Our council

The Council is the governing body of the Society, with ultimate responsibility for its governance and administration.

About the council

The Council is the Electoral Reform Society’s governing body.

The Council meets four times a year. It is made up of 15 members who are elected every other year and serve for a two-year term. All fully paid-up members are allowed to stand for election and to vote.

What do Council members do?

Council provides creative challenge and independent scrutiny on issues such as strategy, planning and business performance and it works with the senior staff team to ensure that high standards of governance are upheld.

The Council meets 4 times a year in central London (expenses are reimbursed). Members of the Council are also the Directors of the company, with collective responsibility for ensuring that the organisation is legally compliant. The Council:

  • Establishes the Society’s strategic direction and aims, in conjunction with the senior staff;
  • Ensures accountability for the Society’s performance;
  • Ensures that the Society is managed with probity and integrity.

How do Council members get elected?

There are 15 places on the Council, and elections take place every two years with all seats on the Council up for election. Candidates are voted in by the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method.

Why get involved?

Council members have a central role to play in deciding the key priorities for the Society.

It’s an important job and we need members with the right balance of ideas, skills, and experience. This is a special opportunity – available only to members – to help shape the Society’s agenda and to inject energy and enthusiasm into the job of building a better democracy in Britain.

What skills and experience do I need?

Council members can bring invaluable experience and perspectives from all walks of life.

As the governing body of a rapidly expanding national campaign and research organisation, the Council needs active and engaged members – particularly those with some of the following attributes:

  • Accountancy or financial management skills
  • Experience of leading or working on high-profile campaigns
  • Experience of working in politics
  • Media, press or marketing experience
  • Knowledge, understanding and commitment to the not-for-profit sector
  • Experience of a governance role
  • Strategic vision and sound, independent judgement
  • Human resources qualifications and/or experience at a senior level
  • Experience in business development and/or fundraising

The Council consists of 15 members, elected every other year by the membership using the Single Transferable Vote. Members of the Council elect four of their group to act as Officers and undertake specific administrative duties on behalf of the Council. The next Council will be elected at the end of 2017.

The Electoral Reform Society Council

Jon WalshJon Walsh

Jon has experience as a constituency organiser and National Campaigns Officer for the Liberal Democrats. His experience has seen him working on and running campaigns across the country and in most types of election currently held in Britain including managing London for the Yes to AV campaign.

In addition to his role on the Council, Jon works in Public Affairs for the University of Southampton.

Justina CruikshankJustina Cruikshank
Vice Chair, Management

Justina is Commercial Director of The Brew, a start-up which runs membership based workspaces for entrepreneurs, freelancer and small businesses in Shoreditch.

Clare CoatmanClare Coatman

Clare has worked on a range of projects within the democratic reform sector, including as a National Coordinator for the Yes to AV referendum campaign, Head of Operations for Power2010 and Participation Manager for the Convention on Modern Liberty.

As one of the founders of Take Back Parliament, Clare is an experienced activist and has been involved in activism since being a school student spokesperson during the Iraq War protests. Her governance experience also includes six years as a Trustee of Democratic Audit and being Chair of GM Freeze.

Sarah HydeSara Hyde
Deputy Chair, Campaigns and Research

Sara works as a theatre practitioner and as a counsellor and facilitator with women in the criminal justice system. Her Masters dissertation considered the impact of personal and political voice, as found through arts interventions, on a person’s ability to desist from crime post-prison release.

Sara is on the working group for a new cross-party initiative, No-one Ever Told me About Politics and is an active member of the Fabian Women’s Network. She longs to see new and unusual voices from unexpected quarters punctuating our politics to create a more robust and active democracy, to the benefit of all in our society.

Amy Dodd Amy Dodd

Amy has spent the last several years managing and winning campaigns with the Labour Party – from local elections to national campaigns.

Her work on these campaigns has helped her to develop a broad and diverse network throughout the Labour Party and civil society organisations. She has an excellent knowledge and understanding of campaigns and campaign delivery, from budgets to strategy.

Crispin AllardDr Crispin Allard

Crispin started as an Intern at the Electoral Reform Society in 1994, before being elected to its Council in 1995. He has been Campaign Committee Chair (1997 – 1998), Treasurer (1998 – 2008) and Deputy Chair (Group Relations) (2008 – 2011). He was a constituency organiser in the Yes campaign.

Crispin is Chair of Liberal Democrats for Electoral Reform, which he co-founded in 2011 to bring a more strategic focus to the party’s approach to delivering reform. He has also been a local councillor. Outside politics, Crispin works for a leading consultancy, specialising in operational research.

Lisa FrenchLisa French

Lisa first became involved in the electoral reform movement during the AV referendum, and has been campaigning for democratic reform ever since. She is also a member of Unlock Democracy’s Council, and was previously Chair of a local reform group in Leicestershire.

Lisa works in health informatics, and her current role is at the Evidence-Based Medicine DataLab at the University of Oxford.

