No more wasted votes

Welcome to which can also be found at

This website provides information about the New Zealand MMP threshold problems and about how the most important problems can be solved by giving voters a second choice of party vote.  It is not necessary to reduce the threshold percentage, but this idea does not preclude that either.

The New Zealand MMP voting system requires that a political party pass a threshold before being eligible win seats in parliament according to the party votes it receives.  Parties pass the threshold by either

  • winning 5% more of the party vote, or
  • winning an electorate seat.

The problems arise when a party does not pass the threshold.  Votes for that party are discarded.  Seats in parliament are allocated according to the votes for parties that passed the threshold.  It is this aspect of MMP that appears to be a major sourceof dissatrisfaction, amongst political parties big and small, and with voters.  But it seems to be considered an inescapable part of having a threshold.

The existence of these thresholds causes a number of problems:

Before an election,they cause ‘threshold anxiety’.  Political parties may be fearful that a potential support party will take votes from it then miss the threshold, and so not be able to participate in any coalition government.  Voters may be reluctant to support a small party, for fear that it might miss the threshold, thus wasting the voter’s vote.

After an election, one party (or more) may wins votes bringing it very close to the threshold, just short or just over.  This creates a cliff-edge problem.  Pass the threshold (even by one vote), gain seats in parliament, perhaps become a support party for a coalition government.  Miss the thresold, gain no seats in parliament, waste 4.999% of the total party vote, hand the election potentially to a different major party.     This kind of situation can be the cause of constitutional crises, where every vote may be analysed in order to decide the result of an election.    The USA has cliff-edges like this in its presidential election.  In 2000, just a few votes decided Florida and hence the election.  In 2020, cliff edges were also important in the presidential election.

Two choice party voting  could be a good way to overcome the problems while retaining the threshold.  A good solution to the problem, more acceptable to many than reducing or eliminating the threshold.

This website proposes  Two choice party voting, whereby voters are given a second choice of party vote.  If their first chosen party does not pass the threshold (now 5%), then their vote goes to the second choice party.  It’s that simple.

Here is a flyer (two sides A4) describing the proposal: TwoChoice MMP flyer
One side is a summary while the other explains in more detail.

To see how this proposal arose from MMP review submissions, click here.

  • To read blog posts about the system, click here.

This change would make the system marginally more complex, but with major advantages:

  • The parliament would be more proportional, because wasted party votes would be nearly eliminated.
  • Voters could freely support their chosen party, without risk that their vote would be wasted.
  • We avoid the risk of voter dissatisfaction when a party falls just a little short of the threshold, so having all its votes wasted.
  • Voters could use this system to express opinions while knowing that they can have a vote that counts.

Implementation of this system would be very simple, and easy for everyone involved to understand and/or implement:

  • The party voting paper would have a second column.  
  • Risk of informal votes would be small.  Only one party tick is needed, and it can be in either column.
  • Vote counting and reporting would be straightforward.  Manual counting would require a count for each combination of first and second choice.  But counting for first choices would be just as fast as for the present system.
  • The system will adapt easily to any threshold.  If a party qualifies through electorate MPs, then its votes stay with that party.  If the threshold is larger or smaller, the system works equally well.

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