‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ Campaign
November 6th, 2010
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
The Countdown Begins
With only six months until the referendum on the choice of electoral system next May, ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ launched its public information campaign outside the Council House in Victoria Square, Birmingham today, Saturday 6th November. Campaigners from across the city gathered to help spread the word about the referendum and to explain the choice voters will get on the 5th May 2011.
Part of a very active regional campaign who have held events across the city over the past few months, ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ handed out leaflets and collected signatures from members of the public who are in support of the change. Dressed mainly in purple, the grassroots group want to ensure that people understand the options they are going to be presented with, in the referendum.
The referendum, the first national one in 37 years, will give the people of the UK the right to choose between the current voting system, ‘First Past The Post’, and the ‘Alternative Vote’. The Alternative Vote allows voters to select candidates in order of preference and ensures that the elected candidate has received over 50% of the vote. This means the ‘Alternative Vote’ eliminates the need for tactical voting, helps minimise negative campaigning and ensures that MPs have the support of the majority of their constituency.
Ben Cadwallader, an organiser for the event, said: “People want to know what is happening and what the options are; they’re not used to having a referendum. Once people understand the Alternative Vote, they can see it really does benefit them and they’re pleased to lend their support. People really are saying ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’.”
Demonstrations in favour of a change to the voting system were held on the streets of London and Birmingham prior to the May election. Since then, electoral reform has become a central tenet of the Coalition’s programme for Government. The ‘Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill’, which has just been passed by the House of Commons, is currently under debate in the House of Lords before becoming law. A ‘You Gov’ poll, at the beginning of July, found 45% of the those polled were in favour of changing the voting system to the ‘Alternative Vote’ , while only 32% were in favour of keeping the current system. However, it also found that 17% still don’t understand the options open to them. ‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ wants to ensure everyone is making an informed choice.
Further events are planned for the New Year, once the official campaign period begins in earnest from January.
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Notes to Editor.
‘Yes to Fairer Votes’ is the official national campaign to raise awareness of the choice to be presented to the electorate in the referendum and to highlight the benefits of the ‘Alternative Vote’ system. The campaign is a non-partisan group, with supporters from all the major political parties. The referendum will be held at the same time as the local and regional elections on the 5th May 2011.
The ‘Alternative Vote’ is a preferential system, ranking candidates in order, but it is not a proportional voting system. The current electoral system is ‘First Past The Post’ and involves selecting just one candidate.
The ‘Alternative Vote’ provides a number of benefits to the electorate, these include: all MPs would have the support of 50% constituents; it eliminates the need for tactical voting, as electors can vote for their first-choice candidate without fear of wasting their vote; it decreases the effectiveness of negative campaigning; it retains the same constituencies with no overt erosion of the constituency-MP link; it more accurately reflects public opinion of extremist parties, who are unlikely to gain many second-preference votes; and, coalition governments are no more likely to arise under AV than under First-Past-the-Post.
Next meeting of ‘Yes to Fairer Votes – Birmingham’ is 10th November at 7pm in the Boardroom at Bennett’s Bar, 8 Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS.