Elections need modernising
THE report by the Electoral Commission on how to update our polling system is to be welcomed. Many are still being intimidated by party workers who are still legally allowed to handle sealed postal ballots. People are also suspicious about the way that yo
THE report by the Electoral Commission on how to update our polling system is to be welcomed. Many are still being intimidated by party workers who are still legally allowed to handle sealed postal ballots. People are also suspicious about the way that you can simply say your name and address at a polling station, with no other questions usually asked, in order to vote.
This insecurity not only leaves votes at the mercy of those willing to do anything to get elected but also undermines people's impression of the way we do democracy and compromises the value of every single vote.
Modernisation of the way people vote, while urgently needed, must not deter people from voting, and it cannot a back-door way of introducing yet more public surveillance or even ID cards. Thought must go into encouraging more people to register and empowering them to make decisions which will inevitably affect them. This must still be the very essence of democracy.
A modernisation of the way people vote can surely not be seen as progress unless we also see a modernisation of the voting system employed to elect candidates. The Electoral Commission was right when it said we are holding elections in the 21st century on a 19th century voting system.
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I think it would be fair to say that First-past-the-post, where the candidate with the most votes is the only one elected, is also a 19th century system. This system undermines democracy just as much as fraud, because politicians ignore a majority of people while just focusing on a small minority where a few votes will make the difference between winning and losing.
All too often this simply puts people off voting at all, while denying those who do a truly informed choice. FPTP also means that, while the viewpoints of usually 35 per cent-plus of the electorate are respected, the votes of the other 65 per cent are wasted.
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We believe in bringing in a proportional system by which people can vote for who they truly believe in and the views of all are respected on an elected council or Parliament. We have surely come beyond a time when the winner takes all, and the loser, having often inspired and been entrusted by many, is sent away empty.
Everyone must be given the chance to vote for who they truly want to, not just the least bad option. The Green Party hopes that the Electoral Commission will consider this also when it talks of making democracy fit for the 21st century.
Green Party Eastern Region election agent