saw no UKIP MPs elected. First Past the Post makes millions of people feel silenced, sometimes looking for non-parliamentary ways of being heard instead.

First Past the Post makes millions of people feel silenced, sometimes looking for non-parliamentary ways of being heard instead. Click To Tweet

Many constituencies haven’t changed their seats in decades, and most have no prospect for changing in the next general election. Where candidates live places great emphasis on how they vote, areas which have a ‘safe seat’ means peoples vote counts less and parties can continue to ignore the expression of voters.

2.    Voter Registration

Millions of people are still not registered to vote – up to 9.4m on the ‘local’ electoral roll, according to the Electoral Commission. Worryingly, the number of people registered to vote has actually been decreasing despite the overall population increasing.

The ERS want to change this by allowing people to ‘opt in’ to the electoral roll whenever they deal with public sector bodies, in order to move towards more automatic registration. Maintaining voter registration lists is vital for protecting electoral integrity and ensuring those who are eligible to have their say at the ballot box.

3. Outdated campaign rules

There is an urgent need to update our election campaign rules. Most of the rules written on how political parties can structure their campaigns were drafted twenty years ago, before the internet changed the face of campaigning.

Most of the rules written on how political parties can structure their campaigns were drafted twenty years ago, before the internet changed the face of campaigning. Click To Tweet

Given the increasing influence that social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter have on modern political campaigning, it is vital that we revise the rules on how campaigns are practiced. For instance, greater regulation and transparency should be considered in order to avoid anonymous ‘dark ads’ and the potential for foreign donations that threaten our elections.

What next?

In order to fix our democracy, the ERS are calling for constitutional changes including modernising the voting system, giving voters proportional representation for Parliament.

As well as this, we must ensure a registration revolution and reform campaign rules to ensure more people are practicing their democratic rights. Thankfully, our campaign is picking up pace. Join us.

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