Responding to the Political and Constitutional Reform Committee’s report Voter engagement in the UK, published today, Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society, said:
“Voter disengagement is the central political challenge of our time, and the Committee should be applauded for its excellent work in this area. We wholeheartedly support the report’s recommendations on reforming voter registration to make it easier for people to vote, as well as widening the franchise so 16 and 17 year olds can take part in our democracy.
“It’s also gratifying to see so many respondents to the inquiry point out how utterly broken our electoral system is. We’re now in a four, five or even six-party era, so we can expect some horribly unfair results in the general election next year. We believe it is high time we got rid of the outdated First Past the Post, and replaced it with a fairer system where every voice is heard and every vote counts.”
The Committee has called on the Government to explore the idea of making election day a public holiday. Responding to this idea, Katie Ghose said:
“Voting is a fundamental part of our role as a citizen, so it’s right to celebrate the day we go to the polls and choose who represents us. It’s important that we innovate around how we do elections so we can successfully close the gap between people and politics. We’ll support any measure which creates a sense of occasion on election day.”
The Committee has also recommended making voting compulsory for some elections. Responding to this idea, Katie Ghose said:
“Making it compulsory for people to vote hides the symptoms of voter disengagement, but does nothing to address the causes. Many people are deeply distrustful of representative politics, but they won’t come back into the process in any meaningful way if they are forced to take part.
“We believe there are many other more positive things we should be doing to close the gap between people and politics, some of which have been recommended in this report.”