Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Bicentenary of fair voting systems

Anthony Tuffin of STV Action reminds us that on 17th December 1819, occurred the historical first election under a proportional voting system. (Or perhaps it was the next day - see the wikipedia article.) It was devised by Thomas Wright Hill who deserves to be better known than as the father of Rowland Hill, postal pioneer. A mathematician and educator, Thomas Hill was part of that Midlands upwelling of scientific and philosophical inquiry which had earlier led to the society described in Jenny Uglow's The Lunar Men. I hadn't realised that when Joseph Priestley, co-discoverer of oxygen and a Lunar man, was burnt out of his house by a mob incensed by his sympathy for the French revolutionaries - and possibly his unitarianism - Thomas Hill had tried but failed to rescue Priestley's apparatus.

That first STV election was held to elect the committee of a learned society in Birmingham which Thomas and Rowland Hill had founded. He later tried STV in one of the schools he ran.

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