Electoral systems

This page highlights some of the current parliamentary material available on electoral systems and voting methods. This includes select committee reports, briefing papers on current legislation and other subjects produced by the parliamentary research services, and the latest Early Day Motions put down by MPs.

Commons Briefing Papers

10.02.2015Compulsory voting
This Note examines the arguments for and against legislation to require voters to cast their votes and whether it is a citizen's duty, as well as a right, to vote.
11.12.2014Voting systems in the UK
This Standard Note provides brief details of the different voting systems currently used in the United Kingdom.
30.09.2014Universal suffrage to elect the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong in 2017: a legal primer
In August 2014 the Standing Committee of the Chinese National People's Congress decided that the next Chief Executive of Hong Kong should be directly elected in 2017 by universal suffrage. However, the candidates (expected to be two or three in total) will still have to be approved in advance by a nominating committee, whose composition and method of formation will remain unchanged from that of the 1200-person strong 'Election Committee' which elected the current Chief Executive in 2012. Critics argue that this nominating committee will have an in-built 'pro-Beijing' bias. The decision has triggered a wave of protest. This briefing summarises the legal context of recent events, including the UK's own obligations.
21.02.2014Elections and electoral administration: developments since 2010
This paper looks in brief at some of the developments relating to elections and electoral administration in the UK since the general election since 2010. It tracks the commitments in relation to elections contained in the Coalition Government's agreement, The Coalition: Our Programme for Government, published in May 2010. Other key developments relating to elections are outlined, for example the Law Commission's review of electoral law and proposed changes to electoral arrangements for the Northern Ireland Assembly and the National Assembly for Wales
16.11.2012US Elections 2012
Statistical summary of the 2012 US Presidential election, including detailed results of Presidential, Senate and Hosue of Representatives elections
20.07.2011Fixed Term Parliament Bill - Lords stages
This standard note summarises the Lords stages of the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill
12.07.2011AV and electoral reform
The Coalition Programme of May 2010 included a commitment to introduce a Referendum Bill on electoral reform. The Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill was introduced on 22 July 2010 and made provision for the introduction of the Alternative Vote system for the House of Commons if there is a positive result in the referendum to be held on 5 May 2011. The Bill received Royal Assent on 16 February 2011. This note provides a summary of the main provisions of the Act; full details on the introduction of the Bill are given in Library Research Paper 10/55.
19.05.2011Alternative Vote Referendum 2011
67.9% of voters opposed changing the electoral system to the Alternative Vote, in a UK wide referendum on 5 May 2011. Turnout was 42.0%. This Research Paper presents information on votes cast in each region and referendum counting area.
15.02.2011Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill: Lords stages
This Note summarises the Lords stages of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill 2010-11. It supplements Research Paper 10/55 which was produced for the Bill's second reading in the House of Commons and Research Paper 10/72 which summarises all the Commons stages of the Bill.
20.01.2011Fixed-term Parliaments Bill: Commons Stages [Bill No 64 of 2010-11]
This Research Paper summarises all the Commons stages of the Fixed-term Parliaments Bill. It complements Research Paper 10/54 which was prepared for the Commons Second Reading. No major amendments were made to the Bill during its Committee stage and no amendments were made during Report.

Lords Library Notes

10.03.2014Second Chambers
This Library Note looks at bicameral legislatures in other parts of the world and provides an overview of some of the features of other second chambers, and how these compare to the current House of Lords.
09.11.2010Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill (HL Bill 26 of 2010-11). LLN 2010/028
Parliamentary Voting System and Constitutencies Bill. House of Lords Library Note 2010/028

Select Committee Reports

04.03.2011Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.
Government response. Deputy Prime Minister report [Commons]
11.02.2011Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.
Government response. Home Office report [Commons and Lords]
11.10.2010Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Bill.
Political and Constitutional Reform Select Committee report [Commons]

Early Day Motions

That this House recognises that the Government has no mandate to change the current system for elections to the Welsh Assembly; and believes that any proposals for change to that system ...
That this House notes that Electoral Reform Services (ERS) is a business of the Electoral Reform Society Limited (ERSL); expresses concern at that company's undue dominance of the market ...
That this House notes with deep concern the potential conflict of interest that the Alternative Vote `Yes' campaign may be facing due to its links with and majority of funding from ...
That this House notes that the Stoke-on-Trent (Electoral Changes) Order 2011 seeks to implement the recommendations of the Electoral Commission's review of electoral arrangements for ...
That this House believes that hon. Members should be elected with more than 50 per cent. of the vote; further believes that the constituency link must be retained; notes that the alternative ...


  • Commons Briefing Papers (CBP) Papers providing in-depth and impartial analysis on every major piece of primary legislation and on other topics of public and parliamentary concern. Regular statistics papers are also published.
  • Early Day Motions (EDMs) - formal motions submitted by MPs in the House of Commons
  • POSTnotes (POST PN) - proactive four-page policy briefings from the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology based on reviews of the research literature, interviews with stakeholders and peer review, commissioned by the POST Board
  • Lords Library Notes (LLN) - authored publications by the research section of the House of Lords Library that provide analysis of Bills, subjects for debate in the House and other issues of interest to Members.
  • Select Committee Reports - papers produced by all select committees of both Houses