Referendum on voting system to elect MPs

28 April 2011

A UK-wide referendum will be held on 5 May 2011 on changing the voting system to elect MPs to the House of Commons.


Earlier in 2011, Parliament passed the Parliamentary Voting Systems and Constituencies Act. The Act provides for a referendum to be held on Thursday 5 May 2011 on changing the voting system that is used to elect MPs to the House of Commons.

What is a referendum?

A referendum is a method of referring a question or set of questions to the electorate directly. A referendum therefore asks you to vote yes or no to a proposal.

What will be the referendum question?

The following question will be on the referendum ballot paper:

"At present, the UK uses the "first past the post" system to elect MPs to the House of Commons. Should the "alternative vote" system be used instead?"

You show your choice by putting a cross (X) in the ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ box on your ballot paper. Put a cross in only one box or your vote will not be counted.

How do I vote?

There are three different ways you can vote in the UK, in person at a polling station, by post and by proxy.

In order to vote in the referendum you will need to be registered to vote.

Elections and referendums

The elections and referendums section on the Parliament website has further information on the 5 May referendum and first past the post and the alternative vote. There is also further information on how to register to vote, voting in an election and deadlines for applying for postal and proxy votes.

Voting systems

The House of Commons, devolved assemblies and mayors in the UK are elected using different voting systems. The House of Commons and the House of Lords use a variety of voting systems for internal elections. Find out more about voting systems used in the UK.

Image: PA/John Giles

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