[E-voting] Governance of Britain UK voting systems review

Shane Hogan shane at askaboutmoney.com
Thu Jan 31 21:20:00 GMT 2008

The Government has today published a review of voting systems which examines
the experiences of the different forms of elections introduced over the last
ten years in the UK. 

This major review assesses elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh
Assembly and Northern Ireland Assembly, and those to the European
Parliament, London Assembly and London Mayor, as well as some international

Michael Wills, Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice, said: 

    "The sweeping programme of constitutional reform which we have put in
place since 1997 has brought with it a wealth of experience of differing
voting systems. 

    "This extensive and rigorous review examines those systems, assesses the
advantages and disadvantages, and also looks at other methods of election.
It is an important contribution to the ongoing debate about voting systems. 

    "We hope this review will inform that ongoing debate but we do so in the
firm belief that the current voting system for UK general elections works
well, and that any future change would require the consent of the British
people in a referendum. Voting systems must not become a focus of partisan
action but need to endure for many years." 

The Review of Voting Systems: the experience of new voting systems in the
United Kingdom since 1997 looks at the way the new voting systems have
affected the proportional allocation of seats, voters' choice, voter turnout
rates, political campaigning, social representation and administration. 

The new systems include the additional member system used in the National
Assembly for Wales, the Scottish Parliament and the Greater London Assembly;
the single transferable vote used in the Northern Ireland Assembly; the
closed party list system used for the European Parliament; and the
supplementary vote used for the London Mayoral elections. 

The Review finds that: 

    * there is no clear causal relationship between proportional
representation and a range of desirable outcomes; 

    * the new voting systems have led to more proportional allocation of
seats in devolved administrations, which has resulted in more parties being
represented in the elected bodies and given rise to a tendency towards
coalition government; 

    * it has not been the experience of the UK that voter participation has
risen with the introduction of proportional systems, although there is some
evidence that proportional systems have a marginally higher turnout

    * positive action policies have a greater impact on increasing women's
representation than more proportional voting systems; 

    * there has been little change to party campaigning, with continued
emphasis on winning constituency seats; 

    * changes to voting systems require significant research, planning and
testing to ensure voters understand the system and can use their vote. 


1. Review of Voting Systems: the experience of new voting systems in the
United Kingdom since 1997 is available at

2. A copy of the WMS is available at

3. The terms of reference of the Review were to provide a summary of
available evidence from: 

* Voting systems used in the UK for the National Assembly for Wales, the
Scottish Parliament; the Northern Ireland Assembly; the European Parliament;
the Greater London Assembly; and the London Mayoral elections; 

* International experiences of voting systems, which mirror those used in
the UK; 

* The findings of the Report of the Independent Commission on the Voting
system (Jenkins Commission, 1998); 

* The report of the Independent Commission on Proportional Representation
report (ICPR, 2004) established at the Constitution Unit at University
College of London; 

* Those parts of the Power Inquiry, an independent inquiry established in
2004 and chaired by Baroness Kennedy of the Shaws, that considered issues
around electoral systems; and 

* The findings of the Richard Commission in Wales and the Arbuthnott
Commission in Scotland. 

4. The Additional Member System (AMS) is used for elections to the Welsh
Assembly, the Scottish Parliament and the London Assembly. The Single
Transferable Vote (STV) is used for elections to the Northern Ireland
Assembly. The Closed Party List system is used for the European
Parliamentary elections and the Supplementary Vote for electing the London

5. This review also included the experiences of some relevant international
examples that have comparable voting systems, including New Zealand (AMS,
also known as the Mixed Member Proportional system), the Republic of Ireland
(STV) and the Netherlands (a list system). 


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