The whole point of representative democracy is that the MPs we elect to Parliament will represent the will of the people who elected them.
There are lots of ways to test this. One way is to see how many votes are represented by an MP. This is done by adding up all the votes that were cast for the candidates that got elected to Parliament. This can then be compared to the votes that didn't get represented - the sum of the votes that weren't for a candidate that got elected, and also the votes that didn't get used. Together, these make up the members of the public that aren't represented in Parliament.
From this spreadsheet (which only has seats in Britain, so these calculations don't include Northern Ireland), here are the totals for each group from last year's general election:
Represented votes: 13,695,495 (31%)
Unrepresented votes: 15,315,206 (34%)
Didn't vote: 15,435,593 (35%)
From these findings we can state the following:
• Over two-thirds of the public are not represented.
• Only a minority of voters are represented.
This isn't good enough. The decisions taken that affect all of us are being made by people who don't get close to representing the majority of us. There are many possible solutions, but there's one action you can take to improve this: Vote Yes in the AV referendum on May 5th.
How It Will Help
Here's why there are so many unrepresented votes (also called wasted votes) under the old First Past The Post system. These graphics are largely based on this handy Guardian animation.
Even though candidate A got more votes than the other candidates, most of the votes cast go to waste and aren't represented by the winner. This is what happens in two-thirds of constituencies across the country.
Here's how things will change under AV:
With AV, there is less waste, because it is guaranteed the winner will represent the majority of the final vote. That's because even though candidates C, D and E lost, that doesn't mean their voters' voices are silenced. This is why the MPs who win under AV will have to be more representative than under the old system.
Nobody's pretending AV will solve everything. There will still be people who choose not to vote under any system (although when the old system means there's little chance of your vote being represented, you can't blame them for not bothering). But when an opportunity comes to improve the representativeness of Parliament, we've got to take it.