Did Your Vote Count?

Is the UK fairly represented, ever, in a system that disregards millions of votes.

The question that I analysed was, did your vote count? Prefacing this by saying this is not about who to vote for, which team to support, which captain to cheer or tactical voting. My question is about how effective the electoral system is at representing the populations vote democratically in parliament, and how did any one persons vote tally up in that scheme.

The premise did foresee that there would be some drop-off, some small fraction of peoples votes that didn’t add up to the overall system, but was underestimating how in need of questioning this system is. Can you imagine that just over a third of the registered voters in the UK counted to making parliament? I now can.

In my country of origin, we have a two vote system in which we have a candidate vote and a party vote and while it does have some issues in extreme cases it pretty accurately represents the voting spread across the country. It is called the AMS system, or a version of it and then they have successfully governed even when there was no party majority.

So I have seen alternatives, and fairer representation that is part of a spectrum of different electoral systems. The UK general election however has a two tier FPTP system (First Past The Post). This is represented by a majority in the council area to elect an MP, and then a majority government in the parliament. My question doesn’t really go far into this system but it is a causal factor for asking it.

So how many peoples votes got MPs elected and therefore how many peoples votes created parliament? This is not the same as the vote share which is often mentioned and is an inflated number to the end result, which is an elected MP.

Lets start from the top, in the UK there are an estimated 47.6 million registered voters and this year about 67% voted, so that’s around 32 million. Leaving 15.6 million unused votes. But voters will still be represented by a winning MP regardless if they vote or not. So of those 32 million votes (potential 47.6 million), which counted towards electing an MP?

17.5 million, shocked? I’m not talking about a single parties majority voter share, i’m talking about the entire parliament. Just around half of the people who got up and put a tick in the box on the ballot paper actually contributed to creating parliament. And, just over a third of all voter potential.

Again — not for a single party, but 1/2 of votes went to making the ENTIRE parliament. 1/3 of all voters in total.

Lets not get into the trap of “wasted votes” here, because that implies its your fault and that you made a mistake, which isn’t the case. It might tempt you to tactical-vote and i disagree with that ideology because then your always stuck with a few parties that are hard opposed and no room for middle ground. Your vote was supposed to give you a voice in government, no matter your views, not to align with one group against another.

Lets go further into this because what you see on the big screens of voter share, is far from what is actually happening in this country.

People who voted for the Conservative party was roughly 14 million, about 10.6 million of those actually contributed to electing MP; so that’s 22% of the UK registered voters. Conservative party voters that didn’t add to electing an MP was around 3.3 million.

People who voted for the Labour party was roughly 10.3 million, about 5 million of those actually contributed to electing an MP; that is 11% of the UK registered voters. Labour party voters that didn’t add to electing an MP was around 5.2 million.

People who voted for the SNP was roughly 1.2 million, about 1 million actually contributed to electing MPs; that is 2% of the UK registered voters. SNP voters that didn’t add to electing an MP was around 190K.

People who voted for the Liberal Democratic party was roughly 3.7 million, about 280K contributed to electing MPs; that is 0.6% of the registered voters. Liberal Democratic party voters that didn’t add to electing an MP was around 3.4 million.

People who voted for the DUP was roughly 244K, about 147K contributed to electing MPs; that is 0.3% of the registered voters. DUP voters that didn’t add to electing an MP was around 96K.

People who voted for the Green Party was roughly 866K, about 33K contributed to electing MPs; that is around 0.07% of the registered voters. Green voters that didn’t add to electing an MP was around 833K.

People who voted for the Brexit party was roughly 642K, no MPs elected, 100% of voters did not get any MPs elected.

This is all from data freely available, I got my information form the BBC parliamentary result pages and just pushed it into a spreadsheet.

I hope this helps you see where we get our MPs, from votes that are considered. To break it down again. 47.6 million voters, to 32 million votes, to 17.5 million votes that elected the 650 MPs. Total votes ignored was 14.5 million plus 15.6 million who didn’t vote.

One half of votes counted this time. Maybe next time we can have a system that gets us closer to 100%. What should we do with this info? Possibly, we try to research what would be a good system to represent us fairly and then petition this idea.

My opinion is i’m concerned as to who would take the next step for us, because I’m fairly sure its not going to change on its own. The very few beneficiaries of the system are almost certainly against changing the status quo and are the only ones who can change it with law.

A fictional short story writer. One-shot flash fictions to multi-part stories on slice of life, fantasy, drama and sci-fi. Some real life pieces and queries.