British Author and Electoral Reformer
Miss Enid Lakeman, OBE,
former Director of the Electoral Reform Society in London died at her home on January 7,
1995 at the age of 91. Lakeman was perhaps best known in the United States for her book How
Democracies Vote, but had a long and remarkable career working, as she wrote me at age
90, "on stressing the importance of giving power to the
Politics and electoral reform were in Lakeman's genes. Her great grandfather campaigned for the Reform Bill in the 1830s and her maternal grandmother was a London School Board election candidate in 1879 and a member of the Proportional Representation Society.
After graduating from London University with a First Class Degree in Chemistry, she served in various posts in the chemical industry from 1926 to 1941 when she joined Women's Auxiliary Air Force and served as a radar operator until 1945. She checked electoral registration entries prior to 1918 and was one of only two women service personnel to stand as parliamentary candidates in 1945. She stood as the Liberal candidate in St. Albans at the 1945 general election and in the Brixton division of Lambeth in the 1950 general election.
Lakeman joined the staff of the then-Proportional Representation Society in 1945 as Research Secretary and became Director of the Electoral Reform Society in 1960 when the Society was renamed. She promoted the Society's case for the single transferable vote (e.g., preference voting) whenever an opportunity presented itself, at meetings, by written articles, and letters to the press.
In 1959 and in 1968 she campaigned in the Irish Republic in support of the system when the Irish Government wanted to abandon it for the British system. Miss Lakeman retired as Director of the Society in 1980, but continued to work in the office two or three days a week and to participate in international conferences.
Joseph Zimmerman is a professor of political science at the State University of New York in Albany. This piece appeared in the newsletter of the Section on Representation and Electoral Systems of the American Political Science Association.
Other Losses in 1994 and 1995
They all will be missed.
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