Alternative Vote would boost power of average voter, says NEF

By staff writers
April 5, 2011

Independent analysis from think-tank NEF (the New Economics Foundation) has shown that a change to the Alternative Vote would give a significant boost to the power of the average voter.

The news comes as a new website launched to allow voters to see how the power of their vote would change under the Alternative Vote system.

Exactly one month before the UK votes in a referendum on whether to change its parliamentary electoral system from First Past the Post (FPTP) to the Alternative Vote (AV), the new research has revealed how over 50 per cent more seats would also become more marginal.

The Voter Power Index finds that moving to AV would mean an increase in the average power of UK voters from 0.285 of a vote to 0.352 of a vote (where a score of 1 is a fair vote) - a rise of 23.5 per cent.

There would also be an increase in the number of very marginal seats from 81 to 125 - an increase of 44 seats.

The report is based on a comprehensive statistical analysis of general elections in the UK over the last 30 years.

A new online tool – the Voter Power Index - has also been launched so voters can see how the Alternative Vote would effect the power of their vote in any constituency.

“Our research over the last six years has consistently shown that the UK’s electoral system is a postcode lottery, pointlessly riddled with inequalities of power.” said Nic Marks, NEF fellow and creator of the Voter Power Index.

“Voters need to decide for themselves whether these improvements are worth a Yes vote.”

However, NEF also points out that other systems, not on offer in the referendum, would also increase the voter power still more.

“Our analysis shows that AV would increase the power of all voters, particularly those in safe seats.” said Stephen Whitehead, nef researcher and co-author of the report. “But it’s clear that if we want a voting system that is really fair, then we’ll need more choices than just AV and FPtP.”

The Voter Power Index website ( ), created by web designer Martin Petts, allows visitors to find their voter power by postcode and display a ranking of the UK’s constituencies.


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