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We are pleased to announce the winners of the Common of Houses: Electoral Reform competition. The judging took place in London on Monday and our judges had a really hard time narrowing it down to just one winner. In fact it was so hard to sort out that in the end they chose one winner and three joint runners up. The winner will get the main prize (as chosen by you the public) and a subscription to The Drum magazine and two tickets to the Rose Awards. The runners up will all get some design books in the post very soon.
Sarah Siena Edwards, Mark Rousseau, Luke Nagal and Oliver Mould
Joint Runners Up
Ivan Paic
Vote in the Wall
David Croft
Donate your Vote
Richie Elliot

Congrats to all the winners and the other entrants. Remember that you can still submit your entries for uploading to the site. We have many more images still to upload and will be doing so over the next few days.

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Public to choose the Winners prize

So the winner has been announced. Now we need you to vote for the prize that the winner will get. (All prizes candidates were suggested by the competition entrants). We will then attempt to obtain the prize with the most votes for the competition winner. (Please bear in mind it is a very limited budget and there will be artistic licence used in representing the prize.)

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National Vottery

The section of the society in which voting attendance is lowest is also the section of society who play the lottery the most.

To encourage the public to vote we therefore suggest we use the same strategy the Government introduced in the mid 1990’s in a bid to encourage us to give more money to charity and to pay for the arts. We encourage people to gamble.

Each Voting ballot form is actually a FREE to enter lottery form. You cross the boxes against the parties in the order of your preference and then put into the voting machine.

The machine counts your vote and then prints out a little voting ticket which is not only a record of your vote but also your ticket in the great National Vottery.

If the order you chose when you placed your vote is the order in which the parties turn out at the end then you get a share in a Vottery prize fund of £10 million pounds.


I love them, I hate them

The "I LOVE THEM, I HATE THEM" voting system is an attempt to erradicate the horrible feeling we all get on election day when we have to decide if we will vote with our hearts for the party we want to get into power or if we vote with our heads and vote tactically to keep someone we dislike out. Our system uses the tried and tested gold ticket, silver ticket system spearheaded on 90's gameshow extravaganza The Crystal Maze.

Everyone gets two votes. One is a vote FOR the party who you want to get into power and the second is a vote AGAINST the party who you really don’t want to get into power. Like in the Crystal Maze every gold "for" vote counts towards that party entering No 10 while the silver "against" tickets are minus votes taken off the plus total.

This vote will more accurately represent not only peoples aspriations but also their fears. No more will people feel they have to use their positive vote tactically to keep another party out. Instead they can vote for the party whom they truelly love whilst at the same time striking a blow against someone who they truelly hate. Vote for a more balaned power, vote for I LOVE THEM, I HATE THEM.


Donate Your Vote

There are millions of people all over the world who live under a dictatorship and are deprived of the freedom to choose who governs them. It is within your power to give these people the rights they deserve.

Act today, and generously donate your democratic vote to someone less fortunate than yourself. All you have to do to sponsor a democratee is simply send your ballot paper, along with the manifestoes of all your candidates, to a recipient living under military rule or a dictatorship and allow them to decide on your behalf. In return we will send you your completed paper plus a photograph of your sponsored voter at the happy event of marking the X.

Sleep soundly in the knowledge that with as little as the cost of a first class stamp your vote will not be wasted. Allow your democratee the luxury of weighing up the suitability of each candidate for the job, before deciding the best party for you.

Your vote will be free from the interventions, manipulations and edits of the British media, and of course from your very own disinterested apathy or cynicism toward the process. You know whoever you choose to exercise your right to vote will undertake their responsibilities with utter conviction, safe in the knowledge that they will not be punished for their actions by their own leaders. They will certainly appreciate this chance at civil liberty more than you ever will.


Spike in interest

Funny that the competition closing has spiked a huge interest in people. Hello to everyone who has only just come to the site in the last few days, its nice to see you and thanks for all the questions. Apologies that we've not got round to answering everyone individually yet, theres been quite a few, just spent the morning scanning through them all.

To answer the most common questions we've had so far.

1. No we are not department of the government. We are just a group of designers who want to get people to look at democratic issues from a creative point of view.

