The “hold your nose” General Election – 20 million votes “wasted”

“Twenty-two million votes were “wasted” in June’s election and had no impact on the result, a study reveals today.

Nearly seven out of 10 ballots made no different to the outcome, which stripped Theresa May of a Commons majority, the Electoral Reform Society report claims.

It brands the 2017 poll the ‘hold your nose’ election, estimating 6.5 million people voted tactically because they knew ticking the box for their favourite party or candidate would have no influence.

Other findings include that if just 0.0016% of voters chose differently, the Conservatives would have won a majority; the rise of very marginal seats, with 11 seats won by fewer than 100 votes; and the second highest voting volatility since 1931, with people switching sides at “astonishing” levels.

The ERS also blasts Britain’s first-past-the-post system, which is designed to avoid hung parliaments – but, for the second time in three general elections, left no party with a majority.

Chief executive Darren Hughes said: “The vast majority of votes are going to waste, with millions still stuck in the electoral black hole of winner-takes-all – a diverse and shifting public having to work around a broken two-party system.

“The result is volatile voting and random results in the different parts of the UK.

“There are a wide range of systems where votes are not thrown on the electoral scrapheap.

“We need to move towards a means of electing our MPs where all voices are heard and where people don’t feel forced to hold their nose at the ballot box.”

The ERS’ ‘Volatile Voting – Random Results’ report says while Labour secured 29% of votes in the South East it got just 10% of seats.

In the North East, the Tories netted 34% of votes but scooped just 9% of seats.

Meanwhile, the SNP continued to be over-represented in Scotland, as was Labour in Wales, while Northern Ireland voters were “forced into two camps”, according to the report.

Researchers discovered the Conservatives benefited most from the mismatch between votes and seats, winning 46% of English votes but 56% of seats.

Mr Hughes said: “June’s election has shown first-past-the-post is unable to cope with people’s changing voting habits – forcing citizens and parties to try and game the system.

“With an estimated 6.5 million people ‘holding their nose’ at the ballot box, voters have been denied real choice and representation.

“This surge in tactical voting – double the rate of 2015 – meant voters shifted their party allegiances at unprecedented rates, with the second highest level of voter volatility since the inter-war years.”