Sara Bedford has tagged me to come up with an idea for POWER2010 - a campaign billed as "the chance to have a say in how our democracy works for us all". I wanted to think of a brand new suggestion, away from the agreeable but well-rehearsed arguments for proportional representation, an English parliament, elected House of Lords etc. This is my attempt.
(I say brand new. I've not heard anyone suggest this before. Please let me know if this idea isn't a new one, I'd love to hear more about it.)
I'm 25, and a huge concern I have with our democracy is the lack of interest, and therefore the lack of representation, that the younger end of the electorate have in politics. I also think that the reforms often put forward do little to address this issue. Sure, lowering the voting age to 16 will help the weeniest bit, but nowhere near enough to address the huge imbalance between young and old election turnout.
So to address this, my proposed solution is a major shake-up to the way we vote: Instead of just grouping voters into constituencies based on geography, voters are also grouped based on age.
It would mean that instead of having, say, an MP for Bolton East, there would instead be an MP for 40-to-45-year-olds in the North West of England.
Why would this be a good thing? Well, primarily, it would mean that young people are equally represented compared to old people. So in order for a political party to form a government, they need to attract the youth vote as much as that of middle-aged and the elderly.
It would surely enfranchise the young and increase their turnout, but if young turnouts were still lower, it is no worse than the system we have at present with large variance in the size of the electorate in each constituency.
This electoral reform should work with any voting system. So it could be implemented around the existing first-past-the-post system, or (even better) integrated into a more proportional system.
There would be quite a few administrative difficulties: there would need to be multiple ballot boxes at polling stations, stronger voter registration to ensure ballots are connected to the correct age, etc. I am sure some expensive consultants could be hired to sort these sorts of things out.
I really can't see any real downsides, but if you can, the comments button is yours.
UPDATE: D'oh, it is customary with blogosphere memes to tag bloggers to take on the same challenge, and I forgot. I think I'm going to plump for Charlotte Gore, Thomas Byrne, Constantly Furious, Stuart Sharpe and Eric Fish.