2. Sorry but I'm afraid the competition closed at midnight 22 April.

We understand that lots of people including a few design schools have only just found out about the competition but we can't really offer another extension. We already bowed to public pressure on the original deadline of 19 April in light of the volcano mischief and we can't really extend it again. The judges are already arranged to meet on the morning of the 26 April and we want to have the results announced prior to the election on 6 May.

In saying that, if anyone does still want to submit their ideas anyway, then they are very welcome to do so and they will be uploaded to the site, they just won't be elligible for the prizes. If you entry arrives before midnight on Sunday 25 April then we will make sure it does get presented to the judges, you just probably won't get a shot at the prizes.

3. Prizes - Yes the main prize will be chosen by the general public from a list of prize nominations that the competition entrants have submitted. We will be taking their suggestions and uploading a prize poll for you all to vote on, later today.

4. Yes, we might well do another competition similar to this later in the year. If you are interested in finding out when this happens then follow the RSS of this site or become our follower on twitter.

5. No sorry we can't help with getting a job. Common of Houses is just a small project that we are running and we can't actually hire any design staff to work on it.

6. Yes the competition is free to enter but I'm afraid that it is now closed.

We will try to reply to everyone individually next week and if anyone has any more questions then please drop us an email.

Hole in my Pocket


The New Constituencies

We live in an increasingly worldwide society of fragmented interests and aspirations, where living in the same area as someone else doesn’t guarantee any similarities in lifestyles or outlook. The New Constituencies aim to bring together people with similar interests to vote for an MP that will share those interests and properly represent them in parliament.

Instead of dividing voters purely by geographical area, a New Constituency would be based on a wider area, contain people of only one gender, within a given age group, who have achieved a certain level of education. An example of such a New Constituency is the East Anglian 20-35 years old females with a graduate degree. The geographical limit would only be in place to ensure that different constituencies include an almost equal number of people. In time, as people get used to this system, the criteria would be refined, with options such as income, number of dependants, and sexuality added, and the geographical borders could be adjusted to maintain the right number of constituents.

Communication with MPs would not be different from what it is now, it would still be largely through email and post, but the issues brought up would be relevant to more constituents. Having somewhat similar interests, it would be easier for the MP to contact the constituents, as they will be using the same media channels.

This system offers good party proportionality - giving small parties who represent a small fraction of the population the chance to have MPs elected - and still retains a close link between elected official and voters, combining the advantages of proportional representation and first-past-the-post, and favouring an equal number of male and female MPs of different ages.


The Art of Politcs

We suggest a journey; a travelling exhibition that collects and conveys information from the most northern towns and cities of Scotland to the cities in the south of England. Publicity for the exhibition will be raised through local and national press releases as well as advetising and poster campaigns. Starting small, the exhibition will grow under the contributions of local people and councillors until reaching the final destination of London where an iconic event will be held involving key members of political parties and the pubication of a book collaborating the material gathered from the journey.

The exhibition will take place in spaces around the country, such as art galleries like the GOMA and The Serentine Gallery. It will consist of projected videos and images concerning the voting campaign. This will be accompanied by newspaper articles collaged on a wall and sculptures that will visually represent and communicate the values of each pollitical party. There will also be an exhibition piece on the history of the voting system, including topics like, the suffraggettes and the introduction of the welfare system. This will hopefully emphasise to people how important it is to exercise their right to vote. As well as educating the public we also want to get them involved so we propose that their opinions are collected in the format of postcards that will be displayed in the locations. Each individual postcard will be suspended from wire and together they will form a sculpture of thoughts, that is gradually added to from city to city.


Vote in the Wall

People are not using their right to vote due to apathy and inconvenience.

Make voting as easy as… going to a cash machine.

The idea would be for the Government to partner with the high street banks to use ‘hole in the wall’ cash machines as a means to vote in elections. (It’s not as if they don’t owe us a favour.)

Once at the cash machine, the voter would insert their card and pin as normal. An option would appear on screen: Would you like to vote? Yes or No.

If the customer presses Yes a screen would display the various political parties. When a political party is selected a second screen with the candidates name would appear. Press Yes to vote. Press No to go back.

And that’s it. The vote would be transmitted direct to a secure independently monitored server (and not the bank).