Stephen CurranStephen Curran

Stephen is a committed supporter of voting reform. He was the first Councillor elected in last year’s STV-PR elections and currently leads on education in Scotland’s largest local authority with experience in senior roles: heading council finances; leading Service Reform; integrating local health with social care; and overseeing the budget and scrutiny of policing.

In the Scottish Parliament election of May 2011, Stephen was Labour and Co-operative candidate in the hotly contested Glasgow Southside seat won by SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon – the constituency saw one of Scotland’s best results in the AV referendum that day.

Stephen has a track record in planning and running successful campaigns, winning four times as election agent in marginal constituencies and contesting four local government elections, winning and retaining a marginal ward under STV-PR.

Chris FinlaysonChris Finlayson

Chris is a 39 year old university lecturer, researching physics at Aberystwyth University. He has a long-standing interest in political and electoral reform, having been an active supporter of the Society’s campaigns of recent years, and a regular contributor to many forums and discussion groups. He does not presently have affiliation to any political parties.

Chris is a strong supporter of democratic reform of the House of Lords; striving to help keep such reform further up the agenda, both in terms of the Society’s aims, and in wider lobbying. Whilst believing that FPTP-based democracy is a thoroughly outdated and failed concept, he also advocates the pragmatic re-alignment of certain Society policy priorities/strategies, with a goal of achieving favourable incremental outcomes in the medium term (e.g. STV elections for local government).

Wera HobhouseWera Hobhouse MP

Wera is the MP for Bath



Paul PettingerPaul Pettinger

Paul has a longstanding commitment to electoral and constitutional reform, expressed primarily through activism in the Liberal Democrats, having joined the Party in 1992. He has experience of working in membership led organisations, both as an officer and member of an elected executive – City Councillor (2004-2008). Paul was a member of staff of the Liberal Democrat youth wing (2006-2009) and campaigns officer for the British Humanist Association (2009-10). He is now national coordinator of an ecumenical faith school reform campaign coalition and the Accord Coalition (2010-to date).

Paul is knowledgeable about the social and political scene in the UK. He is educated to Master’s level in Politics, is a former researcher to a member of the House of Lords and now has a professional background in public affairs.

Ken RitchieKen Ritchie

Ken served as Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society from 1997 to 2010. Since leaving the Society’s staff in 2010, he has remained an active campaigner for reform. Ken co-ordinated the AV referendum campaign in Northamptonshire as well as speaking in debates in other parts of the country. He co-authored a book on the referendum campaign and wrote another on ‘Fixing our broken democracy’ (as well as one on Western Sahara). Ken has also assisted a Constitution Unit research project on voting systems in Europe and in 2011 he worked at Westminster as Co-ordinator of the Parliamentary Human Rights Group.

Ken chairs the newly formed ‘Reform Foundation’ which seeks constitutional change that makes politics more accountable to people, and serves as a board member of ‘Republic’ which seeks an elected head of state with well-defined and limited constitutional powers and often speaks on the issue. He also sits on the Executive Committee of the Labour Campaign for Electoral Reform (LCER).

Ken added to his experience of electoral observation in Armenia earlier this year. Locally, he is an active member of Unlock Democracy and in May 2013 he stood in the county elections, adding to a long list of defeats (including as parliamentary candidate on three occasions) at the hands of FPTP.

Keith SharpKeith Sharp

Keith was Society Deputy Chair, Group Relations between September 2011 and July 2013. He was also Vice Chair between 2009 and 2011 and previously served as Campaigns Committee chair, a position he held for five years. He writes and speaks on electoral reform, having joined the Society in 1978 with the belief that the First Past the Post system cripples our democracy.

He has also been a parliamentary candidate and local councillor for the Liberal Democrats, and is a charity trustee in north London. Away from politics, Keith is a marketing and public affairs professional.

Rob TelfordRob Telford

Rob is a Green councillor in Bristol and is chair of the Association of Green Councillors. He is currently working within the LGA Independent Group alongside independent, Green, Plaid Cymru and UKIP councillors to shape the group’s electoral reform policy and influence other key players in local government to lobby for local reform.

Rob has introduced a number of democratic reform policies within the Green Party, including making STV the Green Party’s preferred voting system for local government, which passed at national conference in September 2015.

Rob previously worked in education as a teaching assistant for children on the autism spectrum, and he is passionate about campaigning to make cities more liveable and legible for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users.

Owen WinterOwen Winter

Owen was elected as a Member of the UK Youth Parliament for Cornwall in February 2015. He is an active campaigner for electoral reform, young people and against austerity. He became involved with the electoral reform movement when he started a petition for a fairer voting system around the time of the 2015 general election. This petition received over 235,000 signatures and was handed to David Cameron as part of the 477,000 strong collection of signatures after the election. Owen also runs the ‘Voting Reform Team’ Facebook group with over 4,000 members who support electoral reform.