My new rules for a better election system.
One: The local authority in which you live is legally obliged to make sure that everyone who is entitled to vote is registered to vote, and special arrangements must be made for all those who would find it difficult to have a polling card delivered or to get to a polling station. Non-registration of those eligible makes the local authority subject to prosecution.
Two: Everyone is legally required to vote in the first election for which they are eligible.
The age-gap is even starker: the young are getting massively outgunned by the burgeoning grey vote, with 76 per cent of those aged over 65 voting in 2010, compared to just 44 per cent of 18-24 year olds. This gap between the voting power of the young and old has grown steadily over time. Worse still, there is now clear evidence of a generation effect: that is those that don’t vote when they’re young are now less likely than previous generation to develop the habit of voting as they move into middle age. (From The Case For Compulsory Voting)
Three: The penalty for not voting when you are legally required to do so (if there’s no adequate excuse, such as sudden illness or accident affecting yourself or a close family member) is a fine of the size that AB-type people tend to speak of as “small”. Fines for not voting do not apply if the election has been declared “None of the Above”.
[In a comment below it’s suggested that instead of a fine, everyone who votes gets £50 cash at the ballot box. This is a surprisingly good idea: it would increase turnout, it would be an excellent helicopter money stimulus, it would be a positive incentive to vote instead of a negative one, and it would more strongly encourage people to make the time to vote the less well-off they were.]
Electoral participation is falling fastest among the young and the least affluent. According to Mori at the last general election, 76 per cent of voters from the top social class (AB) voted, whereas just 57 per cent of voters in the bottom social class (DE) did. This social-class gap has tripled since 1992, suggesting that the political voice of the well-off remains strong, as that of the poor gets weaker. (From The Case For Compulsory Voting)
Four: In any election, all ballots for those legally required to vote must have the option of ticking “None of the Above”. In any election where the first-preference votes received by “None of the Above” makes quota in the first round of the count, the election for that ward or constituency is cancelled and must be run again four weeks later with none of the candidates who stood last time allowed to stand again in that ward or constitutency for one electoral cycle plus three weeks.
Five: At the 4-weeks-later election, everyone is legally required to vote. This can repeat until the candidates who stand are found to be acceptable for office by the electorate. Anyone who has a problem with this shouldn’t really live in a democracy.
Six: While no one can be legally required to vote except at the “None of the Above” 4-weeks-later elections and in their first eligible election, any election in which fewer than 51% of those eligible to vote do so, is treated as a “None of the Above” election and cancelled to re-run 4 weeks later with a different set of candidates.
There, I think that fixes our latest problems.
Off to the May Day march now. Photographs later.