The technology could also be used online either via bank websites or a bespoke Govt web portal or interactive kiosks in shopping malls etc.

Millions more people voting.


Who will be the Weakest Link?

The party leaders would be contestants of "The Weakest Link" game show. They would be asked questions about british history, culture, legislation and current world news headlines. After all, who wants a Prime Minister who is clueless about these things?

The quiz would be televised live and the public would vote after each round for the candidate who answered most questions incorrectly. Votes would be by telephone.

The last 2 candidates would battle head to head and the person with the most correct answers in this final round would be the Prime Minister.


Form and Brief

Some people have emailed saying they are having difficulty with the PDF brief and form. If you can't edit the PDF please just send through the requested information in the form of a word document instead.


Exercise your NO

By introducing a no vote to the ballot paper and a campaign to end voter apathy, more people of britain would have a say in the future of britain and its politics by sending a clear message to the polititians that real change has to happen - not just promises of better healthcare - better economy - addressing the welfare state - the environment and war. Thing we have been promised for a long time with no real results.



Ok we have bowed to the public pressure and to the icelandic god of volcanoes. You have asked and we have relented. Owing to the large number of people who only read about the competition over the weekend and who have asked for more time, we have extended the deadline of the competition until midnight Thursday 22 April. (A lot of people claimed their entry is being delayed by the volcano. It seems to be getting the blame for everything at the moment.)

The good souls who managed to get their entries in on time will be elligible for a new we met the deadline prize.


Candidate Preselection

The candidate preselection method is a two stage voting process that results in a larger proportion of people voting for the eventual winner, and eliminates the need (or temptation) for tactical voting.
The first stage takes place three weeks before a general election. During this stage, a percentage of the voters (around 10% in the average seat) are asked to submit their votes by post. The two candidates that receive the most votes in each constituency are the ones that can be voted for in the second stage. The other candidates, now out of the race, can offer their support to one of the remaining ones. This show of support may be officially shown on the voting slip, so people paying less attention to political events can still choose to follow the wishes of their chosen party in the voting booth.

This is similar to a runoff voting system but it has the advantage of being cheaper than organising an entire second election day, and avoiding “voter fatigue” where everybody has to vote twice. The percentage of voters involved in the first stage will be different in every constituency depending on previous voter turnout and on how close candidates are in opinion polls – in very close constituencies many more people will be polled, to ensure the result is fair.
These voters will be chosen randomly from the electoral roll. They will receive the voting form by post and will have a week to fill it in and send it back to the electoral office, using the same system as current postal votes. Once these votes are counted, the campaign resumes for the two candidates left in each constituency. When candidates that are no longer in the race choose to support one of the two left, the votes they would have received in a first-past-the-post system are no longer lost.

• Fairer than First Past The Post
 o Avoids vote-splitting
 o Avoids tactical voting
 o Guarantees that a majority has voted for the winner

• Simpler than Single Transferrable Vote
 o Each voter only ever has to vote for their favourite candidate

• Cheaper and easier than Runoff
 o Still only one polling day
 o Should not reduce turnout like a runoff system can



Here is a photo of a few of the books that The Drum magazine have collected together for the winners.

Keep the entries coming. We've recieved an awful lot of emails from people requesting an extra day or two due to the volcano hold up. Not quite sure how the volcano has caused such a hold up to the design community - was everyone on holiday? but we are bowing to the public pressure and you now have until midnight Thursday to get your entries in - but please email us now and let us know they are coming.



Imagine a perfect democracy. Imagine that every vote really matters and makes a difference. Imagine that instead owaiting years until the next elections you can vote in every moment for every law or law proposal. We present you the new generation of electoral system. We proudly present the votebook. It is a web portal for voting which you can access from every computer or from specialised touch screen voting devices that are placed in public spaces. You can share your opinion with otheres, influence the opinion of your paty or make your own suggestions. You can stay anonymous but your don't have to. Younger generations who are disappointed and have lost faith in politicis can now easily see the results of their decisions and maybe get more active in politics. We also didn't forget ther older generations. Voting devices are simple to use so you don't have to know anything about computers to use them.

