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20 October 2014
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Local Democracy
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Local Democracy

  • Voting
  • First-past-the-post and the Alternative Vote
  • Other voting systems
  • Who cannot vote
  • Community Action


    Government & Parliament

    Global Community

    EU, UN & Commonwealth

    Local Democracy
    The Basics | More Information | Web Links
    Different types of elections in the United Kingdom

    General Election - vote for your Member of Parliament to help form the national government
    Local Election - voting for your local councillor.
    By-Election - election for one constituency only, say, if the MP has died or resigned.
    Scottish Parliament - choosing your Member of Scottish Parliament. Scotland only.
    Welsh Assembly - National Assembly for Wales. Wales only.
    Northern Ireland Assembly - currently suspended
    European election - each citizen over 18 of each member country of the European Union votes for their Member of the European Parliament.

    Jargon Buster

    Ballot = A vote
    Candidate = someone standing for election
    Coalition = group of political parties joining together
    Constituency = the geographical area an MP is responsible for
    Constituent = person who lives in the geographical area an MP is responsible for Electorate = all the people who vote in an election.
    First Past the Post = the electoral system we use for general elections.
    Manifesto = the public policies, ideas and promises a party makes to the electorate before the election.
    MP = Member of Parliament. MPs represent everyone in their constituency, even the ones who didn't vote for them. They're based in the House of Commons.
    Poll = another name for an election.
    Polling station = the place where you vote.
    Safe seat = a constituency where there is overwhelming support for one party, where any other party has almost no chance of winning.
    Seat = constituency
    Secret Ballot = nobody can know who you voted for so there is no chance that you can be intimidated or influenced.

    How did we end up here?

    Voting Chart

    1800 Fewer than 3 adults out of every 100 could vote.
    1832 Five adults out of every 100 could vote.
    1867 Thirteen adults out of every 100 could vote, but the system was still based on wealth.
    1884 Twenty-four adults out of every 100 could vote.
    1918 Representation of the People Act. Seventy-five adults out of every 100 could vote.
    1928 100 %

    Voter Turnout

    There is a lot of discussion about young people being bored with politics and unwilling to get involved.

    Voter Turnout Facts

    • Only 44% of young people aged 18-25 voted in the 2010 General compared to 76% of those aged 65 or over.

    • In Australia, like many other countries in the world, it is illegal NOT to vote in government elections. It has been compulsory since 1924. This means that if you are entitled to vote you MUST VOTE. Non voters are fined $20 AUS, that's around £10.00

    • In South Africa, where black people were not given the vote until 1994, 80% of people voted in the 2009 elections.

    • The highest voter turnouts for forty years were recorded in the 2008 US elections with 63% of voters.

    • Some elections can be very complicated and are sometimes cancelled. In August 2009, Afghanistan held an election. Hamid Karzai was elected the winner. However there had been a lot of violence and some votes could not be counted. The election was declared invalid and a new election was held in November 2009. However this time Karzai's competition decided not to run as they were not happy with how the election was run. This led to Karzai being made President again.

    • Voter turnout across the country really varies. In the last British General Election, turnout in one constituency (Liverpool Riverside) was 41.5% In Dorset West it was 76%. The average across the country was 61.9%.

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