For over 100 years the Electoral Reform Society has been fighting for fairer votes and a better democracy. We work across party lines and civil society to win victories for voters.
Recent achievements include:
- Manifesto commitments During the 2010-2015 parliament we have secured manifesto commitments on some of our key asks, including local government voting reform, votes at 16 and Lords reform.
- Votes at 16 Campaigning to expand the franchise from 16 and 17 year olds in Scotland to England, Wales and Northern Ireland. We are making the case for a lasting investment in the political education of all Britain’s young people. We emerged as the lead media commentator on votes at 16, and are working to translate a one-off into wins for citizenship education nationwide.
- Voter Registration Ten million voters were set to be cast out from our democracy in the Government’s plan to shift to individual voter registration. We exposed what the New Statesman termed “the biggest political scandal you’ve never heard of”. We raised the issue on the national agenda and assembled a coalition including disability charities and youth organisations, and led an all-out blitz, lobbying key decision-makers in all parties. We led the debate in parliament and in the media, and successfully changed the law. The Government’s plans to let voters ‘opt out’ from their democracy were scrapped, and our calls for a safety net to ensure vulnerable voters would stay on the register were accepted.
- Police and Crime Commissioners We exposed government mishandling of their flagship policy of elected Police and Crime Commissioners, which led to the lowest voter turnout in British peacetime history. In August 2012 we predicted turnout could be as low as 18.5% and outlined steps to salvage the elections, mobilising support from both candidates and voters. The Government did not change tack, dubbing the prediction a "silly season story". Following the result, we branded the Government's approach to elections as a "comedy of errors". We have ensured that any new election in Britain will not go the way of the PCCs debacle.
- Lords Reform We have led the calls for democracy in the Lords, exposing attempts to bring in appointments through the back door. We assembled leading lights from the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the Conservatives to make the case for change. We’ve pushed for the use of STV as the proposed voting system. And now we’re working to keep reform of this medieval chamber on the agenda.
- Fair Votes in Scotland We led the campaign that brought an end to First Past the Post in Scottish local elections. We established the cross-party campaign Fair Share, which successfully lobbied the Scottish government to introduce elections using the Single Transferable Vote in 2007. This brought an end to the one-party fiefdoms that were once the norm across Scotland.
- The Expenses Crisis We became a leading commentator as the expenses crisis broke, and put the voting system back into the spotlight. We mobilsed over 70,000 supporters as part of our Vote for a Change campaign, which successfully changed the then Labour government's policy on political reform.