When it comes to expenses it is much cheaper than the present electoral system. If you think that you don't need over 600 members of parliament anymore then you can have only a few representatives of each party and that is a saving of about $38 million every year, and about $70 million more for cost of ever elections. It is more than enough savings to finance the deveices and its a one time purchase, all further costs would be for maintenance of devices and system.

Its a great opportunity to usher a new age for democracy so vote for the future - vote for the Votebook.

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Competition Closes tonight

If you havn't submitted your entry for the Common of Houses: Electoral Reform competition yet then please send it through as the deadline is supposed to close at midnight tonight.

Though we have had a few emails from people complaining that they haven't finished their entries due to being held up by the volcanic ash fiasco so we will allow entries to continue to come through until midnight Wednesday for all the stranded souls.

As mentioned previously there are also now seperate student prizes up for grabs too, including some fantastic work placement oppertunites at some excellant firms in Glasgow, Manchester, London and Edinburgh with people like 999 Design and Tayburn design. (These awards are additional to the main judging and will be awarded on top of the main prizes.)


Michael Wolff

[From www.dandad.org]

The sixth and final of our judges
Michael Wolff, a co-founder of one of the world's most iconic design companies - Wolff Olins - is recognized today as a leader in thinking on brands. He lectures in many countries including Brazil, Mexico, Singapore and the USA. He's Patron of the Inclusive Design Challenge with the Helen Hamlyn Centre at the RCA (Royal College of Art), a member of the Government sponsored Design and Technology Alliance against crime, Chairman of the Legible London initiative with Transport for London and a visiting Professor at the University of the Arts in London and a Senior Fellow of the RCA He's a former President of both the D&AD (Design and Art Directors Association) and CSD Chartered Society of Designers.

Michael now runs Michael Wolff & Company in London.

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The Scoop System

We decided that politics is too boring and makes to much sense to politicians and not enough sense to the ordinary folk. Apparently, you can tell when a politician is lying when he opens his mouth, so we decided that there would be NO celebrity, NO personality to cloud the serious game of politics. Simply ice cream. Pure and innocent, it reveals a childish excitement and could be just the incentive to vote that the remaining nonchalant 40% of the population may need to get interested.

The ‘Scoop System’ is a totally new way to collect the votes of the nation, and to distribute seats in the House of Commons. There are no people to vote for, only policies. Voting age is extended to 16 to re􀃽ect school leavers who do not continue with education but move straight onto work, and therefore need representation.

Hundreds of Ice Cream Vans will replace polling stations and travel to all the corners of Britain searching for un-cast votes. They will play music and remind people to vote as they travel across the country. The voter must choose from a menu of ice creams that represent the party with the policies and manifesto that they wish to see in Government. The ice cream incentive is intended to increase political participation.

The voter receives their ice cream by presenting their polling card with a barcode matrix unique to them. This contains information and a photograph to prevent fraud or gluttony.

Members of Parliament are reduced to 400 to alleviate some of the burden on taxpayers. This also removes the traditional constituency model. Instead the 400 MP’s posts will be divided proportionately between the 20 parties that gained the most votes. The Party with the most votes will ‘Scoop’ the election and have the largest proportion of seats. This will create a more representative Parliament and help smaller parties to have more of a say in politics.

The parties would have to put forward 50% Male and 50% Female MP’s to occupy seats, to remove the oppressive male bias in the UK’s political system.

As for the ‘jobs on the side’ trend -

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England's Next Top MP

Over the next few days we are going to start uploading the entries. First up is one with some bling bling star power which has decided to focus on the new MPs standing in England.

