Make Your Vote Count

The prospect of a general election came as a shock for many up and down the country, with polling stations open for business three years earlier than expected. As the UK gears up for intense Brexit negotiations, this snap election is the nation’s chance to declare its desired leader and political party.

While the 66.1% turnout for the 2015 general election was the highest since 2001, not everyone’s vote will have counted towards the final result.

In every general election, thousands of votes remain uncounted due to the same repeated mistakes or mishaps.

According to data collected from the 2015 general election, these are the top 10 constituencies who lost the most votes overall:

 

In our latest ‘playing with data’ series, we have identified the most common voting mistakes and mishaps to reveal the top 10 affected constituencies for each case.

Voting more than once

It’s probably safe to assume that most people understand that in a general election you only get to cast one vote. So why are there so many voters disregarded for voting more than once?

The answer usually lies in the way that the ballot cards are marked by voters. When a ballot card has more than one mark in a single box, it is discounted.

One of the most common mistakes is when a voter puts a tick next to their preferred candidate and puts a cross next to the names of the other competing candidates. Another example could occur if a voter uses a numbering system, ranking the candidates by preference instead of selecting just one.

Below, are the top 10 constituencies where this mistake was made the most. Despite best intentions, voters who do this don’t influence the results.

 

Top 10 Constituencies

Voters revealing their identity 

All votes made in elections are meant to be completely anonymous. It’s because of this reason some ballot cards are discounted when the voter includes information that reveals or hints at their identity.

In the 2015 general election, 135 people in Northern Ireland’s South Down constituency made a suggestive mark on their ballot paper that meant their vote was not counted due to identification issues.

This could have ranged from writing your name to signing your full signature, as it goes against the concept of secret voting. In the last election, 2,453 votes remained uncounted because voters identified themselves by inappropriately marking their ballot card.

Unmarked ballot cards

When ballot cards are left unmarked it’s hard to categorise those who have mistakenly done so from those who have submitted a protest vote. Altogether in 2015, there were 69,462 ballot cards returned as unmarked or unclear.

 

1,141 of unmarked or uncertain ballot cards were recorded in Buckingham. This is a significant amount, especially when compared to the constituency with the next highest number, Foyle, Northern Ireland.  They had the second highest number of unmarked or unclear ballots with only 364 rejected for this reason.

Undelivered postal votes 

In 2015, 7,592,735 postal ballot papers were issued. Of these, 25,996 were returned as undelivered due to out-dated information.

 

London was the worst area overall for out-dated addresses, with four constituencies appearing in the top 10 areas most affected. South Thanet was the most affected constituency with 1,858 postal votes returned as undelivered.

This was closely followed by North Thanet with 1,443 postal votes failing to reach the right person.

Incomplete security statements

For those who did receive their postal vote forms, 18,648 votes were discounted because no signature or date of birth was recorded on their security statements. This means those who had cast a vote but omitted this information could not be verified.

 

Cheshire was the offending area in 2015 for returning security statements with no signature or date of birth. The City of Chester, Eddisbury and Weaver Vale (all based in Cheshire) are reported to have recorded 334 cases of omitted information in the 2015 general election. However, given that each constituency recorded the exact same figures, it is highly likely that figures for these three areas have been recorded incorrectly. 

Failure to vote

So, what about those who didn’t vote at all? Here are the constituencies from the 2015 general election with the lowest turnout rates.

 

Now more than ever it is important that people’s voices are heard on the 8th June 2017, regardless of political views. Our latest ‘playing with data’ piece aims to expose the voting mistakes and mishaps that can skew the end result. In the 2017 election, turn up, cast your vote correctly and make it count.

Methodology 

The figures included in this analysis have been taken from research data supplied by www.electoralcommission.org.uk. Statistics are based on the 2015 election and have been presented without bias.  
 

 

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