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Wednesday, August 03, 2022

Welsh early voting failure shows need for reform

When it comes to radical reform, the Welsh Labour Government has a dismal record. There is, for example, a clear case for a proper reorganisation of local government, reducing the number of unitary councils and reforming and empowering those at community level. Instead Welsh Ministers set up unaccountable and opaque structures to force joint working on the existing bodies, increasing cost and bureaucracy.

At a Welsh level, Labour and Plaid Cymru opt for an over-large Senedd elected by a list system that leaves voters out in the cold. It is all about control. It will be the party machine who choses MSs in the future not those they represent.

And when it comes to improving turnout at elections, they prefer to tinker with gimmicks such as early voting, instead of addressing the real issue of relevance and accountability that puts many off from voting. If the result does not reflect the way people vote, then why should they participate? Once more the system is weighed in favour of the party machine.

Wales on Line reports that a Welsh Government pilot to try and increase flexibility for voters in elections, through early voting, led to no increase in turnout.

The pilots, which were carried out during this year's local elections, aimed to test measures to make elections in Wales are as accessible as possible and ensure "that everyone who wants to vote can vote".

They were assessed by the Electoral Commission who concluded: "A small number of voters chose to cast their vote at the advance voting polling stations. The three pilots with a single advance centre had similar results, with 0.2 – 0.3% of registered polling station voters casting a vote on the advance days. In Bridgend, where a number of usual polling stations were open, the proportion was slightly higher at 1.5%."

Isn't it time we overhauled our electoral process properly by introducing proportional voting, that does away with one party fiefdoms and produces outcomes commensurate with how people voted? The current system is broken, let's stop playing around with it.
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