Calls for reform of UK’s first-past-the-post voting system

Green councillors are calling on officials to look at changes to the voting system in local elections, criticising the current “first past the post” system.

Wednesday, 18th December 2019, 3:29 pm
Polling station

They also want a report on the implications of voters having to prove their identity (ID) at polling stations after trials across the country earlier this year.

They said: “The results of the ‘voter ID’ trials from May’s elections produced a number of worrying results, including more than 700 voters not returning to vote after being turned away.”

But the government is expected to push ahead with changes to the law, requiring electors to produce evidence of their ID before voting.

Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty plans to ask Brighton and Hove City Council officials for “a report detailing the implications of ‘voter ID’ on residents in the city”.

He said that 44.6 million votes were cast in 2017 but only one person was convicted of electoral fraud.

At Hove Town Hall on Thursday he also hopes to persuade fellow councillors to support his call for a report that also “explores the impact of the FPTP (first past the post) electoral system on local elections in Brighton and Hove and how this compares to the popular vote”.

He is due to propose a motion, seconded by fellow Green councillor Hannah Clare, at the meeting of the full council.

As well as asking for a report, the motion asks the council to note that “Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland and the London Assembly all now use proportional systems”.

It also mentions that the Welsh government is paving the way for 16-year-olds to vote there.

It says: “England remains the only country in the UK where local elections are undertaken using the ‘first past the post’ voting system and England is the only country in Europe to use such a system.”

And it also asks the council to note “the damaging ‘voter ID’ trials undertaken earlier this year in the local elections and plans announced in the Queen’s speech to introduce a Photographic ID requirement”.

In support of the motion, the Greens said: “Studies have found that elections characterised by ‘first past the post’ tend to lead to unrepresentative parliaments and disproportional representation in government.

“This can contribute to wider voter disenfranchisement in politics.”

The council is due meet at Hove Town Hall on Thursday (19 December). The meeting is scheduled to start at 4.30pm and should be open to the public.