“In the wake of the MP’s expense fiasco”, it is time to change the way the public ‘views & votes’ on MP candidates.
The UK has 646 parliamentary constituencies, which means each of the 646 MPs receives a salary of 63,291 pounds annually plus up to 100,000-150,000 pounds in various office expenses (www.wikipedia.org) - a sizeable sum of money by any standard, which raises the question: ‘just what do the MPs do?’. The web provided a good starting resource to uncover this. An on-line article by Clare Evans on January 8, 2010, reports that Evans heard “MP’s reckonthey work on an average of 85 hours a week...” (www.ecademy.com). Another similar on-line article by MP Andy Reed states that, “the hardest things for people to understand is exactly what MP’s do and how they spend their time. As there is no Job Description this is understand able.” Reed also acknowledges that he “worked 60-70 hours rushing around and wonder[ing] where the time went...”. He writes that he only visited 2 other countries last year, one with Bible Society and the other with Oxfam, noting people like to describe his travels as “jolly”. On the contrary, “he would hardly describe it as that.”(www.andyreedmp.org.uk/howispendmytime).
And then he doesn’t lol. Obviously, this only adds to the confusion and raises more questions about what MPs do. I uncovered images of all the stuff MPs buy, which warranted a few chuckles,
but in terms of understanding what is an MP does, I found researching new MP candidates for this up coming election more informative. All sorts of interesting hopefuls ranging from activist to porn stars to gays to conservatives. I thought, ‘this would make for great comedy as a TV show!’
So, I selected 7 MP candidates based on their unusual backgrounds and uncanny strategies, they are to be followed and videotaped as they go about their daily business and travels. The competition will be judged by 3 very noted members of society but the results will be based on England’s votes from the public, which will be tallied digitally via the web, texting, &/or by placing your votes over the phone. During each of the four weeks (April 19-May 19) the candidates will compete by traveling and learning ways to spend less money as they will be educated by locals, professional travelers and real tightwads on the subject. Throughout the training there must be disciplinary measures/eliminations. These eliminations will be based on votes. Candidate who earn the public’s trust and receive the most votes will be safe from elimination. The lowest two vote getters go home until there is one person left, and that person will be London’s Next Top MP!

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Mehdi Hasan

Mehdi Hasan is senior editor (politics) at the New Statesman and a former news and current affairs editor at Channel 4. He is also our fifth judge.

His New Statesman blog is here.

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Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson (Our fourth judge) was the founder of the original The Designers Republic (tDR for short) in 1986 and is the founder of its rebirth in 2010. The Designers Republic was known for its anti-establishment aesthetics, while simultaneously embracing brash consumerism and the uniform style of corporate brands, such as Orange and Coca-Cola. [From wikipedia]

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Just under two week left to send in your voting system ideas. Had quite a few questions from people (mostly about the judges and the prizes)

We are putting up short bios of the judges over the next couple of days and the prizes so far are:
The main prize will be voted and chosen by the public based on prize nominations submitted by the entrants. There will also be subscriptions to The Drum magazine for the winners, Subscription to MIN membership for winners (Discounts to exhibitions/ conferences around the UK), A pile of design books, 2 Tickets to Roses Awards, 2 Tickets to Chip Shop awards, An exhibition of selected entries in Glasgow/ Manchester


Willie Sullivan

[From Spin Profiles]
Willie Sullivan is campaign director for 'Vote for a Change', the campaign for a referendum on a change to the voting system. He favours proportional representation as part of the solution to the problem of politicians failing to put the interests of their constituents first.

According to Sullivan's biography on The Guardian's website:
He was an official with the Scottish Labour Party where he realised that the current electoral system gives Party Managers and politicians too much power. He worked for Fairshare, the successful campaign to get a proportional system to elect Scotland Councillors and worked on Social Cohesion projects in the Southside of Glasgow, particularly with Muslim communities.
Sullivan is critical of "the era of the hobby MP", when MPs give little attention to Parliamentary activities and their constituencies. He wrote in The Guardian:
"When some politicians are holding down what are effectively full-time jobs in between representing their constituents, scrutinising legislation and keeping the government in check, something has to give. And that, it seems, is the voters... Constituents will continue playing second fiddle until we see a voting system that obliges politicians to focus on what's really important – the interests of their voters."

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Patrick Burgoyne

Second Judge announced.

Patrick Burgoyne started at Creative Review magazine, the leading monthly for the visual communications industries, as a staff writer and has climbed up to the position of editor which he has held since 1999.

Before joining the magazine he worked in marketing, first for the Body Shop and later for the University of Westminster, whilst also moonlighting as a writer for magazines such as The Big Issue.
Patrick has also tried his hand at being an author, with several books on design and visual culture to his name such as (with Jeremy Leslie) Bored: Surf, Skate, Snow Graphics, and he has also written for many publications, including The Independent, Scotland on Sunday, Graphis and La Repubblica.

Link to Creative Review Magazine

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