General election 2015: Some votes count 30 times as much as others because of Britain's archaic election rules

Britain's voting system is an archaic mess

Jon Stone
Monday 27 April 2015 08:07

British democracy may be built on the principle of one-person-one-vote, but in practice the UK’s archaic electoral system means most people have no impact on the result.

But one website aims to deconstruct the hypocrisies of First Past the Post, the electoral system which sees some voters have as much as 30 times the voting power as others.

Voter Power, a website set up by designer Martin Petts with data from the New Economics Foundation, lets voters check to what extent their vote will actually count towards the result.

Unlike most developed democracies, Britain’s voting system is not proportional. Voters are divided into small seats and hundreds of small local races take place.

The website can tell you whether your vote matters

A large number of these seats are ‘safe’ and will never change hands in a normal election, meaning the voters who didn’t vote for the winner have no representation in parliament acting with their consent and have no impact on the final result.

Various proportional system exist that count all votes equally, but Britain has never got around to implementing one due to a mix of inertia and vested interests.

Only voters who live in so-called ‘marginal constituencies’ actually have a chance of affecting the results: the vast majority of voting at UK elections amounts to choreographed ritual.

Politicians are well aware of this effect and it has a damaging effect on politics: parties target their policies to appeal to marginal voters and tend to ignore people who live in other areas.

According to the Voter Power Index the average voter in the has only 0.3 votes.

Voters with the least power live in West Ham, whose safe seat status means its voters are 25x less powerful than average.

Voters with the most power live in Swansea West, where electors have 3.65x the power of the average voter.

You can check how powerful your vote is at

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