A recent study by the UK’s Electoral Reform Society (ERS) shows that some votes are worth 22 times others, because of first-past-the-post (FPTP).
A Penny For Your Vote? explores the cash value of Britain’s vote based on geographic region. Under FPTP, the only votes worth pursuing are swing voters in swing ridings, so that’s where campaign finances and attention are concentrated.
Findings by the ERS show that there is a direct correlation between the amount of money spent by candidates and the likelihood that people will turn out to vote. In other words, residents of areas where votes are only worth 14p are electorally disadvantaged compared to their peers in places where votes are valued at £3.07.
We can see similar consequences from FPTP here in Canada. For example, a Conservative vote in Alberta has little value under FPTP - but another Conservative vote in Southern Ontario is worth focusing resources on.
Under proportional representation, every vote has equal value for all parties in all regions - so parties are rewarded for reaching out to as many voters as possible with balanced policies design to serve the entire electorate.
"Penny for your vote" - Full Report (PDF)