On May 5th the people of the UK will have to go to vote. At almost any other point in time this would not be notable at all; however this year, as a result of the coalition government formed at the last General Election, we have the opportunity to change the way we vote and how our vote is counted via a referendum. Pretty heady stuff.
To explain, currently the UK uses what is known as “First Past the Post” voting. This can be explained as “the party with the most votes”. On the face of it this is incredibly fair – if you get 80% of the vote (or whatever you get) then surely you should win. Right? The problem is that the winner is not the person (or team or party) with the majority of the votes, simply the highest number of votes. So if the choice is between a low number of candidates or parties, say 3, the winner will get the highest number as well as the majority of the vote. If the option is between a high number of candidates, the winner may not have a clear majority, simply the highest number of votes – even if the “highest number” is a low number. In the case of 10 possibles, anyone with more than 10% of the vote will win. The downside of this is that the people who voted for the remaining 9 candidates have not just “lost” the election, they are also effectively having their views disregarded and are un- (or under-) represented.