Jo seeks Holyrood voting reform

Jo Swinson has called for a fairer voting system in Scottish Parliament elections to increase the political engagement of the Scottish electorate.

Jo spoke in a debate in Westminster today on reform of voting systems and constituency boundaries in Scotland, following the publication earlier this year of the Arbuthnott Commission on Boundary Differences and Voting Systems.

Commenting after the debate, she said:

“I was pleased to get the opportunity to put forward the case that introducing the Single Transferable Vote for Scottish Parliament elections would go a long way towards improving engagement between MSPs and the electorate in Scotland.

“Voter turnout is falling because the electorate, especially young people, feel their votes do not make a difference. The current system gives parties too much say over which candidates are elected from party lists, whereas STV would give voters more choice and control over who they elect. The more that voters feel their vote counts, the more likely they are to turn out at the ballot box.

“The Arbuthnott report missed a valuable opportunity to bring about a lasting and beneficial change to politics in Scotland through reform of Holyrood’s voting system.”

Responding to Conservative calls for local elections and Scottish Parliament elections to be held on separate days, Jo said:

“Having elections on the same day is a positive measure, which has been shown to increase voter turnout. The Conservatives’ argument that the average voter will be too confused by using different voting systems to use their vote correctly is simply patronising.”

Jo was summing up for the Liberal Democrats in a Westminster Hall debate today entitled: Boundaries, Voting and Representation in Scotland. The Arbuthnott Commission on Boundary Differences and Voting Systems was set up in 2004 by Scottish Secretary Alasdair Darling and published its final report in January 2006.

The Commission’s recommendations included: Scottish Parliament constituencies based on local authority areas; an open-list system replacing the closed-list system in Scottish Parliament elections; holding of Scottish Parliament and local government elections on separate days; introduction of e-counting and e-voting; and education for school pupils on citizenship.

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