Elections will always be scheduled to take place on weekends, or public holidays. We will also consider the introduction of a new public holiday for general elections. Where possible, different elections will coincide with each other to maximise participation in different votes.
Introduce a “None of the Above” box on all ballot papers to formally and positively register abstention.
Introduce voting by proportional representation using the Single Transferable Vote (STV) method in all General and Local Elections.
General election boundaries should be redrawn so that constituencies are larger, and elect at least 3 representatives proportionally using STV. This ensures a more representative result than single-member STV.
Investigate the feasibility of electronic voting at all elections, with a view to increasing accessibility and turnout.
Reduce the age of voting at General, Scottish, Welsh, Northern Irish and European Elections (i.e. to all bodies with primary legislative powers) and all national and local referendums to those aged 16 years and above.
Reduce the age of voting at Local Elections (i.e. to non-legislative bodies) to those aged 15 to encourage youth participation in democracy prior to enjoying full voting right at 16.
The Electoral Commission and local authorities will be given a new duty to ensure that at least one independent public hustings between all the candidates in a general election takes place, and is promoted to all constituents.
We will end the process of “co-option” whereby, if there is a vacancy on a local council, a number of electors must call for an election for one to be held. If there are no calls for an election a new councillor is “co-opted” (chosen by the existing councillors) as a replacement. Instead, if a vacancy arises, the returning officer must always arrange a by-election within 28 days of the vacancy arising.
Allow for full and proper recall of MPs: any e-petition to recall their MP supported by 20% of all registered constituency electors should trigger a local referendum (yes/no majority vote required) as to whether to hold a fresh by-election.
Much apathy is focused around the perceived privilege of the political class. This is reinforced by the costs of attempting to stand for election. In the digital age, where a political campaign can be waged at little to no cost, the £500 deposit required to stand for election excludes some of the most enthusiastic and contributory members of society. These are people who often spend a majority of time volunteering in their community and don’t have the income to save for such a high fee. Candidacy should be open to all, regardless of financial wealth, if we are to have an open democracy, so this deposit will be removed.
To deter time wasters, the current requirement of 10 nominations from the electorate to obtain candidacy will be increased to 20.
Prospective candidates must have a good connection with the constituency or ward they wish to represent. This enforces the connection between representatives and their constituents and helps to disqualify candidates that are “flown in” by the party ahead of local choices.
We will end the practice of the speaker’s constituents being denied representation and a lack of choice in elections. The positions of speaker and deputy speaker will not be filled by MPs, they will be jobs advertised, filled and salaried just like any other.
Constituency offices of MPs, which quite rightly are publicly funded, should be solely for the use of casework officers, diary assistants etc to assist the MP in dealing with constituency issues. They should not be used for campaigning purposes or for locating agents, campaign managers, or other party officials, and thereby giving a publicly funded electoral advantage to incumbents over challengers.
The Electoral Commission should record all campaign materials produced by political parties and publish them openly. As well as the material, also some detail on where the material was used, and a description of the audience. The materials should be submitted and published within a short timescale during the campaign, not logged months afterwards. This should include:
Given each EU member country has the right to select the electoral system they use to elect their own MEPs, the Open Party List system (using the “most-open” method) will also be used for elections to the European Parliament.
Investigate the feasibility of direct digital democracy - using online tools to gradually replace representative democracy with increased direct participation in the legislative process by all electors.
Investigate methods for deliberative democracy1 - things which increase research and understanding before decision making. Run trials of these for small decisions. Implement proven ones for members of the upper and lower house, and for ministers.