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Letter: Wasting Your Vote in First Past the Post

Published on: 10 May, 2021
Updated on: 10 May, 2021

From: Sam Peters

Green Party candidate for Shere in the recent SCC election

There’s no ethical problem with parties working together to avoid the worst outcome for local people. The problem is the system that requires this collaboration in the first place. Very often, the candidate elected was not chosen by the majority of voters. In Westminster, we have not had a government chosen by more than 50% of voters since 1935.

“First Past the Post” consistently delivers the option most people didn’t want and holds back all but the most well-known parties, with most voters forced to vote against their least favourite option, rather than for what they actually believe in. On top of that, FPTP frequently makes most votes meaningless by creating “safe seats”.

It’s time we had an electoral system where all votes matter, and where people can vote for the policies they support rather than against the worst option, or not bothering, in the knowledge that their vote doesn’t matter.

Not only would this create a fairer system, but it would likely help increase the low turnouts we’ve come to expect at all levels, particularly in local elections.

Collaboration between political parties should be what happens in the process of governing, not an unfortunate necessity just to counteract the ridiculously unrepresentative nature of today’s elections.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: Wasting Your Vote in First Past the Post

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    May 10, 2021 at 12:35 pm

    No matter how colour blind your politics any way voting method will create an outcome some will perceive as biased.

    It’s best to vote for the person with honour and credibility because such candidates should provide the right outcome for the community and we can hope their party loyalties are applied only to national matters.

  2. Lucy Connor Reply

    May 10, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    I think most readers are aware that FPTP has its faults. Unfortunately, what happened during Thursday’s vote in Shere was not solely a reflection of a bad system. In Shere, the ‘green/environmentally focused’ vote was split by, depending on your side, both a Green Party candidate and a Guildford Greenbelt Group candidate standing for Surrey Council Council in the Shere division.

    The GGG candidate came second to the Conservative candidate by only 78 votes. This is overwhelmingly disappointing when the Green Party candidate (Sam Peters) obtained approximately 800 votes.

    It is speculation, but a fair assumption that had the Green candidate stood aside for GGG in Shere – then the result of Thursday’s election would have been different. This has been written about in The Dragon a number of times, and it’s unfortunate that Mr Peters is blaming a system rather than taking accountability that the actions of his party which may well have lost a valuable seat for a candidate with the environment at the heart of what they do.

    Lucy Connor was the R4GV for Guildford South West in the SCC election.

  3. Zoltan Jorovic Reply

    May 12, 2021 at 1:08 pm

    It seems that Lucy Connor either didn’t read what Sam wrote, or misunderstood it. He is pointing out that people should not have to try to game the system by voting to ensure their least preferred option does not win. They should be able to vote for the party and candidate they most prefer.

    The existing flawed system can be manipulated by removing any alternatives (or standing down) and in some cases this is the only way to prevent domination by a minority vote (such as where the Conservatives win with substantially less than half the vote), we should be clear that this is not how true democracy is meant to work.

    We need a system that reflects every vote and ensures that our representatives are proportionate to the preferences expressed by voters. Instead we have a system which means that every vote not cast for the winning candidate is ignored. This undermines and corrodes trust and belief in politics, and cannot be resolved by temporary ad-hoc informal arrangements.

    • Lucy Connor Reply

      May 15, 2021 at 1:02 pm

      Mr Jorovic raises a valid interpretation of the original letter. I also raised my own interpretation, and I’m sure many readers are capable of seeing a misdirect when they read one.

      As much as I’d love to see a system like you describe Zoltan Jorovic, I remain unsurprised at the insufficient support for electoral reform garnered by a single letter to the readers of The Dragon. A letter that came less than a week after the circumstances of Thursday’s election. Therefore, my interpretation of Mr Peters’ letter is as I wrote in my previous comment.

      I hope that someday in the not too distant future that we will indeed have a system which reflects what voters want.

      Lucy Connor was the R4GV candidate for Guildford South West in the recent SCC elections.

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