STV - Are Votes Fair? - Something I wrote in the 1980s

Are Votes Fair?

The Story of Fed-Upshire County By-Elections by Alan D. Winter

Purpose: A read and discuss document aimed at schools, education. An Argument for Repeal of the First Past The Post Electoral Method.

The election results were being announced for the three vacant seats on Fed-Upshire County Council. Party workers and helpers stood expectantly in huddles around the great hall.

"Here are the results of the Town division," announced the Returning Officer, " Harold Boggins, Conservative, 333; Fred Tike, Liberal Democrat, 1710; Benjamin Wasnik, Labour, 2957. I duly declare Benjamin Wasnik the county councillor for Town division."

Cheers from Labour supporters.

"Here are the results of the Country division. Mary Flower, Labour, 910; David Snelling, Liberal Democrat, 1754; Susan Topple, Conservative, 2113. I duly declare Susan Topple the County Councillor for Country Division."

Cheers from Conservative supporters.

Then, several hours later, after three recounts,
"Here are the results of the Village division. Graham Duke, Liberal Democrat 2040; Larry Lake, Labour 910; Samuel Rasping, Conservative, 2050. I duly declare Samuel Rasping the County Councillor for Village division."

More cheers from Conservative supporters.

" 2-1 to us " declared Tory agent John Minor. "I don't know how we have done it, but congratulations all round, team. "

Liberal Democrats looked the most down hearted. In all seats they had finished second. And there are no prizes for coming second. The closest they came to winning was in Village, pipped by 10 votes after three re-counts. Labour had won the Town seat and the Tories had won the Country and Village seats.

Labour had hoped to do better, but were content with winning one seat. Tony, the Labour agent, came over to speak to John, the Conservative agent.

"Congratulations. That was close thing in Village with the Liberals. "

"Yes. I didn't think we were going to make it. All turned out well in the end," smiled John.

On hearing this remark, Charles, the Liberal Democrat agent, interrupted them.
"Well, I suppose congratulations are in order, but I have to say, I did not think it turned out well at all. You Tories got less votes than us or Labour and yet you succeeded in electing two councillors. In fact, overall, we had a thousand more votes than Conservatives, and 500 more than Labour. The corrupt voting system wins again. Once again the voters are misrepresented in the Council chambers. "

Charles showed the other two the actual votes casts for all three seats.

" I don't mind telling you I am gutted, " continued Charles, "More voters voted for us than they did for Conservative or Labour, and yet we didn't get a single Liberal Democrat elected to the council. It isn't the Liberal Democrats I am sorry for, it is the voting public. They didn't get what they wanted. "


  1. Which party received the most votes overall?
  2. Which party achieved the most councillors elected?
  3. Do the 1133 votes cast for Labour in "Country" have any value in electing a Labour councillor for "Town" division?
  4. How will the votes of 5500 Liberal Democrat voters (more than a third of all the votes cast) find an expression in the council chamber?
  5. Find the party with the lowest Total number of votes. How will these voters be represented in the Council chamber?
  6. Is this system of elections fair?
  7. Can you suggest any improvements to the voting system to make it fairer?

Votes Cast In The Fed-Upshire Elections

Town Country Village Total
Conservative 337 2113 2050 4500
Liberal Democrats 1706 1754 2040 5500
Labour 2957 1133 910 5000
Total Votes 5000 5000 5000 15000

Directory of Articles about Single Transferable Vote, and other Voting Systems

© A. D. Winter